My family has taken un-roped climbing off the table for me. I get my thrills in other ways these days.
Yeah, Ken! Swarmy rip tides, fog, killer sharks, and gnarly bass hooked on your fly rod, gin and tonics, and smoke for you mate! Not to mention the four women in your life.
My greatest adventure ever was with you Ken. Attempting the first winter ascent of of Annapurna 1 via the the yet un-climbed West Rib to Roc Nor, with hard left hand turn to traverse the long mile of the East Ridge (from 24,000') to the summit at just over 26,000'. We made the best decision of our lives retreating from our high point of 23,000'. I thought it bad judgement that you and Pemba chose to wait-and-see, at our camp I, on the glacier below the awesome South Face (prone to major avalanche wipe out). The retreat in white out conditions back to base camp was epic- thankful of placing rock cairn navigation markers and dialing in an exit strategy in case of such an event. The competing Japanese, climbing the direct Bonington route, were able to get the summit at a big price. The two summiteers are still up there 26 years later.
[By the way: sorry about knocking your pack off the ledge at 20,000'! Glad it didn't go all the way and we were able to retrieve it. My bad, dude, but clip the sucker off no matter what!]
Given the historical record of Himalayan Alpinism I knew it was statistically the highest risk game I could play as a climber. We were unmarried and without children then, Ken. I made sure that all my loved ones knew upfront the risks. It is never with 100% blessing from your loved ones. The decision to willfully place my self in the possible path of the grim reaper is a selfish act. Once dead, the living must deal with the psychological and administrative debris. No amount of years of experience, the using of good judgement, and well honed skills can protect you when circumstances (either anticipated or not), nature (either weather, rock/ice fall), your response/exposure to high altitude (the killa edemas), and monumental/"momentary lapse of reasoning" [Pink Floyd] suddenly throws your life into peril.
It is exactly these elements of risk that makes climbing so alluring and compelling. Climbing is viscerally engaging both mentally and physically. The beauty of climbing is you can choose how you want to play the game- you can choose your exposure to risk. It does not mean you might end up dead! Gravity is gravity no matter the grade or level of objective hazards. A sharp mind does not mean you can not make that one last mistake. No. amount of reading and knowing the historical record can save you. You will never be immune to death!
....But I will tell you, all the elements and risk of climbing, has shaped my life in incredibly rewarding and enriching ways. The physical, psychological, and philosophical benefits are well worth all the risk I have exposed myself to. It informs and defines my life beyond climbing. Climbing as a metaphor has always fascinated me. Most defiantly I have way dialed back my exposure to risk since having a son and becoming older and wiser. Short of dying, I have pushed out and tested the realms of risk, as a climber, sufficiantly enough to know its extremities. I have gone, I have seen, I have felt its grip. It has given me great adventures and lifelong bonds of friendship. I no long feel a need to pursue high risk. I can take my experience of risk and apply it in non life threatening ways--such as the pursuit of financial security!