Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ten Reasons why Flying is riskier than climbing Everest

Crossing crevasse on Everest

I often have discussions with friends and well-wishers about the element of risk involved in my ordinary day to day life and I always insist that my life has far less risk than a regular city dweller; where she crosses the roads, drives, drinks tap water, etc each such so-called mundane activity that is actually very high on risk element. We simply do not realize this that your life is at a much higher risk than mine, especially when I climb those stupendously steep walls of ice or step into the death zone. So to give you a point by point comparison, I have picked up two supposedly diametrically opposite activity that can be grasped by all. Let’s say I am climbing Everest and you are just boarding a flight to a vacation or work; here are the ten reasons why you are taking a much higher risk than I: -

I am aware that I am undertaking a very dangerous activity so I am mentally and physically prepared for it, while you are not since you think taking a flight is nothing at all. So in a crisis I would be far better geared and prepared to handle it than you.

Since I am doing something technical and uncommon, I have done my training, have equipped myself adequately with the best gear, training and physical endurance. You have done no preparation, no training, and no gear checks for flying.

I know literally everything about Everest, the camp locations, the hazards, the ice and rock, the weather conditions, the kind of food I am going to eat, who I am going with, who is my support team, etc. So I have a much higher degree of control over the outcome of my climb. Whereas you have absolutely no control of your flight. Imagine you are flying inside a metal cylinder at supersonic speed without any knowledge of the aircraft (who built it, who did the ground quality checks, who fuelled it, etc) or who is flying it (if he is qualified, if he has enough experience to fly it, etc) or in which direction you are flying, neither do you know the kind of food you are going to eat if it is healthy where was it prepared, or anything about the cabin crew if you can trust them or their claimed knowledge to handle emergencies. You know absolutely nothing about your carrier and those who are flying you, neither anything about your fellow passengers who in a way are your support team in case of emergencies.

The highest I am going to climb on Everest is 8850m whereas you are most likely flying much higher than that, around 10,000m. So you are much further from the ground than I am.

You are airborne while I still have my feet on ground so I have better chances of survival if I fall. If you fall you are almost literally gone.

Open any book on aviation disaster history and you will realize that a much higher number of fatalities have happened in flights than on Everest. More people die flying than climbing Everest. I am shit scared when I fly since statistics say I have higher probability of dying. On Everest I sing my way to the top and whistle my way down.

Climbing Everest literally gives you a high, whereas after any long flight you feel really low and jet lagged, red eyed and sleep deprived. So while climbing Everest improves the quality of your health and life, flights reduce your quality of life. I always end up losing 6 – 8 kg on Everest that makes me look at least a decade younger and superbly fitter. Whereas after a trans-Atlantic flight I feel sluggish, groggy and over stuffed with all the junk airline food.

Flights are regularly hijacked and taken elsewhere or blown up or fall into hostage situation. On Everest none of these risks exist.

When you fly no one will bat an eyelid but when you climb Everest the entire world is going to sit up and take notice and most likely say ‘Wow; you are awesome.’ I am not necessarily claiming by this that I am awesome; but I hope you get my drift.

If you die in a flight you will be just another victim, if you die on Everest you will be a legend. Decide your legacy. Fly or climb Everest!

After all what is ‘risk’, it is basically an activity where there are lot of unknown elements that doesn’t allow you to predict neither control the outcome with any degree of certainty. As you can see above on Everest I have a far better understanding and control over the outcome of my activity whereas in a flight I have absolutely no control or understanding. They say that oxygen mask will fall out in case of drop in cabin pressure, but how do I know for sure that it will happen, I have not done any trials, I have never seen one happening. Whereas on Everest I will be testing my oxygen system repeatedly much before I put it to actual use.

So next time when you are flying you can feel extremely proud that you are doing something way more risky than climbing Everest; though it proves that you are less prudent than me since I prefer climbing mountains any day over flying.

But of course you can reduce the risk of flying by a significant degree if you buy your own jet, hire your own pilots and cabin crew, select and cook your own on flight meals and of course if you are a real pilot with at least few thousand hours of flying experience. At that point perhaps I am taking a bigger risk than you.

Happy and risky flying my friends. 

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