"If you think climbers fear thunderstorms, try canyoneers." — Guido.
The following are humorous (and sometimes serious too) quotes gathered from the Web, Usenet's personal .sig, the rec.climbing FAQ, rec.climbing itself, books (like Waterman's The Quotable Climber), Dawn's selection and other sources. Since it's all a big rip-off, I assume no copyright whatsoever. I don't even guarantee that they are accurate. Now that you've been warned, enjoy.
"It is a fine thing to be out on the hills alone. A man can hardly be a beast or a fool alone on a great mountain." — Francis Kilvert (1840-79).
"The moral here is to never trust equipment, but oneself. Hence, free soloing is the best choice for the safety conscious climber." — Fiona Always.
"In all the splendor of solitude... it is a test of myself, and one thing I loathe is to have to test myself in front of other people." — Naomi Uemura on why he soloes.
"I wouldn't last 30 minutes climbing solo." — Bradford Washburn.
"Some people love soloing and are great at it. They can have it." — Alison Osius.
"Soloing by iPhone is not that sweet." — Alex Honnold.
"The climbing and soloing aren't worth dying for, but they are worth risking dying for." — Todd Skinner.
"The terrible thing about free soloing difficult routes that are within one's capacity, is the chance that faced with ultimate danger and need for ultimate self-control, one's nerve might fail and cause an error. That's irony of it — that fear could short-circiut skill, that one would die as a direcy result of being afraid to die." — Royal Robbins.
"In Layton Kor's Beyond the Vertical, you can read about when Galen Rowell got his boot stuck in a wide crack above Hollow Flake Ledge on an early ascent of the Salathé. Kor soloed up to him and hammered the boot out from below."
"This [rec.climbing] thread reminds me of why the Silent Partner was invented." — Rex Pieper.
"Free soloing can be deadly, even if it looks great in the photos." — From a Climbing Editorial.
"All you need is chalk and balls, man – it's the purest way to cruise." — Jimmy Jewell.
"Without a rope there is no fear beacuse to fall is unthinkable." — Catherine Destivelle.
"Soloing is the most beautiful way of climbing; no material constrains, just you and the rock, the sun, nature; a kind of school for courage, willpower and self-confidence." — Alain Robert.
"There is probably nothing finer than to climb free and unencumbered by equipment, reveling in the gymnastic upward movement, like Preuss or a Dulfer before you, relying only upon yourself, keeping a sharp eye on things, feeling the rock beneath your feet and fingertips." — Hermann Buhl.
"The solitary ascent of the Dru had the immediate effect of expanding the horizons of my ideas about mountaineering. It made me aware of possibilities well in advance of the times, which were characterized by very restricted methods. This was how the superb pyramid of K2 surfaced once more in the list of my projects. But I chose K2 as a way for giving concrete form to my new concept of mountaineering: to climb the second highest mountain in the world solo, alpine style, and without oxygen." — Walter Bonatti on contemplating a solo ascent of K2 in 1955.
"I stand undefeated alone in the ring just pacing
The sweat and the blood dried on my hands all wasted
I'm shouting: 'come back and fight for I am the king'
But the lights are all out and the people are gone
How come we always burned brightest when no one was watching ?" — New Model Army, These Words.
"Horn /n./ malady brought on by being too long alone in the mountains.
Ice screw /n./ drastic cure for a severe case of horn."
"The ground is a harsh spotter" — Old Man Caballo.
"My success rate is much higher when I'm soloing. It's easier to talk yourself into quitting when you have someone to talk to." — Amanda Tarr.
"How do you keep your underwear clean anyway ? Mine get pretty dirty after just a few weeks of wearing them even though I always wear them when I take my weekly shower. I will say more, I have to retire most of them after just a few months of use... I have heard that some people own several at the same time but I cannot believe it, this is surely an urban myth... I wish I could ask my climbing partners but I only climb solo..." — Old Man Caballo.
"I knew I was in trouble when my farts came out cold." — Edwin Drummond, recalling his rescue from high on a solo attempt of North America Wall during a 12-day storm.
"Everybody free-solos. When you walk to the store, you're free-soloing. It's just a matter of the difficulty of the route." — John Bachar.
