Years ago, when I came to Arizona and discovered mountain hiking and climbing, I started out very ill equipped and fairly clueless. I fortunately hiked with some very experienced people, who managed to keep me from dying. Also, being an earnest scholar,in my rumblings about the university library, I discovered the annual publications of the American Alpine Club, "Accidents in North American Mountaineering."

By the time I had finished a few volumes, it was clear that problems can occur whilst rambling about the hills, and that there are measures one can take to resolve the problem (be able to seek or improvise shelter, build a fire, treat injuries, signal for help). I gradually began to carry a bit more and started to do longer trips and more ambitious projects. Eventually I blew it, facing an unplanned night bivouac out alone in deep snow and bitter cold. Fortunately, I had just enough (dry socks, a small stove, a bit of extra food) to pull me through without injury or frostbite. But all this preparation started by reading about the misfortunes of others and what could have prevented their problems.

We do learn from experience, but reading thoughtful analysis of problems and what might have prevented them is a much less painful way to acquire expertise. The final exam comes when you are in the soup and must keep it all together.

"Thoughtful analysis of problems" is the key phrase......
Geezer in Chief