As I lay on a sofa, resting my body with sore muscles from shoulders to feet a day after a climb, a friend asked “Why are you so hard on yourself? Why do you climb mountains?”
I just grinned back and smiled a ‘you-will-never-understand-because-you-don’t-try’ smile. One just can’t simply explain why we, you and I climb mountains. It is never a simple one-word explanation. Words can’t even be enough.
But as much as I can, I will tell you the reason why I climb. I cannot answer for the whole climbers, mountaineers, adventurers out there in general, but I’ll just answer my friend’s question as much as I can express it in words. Again, there is no one-word answer for this.
Reasons why I climb mountains:
I climb mountains because I feel like I am one with nature.
Aside from learning how to be disciplined and nature-friendly while leaving no trace in the mountains, nature has this majestic effect on anyone who climbs. There is this connection between the earth and your soul. You start to love the smell of mud, of trees, and love to feel the soft drizzle on your skin. You feel the roots beneath the muddy trail and the swaying of the trees. And you realized you are no different from the surroundings around you. Because you are one with nature.
It makes me eager and challenged.
Every step took forward, no matter how steep the trail would be, no matter how tired my feet are, I am always eager to get to the top. Challenge accepted, there is no turning back. Because in climbing mountains, it is not the mountains that you conquer, but yourself.
Makes me humble and hold on to life.
In every adventure, safety is the first priority. When you’re standing on the edge of a cliff, you would really hold on to your dear life. Climbing will make you humble and appreciate life even more. I am but a creature, inevitable of death. Cliffs will always remind me that. With every careful step, considering where to land those tiny feet, which rock you’ll grab and hold on to; there is humility in surrendering yourself to the earth, to the rock, to the trees and even its roots. You can never do it alone on your own. You would always need help, and help is just always around you.
Teaches patience and perseverance.
When climbing mountains, why hurry? Not unless you are lost and need to get back to the camp site before the witching hour of six in the evening. Every mountains takes time to get to the top. There is no faster way than following the trail, or else, you’ll get lost. Patience is needed and perseverance to continue. Come on, we can make it to the top. Just as what Miley Cyrus says in her song, “Ain’t about how fast I get there. Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb.” continuous playing of the song in my head
And lastly, I climb mountains because I want to see the world.
Okay, so this is cliché. Just like as the saying goes, “Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.” But that is the one of the essence of climbing. You see what nature unfolds before you. You’ll see how magnificent this world is. There are other places and things to try to see the world. You can see the world while commuting to a foreign place, eating local food, basking in the sun across the world, chatting with the natives and tribes, living their way, and list goes on and on.
But climbing mountains is also one of the best way. It is just between you and the wilderness. And the mountains can change you, you just never know it. It changes the way you see and the way you think. There is this inner peace and contentment, fulfillment and joy. Yes, I’ve seen this part of the world, and I’ve conquered myself through it.
So the next time I’ll be asked the same question, I guess I’ll still have a hard time explaining my answer. I will just hold his/her hand, and take him/her with me, to my next climb.
So what about you, why do you climb mountains? Let’s experience the answer together some time. 😊