May

19

 Mountaineering has many lessons for the speculator. Both are life and death endeavors, involve changing and sometimes violent circumstances, both require extensive knowledge, lots of equipment, learning requires a guide, heuristics are critical, great strength and stamina and ability to withstand discomfort and pain required, both offer tremendous rewards, both occur in sometimes dangerous terrain. A good example of cross over lessons involve safety and belaying which are things the speculator should learn from the mountaineer.

Safety in the mountains balances the danger and the consequences of a slip. A dangerous perch above your rug in the the living room is different than a mild, but slippery slope above a 200 foot cliff. The precautions should be appropriate to the climbers willingness to accept risk and delays. The climber belays by setting a fixed protective point in rock or ice attached by ropes so in the event of a fall, the length of the fall is limited. As the climber moves, the belay rope slack is taken up. The parallel to trading is the trailing stop. The risk would be the left tail risk.

Though the skills needed cannot be learned in books, there are some excellent texts such as Connally, Craig, The Mountaineering Handbook Seiters, Andy, Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue.

I highly recommend Connally first. He adopts a tested modern scientific approach to traditional mountaineering wisdom.


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  1. Chris Parker on May 19, 2010 1:34 pm

    As a trader of 11 years and a apline climber of 17 I have often thought of the parallels between the two activities. In both you must learn to dispel an ego, one must be sure to stay respectful & subordinate to markets & mountains. One must view the self objectively while climbing & trading, being sure that your ambitions are not pushing you to outsized risk. When some one is ready to read a very advanced book on mountaineering, look at Extreme Alpinism by Marc Twight. In the trading world he would probably be a Paul Tudor Jones.

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