Don’t ignore the small stuff

Not that I had hear of him before, but by all accounts Davo Karnicar was certainly someone who pushed the limits of what is possible.

Born in Jezersko in Slovenia in 1962, he said of himself: “Everyone has a gift, I know how to ski. Someone else might know how to drive a Formula I car.” Born to parents who were both keen skiers and climbers, Davo learned to ski as a nipper, later competing for Yugoslavia’s national Alpine skiing team. Since 1980 he put an estimated 1’700 climbs and descents under his belt.

The Slovenian skier Davo Karnicar in 2000. He was the first person to ski down Mount Everest and said of his descent, “It was as if I was light years from this world.”

Bringing together his two passions, he skied down many of the World’s tallest mountains, such as the Eiger, Matterhorn, Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, Mount Elbrus in Europe, Aconcagua in South America, Mount Kosciuszko in Australia, Denali (formerly Mount McKinley) in North America or Vinson Massif in Antarctica.

On 7 October 2000, after a month of climbing the south face of Mount Everest with his team, Karnicar commenced his descent on skis, arriving in base camp four hours and forty minutes later totally drained.

After a life of pursing extremes, Davo Karnicar passed away on 16 September of this year in a tree-cutting accident on his property in Jezersko, Slovenia. Whilst details have not been released as to what exactly happened, this still got me thinking.

I thought a salutary insight from Karnicar’s sad demise was that being highly proficient in one area can make you numb other risks, which is certainly worth while bearing in mind when weighing up risks, not to focus solely on the big stuff, but also on the small fry.

Whilst skiing down Everest or rigging down that monster tree may seem like the biggest risk you are likely take that day, at the same time your risk awareness will also be operating in over-drive while you are doing so. In view of that it is a good idea to heed the small stuff right out there on the edge of your focus which is equally likely to hurt or kill you: the drive home, slips and trips, gear falling down, a mis-tied knot…

A big thank you goes out to my friend Kathy Holzer from Out On a Limb in Seattle who pointed this story out to me… it is good to have friends who supply you with brain food.