Monday, March 3, 2014

Emily Drinkwater and the Unknown

Tonight I climbed with, listened to, and temporarily befuddled Emily Drinkwater. When recollecting the hazards and adversities of her past climbing experiences, she consistently gave a lighthearted shrug to the unlucky potential outcomes of her adventures. She focused on the description of her climb over the human experience that went along with it. When asked "Why Climb?" she briefly wavered, then stated that her motivation was a thirst for the unknown. She excels in and enjoys situations of uncertainty. Emily later described herself as 'relatively conservative,' which I found to be an interesting assertion. She had earlier described an ascent of an unclimbed peak in which she and her climbing partner free soloed several traverse climbs. Granted, the gradient of the pitch was not extremely steep, the consequence of a fall would be likely fatal. So, when she labeled herself as a conservative alpinist, my head spun. I found this to be a particularly powerful example of how important an elite community's perception of risk is to an individual's identity within a field. Emily certainly takes tremendous risks through her form of employment, and yet due to the even more extreme daring of others in her field, she would deem herself a conservative climber. I would argue, however, that once you venture beyond the safety of your top rope system, you're no longer allowed to call yourself conservative.

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