From today’s Studio D Radar mailing list:
There are typically two visceral reactions when people first hear about the Short Walk expeditions. The first is the assumption that we are venturing into a war zone, when the reality is that this corner of Badakhshan province has been peaceful for thirty+ years. If the Taliban or any other armed group was active in our field of operation the expeditions will be delayed or cancelled and we’d instigate a Plan B.
The second reaction is an assumption around fitness. While one needs to be physically fit, our screening interviews focus on cultural and team dynamics—everyone needs to be aligned to the mission, and be willing to work for the wellbeing of the group, something we refer to as “one body principle” a term coined by our 2018 Medic Sam Kellogg. When interviewing candidates there are four major challenges we discuss in addition to fitness: operating at high altitude for extended periods, long distance trekking, developing country, and higher risk travel. All of our 2019 Short Walk team had experience of at least one of these attributes, but no-one (other than Jan, the expedition leader with experience in all five) had experience in more than three on a single trek. In summary: humans that manage to work well as a team are pretty resilient.
File this in the same folder as the references I quoted in Human Infrastructure, Sex and Cycling last week: embrace your infrastructure as you find it, and focus, instead, on the personal, cultural and social issues layered on top of it.