JDrake wrote:I agree with the overall sentiment, but I respectfully think it's unfair to judge his brother's (and family's) comments in light of the intense feelings of grief, frustration, and loss he is going through.
I agree that it's undesirable to add harsh judgments to their grief, and almost didn't submit my post, but their grief is being exploited not just by others but by themselves to ram through the agenda to close the cave. If the family is going to get involved in the politics, that is their choice just as much as it was John's choice to go into that tight passageway. I am tired of reading comments on the news articles saying close the cave, dynamite it, fill it with cement, etc., and then in response to any disagreement they play the grief card and make cavers out to be the selfish, insensitive ones even though cavers are not the ones who want to turn a wonder of nature into a private tomb. People who want to save the cave should not have to play that bullshit game.
Yes, it puts a lot of this in perspective. The sad thing is they hoped that requiring helmets and experience would eliminate accidents, because they knew as soon as someone died the cave would stand a good chance of being closed. But caution is more effective than gear and experience in that cave. How do you regulate that? Despite that the cave is pretty safe for the vast majority of people who are capable of making it past the entrance, even without experience or even helmets*, if it has to be promised that no more people will die in it before it's reopened, then it's doomed. Society needs to accept at least a tiny fraction of the risk related to outdoor adventure that it so easily accepts related to traffic, industry, war, etc.
[edited to add]:
*I'm not recommending no helmets, but I've been through that cave (well, the right half - I didn't know about the Maze side back then) safely 3 or 4 times, all before I owned a helmet - this was in the 90s before any regulations existed.