"The climb will go. Get rid of the rope. It's only distracting you." — Jeff Lowe's inner voice before soloing Bridalveil falls.
"Ce serait bien plus beau si je pouvais le dire à quelqu'un." — Samivel.
"Si tu tombes c'est la chute.
Si tu chutes, c'est la tombe." — A propos du solo.
"Fear doesn't exist anywhere except in the mind." — Dale Carnegie.
"If it weren't for egos, some of the greatest accomplishments of climbing would never have happened." — Michael Kennedy.
"I've always wondered where the Old Timers bought their pants, with their cantaloupe-sized balls and all." — Stephen Prouty.
"This climb waits for someone with stainless steel testicles." — Roger Briggs, on who would complete the first free ascent of Colorado's Jules Verne in 1975.
"If by protected you mean that it's 10-15 feet above that alien, then yes, yes it is protected." — Greg Kneser.
"Some stuff has to be done even if there is a risk. That's the first important thing I ever found out that I didn't find out from my mother." — Stephen King.
"Although one is not inclined to be timid or nervous, it is nevertheless a trifle depressing to receive letters full of expostulation and entreaty: 'If you are determined to commit suicide, why not come home and do so in a quiet lady-like manner ?'" — Annie Smith Peck (1896).
"I think risk is important. I don't care if it's a great financial risk or a physical risk. You only get out of something what you put into it and the fact that you are willing to risk something means that you are going to get a lot more out of it." — Yvon Chouinard.
"Lamest response ever to 'Let's toss for the crux pitch ?': 'I don't have a coin'." — Martin Carpenter.
"When I wonder what I'm doing up there, cold, exhausted and terrified, I remember the words of Winston Churchill: 'When you are going through hell, keep going'. He must have been a climber." — Marie-Odile Meunier Bouchard.
"There are dreams which are worth a certain amount of risk." — Ueli Steck (1976-2017).
"Mountain climbing is extended periods of intense boredom, interrupted by occasional moments of sheer terror."
"I would never bungee jump... I came into this world because of a broken rubber and I'm not going out because of one..."
"He who remains calm while those around him panics probably doesn't know what is going on."
"Sex and extreme sports are actually quite similar: you come dangerously close to changing the world's population count by 1."
"I laugh in the face of danger, and put ice cubes down the back of the shirt of fear !" — E.B. III.
"Profanity is about the best pro you'll get until the crack starts to narrow. Include doubles of profanity in the #6 to #8 range on your rack for this lead." — Bruce Bindner.
"In 1961 I led this chimney in a state of metabolic uproar. At the base of the pitch I smoked several cigarettes (the first and last ones of my life). This was to calm me. Then I spooned half a jar of honey. This was to ensure superhuman strength. Mort Hempel, my partner, watched this silly ritual with mouth agape and eyes exploding with fear." — Steve Roper about the 3rd pitch of the Worst Error.
"I get stronger when I shake." — John Yablonski.
"I thought you were going to fall and die. I decided if you did, I would throw up, walk away, and quit climbing." — A witness to Jaybro after a sketchy solo.
"Then came a bigger fear. Not the threat of imminent injury, but the fear that if I didn't go back up, I would be a chickenshit forever." — John Sherman, Tales from the gripped.
"I believe that driving is more risky [than climbing]. The rock is never drunk, or on a cell-phone, or reaching into the back seat to smack a kid. Gravity is always there, of course, but it's not going 30mph at one time and driving a semi-truck at 80mph another." — Lord Slime.
"If you think climbers fear thunderstorms, try canyoneers." — Guido.
"Big alpine routes aren't exactly safe... You need to have your feelers out, and you need to be willing to back off in things aren't quite right. At the same time, you have to push through your doubts and fears." — Michael Kennedy.
"What is behind you is forgotten. You can't remember danger and difficulty when it is behind you." — Wanda Rutkiewicz.
"We commenced plugging up in foot deep steps with a thin wind crust on top and precious little belay for the ice-axe. It was altogether most unsatisfactory and whenever I felt feelings of fear regarding it I'd say to myself: 'Forget it! This is Everest and you've got to take a few risks'." — Edmund Hillary.
