I had a conversation with my brother a while back that got me thinking. I should first mention that my brother is great at analysis and argument. He is not a lawyer, but he can convince you of most anything. His decisions, at least from my vantage point, are anything but emotional. They are calculated. They are reasonable. And I hate this… and so I most always talk to my brother after my initial emotional reaction, whether it be excitement or disappointment, wears off.

In terms of going and being on this trek we first talked about boundaries and scenarios. Under what scenario would I judge a situation to be too risky? For example, Ahsan has told me that if we cannot make the flight from Islamabad to Skardu we would have to drive the Karakoram Highway. This involves a tremendously greater level of risk than flying over it entirely. Problem is, we don’t know if the flights are grounded until we get there. It is a risk we have to factor inahead of time. Is this too much of a risk to take?? I don’t know. Other questions we asked: What would have to happen and what boundaries would need to be breached before I felt like it was an unsafe situation. For example, what would happen if we got up on the glacier and someone fell and twisted their ankle, or was developing serious altitude sickness? Do we have the information, supplies, medical knowlege and assistance to deal with these kinds of group safety issues? How can I work to anticipate these scenarios and be prepared for them? Or even questions about gear and fitness – Do you exclude yourself because your team members are not physically prepared or equipped for the conditions? And at what points in these processes do you decide to stop or move ahead? Especially since so many of them depend on decisions that are made in the moment…

So my questions at this point, more have to do with this: in the absence of information about airlines, weather, potentially destabilizing conditions, other people’s physical and emotional responses, what frameworks do I use to make a good choice about going at all? If all the “what-ifs” actually happen, it could put us in some compromising situations. BUT there is also the chance that everything could be smooth sailing. So. We’re back to the original question of boundaries, risks and scenarios.

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