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Will Gadd on Tragedy

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Will Gadd writes a provocative post on the recent deaths of Jonny Copp, Micah Dash, and Wade Johnson and using the tragedy label.

For me I’m never going to use the word “tragedy” in reference to a climbing or mountain sports accident again. A tragedy is when a whole family gets killed by a drunk driver. A tragedy is when a little kid gets abused. A tragedy is when a 30-year old mother of two young kids gets cancer and dies. Dying while climbing, kayaking, paragliding, BASE jumping or any other form of outdoor recreation isn’t a fucking tragedy, it’s a clearly predictable result of doing the activity.

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  1. As insensitive as the closing sentence is, Will is 100% correct.

    I hope that when I go, I will be so blessed as to expire doing something I love (albeit, not with the purpose of endangering others).

  2. Couldn’t agree more. It’s not a tragedy, but it’s still sad. Being surprised about these things happening is stupid. One of the most popular climbing movies last year showed 2 of the 3 nearly killed and buried in an avalanche. Why would anyone, including them, expect differently next time they go out?

  3. Agreed Peter. There is a complete difference between a tragedy and what is a very sad and disappointing accident. I think climbers understand the inherent risks, but unfortunately the broader media does not.

  4. Amen to that. I’ve said it before in response to previous mountaineering “tragedies”. Dying doing something dangerous that you willingly expose yourself to is not tragic. Sad, yes, but tragic no.