Why We Do It

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Rock Climbing, Ice Climbing, Alpine Climbing, Bouldering, Aid Climbing, Hiking, Skiing, Wildlife, Flora, Scenery, Panorama, Humor
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Why We Do It
Created On: Apr 27, 2006
Last Edited On: Dec 15, 2016

Table of Contents

     Why Is It You Do What You Do?
         An introduction to this album.
     Why They Did It
         Some notable quotes about why "they" did it.
     Other Expressions of Why You Do It
         Trip Reports, special articles about why you do it.
         Images that best illustrate why you do it.
         Additional comments that further explain why you do it.

Why Is It You Do What You Do?

Why is it that you climb the rocks, hike the miles, summit the mountains? What is it that causes you to venture out into the wild places of this planet? Why is it that you put up with ominous weather, lousy food, blisters on your feet, mosquitos the size of small birds, and a partner who hasn't showered since last week?

Is there one image, quote or other memory that best expresses the story of why you do it? The purpose of this album is to serve as a repository for those thoughts from each SP member. Please feel free to attach your image (or collage, if one won't do!), or add a comment that will help visitors to better understand just why it is that you do what you do!

Why They Did It (Notable Quotes)

An old, now gone missing, forum thread called "Climbing/Mountaineering Quotes" included some beautiful expressions of why people climb mountains. Below is a sampling of this rich treasure (listed in the order they appeared and with the first person to post that quote acknowledged as the contributor):

"Hours slide by like minutes. The accumulated clutter of day-to-day existence – the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison of your genes – all of it is temporarily forgotten, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of purpose by the seriousness of the task at hand." --Jon Krakauer (contributed by Haliku)

"The mountains are calling and I must go." --John Muir (contributed by Mark Doiron)

"The mountaineer returns to the hills because he remembers always that he has forgotten so much." --Geoffrey Winthrop Young (contributed by Mark Doiron)

"Although civilization is a nice place to visit, I wouldn't want to live there ..." --Tobasco Donkeys, "I Don't Mind" Lyric (contributed by jomal)

"Nobody climbs mountains for scientific reasons. Science is used to raise money for the expeditions, but you really climb for the hell of it." --Sir Edmund Hillary (contributed by Mountain Girl BC)

"You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Because what is below does not know what is above, but what is above knows what is below. One climbs, one sees. one descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know." --Rene Daumal (contributed by supermarmot)

"Eventually, I sickened of people, myself included, who don't think enough of themselves to make something of themselves--people who did only what they had to and never what they could have done. I learned from them the infected loneliness that comes at the end of every misspent day. I knew I could do better." --Mark Twight (contributed by GravityPilot)

"Better to be in the mountains thinking about God, than to be in church thinking about the mountains!" --Ace Kvale (contributed by Hulio)

"Men go back to the mountains, as they go back to sailing ships at sea, because in the mountains and on the sea they must face up, as did men of another age, to the challenge of nature. Modern man lives in a highly synthetic kind of existence. He specializes in this and that. Rarely does he test all his powers or find himself whole. But in the hills and on the water the character of a man comes out." --Abram T. Collier (contributed by SJD)

"I have not tired of the wilderness; rather I enjoy its beauty and the vagrant life I lead, more keenly all the time. I prefer the saddle to the streetcar, and star-sprinkled sky to a roof, the obscure and difficult trail to any paved highway, and the deep peace of the wild to the discontent bred by cities." --Everett Ruess (contributed by mtnpainter)

Here are some other notable quotes that have been submitted to this album:

"To those who have struggled with them, the mountains reveal beauties that they will not disclose to those who make no effort. That is the reward the mountains give to effort. And it is because they have so much to give and give it so lavishly to those who will wrestle with them that men love the mountains and go back to them again and again. The mountains reserve their choice gifts for those who stand upon their summits." --Sir Francis Younghusband (contributed by gimpilator)

