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Acceptance of death and climbing
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By Simon Thompson
From New Paltz, NY
May 21, 2013
A lot of people have said some great things on this thread. I think it's important to see that we all have our own personal perspective on death and what happens when we die. As many have said, most of us take life-threatening risks(driving, taking medicine, smoking, walking, eating, swimming, being in the sun, drinking, etc, etc) every day. When you realize death is inevitable and that WE WILL all die some day, you only have to figure out the best way to live the time you are alive. If I am willing to risk driving busy roads to school/work every day, you can be damn sure I'm willing to risk running it out a couple more feet for the chance to believe in myself and have to live 100% completely focused in the moment. As I progressed in my climbing, I began to separate real risk from perceived risk. Real risk is in things rock fall, weather, avy danger, and driving to the crag. These are things we accept every time we go climbing. The risk of falling due to human error on a particular climb is different for each of us. Soloing a 5.10 may extremely risky for me but perfectly reasonable and safe for someone else. No point in going climbing today if I don't expect to be climbing tomorrow. #1 Rule: Don't fuck up and die.

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By Wayne Crill
From an Altered State
May 21, 2013
pilon fracture
Brendan Blanchard wrote:
To me it would be worse to die in 50 years having never known climbing and continued to do it as long as I could.


Tibetan 'proverb': "It is better to live, even if only for a single moment, like a Tiger, than a lifetime as a lamb."

I try to maximize the Tiger moments.

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By Jason Kim
From San Diego, CA
May 21, 2013
Descending Cox Col (Bear Creek Spire). Photo by Ryan Slaybaugh. <br />
I prefer to manage my risk by living like a tiger and climbing like a lamb.

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By Christian
From Casa do Cacete
May 21, 2013
Ooops...

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By Matt N
From Santa Barbara, CA
May 22, 2013
OTL
Mike Oxlong wrote:
Matt N, Do you believe you have control over how you will die? Whether you get a disease or get fired from a job? Likening the ability of your mind to control your body to the ability of your mind to control the universe seems to show a fundamental misunderstanding of reality.


I'll take "yes" for $200, Alex.

I surf. I could get eaten by a shark. If I didn't surf, that probability would be near 0 (plane/boat wreck).
Disease acquisition can be genetic, or influenced by personal actions.
Do a shitty job, increase your chances of getting fired.

Still not sure what you're getting at.

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By Locker
From Yucca Valley, CA
May 22, 2013
...
...
...



Accept it!

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By Clifton Santiago
May 22, 2013
There is an interesting aspect to climbing in that it overrides an instinctual self-preservation safety feature- fear of falling.
Linking climbing to death is a natural extension of this violation of self-preservation, but in roped climbing it is mostly illusory. People die climbing, sure, but really not a lot more often than some other sports.
Climbers are an interesting bunch, though, because overriding your mind screaming "yer gonna die", is a fundamental part of the endeavor, and most people run from that sensation.
I think there is a bit of compensating for fear surrounding a lot of bravado about not fearing death- only a fool (or someone with a glib approach to the subject) isn't a bit wary of dancing with the devil he doesn't know, and if I'm sure of anything in this life, it's that nobody alive knows for sure what death is about.
I know I got into climbing after a protracted battle with a life threatening disease that very nearly killed me, and I had a lot of fear, and did not (still don't) want to go gentle into that good night. Climbing was my way of raging against the dying of the light.
But I know it's gonna go out, and I don't know what that means...

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By The Stoned Master
Administrator
From Pennsylvania
May 22, 2013
Day Lily.
I thought of you Locker when writing up this question. I knew that now infamous saying was gonna come up! I asked myself "what smart ass answers are/can some give to these questions?"

Awesome answers. I've learned a lot just by reading responses in a forum. Its amazing how many points of view there are, so much variation in views on death. Pretty cool.

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By Dr. Rocktopolus
From Chattanooga, TN
May 22, 2013
Whipping on the redpoint crux of " The Theater Of Pain " 5.13b Cooks Wall, NC
Most people never really know life, the mundane series of events they call day to day life is nothing more than the " working to live " bordem that strangles most.

To accept a certain level of danger in life is to accept living, I could not picture my life any other way...

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By rging
From Salt Lake City, Ut
May 22, 2013
CoR
Travis Haussener wrote:
... if you can work, maybe you're getting health insurance with the health insurance you can get medical care...


Are you saying your health care is so good you can survive death? Impressive.

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By MC Poopypants
May 22, 2013
Dropping a deuce
Matt N,

Would you mind sharing your plan for a controlled death with us? How will it happen, when, where, and how do you make certain that nothing interferes with your plan?

It seems like your statements acknowledge my point. You have control over your actions and nothing more. If you go surf you can't control what a shark does. If you do a good job and the company closes you still lose your job.

