YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The Wild Rivers

July 10, 1988

Plaudits and appreciative thanks to Bob Sipchen for his perceptive and deadly accurate piece on white water river rafting ("The Thrill That Can Kill," June 27). Running river rapids can induce adrenaline highs, and they can indeed be adventures.

The fact appears to be that what most people desire and are willing to pay for is not genuine adventure but rather a danger-free simulacrum of such. Thrill me, they implore; scare me even, however (they imply) just don't dare put me in any real danger or cause me injury, or I'll sue the pants off you.

If we turn to the dictionary--in this case Webster's Seventh New Collegiate--we find first that the word is defined, thus: 1) an undertaking involving danger and unknown risks, and 2) to expose to danger or loss.

Even at my now somewhat advanced age I still seek the odd adventure or two, though not on today's crowded rivers. I made my descent of the Colorado years ago in a four-man, oar-powered raft, taking 13 days to go from Lee's Ferry to Peachtree Canyon, some 200 plus miles. I would still insist on the real thing rather than some essentially safe but thrilling motorized ride.

Not all of us, even at our best, were capable of Everest, but we could at least try the Matterhorn. And, in our declining years, the other one at Disneyland. But please, double-please, don't call this an adventure when what you really mean is nothing more than a safe thrill. Same thing with our rivers, east, west and hemispherical, remembering, however, that some are still hostile and dangerous enough to be truly adventuresome.


Former president,

Adventurers Club


Los Angeles Times Articles