Mr. Bonatti tied three loops in his rope and attached a carabiner to each. Then he swung the rope up the cliff like a gaucho slinging a bolo. On the 12th throw, a carabiner snagged in an invisible crack 40 feet above, but a slight tug popped it loose. He tried again and again, until another carabiner finally held fast. He tested the rope with all his weight, then pulled himself up, hand over hand.

The ascent was later hailed by Doug Scott, the great British veteran of the Himalayas, as “probably the most important single climbing feat ever to take place in mountaineering.”
The point is, Mr. Bonatti, who died Tuesday at age 81, fully accepted the dictum of adventure that had been true for centuries, but that may no longer hold: if you get into trouble, you have to get yourself out.

In the last 10 or 15 years, all of that has changed — for the worse, in my view. Thanks to satellite phones, radios, helicopters, GPS’s and other technology, extreme adventurers not only can often be rescued from otherwise fatal situations, but they sometimes count on such a rescue as an emergency escape option.

In 2005, Tomaz Humar, a celebrated Slovenian mountaineer, was stranded by storms on a ledge on Nanga Parbat in Pakistan. His team, with whom he was in regular radio contact, called for a risky rescue at almost 20,000 feet by Pakistani Army pilots flying a high-tech helicopter.

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