Mountaineering/Hiking Quotes

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I’ll never be, nor consider myself to be, a mountaineer, but many of these quotes apply to my experience hiking and exploring the mountains.


  • “Big mountains are a completely different world: snow, ice, rocks, sky, and thin air. You cannot conquer them, only rise to their height for a short time; and for that they demand a great deal. The struggle is not with the enemy, or a competitor like in sports, but with yourself, with the feelings of weakness and inadequacy. That struggle appeals to me. It is why I became a mountaineer.” – Anatoli Boukreev
  • Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion…I go to them as humans go to worship. From their lofty summits I view my past, dream of the future and, with an unusual acuity, am allowed to experience the present moment…my vision cleared, my strength renewed. In the mountains I celebrate creation. On each journey I am reborn.” -Anatoli Boukreev
  • In some ways, going to the mountains is incomprehensible to many people and inexplicable by those who go. The reasons are difficult to unearth and only with those who are similarly drawn is there no need to try to explain.” -Joe Tasker
  • We never defeat a mountain; we only defeat the things inside ourselves that would keep us from climbing the mountain.” – John Harlin Jr
  • Some climb the mountain because it is there; still others, to say they have been there. I climb the mountain to be there.” m.c reinhardt
  • Once a mountaineer has climbed so high, for the rest of his life he dreams of returning.” – Peter Boardman
  • If the mountaineer arrives back home, his heart and soul are still up there…” – Dr. Harvey Lankford
  • Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” — T. S. Eliot.
  • “The bizarre trend in mountaineers is not the risk they take, but the large degree to which they value life. They are not crazy because they don’t dare, they’re crazy because they do. These people tend to enjoy life to the fullest, laugh the hardest, travel the most, and work the least.” — Lisa Morgan.
  • “What had I so desperately been trying to gain? There was more to the mountains than their hardest faces and most challenging ridges. Simply being among them was a privilege worth seeking.” -Joe Simpson, ‘This Game of Ghosts’
  • “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. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.” -Rene Dumal, ‘Mount Analog’
  • “Mountaineers have often observed a lack of clarity in their mental state at high altitudes; it is difficult for the stupid mind to observe how stupid it is.” -George Mallory, Chapters IV-VI, X-XI in Bruce, CG, The Assault on Mount Everest 1922, page 129 
  • Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” – Jack Keroac
  • May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” – Edward Abbey
  • “When you’re in the mountains, every day is Friday.”
  • The only thing more difficult than adjusting to life in the woods, is readjusting to life indoors.”
  • “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Henry David Thoreau
  • Accidents in the mountains are less common than in the lowlands, and these mountain mansions are decent, delightful, even divine, places to die in, compared with the doleful chambers of civilization. Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain-passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action. Even the sick should try these so-called dangerous passes, because for every unfortunate they kill, they cure a thousand. – John Muir
  • 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
  • Consider what you want to do in relation to what you are capable of doing. Climbing is, above all, a matter of integrity.” Gaston Rebuffat
  • Mountains have a way of dealing with overconfidence.” Hermann Buhl
  • The mountains will always be there, the trick is to make sure you are too.” Hervey Voge
  • Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.” Evan Hardin
  • 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
  • “Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are naught without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste, look well to each step, and from the beginning think what may be the end.” Edward Whymper
  • Our athletic endeavors teach us to endure, to persevere, to find strength and joy and to share an amazing bond with our partners. Those who pursue outdoor sports get to be in nature, see its beauty and experience its raw power and utter indifference to our struggles. For me these lessons are a spiritual journey. They give me more inner peace and awareness than meditation.” Molly Absolon
  • In no other pursuit is the best or the worst in a man brought out as in mountaineering. An old friend of civilization may be a useless companion on a mountain.
    Frank Smythe, The Six Alpine/Himalayan Climbing Book, p 165
     
  • In the few days we were there the weather had been neither hot, cloudless, nor settled, and though we were assured by the residents – as one always is – that such conditions had never been known before, the fact remained that they existed then. HW Tilman, Two Mountains and a River page 555
  • Half the charm of climbing mountains is born in visions preceding this experience – visions of what is mysterious, remote, inaccessible. George Mallory, in Bruce, CG. The Assault on Mount Everest 1922, page 121
  • Once a mountaineer has climbed so high, for the rest of his life he dreams of returning. Peter Boardman, Sacred Summits page 173
  • That feeling after a major hike…Muscles aching, body and mind exhausted, yet you are euphoric. Physically you are home, but the rest of you is back in the mountains. It is so much a part of our lives. Sometimes it seems it is all we live and breathe. From the days (sometimes weeks) leading up to the hike, the planning the preparing, the build up, the hike itself, to the end when you’re home, clean and showered and comfortable in your bed and even though you’re sore as hell and so so tired, you’re already wondering what you’ll do next. These mountains are in our blood. They inspire us to continue to push ourselves and push each other. And every single time we are out there on one of our hikes, without fail, we learn something about ourselves and about the people we hike with, and we are the better for it. Hiking has given us a gift beyond measure. And the people that we meet and have hiked with or have yet to hike with, have been some of the best people we have ever known. -Tam @ourmillionmiles
  • Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”  Dean Karnazes
  • “open those eyes. there’s so much around you, and give this world a chance to save you.” R.M. Drake
  • “you have to find that place that brings out the human in you. the soul in you. the love in you.” R. M. Drake