Apr 07, 2020
Dear Outdoor Voyage Operators…
The Outdoor Voyage is a community of over 800 operators in every corner of the world. We know that some of you are struggling and face a variety of challenges.
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Nearly 20 years ago, I quit my engineering program at the University of Maryland in the US, to travel instead to Uttarkashi in the Indian Himalaya, for an advanced diploma course at the country’s top mountaineering institute.
Two days into the program, I was struck down with a high fever, followed by a cough that would persist into high altitude for a period of two months. The institute’s director asked me if I wanted to quit. The chief instructor tried to get me to quit – he didn’t even understand why someone like me had left university to be there. The program, already incredibly hard (with a 50%+ dropout rate), had people falling out like flies. The instructors (all with military backgrounds) took almost sadistic pleasure in trying to get you to give up. It was a mental game.
I refused to quit, even while struggling with a pack that weighed 60% of my body weight (33 kg, while I weighed under 55 kg at the time). In the first weeks after that fever, I trudged slower than everyone else, carrying loads at 12,000 feet of altitude, in February in the Himalaya. But I kept moving, refusing to give up.
At one point the coughing was so bad that I was certain I’d cracked a rib. The program had a young army doctor – he was evacuated halfway after breaking a leg, skiing down a couloir – before leaving, he gave me a small bottle of cough syrup, which I nursed through for a month. By the end of the program, spring had come to the Himalaya and the deep snow at Base Camp had melted away. I had survived my initiation of fire and ice.
I’m sure that a story like this is hardly unique for many of you, as professional adventure guides and outfitters. As climbers, adventure travelers and explorers, we are resilient, hardy and tough. We’re not immune to disease or sickness or accidents and crises, but we are used to harsh times, and we know how to survive.
Like many of you, I have older parents, as well as a set of grandparents whose age puts them in the danger zone of the Covid crisis. Not only for them but for all those to whom this crisis is corporeally dangerous, I will not be traveling.
Businesses will struggle, and some will fail. But this too shall pass. Many of us will emerge stronger and more resilient. When it does, adventure travelers will be the first to rebound and embrace travel again; when airports and borders reopen, and flights restart operations.
We want to cover you and your stories. We want to help you promote your destination and your brand. People may not be able to travel today or in the next several weeks, but they will start traveling again. They will rebook their adventures, and we want to make sure they will rebook it with you.
Please feel free to reach out to us. We’re happy to publish your personal stories, your Op-Eds, your letters and coverage of your regions. Hey, you know what? We’ll even give you free advertising space. We want the industry to work together, especially in times of crisis. Times are tough, for all of us. But we will make it through, together.
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