“Recklessness Needs Planning”Mike O’Shea scaled the Himalayas at just 21, but today’s extreme tourism terrifies the adventurer more than leaping off a cliff
THE RED BULLETIN: How has adventuring changed?
MIKE O’SHEA: When we went to the Himalayas 25 years ago, it took two years to plan it. Today, it’s a couple of months. There’s an expectation to experience everything automatically, afforded by adventure companies. That’s the big change – people don’t need to learn the skills anymore.
You’re an adventurer, but you’re also a safety consultant.
People look at the stuff I do and suppose I’m reckless, but I’m very calculated. If I’m going ice-climbing, I’ll learn with people who are really good at it. I’ve been involved in rescue for over 30 years and rarely had to save a climber who’s professional.
So you’d consider yourself sensible?
I’ve got a spontaneous streak. Paragliding one day, I landed at Connor Pass car park in Ireland. It has a 650-foot drop I’d always wanted to jump off. When we got there it was perfect, so I jumped. But I’d done that flight 50 times in my head.