Why I climb mountains

My hobby is mountaineering. In my spare time, I climb mountains.

The classic answer to why people climb mountains is a quote from the famous mountaineer George Mallory: “because they are there.”

I don’t climb mountains just because they are there. To me mountaineering gives a sense of accomplishment and mountaineering is fun.

Not everyone understands my hobby. Some only see suffering. And these skeptics are partially right. Suffering is an essential component of mountaineering.

To me, the challenge in mountaineering is to strike a balance between fun and suffering. Fun should outweigh suffering, and suffering should be temporary.

Like anyone, I don’t want to get injured, permanently disabled or killed. That is more suffering than fun. So much that suffering turns into harm.

Luckily our bodies and minds have evolved to protect us from harm. It lets us experience fear. Fear is a clever evolutionarily trick to keep us safe and alive.

Not all fear is justified. The main challenge in mountaineering is assessing whether the experienced fear is rational or not.

Irrational fear makes life boring. Or worse, it paradoxically instigates panic, which is downright dangerous.

Rational fear is helpful. It prompts us to lower risks or take precautions in case things go wrong. For example, by being extra careful, or adjusting our plans.

Distinguishing between rational and irrational fears is a skill that requires practice, but when mastered it is a life skill that transcends mountaineering.

I find that mountaineering makes life more fun in general. Whether it is in the mountains, in my private life or in business. That’s why I climb mountains.

I think Edmund Hillary, another famous mountaineer, was spot on when he said: “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

Do you dare to join me?


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