The dictionary has the definition of survival as “The state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances”

At any point in time we can look back and say we have survived events that have occurred in our lives….school, a relationship breakup, the death of someone close, the mosh pit at an AC/DC concert, that 120km back country ride, the list goes on. For many of us our outdoor pursuits leave us with a sense of fulfillment and enjoyment once we have accomplished them, we don’t seek the edge of a knife thrills that some do where the margin of error is much reduced and the difference between survival or not comes down to seconds or less, just ask any snowboarder or skier who has had to outrun an avalanche.

Most of us seek our adventures more sedately with the knowledge that what we are doing is within our skill set and abilities and although there is risk in everything we do, it is likely to be managed or minimized.

What then happens to those who (ad)venture out within their abilities and have come to find themselves in desperate situations through uncontrollable variables and circumstances? Well known examples are those of Jon Krakauer on Everest and Aron Ralston who amputates his arm when he finds himself stuck in a Utah canyon. Closer to home we have other heroic examples of survival such as diver Rob Hewitt, William Pike on Mt Ruapehu and climbing partners Phil Doole and Mark Inglis caught in a blizzard on Mt Cook for thirteen days.

These stories have been well documented and I’m sure for every high profile survival there are others that fly under the radar however what begs the question is when the circumstances are so dire, almost hopeless how did these people find a way out rather than accept that their situation was terminal? What made then decide to live rather than exist within their reality?

Now I’m no expert in survival nor do I profess to have much knowledge in how the human psyche works but one thing I do know having read the books and articles associated with these incredible survivor tales was they were not only well skilled in their respective pursuits, they also had a dogged tenaciousness and positive outlook that allowed them to think clearly and make key decisions under extreme pressure which contributed to their outcomes.

So is it only those with adequate training, skills and qualities that have the ability to survive? I believe not in fact I believe these days we all have an equal or better chance of surviving our adventures than ever before. Technological advances and devices can shave hours off response and rescue times, especially in these days of social media where the norm is to post your whereabouts every fifteen minutes. Let’s face it someone’s going to notice your missing in action if the book of face has not been updated to show what you had for lunch.

Every time we step outside to participate in an activity, adventure or travel we potentially put ourselves out there knowing that circumstances and variables could turn against us and although we are doing what we do within our abilities (given at times we do push past our limits) things can and will go wrong. Planning and preparation go a long way towards managing those variables and again if we worried about the consequences of what may happen when we attempt something then we’d never get out of bed in the morning.




The message is that although things can and do happen, life is there to be lived. The old saying it’s better to have loved and lost then never loved at all applies here although tweaked slightly it’s better to have lived and lost than to simply exist.

Don’t be afraid to try something new, embrace change and get yourself out there.




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