From your statements I get the following idea: the more you choose to interact with the universe, the less control you have over your life. Since we have no choice but to interact with the universe to some degree there is an inherent inability to control everything that happens to us. The idea of control is created in the mind, it is not real. The idea that we are separate individuals is also created in the mind and is also false. Don't let your mind fool you.

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By The Stoned Master
Administrator
From Pennsylvania
May 22, 2013
Day Lily.
Mike Oxlong nicely said..

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By Michael C
From New Jersey
May 22, 2013
Mt Minsi, PA
Wannabe wrote:
Death is definitely not okay to me. I intellectually understand that I'm choosing to engage in an activity that increases my risk of death but I'm certainly not okay with it. Having a young child only made me even less okay with it. The only reason I continue to climb is that I feel its benefits for my life and by extension my loved ones outweigh the risks. The clarity and singlemindedness I can have while climbing are hard for me find elsewhere. The discipline and thoughtfulness about my actions, my partners and my objectives have spilled over into other areas of my life slowly. Climbing, mistakes made while climbing and their consequences are very real, and they're real in a way that's hard to duplicate in much of my life. I really value these things. I've thought about it and I'm not sure I could give up climbing but let's say I could. My suspicion is that my family would have to get accustomed to living with a person who was less happy, less dynamic and was learning and growing less. Maybe that's a trade they'd make after the fact if I'm killed at some point but its not a trade I'm ready to make at this point. All that having been said I do feel a tremendous responsibility to my child to not act in a haphazard or cavalier way while climbing. I certainly think its impacted the grade that I will lead at. I always want to feel a comfort zone between what I know is my physical limit and what I'm leading when on gear. So while I think I've accepted that I may die while climbing my efforts to avoid dying while climbing have also impacted my climbing. Not much of a samurai mindset is it? --Wannabe


wow. what this guy just said. word for word.

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By Matt N
From Santa Barbara, CA
May 22, 2013
OTL
Mike Oxlong wrote:
Matt N, Would you mind sharing your plan for a controlled death with us? How will it happen, when, where, and how do you make certain that nothing interferes with your plan? It seems like your statements acknowledge my point. You have control over your actions and nothing more. If you go surf you can't control what a shark does. If you do a good job and the company closes you still lose your job. From your statements I get the following idea: the more you choose to interact with the universe, the less control you have over your life. Since we have no choice but to interact with the universe to some degree there is an inherent inability to control everything that happens to us. The idea of control is created in the mind, it is not real. The idea that we are separate individuals is also created in the mind and is also false. Don't let your mind fool you.


We can control certain things by our actions, but not all.
We do have some control. Lots of people control how they die [suicide].
Its not on/off like you're stating it.

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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
May 22, 2013
Keen Butterworth wrote:
I free solo frequently and I think about dying almost every time. It's like a constant analysis going on in my head of whether I can downclimb this move if need be, is that hold going to break, etc. Hell, I think you'd die pretty fast if you didn't think about it.



Well, I'm still here and I don't think about anything when free soloing other than maybe the feel of the hold I am currently on. Certainly not thinking about death up there.

I didn't start free soloing until 30yo, at which point I'd been climbing over 10 years, and didn't start doing it a lot until about 33yo. Not an impetuous youth thing. At that point I was climbing 5 days a week on real rock, and free soloing probably 3 days a week.

It was 100% confidence in my own ability that allowed me to do it, not acceptance of death.

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By Dana Bartlett
From CT
May 22, 2013
Most people never really know life, the mundane series of events they call day to day life is nothing more than the " working to live " bordem that strangles most

Rock climbers, however - they are really something special. Living way out there on the edge.

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By Christian
From Casa do Cacete
May 22, 2013
Ooops...
I think even the idea that you control your own actions is an illusion, although a useful one. If you had to be consciously aware of every single process in your nervous system that determines your actions, you'd be paralyzed. Plus there's probably some selected-for motivational benefit to "feeling" like you have free will.

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By Coppolo
From Denver, CO
May 22, 2013
Sunrise in Stevens gulch
WANNABE - -
"Death is definitely not okay to me. I intellectually understand that I'm choosing to engage in an activity that increases my risk of death but I'm certainly not okay with it. Having a young child only made me even less okay with it.

The only reason I continue to climb is that I feel its benefits for my life and by extension my loved ones outweigh the risks. The clarity and singlemindedness I can have while climbing are hard for me find elsewhere. The discipline and thoughtfulness about my actions, my partners and my objectives have spilled over into other areas of my life slowly. Climbing, mistakes made while climbing and their consequences are very real, and they're real in a way that's hard to duplicate in much of my life. I really value these things.

