We go into the mountains to experience wilderness and challenge ourselves. The journey’s revelations are rarely articulated well by anyone, but on occasion a pithy thought on climbing and our culture stands out. Here are some quotes on living the climbing life… even when we are far from the hills. –Andrew
STORIES All mountain landscapes hold stories: the ones we read, the ones we dream, and the ones we create. –Michael Kennedy in Alpinist 30.
FAITH I am sure that alpinism can reveal everything I need to know as a human being. –Steve House, in his book Beyond the Mountain (2009).
EXPLORATION Haggard’s novel Montezuma’s Daughter made the most lasting impression. The main characters were two brothers; although both of them lived to an old age, Geoffrey’s life was summed up by the dash etched on his tombstone between the years of his birth and death. Thomas, on the other hand, had crossed the sea to explore Mexico when it was still (to Europeans) a mysterious new world. Even then, I knew I wanted to be Thomas, not Geoffrey. –A. Odintsov, Alpinist 19
RELEVANCE By fixing my sights on one summit after another, I managed to keep my bearings through some thick postadolescent fog. Climbing mattered. –Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild (1996)
SELF CHALLENGE In all of these things, I like to go big, push myself, and do hard things where I might fail — without a chance of failure, a success is not as sweet. –Ben Horne
THE UNKNOWN Whenever a climber leaves the known paths, he enters an are without rules or routines to rely on. The only advice comes from deep inside the self and hopefully the motivation is true. At such moments, the mountaineer is creative, not merely a participant in sport…. Mystery is essential to mountaineering. –Voytek Kurtyka in “The Art of Suffering”
REALISM “Do you still climb?” My pat answer is, “Yeah, but not like I used to.” If my inquisitor persists with a “why not?,” I usually say, “It’s too hard — and too scary — to keep it up unless you stay in great shape.” –David Roberts, in his underrated book On the Ridge Between Life and. Death (2005)
WISDOM The summit is optional, making it down is mandatory. –Ed Viesturs
DETERMINATION Right on the heels of that thought of I’m going to die, was the fact I can’t die because I’m going back to my family. That was the premise of this whole expedition, was that I come back, I always come back. –Lincoln Hall on surviving even after being “left for dead” on Everest in 2006
TENSION I looked at him, fifteen feet away, and said calmly, “I am the mother of three small children and I’ve got to get down from here safely.” He replied immediately, “Don’t forget, I’m the father of those small children and I want to get down safely too.” –Barbara Washurn, The Accidental Adventurer (2001)
FRIVOLITY We’re really just big kids. We used to climb trees, and now we climb rocks. It’s so completely pointless, but it’s so fun. –Competitive climbing coach Jimmie Redo, as quoted in Climbing No. 293
TIMING Our life windows are shorter than our weather windows. –Dave Burdick on life responsibilities, climbing and being a weekend warrior in Smash and Grab
ART If climbing were about finding a solution to an engineering problem it would cease to be an art. Art is the beauty in mountaineering, and our attraction. –Conrad Anker
I keep adding more in no particular order. If you have any suggestions, feel free to send them my way…