"Only those who lack it use the adjective 'excess' in front of testosterone." — Dan Goodman.
"When penalty slack is greater than the distance to the ground, the FF becomes irrelevant." — Brent Ware.
"For me an adventure is something that I can take an active part in but that I don't have total control over." — Peter Croft.
"He gets a free ride after 10 rescues..." — A chopper pilot about Laurent Smagghe, who had the speed record of Mt Blanc but also the record of being rescued most times.
"I think that the best thing to get your head in shape for leading is leading, and the more the better; that's why the first lead in the spring usually seems pretty scary. At times I've climbed with partners who for one reason or another weren't doing any leading, and I found that my leading really improved if every time I was on a rope, I was on the sharp end. Conversely, I find that too much top-roping seems to put me out of synch and makes it harder to lead — you start missing the security of having that rope above you." — Tom Dunwiddie.
"Some folks aren't ready to create their own adventures. Putting them in a real adventure would be like letting your prize chihuahua go play with the coyote pack at sunrise." — Brutus of Wyde.
"Don't Bolt — Be Bold" — Slogan on a T-shirt I made.
"When in doubt — Run it out" — Slogan on a T-shirt I made.
"Most sports require only one ball." — Seen on a T-shirt with a picture of a climber.
"On real cliffs, opportunities for problems loom like an early morning drive in mist-shrouded moose country." — Guido.
"If everything's under control, you're going too slow." — Mario Andretti.
"There is nothing to fear except fear itself." — F.D. Roosevelt.
"There are old climbers, there are bold climbers, but there are no old bold climbers !"
"Anything I've ever done that ultimately was worthwhile initially scared me to death."
"Learn to jam, learn to bleed, learn when to turn over the lead !" — Rex Pieper.
"He who seeks fear shall be followed by fear." — Ancient scottish proverb.
"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." — The Bene Gesserit Litany of Fear, from Frank Herbert's Dune.
"It's difficult for me to understand why people believe that climbing is not competitive... The reason people are stretching the limits, soloing, doing things without protection, is that they're being pushed by other climbers; Competition is good for sport." — John Roskelley.
"They say miracles are past; and we have our philosophical persons, to make modern and familiar, things supernatural and causeless. Hence is it that we make trifles of terrors, ensconcing ourselves into seeming knowledge, when we should submit ourselves to an unknown fear." — William Shakespeare, All's Well that Ends Well, Act II Scene III.
"Ce qui est intéressant, c'est l'engagement." — Patrick Edlinger (1960-2012).
"La glace, c'est boeuf ! Il faut taper. Et plus tu as peur, plus tu tapes ! Enfin, les bons doivent taper moins fort..." — Catherine Destivelle.
"If you don't let go, you can't fall off !" — Jerry Moffat.
"Fall (to) /v./ AKA free-solo rappel. A dynamic retreat from a climb. Note: it is never the fall that kills — it's the sudden stop at the end."
"After the first thirty feet it doesn't matter how far you fall." — Mike Cherry, author of "On High Steel", ironworker.
"True, terminal velocity in climbing can vary, and be a lot lower than you think. A bit like; 'Any good rope will last you a lifetime, which may not be as long as you'd wish'." — Stefan Axelsson.
"If you can hit it while falling down, you can use it while climbing up." — Andy's Rule of thumb for climbing vegetation.
"We decided to finish the route so we would never be tempted to come back." — Brad Brandewie before a big fall.
"The crater I had made began to pool with blood." — James recalling a free soloing fall on supertopo.com.
"I suspect that most falls occur because there is a place to stop and momentum is hard to regain. Good luck!" — Steve Dieckhoff on climbingboulder.com.
"Newspapers ascribe the word 'climber' to any person who falls in the mountains or off a rock. To refer to anyone who falls in the mountains as... a climber... is as factual as to say that anyone who sits down at a piano is a pianist." — Pat Ament.
"Are you all right ?" — Herman Buhl after taking a 60m lead fall.
"Yes ! Are you alive ?" — His partner's reply.
