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Quotations and Passages

The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, ‘What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?’ and my answer must at once be, ‘It is no use.’ There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behavior of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a single foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. It’s no use. So, 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 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 Herbert Leigh Mallory, (1886–1924)

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.

- American conservationist John Muir (1838-1914)
"Our National Parks"

The heights by great men reached and kept,
Were not attained by sudden flight.
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1815-1879)
"The Ladder of Saint Augustine"

Though sluggards deem it but a foolish chase,
And marvel men should quit their easy chair,
The toilsome way, and long, long league to trace,
Oh! there is sweetness in the mountain air,
And Life, that bloated Ease can never hope to share.

- Lord Byron (1788–1824)
"Childe Harold's Pilgrimage"

When the first light dawned on the earth, and the birds awoke, and the brave river was heard rippling confidently seaward, and the nimble early rising wind rustled the oak leaves about our tent, all men, having reinforced their bodies and their souls with sleep, and cast aside doubt and fear, were invited to unattempted adventures.

- Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
"A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers"

There have been joys too great to be described in words, and there have been griefs upon which I have not dared to dwell; and with these in mind I say, 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 (1840–1911)
"My Scrambles Amongst the Alps"

There is nothing more profitable for a man than to take good counsel with himself; for even if the event turns out contrary to one's hope, still one's decision was right, even though fortune has made it of no effect: whereas if a man acts contrary to good counsel, although by luck he gets what he had no right to expect, his decision was not any the less foolish.

- Herodotus (c. 490-425 B.C.)
"Histories, Book VII"

In wildness is the preservation of the world.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

When a man knows how to live amid danger, he is not afraid to die. When he is not afraid to die, he is, strangely, free to live.

- William O. Douglas (1898-1980)

There is probably no pleasure equal to the pleasure of climbing a dangerous Alp, but it is a pleasure which is confined strictly to people who can find pleasure in it.

- Mark Twain (1835–1910)
"A Tramp Abroad"

We need adventure. It’s in our blood. It will not go away. The mountains will continue to call because they uniquely fulfill our need for communion with nature, as well as our hunger for adventure.

- Royal Robbins (1935-2017)

One always talks of the ideal as a goal towards which one strives but which one never reaches. For every one of us, Annapurna was an ideal that had been realized. In our youth we had not been misled by fantasies, nor by the bloody battles of modern warfare which feed the imagination of the young. For us, the mountains had been a natural field of activity where, playing on the frontiers of life and death, we had found the freedom for which we were blindly groping and which was as necessary to us as bread. The mountains had bestowed on us their beauties, and we adored them with a child's simplicity and revered them with a monk's veneration of the divine. Annapurna, to which we had gone emptyhanded, was a treasure on which we should live the rest of our days. With this realization we turn the page: a new life begins. There are other Annapurnas in the lives of men.

- Maurice Herzog (1919-2012)
"Annapurna: First Conquest of an 8000-meter Peak"

I believe the common character of the universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility, and murder.

- Werner Herzog (1942-)
"Grizzly Man"

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