When I’m not scouring maps and reading up about new places to explore I love to read the thoughts of fellow mountaineers, climbers, adventurers and explorers. There is a certain kinship to be found when I read words, centuries old, that could have been taken from my own mind. Alan Bennett puts it best.
“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours” – Alan Bennett
This feeling is so true. I first felt it strongly when I read these words:
“From the moment my eyes rested on the snow-clad alps I worshipped their beauty and was filled with a passionate longing to touch those shining snows, to climb to their heights of silence and solitude, and feel myself one with the mighty forces around me. The great peaks towering into the sky before me touched a chord that all the wonders of my own land had never set vibrating, and filled a blank of whose very existence I had been unconscious.” – Freda Du Faur
Freda Du Faur was born in 1882 in Australia and became the first woman in history to climb Aoraki / Mount Cook, the highest Mountain in New Zealand. I have never been to Australia, nor am I from her era, yet, her words, at the time that I read them, were like seeing my own thoughts laid out in front of me. I read her words in the months after I first moved to Canada from Ireland and while I loved the rolling farmland of my original home, the snow-clad mountains, of which Ireland has few to none, that I was now surrounded by in Canada, truly did fill a blank inside me that I had been unconscious about before.
Reading the thoughts of others I’ve found has a way of turning an intangible feeling into an idea with form. Here are a few more quotes that I’ve been inspired by and feel will inspire you also.
“When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego, and when we escape like squirrels turning in the cages of our personality and get into the forests again, we shall shiver with cold and fright but things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.” – D.H. Lawrence
“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
“Rise early. Fix a time-table to which you must try to keep. One seldom regrets having made an early start, but one always regrets having set off too late; first for reasons of safety-the adage ‘it is later than you think’ is very true in the mountains-but also because of the strange beauty of the moment: the day comes to replace the night, the peaks gradually lighten, it is the hour of mystery but also of hope. Setting off by lantern-light, witnessing the birth of a new day as one climbs to meet the sun, this is a wonderful experience” – Gaston Rebuffat
“You cannot stay on the mountain 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 Daumel, Mont Analogue
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity.” – John Muir
“But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he cannot learn, feel, change, grow or live. Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom. Only a person who risks is free. The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; and the realist adjusts the sails” – William Arthur Ward
“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” – Helen Keller
“Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment” – Evan Hardin
“The best climber in the world is the one who’s having the most fun” – Alex Lowe
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing” – Sir Rannulph Fiennes
“The best journeys in life are those that answer questions you never thought to ask.” – Rich Ridgeway
“It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves – in finding themselves.” – Andre Gide
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain