The death of the British adventurer, Rob Gauntlett, 21, who died climbing in the French Alps at the weekend with his equally young companion, James Atkinson, has been called a tragedy. The response is understandable, and yet the tragic description does not really fit.
Despite his relative youth, Mr Gauntlett was an experienced climber who knew what he was doing. He was also, we have to presume, fully aware of the risks of taking on the Couloir Gervasutti. Moreover, Mr Gauntlett had already accomplished some astonishing feats in his life, from becoming the youngest person to scale Mount Everest, to travelling from pole to pole under human and natural power alone. His was a life fully lived.
Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first men to scale Everest, once said that it is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves. Though Mr Gauntlett's life was cut cruelly short, who could deny that he did his fair share of conquering?