A few months ago, an accident during a trek in Himachal came to my notice. The victim was a 70 plus year old experienced mountaineer. The circumstances were something like this:
The group comprised an experienced but aged lot of British/European mountaineers who were to trek somewhere in Himachal. They had come through a reputed trekking group in India and they also had a Swiss mountain guide with them, in addition to the Indian guides, one of whom is very well known to me. The incident involved crossing a mountain stream. It was early morning and the stream was at its lowest. A guide had laid a safety rope across the stream and each of the trekkers were attached to the rope with harnesses and had to walk across the stream using the rope. The system was tested and found satisfactory. Eight trekkers crossed the stream safely. The victim was an experienced and sprightly mountaineer and though aged, was found to be absolutely fit. While crossing the stream, mid-way his foot got stuck and he fell over. He was held in place by the safety rope and his harness but he was neck deep in water. The guides rushed forward to help him. One guide grabbed him and ensured that he did not get submerged while the other guide and assistants tried to dislodge his feet. After a few minutes of trying to extricate his foot from the rock, the victim started getting affected by hypothermia. Realising this, one guide tried to look under the stream and in the process got swept away. He luckily managed to swim ashore. By this time the victim had turned blue from hypothermia and soon passed away.
This entire incident happened in full view of the other trekkers. It was a tragic incident, but one of the examples of how things can go wrong. A lot of analysis also did not throw up any major flaw…it was a calculated risk which went wrong. In activities of this nature, calculated risks are the norm. This is the basis of adventure sports.
But this post is not about the incident per se. It is about the fact that the man who died, died doing something that he loved. He was 70 plus, fit as a fiddle, doing something that he loved and dies while pursuing his passion. What a way to go! This set me thinking about how I would like to die? Definitely not in my bed, wilting away from some typical disease…I would rather go like this…doing what I love to do.
Think about it.
How would you like to die?[PS: The widow of the victim accepted the death as an accident. The rest of the group continued with their stay in India and went on another trek! Such is the human spirit.]