Why Do Climbers Keep On Climbing Mountains?
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|" Plenty of people miss their share of happiness,
Not because they never found it,
But because they didn't stop to enjoy it."
What do I love in mountains?
Why do I keep going back there?
As a life-long climber, these are questions that people ask me frequently, and really, I do not know the answer for sure, but I think it is the impervious, true nature of mountains in a sense that even Nietzsche would cherish what keeps me doing this.
Love, hatred, biology, religion and beliefs define us as humans, but all those forces that shape our history are really reckless, insignificant, momentary thoughts. The degree of consciousness acquired thorough them is just like staring thorough blinking eyes in the middle of a rain of questions. They are born, they change and then die, like us and with us, in the mud.
Ashes to ashes; dust to dust. Life as we know it, is very noisy and very short, and in our quest for security among the lot we make it even shorter; so the ants of the colony are always doomed.
But when you reach an uncharted summit somewhere in Patagonia and look down to the next precipice ahead of you, it is not just wind what touches your face but the ancient ghost of this world.
It is a whisper of ages, speaking of flying pterodactyls and bubbling clamshells opening to the waters of forgotten seas.
It opens you mind to the stars and the view of Acheron crossing the souls thorough the lake far to the west, as a baby is born in a rainforest and Beduins cross hot yellow sands on their camels.
It tells you that the biggest greatness lies in the recognition of the fact of our smallness. The one thing that we are really afraid of. The void around us.
And it all happens in a Second of a Second of a Second; so fast that when you turn your face to speak to those coming with you, or just as a reflex for the chill you just sensed, you can't, for it is already gone.
The first time you confront this murmur, you realise that it is the true Aleph calling your name, and the haunt spelled will keep you coming back forever.
So, believe me, mountains are watching us forever and since ever, and those going there will keep climbing for the rest of their lives, no matter what, looking for those brief, momentary lapses of reason with the persistence of madmen.
There is no other way to explain it.
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