What adventure means to me

Berghaus asked me 'what does adventure mean to you?' and here's my attempt at an answer.

The start of a solo traverse of Beinn Eighe in mixed conditions: disconcerting - yes, photogenic - not really.

The start of a solo traverse of Beinn Eighe in mixed conditions: disconcerting - yes, photogenic - not really.

Adventure is valuing the freedom to explore.  A personal challenge, where the outcome is unsure and failure is risked. It's also just pure potential: standing on the brink, waiting at the starting gate, embracing the unknown with a lump in the throat.

For there to be potential, and the risk of failure, there must also be a goal. For there to be a goal, there must be freedom of movement to pursue it. Ed Abbey said: 'A world without open country would be universal jail.' This is how liberty, access, and wildness and wild places are connected and useful, for humans at least. For other animals it's probably different.

Learning in fresh settings. I set out deliberately to improve my understanding - about others, the world and myself. Learning in context. Immersed in an environment I cannot control, which bears down on my outcome. Here is 'truth' and here consequence. In the mountains, truths depend upon experience, but consequence doesn't sport quotation marks.

A first trip to the Alps

A first trip to the Alps

The destination is usually arbitrary, not so the journey. Without humility taught, the journey is not an adventure. If it's just moving from point A to point B, a new goal must be sought.

Adventure is also the space and permission to feel; in tune, connected, blessed, cursed, terrified and out of control. It can mean a welling up of frustration, boredom and anger, and a facing down of fears real and imagined. You can choose to be your own worst enemy or figure out otherwise.

One other thing. An adventure shared at the time is often an adventure doubled. The most powerful learning for me is quiet, collaborative, unspoken and not always easy.

Discovering a new way to explore, with new friends under Suilven, Scotland

Discovering a new way to explore, with new friends under Suilven, Scotland

But all the above is just self indulgence without acknowledging that adventure is relative. Adventure isn't always easy but it doesn't have to be hard. Our challenges are personal and we set them ourselves, but they may mean nothing to nobody else. For me it's about having and giving the space to find, learn and progress my own edge. I've learnt to prize this freedom to explore over most other things, because I think with it comes many other freedoms - yours as well as mine.

But that’s just me. It maybe different for you.