After their deaths, there was the usual pontification about what they could have done differently. Despite the fact that they were all experienced climbers, and despite leaving for the hike when weather conditions were good, some people blamed their “risky behavior” and suggested various reforms that wouldn’t have made any difference in their case.
While I was away for my end-of-year vacation, I scanned through the comments on our newspaper’s website. “I don’t want to say they deserved to die,” one person said, before going on to explain why they deserved to die for pursuing their passion.
Fatal accidents are sad. I wish they wouldn’t happen, and I wish we could bring back the lost hikers. But I also don’t think they should have stayed home, and I don’t think they are that different from the 21,833 others who died earlier this year.
I propose that the greater risk is to play it safe all the time. Properly experienced, life is a very risky behavior.
The urban health penalty, they decided, had inverted itself. The new reality was that living in the suburbs and the country was the killer. In January 2005, Vlahov and his colleagues penned a manifesto they cleverly called “The Urban Health ‘Advantage,’ ” and published it in the Journal of Urban Health. Cities, they posited, were now the healthiest places of all, because their environment conferred subtle advantages—and guided its citizens, often quite unconsciously, to adopt healthier behaviors.