Deep Survival with Laurence Gonzales Bad news: Disaster is Inevitable (Even on Wall Street). Here’s How to Avoid It.



Whether on mountains, in air travel, or on Wall Street, disaster is bound to strike. It’s just part of the system. So, how to avoid it?

I’m going to tell you a mountaineering disaster story, and it may sound familiar. Risks were taken. Precautions were minimal. Mistakes were made. Conditions deteriorated rapidly. It wasn’t just one thing that caused it, but once it got going, the situation really got out of hand. It reminds me a lot of the recent global financial meltdown.

In the spring of 2000, John Miksits and Craig Hiemstra, two experienced climbers, met at the Bunny Flat trailhead, which leads to the Cascade Gulch route on Mount Shasta, in California. They had met online but had never climbed together before. The weather was gorgeous, and the pair spent their first night at Hidden Valley. The next day the wind kicked up, and they camped at 11,500 feet at Lake Sisson. The wind continued to increase, and high, thin clouds moved in. Nevertheless, they convinced themselves that there was no reason to worry and planned to leave for the summit at 1 a.m. the next day. By bedtime, the wind was blowing 35 miles an hour, but Miksits and Hiemstra still left in the predawn hours.

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