Alex Honnold is right: risk is subjective


Alex Honnold looks frustrated. The word “risk” seems to bother him, and I see his point.

Because it’s all relative.

He starts off by quickly juxtaposing risk with consequence, citing the latter as his primary concern. He states that if you’re an expert at your activity, the level of risk decreases. Frankly, he seems tired of answering the question.

It’s clear that the Black Diamond PR team assembled the questions ahead of time in search of a theme to carry over into additional interviews with other sponsored athletes, not knowing that Honnold would quickly dismiss the concept of risk, rendering the remainder of the interview tedious and rather un-revealing.

Honnold’s points are solid and made even more relevant on the backside of the 2014 Mavericks Invitational, a big wave surfing event at the El Cap of California breaks.

It’s easy to watch from a televised distance and ignore, or be unaware of, rather, the skill being demonstrated on the face of those frothing monsters. We shake our heads, enthralled with the size and conditions, afraid for the riders who don’t make the shoulder or take off too late. But once again, we’re confusing risk with consequence. Maybe for the contestants it’s not as bad as it looks.

What kept me watching the Honnold interview for more than four minutes was how candid and realistic he is about his big wall soloing habits. In fact, that’s what makes me tune in to news of all his exploits.

I think there’s a faction of the outdoor world that wants to frame Honnold or the guys at Mavericks as fly-by-the-tower hotheads who will soon end up in conditions not just literally over their heads.

Yet despite Honnold’s outdoor pursuit of choice, he remains grounded in good judgement and motivated by the will to live, not the adrenaline of risk.

In short, the guy’s not nuts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>