Summary: Those who risk nothing, instead risk everything.

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Into Thin Air

Lessons from Mt. Everest

May 10, 1996, a severe and sudden storm trapped several climbers high on Mt. Everest as they were descending from the summit. In what has become the deadliest single tragedy in the mountain’s climbing history, a total of eight people perished.

A NYTimes best seller and movie, Into Thin Air, described the tragedy. One of guides, was world renowned Seattle climbing guide Scott Fischer, who took people on the climb for about $65,0000. Scott was one of a handful to have peaked the two highest points on earth. Everest and K2. The climbers got into a storm of 75 mile an hour winds and snow flurries that kept them from seeing more than a couple of feet ahead.

Boukreev (Russian guide who summitted during the 1996 tragedy 8 lost lives). "There is discipline, they understand the risk. I told them, you can succeed -- it’s not likely the first time, maybe 25 per cent, but you CAN succeed. You can also die."

Ed Viesturs, a guide who was on Mt. Everest in 1996 when several climbers died after reaching the peak, said

that "Getting to the top is optional, but getting down is mandatory. A lot of people get focused on the summit

and forget that."

Less oxygen at 8,000 feet than sea level– a third as much. Some climbers get fluid in the lungs and can’t breathe. Others have a rush of blood to the head to compensate for the lack of oxygen and the head swells. Some get a high altitude cough that can be so severe it has broken lungs. Why would people risk life and limbs for a sport? Because of the risk involved...The risk...the challenge. People climb the mountain, because it is there...because it taunts them to conquer it.

Whether you mountain climb, or surf, raise children, or run your own business– you take risks. Being human=risk.

1. Everyone here takes risks.

One of the latest trends among the misnamed "slacker generation" is the growth of "extreme sports." Any sport, any activity, it seems, is better if taken to some new "extreme." Snowboarding is great; air-boarding (riding your snow-board down to earth after jumping out of an airplane) is extremely better. Mountain-biking, roller blading, skiing--everything is being taken to new, more daring extremes by Generation X’ers.

Of course, the only place most of us ever see the performances of these "extreme athletes" is from the depths of the lounge chair, safely parked in front of the TV. We watch these Gen X’ers, shake our heads and piously talk about what ridiculous risks they are taking just to have fun.

But do you know who’s really taking the biggest risk? The most risk-laden recreational sports in the world today are the "armchair Olympics" or the "couch-potato championships." While we just sit there watching "extreme athletes," our own blood pressure slowly rises; cholesterol starts piling up in our arteries; internalized stress mounts; our lungs take wimpy, inefficient breaths; and our muscle tone deteriorates.

Contrast that with the "crazy athlete." While apparently risking life and limb, the extreme athlete keeps his or her body fit, stress levels are lowered and there is that euphoric, endorphic rush that just generally makes us feel good. In the long run, hurtling through the air may be a lot less risky than sitting there in a chair!

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