If you climb high up the reaches of Mount Everest, you will
begin coming across bodies as you surpass 21,000 feet
[6,405 meters]. The mountain is littered with the remains of
climbers who did not return, exposed on a windblown ridge,
mummified in the thin, dry air. It's hard enough to bring
yourself back; no one has the energy to bring home the dead.
Now imagine that you are embarking on a new sport, a new
adventure, be it scuba diving or kayaking, flying or
mountaineering, and that you are allowed to see, scattered
along the route you will take from innocence to expertise, the
dead who have gone before you. Imagine that you can squat
down by their ravaged bodies and read the sad tale of how
they met their end. What would you learn from that grim
Of course, we all have the opportunity to learn from the
misadventures that have preceded us. Even close calls are
wake-up calls, and the accounts of other people's accidents
form a bible for those who would read it. But in our haste to
reach the highest summit, surf the biggest wave, or run the
wildest water, do we take with us any of the teachings of our
departed predecessors? Or do we simply join the ranks
charging blindly into the unknown, and never know what hit
Get the rules of diving, flying, paddling, sailing,
climbing, skiing, and hiking in the January/February
2000 issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
ADVENTUREplus an interview with climbing's
ultimate rule breaker, Dean "Look Ma, No Rope!"
What is your number one rule of adventure?
ADVENTURE Safety Advice
Six Ways to Weather the Mountain
Search-and-rescue tales to show you how not to become the
subject of a search-and-rescue tale.