Recently, here in the Comox Valley, two hikers going up Mt. Albert Edward got lost. Yes – that’s right – the very same mountain that I recently climbed and reported on here on citizenclass.

Now, I don’t want to talk about the two hikers, who while new to hiking in Strathcona Park aren’t inexperienced. Nor do I want to talk about the cost of the rescue operation (which is being reported at $100,000).

Instead, I would like to talk about all of the complaining we will now have to hear. It seems almost inevitable that everytime there is a dramatic search and rescue scenario, people line up to cry “no more adventuring” and “close the back-country” and “make them pay”!

How about some reflection on the positive here. First off – what does the fact we have structured our society to have search and rescue capabilities that we don’t charge lost people for say?

I feel it says we place a very high value on human life. I can’t really see a downside to this.

Now, how about stopping people from adventuring? Would this be a wise course of action for society at large? What would result from such intense risk reduction?

Let’s look at some history first.

Chris Columbus – I reckon he was an adventuresome sort (also, a bit unsavory as the Oatmeal reports). Leif Eriksson, who historians believe was the first European to reach North America by landing in Newfoundland – probably would not have happened if society had banned adventuring. Net result – no North America as we know it and no Canada.

The Wright Brothers – if society had clamped down on risk in their day, we wouldn’t have the airplane. Can you imagine our society without it?

In fact, if, as humans, we had decided that risk was no good even earlier, well, we would probably still be in caves hiding from fire.

So no. No banning of adventure. We need it. We need people who take risks, push limits and go on adventures. Sometimes, we need to help them out. However, the overwhelming benefit to society of the risk taker far outweighs the cost of the occasional rescue.

Besides, who do you think makes up the rescue teams? I would hazard a guess they are an adventuresome lot also.