How Randomness Rules Our Lives
“We call you Blister, you turn up when the work’s done”.– Dan (Random country quote said when someone turns up offering help after the work is completed)
Camping behind an old pub is not necessarily the Tasmanian outdoor experience one can expect to see in the tourism brochures.
The abundance of nearby military training areas and drought stricken land may further deter a potential visitor. But climbers flock here for the quality sandstone crags and the large number of well bolted sport climbing routes spread around Sand River.
60 km north east of Hobart, we pass some creatively named places such as Bust-Me-Gall-Creek and Break-Me-Neck-Hill on the way to meet our Melbourne friends near the cricket oval on the lawn at the back of the Ye Olde Buckland Inn.
The dusk bird choir is peaceful and the evening sky clear, providing a spectacular sunset over the pub. We head in for a Saturday dinner. The pub is lively and full with jolly locals but they are out of chips. We go for the Parmi, burger and steak sandwich anyway with extra salad and it fills our bellies and lifts our spirits. No veggie options available unfortunately.
During dinner we read a news update about an eleven-year-old girl who tragically fell ten meters to her death while walking on one of the crags nearby. Her siblings were climbing there and took her out for the day. Even though the young girl was not climbing It was a scary reminder of how dangerous climbing can be.
On an average climbing trip, most of the time is spent on driving, hiking, setting up, abseiling down and snacking…
climbing has many risk factors, and the other activities around climbing carry their own risks.
Most deadly accidents I read about happened on the way to or from climbing, on the road, abseiling or approaching the crag on steep scramble areas when adrenaline is high and protection is low.
It’s tricky to assess the risk and statistics matter little when someone forgets to tie a safety knot. But if fear of an accident takes hold, people won’t leave the house to do the shopping.
A wonderful book by Leonard Mlodinow – The Drankard’s Walk, How Randomness Rules Our Lives – tells the story of statistics and probability as an instrument used in social affairs.
So far we’ve been to Sand River six times within seven weeks since relocating to Tasmania. All visits were successful and accident free. But it does not mean we should take less care, as the more success we have, the likelier we are to fail.
The opposite is also true. According to Mlodinow – “If you want to be successful, double the rate of your failures”.
The death of the girl was a tragic accident and an important reminder that life can change suddenly. It is precious and delicate and we need to enjoy it and take care.