Short is the little time which remains to thee of life. Live as on a mountain.
—Marcus Aurelius (121–180 ad, Meditations)
The mountains will always be there, the trick is to make sure you are too.
—Hervey Voge, 20th century American mountaineer
You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. 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 (1908–1944), French writer, philosopher, and poet
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 alpinism 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. On this proud and beautiful mountain we have lived hours of fraternal, warm, and exalting nobility. Here for a few days we have ceased to be slaves and have really been men. It is hard to return to servitude.
—Lionel Terray (1921–1965), French mountaineer
If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end [goal] of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.
—George Leigh Mallory (1886–1924), English mountaineer
On the mountain, people become better. You are closer to God and paradise.
—Ulrich Inderbinen, Swiss mountain guide at 103 years old
If you’re going to climb a mountain, you have to have the feeling that it’s worth dying for. If you’re going to climb any mountain—the mountain of this life, the mountain of accomplishment, the mountain of obstacles, of difficulty—it has to be worth braving wind and cold and storm, symbolic of adversities. But alone on the mountaintop, you feel so close to God. His voice is so loud it’s almost like it’s thundering. You get a real “high” on top of a mountain. It’s a thrill!
—David Brandt Berg (1919–1994), founder of the Family International