"If the conquest of a great peak brings moments of exultation and bliss, which in the monotonous, materialistic existence of modern times nothing else can approach, it also presents great dangers. It is not the goal of "grand alpinisme" to face peril, but it is one of the tests one must undergo to deserve the joy of rising for an instant above the state of crawling grubs." --Lionel Terray (contributed by gimpilator)

"Climbing mattered. The danger bathed the world in a halogen glow that caused everything - the sweep of the rock, the orange and yellow lichens, the texture of the clouds - to stand out in brilliant relief. Life thrummed at a higher pitch. The world was made real." --Jon Krakauer (contributed by gimpilator)

"Because it is there." --George Herbert Leigh Mallory (contributed by Dalton1)

Other Expressions of Why You Do It

Do you have a trip report (or something else) that describes why you do it? Let me know and I'll provide a link here.

Alan Arnette's Article: Why I Climb
     With over 300,000 vertical feet, 90,000 on Everest expeditions alone, Alan attempts to tell why he does it.

Pablo's TR: Mont Blanc – Our Dream Becomes True
     Showtime has arrived for the “Blanco” brothers; their rendezvouz to climb this mythical mountain has come.

BSihler's Article: Ephiphanies and Revelations
     BSihler explains his awakening to why he goes to the mountains.

Surrealsummit.com's TR: The Waianae Mountains
     Surrealsummit.com describes his first climbing experience.

The Chief's Article: "Driven"!
     The Chief explains how, upon first sighting the Eiger in 1968 at the age of nine, he has been driven ever since to climb.

Alpinedon's Article: What Climbing Means to Me
     Alpinedon explains how climbing led him from a life of continual failure to a new focus and drive, and an unwillingness to quit.

Schmidt_th's Article: Why I Have to Go to the Mountains – A Declaration of Love!
     Schmidt_th explains how being in the mountains makes him happy, and gives him inner peace and unbelievable satisfaction.

Nattfodd's Video: Why Do We Climb?
     With great music and outstanding photography, Nattfodd illustrates the draw of the mountains.


Post a Comment
Viewing: 21-37 of 37

Eleutheros - Jan 24, 2007 7:14 am - Voted 10/10

Why I Do It

Climbing is life without all the bull. Its challenges and rewards are pure. It focuses my eyes on things bigger than myself, yet helps me look inward as well, to the soul.

For me, the mountains are a revelation God has granted all of us if we choose to look; a piece of himself. Yeah, there's glory and majesty and timelessness. But there is also danger, a wild, reckless, raging fury. Even the tiny green plant that clings to the cracks of a granite wall has something to say.

Mark Doiron

Mark Doiron - Jan 24, 2007 10:48 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Why I Do It

Beautifully said. Thanks, Eleutheros! --mark d.


Andino - Sep 14, 2007 4:09 am - Voted 10/10

Pourquoi ?

Because it's a mixture of adventure, friendship and excitement !
And above all to be in the middle of Nature.

This album is a great initiative, bravo ;o)

Mark Doiron

Mark Doiron - Sep 14, 2007 7:26 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Pourquoi ?

Thanks, Myzantrope! BTW: I just commented on your Volcan Tunupa image--gorgeous work! Thanks for the images you added to this album. :-) --mark d.


Andino - Sep 14, 2007 9:46 am - Voted 10/10

Re: Pourquoi ?

Merci à toi !


Theonestar - Oct 13, 2007 12:10 pm - Voted 10/10

I do it to live

Literally-probably divulging too much information, but it helps me to be honest.
Hiking, climbing, getting to the top-whatever you call it-gives me a better quality of life. It restores my soul when things get tough.
Being diagnosed with something incurable a few years ago, I thought my life was over and I was left with an empty feeling. Finding the mountains and trudging to the top, gives me a feeling of hope, a sense of self. For those 4, 6, 10, 48 hours I am on the trail, I feel alive, I feel normal, and most importantly, I feel healthy.

