In a world where you can be guided from point to point and pursue the "Adventure" of a lifetime, climbing mountain Everest, with a huge volume of support, what really constitutes adventure? The Iditarod Trail Invitational is an event that encourages people to push themselves through terrible conditions in the sub freezing environment of Alaska to compete in a race that could undoubtedly kill them, and yet every year people push themselves to the limit to walk bike and ski in the race. Is this true adventure, and is this beyond most peoples achievement?
When you are totally unaided or only partially aided with food at certain drop offs, is that an adventure? Or can a race where all kit is carried for you and you don't have to be self supported be an adventure too? There are certainly different, and one would definitely result in a quicker time, but by not carrying all equipment would your a race become less of an adventure?
There is no clear answer as peoples definitions differ and no one will ever agree on what constitutes "Adventure", the fact it is all under your own power with no outside help is clearly the true one, but where is the line drawn and does it matter? The feats of physical endurance are incredible but only when you compare them to peoples perception of normal, go back to the time of Neanderthal man and these feats of tolerance of the elements and endurance through them were more common place. We only need look at the animal kingdom to see that we are living in an incredibly comfortable environment, we have created comfort and excess, things we don't need to survive. The animal kingdom is not only a massive battle for survival against predators on a daily basis, it's a battle for survival against changing seasons and conditions, penguins, polar bears, elephants all struggle with changes in environment on a daily basis, whereas we simply come up with a way to combat changes rather than learning to deal with them.
People clearly undertake adventures in the modern world, Ranulph Finnes being the epitome of the adventurer, but as a guy who when he cycles to work when it's raining in winter is called nuts, how is that possible? I've got a waterproof, I'm not going to die of hypothermia or exposure. Is it simply that we as animals have become accustomed to non harsh environments, things that make life harder life snow and blizzards or heat and humidity, these are the opportunities to develop your ability to cope, not complain.
When you add harsh conditions to a physical challenge which, if you put your mind to anyone could achieve, people see it as unachievable. A man has completed a marathon as a paraplegic, another in a diving suit, these are things that people see as unachievable, but it has been achieved. Add in Arctic winds and temperatures and a marathon seems insane, but why? Is that an adventure, pushing beyond the ordinary, or is it pushing your body to the physical, emotional and psychological limit in order to achieve?
I believe that most people don't, or certainly in more modern generation, won't achieve adventure in their lifetime, the last generation that achieved adventure where those that fought in the war in places like Burma and Okinawa, battling with an enemy in horrendous temperatures and conditions that would defeat the average person in the modern world.
I suppose another question could be are we becoming to accustomed to comfort and excess, that adventure as an idea only features in the minds of the few? Are we loosing our ability to push ourselves and to achieve through physical ability and endurance as well a psychological strength? Are we only capable of living in an easy world?
Returning to the original question, what is it that constitutes an adventure, for some this must be easier to answer than others, for most it is the ability to overcome a fear, but for the select few it must clearly be to push oneself to the physical and psychological limit...
...as a final thought, just think on this. If you achieved last time, if you managed to complete an arduous challenge through poor conditions, then maybe you never reached your limit at all, and you are capable of more next time?
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