Confessions of a rehabilitating Adventure Snob

Earlier today in a social media conversation I caught myself posting in a way which is slightly disappointing. The discussion was about skydiving; a pursuit which terrifies and excites many people in equal measure. During my military service I jumped out of planes on a regular basis amassing a great number of jumps from a variety of altitudes including static line jumps from under 600 feet to high altitude jumps up to 13,000 feet.

Jumping was never my favourite activity, it was either a necessity or training. It was exciting but I preferred to get my adrenalin fix in other ways. The conversation however turned to the merits of a tandem jump with an instructor and my blasé response was to state that I would never choose to exit a plane as a pair.

Parapenting in the Catalan, the Pyrenean range in Spain on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Tandem jumping but with a parapent wing

My meaning was fortunately misunderstood, the other party believing it was a lack of trust in the jump master that was behind this reluctance to take a tandem jump. My arrogance and adventure snobbery had gone unnoticed.

However, not by me. I did not even need to analyse my responses, even before finishing the conversation my stance was clear. It was unfortunately not an entirely alien realisation.

Via-feratta in the French Midi-Pyrenees, Tarn gorge in the Aveyron region near Millau on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Via-feratta in the French Midi-Pyrenees

My true love is the mountains; having climbed at altitude in the Himalaya, Alps and other Great Ranges and become qualified as a mountain guide during my time in the Army. Having also trained as an avalanche specialist, been proficient in ski mountaineering and several other mountain activities, I feel most at home on slopes, ridges or rock faces.

On a few trips in recent times the services of a guide have been provided. Useful when travelling in the National Parks, wilderness and mountainous areas of some destinations. I have too much respect for other guides to actually undermine them in any way. However a degree of resentment at being led around on terrain in which I have spent most of my adult life is ashamedly a familiar emotion.

On a recent trip to France an opportunity to kayak was offered, yes I’m also a Senior Kayak instructor so noting the water was pretty flat, declined stating I would be bored within a few minutes.

These skills from my past have made me arrogant and an adventure activity snob. Here’s the thing though, it is nearly 10 years since I last participated in any of these activities to any standard. This means it is a several years since I really pushed my limits, my fitness is far from acceptable and skills which were once second nature to me will now be rusty.

Young white water kayaker on the River Aveyron near Najac in the French Midi-Pyrenees on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

White water kayaking is kid stuff

There isn’t any justification in these feelings of resentment. My arrogance is not valid and I should not dismiss any guidance, supervision or opportunity offered. I no longer have that right, this much has become clear to me after a little self-reflection. The truth is this attitude is dangerous, reliance on long past glory and being ill prepared or equipped is the cause of many accidents, rescues and fatalities.

This has become especially relevant now that I am authoring this site, with a tagline of   “Making Everyday an Adventure“.

The aim; as a past adrenalin junkie to explain that adventure is relative and available to all. It does not need to involve high risk activities, in fact it does not need any risk at all.

Everybody is unique, we all have our own experiences and values which influence the way we think and react to situations. Every new experience is a potential adventure, it is this attitude which will make it exciting and enjoyable. Destinations do not make adventures, activities do not make adventures, attitudes do.

Not everybody agrees of course, there are other adventure snobs out there, I spoke to one on the same social media platform yesterday. he made the following comment:

“Adventure is possible without participating in high risk activities but why would anybody want to?”

I countered that there are probably more that do not wish to participate in ‘accepted’ ‘adventure’ activities, his response was simply to type “yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn”. Fair enough, each to their own, it is unlikely he will change his attitude in the near future and there was little point in trying to convince him otherwise.

Mountain biking at the Whistler Bike Park in British Columbia, Canada on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Mountain biking in Whistler

It is my attitude during the earlier conversation which is most surprising however I am able to enjoy more ‘mundane’ adventures, exploring a new destination or visiting an alien culture are equally exciting to me. This leads me to realise that not all hope is lost. I may be an adventure snob but there is still some hope left for me.

I’m in rehabilitation, after all isn’t the first step recognising there is a problem?

This does not mean I have totally given up on adventurous pursuits, it will be a gradual withdrawal, and not going ‘cold turkey’. There are still a few activities that need trying, BASE jumping would be amazing and stormchasing is a lifetime ambition. Just going into the mountains takes my breath away, parapenting, any snowsports and white water either rafting or kayaking will always appeal.

I’ve merely adapted my definition, it now reads:

“Adventure is cautious spontaneity”

Shopping in Baracoa on the Caribbean island of Cuba  on Mallory on Travel adventure photography

Culture; old adventure rediscovered


Comments 5

  1. Bret @ Green Global Travel

    Good on you, Iain, for turning your critical eye on yourself rather than focusing on the obvious flaws in others. For us, running a “Green” travel site, it’s important that we never judge anyone for not being Green, or for being less Green. Instead, we try emphasize how much fun ecotourism is, how going green can save you money, and how even little baby steps can make a difference. It’s the same with adventure, in that just stepping a little outside your normal comfort zone can make all the difference, and provide a life-affirming rush. Great post!

    1. Post

      Thank you Bret, it is too easy to be critical of others and not ourselves. Although we may not always realise our own faults just a little reflection will usually expose them. We shouldn’t hide them, they are what make us human, wanting to improve ourselves is what hopefully makes us successful in whatever field we choose to concentrate on. I know there is a long, long way to go before my journey to being a good website publisher begins to even near completion, there is much to learn from people like yourself and the readers which we all write for. I’m always keen to learn and know that I will never know even half of what some publishers know.

      I enjoy your approach to your subject and to publishing in general. You do not attempt to force your opinions on others but merely inform through personal experiences. It is why I always enjoy reading your posts.

  2. Sherry

    At 60, I’ve redefined my definition as well. I still like a bit of danger, white water rafting, climbing pyramids, hiking canyons, llama trips into a desert, adventures that COULD lead to my death , but probably won’t. Injury is much more likely, and that keeps it exciting and adventurous. Survival is all about the planning, possible death makes it fun. I may redefine again at 70. Meanwhile, I’m off on a x-country yert trip with 4 men. Heeeheee.

    1. Post

      Wow I only hope I’m half as adventurous at 60 as you are Sherry, redefine at 70 ….. nah you’re having too much fun. I think those 4 men might be at risk however.

  3. Brad Bernard

    Well, so it looks like you’ve decided to be honest with yourself. Admitting that you may have exhibited some snobbery is the first step to rehabilitation. On that other hand, I think there is a growing trend to call everything “luxe,” which is similar to snobbery, but I’m not entirely sure. Great site, I love following your travels.

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