I've thought about it and I'm not sure I could give up climbing but let's say I could. My suspicion is that my family would have to get accustomed to living with a person who was less happy, less dynamic and was learning and growing less. Maybe that's a trade they'd make after the fact if I'm killed at some point but its not a trade I'm ready to make at this point.

All that having been said I do feel a tremendous responsibility to my child to not act in a haphazard or cavalier way while climbing. I certainly think its impacted the grade that I will lead at. I always want to feel a comfort zone between what I know is my physical limit and what I'm leading when on gear. So while I think I've accepted that I may die while climbing my efforts to avoid dying while climbing have also impacted my climbing. Not much of a samurai mindset is it?

--Wannabe"

----AND....YES. Well said my friend.

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By FloatlikebuterflystinglikeBEE
May 22, 2013
Bee
I worked hospice...i would not take my own life..in lue of the recente event in Yosemite. I would accept death but of course I hope in get to be very old and healthy/ independent till my last day. I dont see my climbing being more dangerous than driving.

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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
May 22, 2013
Stabby
I had a cardiac 'event' on Nov. 27. The urgency shown by the ER staff told me I was at serious risk. As it turned out, I really was. What I remember most vividly waiting to be rolled into the Cath lab was that death didn't seem scary at all. BUT, what had me terrified was what would happen to my wife and daughter.
I'm not into this to reach some sort of existential state. I just want to spend time in the sun with my friends and stretch my muscles.

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By sumDB
May 23, 2013
no
no
you can't cling to possessions and accept death.
cling to life is a turn of phrase for lucky people.

Death is not the void
as a person you still exist and as a soul people still remember you thus the idea of the void is moot.

The fact is people shouldn't remember the free soloist for how they died but how they lived and if you didn't know them then perhaps don't even think about it.

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By MC Poopypants
May 23, 2013
Dropping a deuce
Stoned Master,

What are your thoughts about reincarnation? Perhaps we've already experienced death many times. Perhaps we've known the people in our lives before. How would this change the perception of the present moment?

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By The Phoenix
May 23, 2013
The Phoenix
What is this death you speak of???

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By The Stoned Master
Administrator
From Pennsylvania
May 23, 2013
Day Lily.
Mike Oxlong you asked a serious question that many people will have many different points of views/beliefs about.

Death is relative. Jesus preached to the poor and stated you only live once, suck it up here on earth and your suffering will end once in heaven: eternal bliss. Buddha preached to rich people who loved life (fuck they had slaves, servants, money, respect, power, who wouldn't?) And he stated life is never ending, you will live and die many times in many forms until you reach enlightenment then you transcend this birth and death cycle.

Truthfully I don't know the truth. Who's right, who's wrong? Maybe its all bullshit and we truly just compost like my leftovers in my compost bin? Our energy never dies and it just transfers.

My personal experience answer: I have been through many deaths and many rebirths just in my current form (mind and body). Every day is new and every day some old part of me/idea that I've been clinging to dies and therefore a new me is born. I have experienced that time is of the mind and therefore when I am no longer identified with my mind life is continuous and without end or beginning, just one center to the universe and we all share this center. when I identify with the mind (see and experience the world via the mind primarily, thinking, etc) I see things in duality, time/life repeating itself like a spoke on a wagon wheel. I can break this repeating cycle by transcending/witnessing the mind and just being.

So is there a beginning and an end? Is there such thing as life and death, positive and negative? Or is EVERYTHING one. Everything is "two sides but same coin"? No beginning and no end, no death and no life.

This may seem disconnected from my previous subject but: Have you ever heard of a painless birth? Birth is usually seen or is positive but pain is usually seen as negative. Every birth carries with it some pain.

So thoughts Mike? Thoughts anyone? Dirty hippies...

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By Chris Owen
Administrator
From La Crescenta and Big Bear Lake
May 23, 2013
There's more than one use for an Ice Hammer. Lake District (UK) late '70s
The only times I ever think about death is when either I'm in danger, intentional or unintentional, or when someone I know is going to or has already died. It is usually a very very unpleasant experience/feeling - very sad.

People who solo don't really consider death when they solo, not in a way that one experiences the real face of death. When death stares you in the face it has a real mental and physical manifestation - experiencing this before a solo or roped climb would be sure to turn even the boldest climber away.

I used to solo routes a lot, particularly in the High Sierra where a minor injury could result in a long and slow death. I was always very aware of something lurking over my shoulder - this being the definite possibility of death - but only once did I actually see the specter when I fell soloing the north face of Mount Goode, as I fell I thought "this is it".

These days I prefer to bask in the long Indian summer of my climbing career - and try to minimize risk, check everyone's gear, try to stay as safe as I can and keep everyone else safe too.

FLAG


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