Solving For Z A Calculus Of RiskBlog

Armchair Adventures - Episode 9

A Calculus of Risk: “I have every intention of surviving to the end of my career. That’s my goal”.

Solving for Z is a thought-provoking mini-bio of the life of professional mountain guide Zahan Billimoria.

Set in the Grand Teton National Park in the US, this film naturally has stunning photography and, given the nature of Billimoria’s work - guiding, climbing and back-country skiing – it has some epic shots of action and adventure too.

But the work of a mountain guide is about balancing risk and reward. It’s about finding the narrow path between the upsides of a fun, challenging adventure, and the potential downsides of injury and, ultimately, death or losing friends.

It’s easy to see the passion Billimoria has for his career, building expertise, knowledge and essential skills to ensure he and his clients are safe. Picking up clues from the environment, weather, snow pack, individuals and much more in order to assess risk, his profession is about narrowing that gap between what we ‘think’ a situation is, and what it actually is. But you can never close the gap entirely. What happens when it goes wrong and you make a mistake? Well, the lessons can be harsh. How do you cope when a few centimetres makes the difference between life and death. What then? After 20 years… I should have known better... I don’t know why I’m still here.

Whether we’re a mountain guide, a parent, a teacher, a child, a school or society - we all need to build a healthy attitude to risk: to actively learn about risk management and seek out risk in a planned and methodical way. Why? Because the benefits can be invigorating and life enhancing – to us as individuals on a personal level and in our careers, but also to society through pushing boundaries of research, understanding and business.

As the great Edward Whymper wrote in ‘Scrambles Amongst the Alps’:

Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.”

Wishing you health and a return to adventures at some point in the not-too-distant future.