A number of details from Chris's youth give clues to his nature and foreshadow his actions as an adult. Chris's sister Carine says that "even when we were little, he was very to himself...he could go off and entertain himself for hours...could be alone without being lonely". It is not surprising, then, that he might have wanted to go off into the wild alone.
Chris's father Walt remembers taking him to climb Longs Peak in Colorado when he was twelve. About 1,000 feet from the top, Walt decided to turn back because to go on would be dangerous. Chris was upset, and Walt notes that "he was fearless even when he was little...he didn't think the odds applied to him". As an adult, this same reckless spirit undoubtedly contributed to the outcome of his final adventure.
It has been widely conjectured that had Chris been better prepared to venture into the wilderness, he would not have died. Chris was extremely talented, but Walt recalls that "he resisted instruction of any kind". He had no patience for "strategy and anything beyond the rudimentaries of technique". Chris was rash, and had strong antipathy for authority, preferring to do things his own way. This propensity hindered his advancement in undertakings such as raquetball as a teenager, and ultimately contributed to his demise.
(All quotes from Chapter 11)