And would you believe it-the damaging effects of my disease have began to reverse itself-the mountains are my healers.

Mark Doiron

Mark Doiron - Oct 14, 2007 7:08 am - Hasn't voted

Re: I do it to live

Thanks for your very personal contribution, Theonestar. I pray that your mountain healing continues! :-) --mark d.

Sebastian Hamm

Sebastian Hamm - Jul 24, 2008 4:25 pm - Voted 10/10

Why I do it!

I can't find the right words, but I know...

there is a feeling while climbing mountains I am addicted to and will be as long I live.


Mark Doiron

Mark Doiron - Jul 25, 2008 4:11 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Why I do it!

That's why I put this page together--sometimes it takes a picture, sometimes a famous quote. Sometimes, it's just a feeling that's impossible to express. Thanks for your comment, Sebastian. --mark d.


dalton1 - Sep 17, 2008 9:16 am - Voted 10/10

George Mallory, 1923

In March 1923, in an interview with The New York Times, the British mountaineer George Leigh Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest.

His answer was: 'Because it's there'.

Great album!!!

Mark Doiron

Mark Doiron - Sep 17, 2008 11:31 am - Hasn't voted

Re: George Mallory, 1923

Thanks, Dalton1. Of course, that famous quote belongs in the album and I have added it! --mark d.


dalton1 - Sep 30, 2008 4:00 pm - Voted 10/10

Hi Mark!

I have found some more...

„It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves!”

„It is still not hard to find a man who will adventure for the sake of a dream or one who will search, for the pleasure of searching, not for what he may find.”

(Sir Edmund Hillary)


silversummit - Nov 2, 2008 7:25 pm - Voted 10/10

I've been thinking about this question lately

especially since I went backpacking recently, in the pouring, chilly rain. My old tent leaked so much I slept in puddles and I ended up with very few photos - a true loss for me. And most people in our small group have written off this trip as a complete loss. I'm sure some will never want to backpack again. Yet if you'd call me tomorrow and say, let's go on a hike or let's backpack I wouldn't hesitate for a second. Yeah, I'd remember being wet, or cold and the sore knees and the huffing and puffing up the steep hills but I'd go again tomorrow. And I never want to stop going.

Being out there, whether it is hiking or camping or rafting forces me find what is important, to push my limits or back down gracefully as I grow older. I'm not a religious person but when I'm in the mountains I am definitely spiritually renewed.

And as I said in a forum earlier, I have met some of the very best people I know in the mountains.---Kathy

Mark Doiron

Mark Doiron - Nov 3, 2008 8:30 am - Hasn't voted

Re: I've been thinking about this question lately

Thanks, Kathy, beautifully said. If you hadn't noticed, my user profile image was shot on the Ouachita Trail, after spending a night similar to your description. And I've been back many times, and hope to get back many more! --mark d.


mountainmanjohn - Aug 21, 2009 5:37 am - Voted 8/10

Out there....in the peace

Its great to read all the reasons and comments above. So many just hit the spot.
For me also, on the mountain I can forget the 'world', I can test myself....and feel good. I can scare myself and feel small. I can look around and feel privileged to be fit enough, and alive! (I nearly lost a leg after a bad break and gangrene.....not climbing). I can feel in awe! of the creation and its creator.
The mountains, just got to love em.

Mark Doiron

Mark Doiron - Aug 21, 2009 6:31 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Out there....in the peace

Thanks, Mountainmanjohn, well said! --mark d.


Clubbox42 - May 28, 2017 10:54 pm - Hasn't voted

Because It's There

I have forgotten why exactly I wanted to start climbing, but I don't plan on stopping now, that's for sure. A few things I have discovered about myself: I feel oddly satisfied when I check items off of a to-do list, I really like hiking, I love nature and its beauty, and I enjoy feeling above everything. Enter mountain climbing and peakbagging. I cannot think of anything I could possibly enjoy more. That is why I do it.

Viewing: 21-37 of 37