"Flying is easy: just throw yourself at the ground and miss." — Douglas Adams (1952—2001).
"Don't fall now or we'll both go." — Layton Kor on numerous occasions.
Q: What's the difference between a bad golfer and a bad climber ?
A: A bad golfer sounds like this: "Whack... Damn!"
A bad climber sounds like this: "Damn... Whack!"
"You know the difference between 'trauma' and 'no big deal' ? 'Trauma' is when it happens to me. 'No big deal' is when it happens to you... This roof is 'no big deal' !" — William Wright.
"Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom." — General George S. Patton.
Inertia /n./: Tendency of a skier's body to resist changes in direction or speed due to the action of Newton's First Law of Motion. Goes along with these other physical laws:
1) Two objects of greatly different mass falling side by side will have the same rate of descent, but the lighter one will have larger hospital bills.
2) Matter can neither be created nor destroyed, but if it drops out of a parka pocket, don't expect to encounter it again in our universe.
3) When an irresistible force meets an immovable object, an unethical lawyer will immediately appear.
"Above 50°, you fly at each curve." — Doug Coombs.
"I went to the gym for the first time in over two months after returning from a road trip. It fucking sucks. I was falling all over the place too, and those holds were hurting. My fingers are sore as hell. I watched in dismay as I got smoked by 17 year old gym rats. Then some kid who's never touched stone in his life told me that I could be pretty good if I just improved my finger strength and then he started to walk away. So I grabbed him and threw him against the wall and I took his fucking head and I put it on the fucking floor and said, 'you mutta fucka, I've taken 50 foot falls onto tiny tcu's, I got respect in all 5 boro's — sport, trad, big wall, ice, and alpine. My mudda can hold her head high in any crag in this country. Look at me, I got 26 first ascents under my belt and you're going to walk out on me? I walk out on you.'
I mean I said, 'yeah, I really need to work on my finger strength'....." — Christian Brooks.
"It's all A1 until you fall." — About A5 ratings.
"We took the customary summit pictures and ate some chocolate. I felt the usual anticlimax. What now ? It was a vicious circle. If you succeed with one dream, you come back to square one and it's not long before you're conjuring up another, slightly harder, a bit more ambitious — a bit more dangerous. I didn't like the thought of where it might be leading me. As if, in some strange way, the very nature of the game was controlling me, taking me towards a logical but frightening conclusion; it always unsettled me, this moment of reaching the summit, this sudden stillness and quiet after the storm, which gave me time to wonder at what I was doing and sense a niggling doubt that perhaps I was inexorably losing control — was I here purely for pleasure or was it egotism ? Did I really want to come back for more ? But these moments were also good times, and I knew that the feelings would pass. Then I could excuse them as morbid pessimistic fears that had no sound basis." — Joe Simpson, Touching the void.
"I'm not sensitive about my accidents; I'm sensitive about being considered a bad or foolish climber. Apart from the avalanche and the ice climbing thing (those were my fault) the others were not my fault." — Joe Simpson.
"When the slab cut loose, my mind calculated trajectories, analyzed terrain, and fed me its conclusions: no way out, you are going to die. This conclusion seemed to free me to experience the fall. Tumbling, catching air, then the loudest sound I've ever heard — probably the sound of both legs breaking or how to get hit by a Mack truck." — Carl Tobin about breaking both legs in Alaska.
"Be careful when you go down a mountain. Remember, there's only one step but it's a big one !" — My grandfather.
"He who lowers off and runs away, will live to climb another day." — The Dingus motto.
"How to fall on a slab ? I would say facing the rock and sliding on ya feet, there's always a chance they'll grip and save you. I prefer to close my eyes — I can't stand to see people getting hurt — especially me..." — Robin Soper.
"Pour about one ounce of Tincture of Benzoin directly on the open wound, preferrably as soon as the injury happens. After you do so, you probably won't be worried (at least for a while) about whether to cover the wound or leave it open. The results may suprise you, and prepare you psychologically for the worst chimneys and offwidths." — Brutus of Wyde.
"Sucks to be you, dude." — An Emergency Room Doctor and climbing partner to Brent Ware after a fall.
"I want painkillers, and none of that Tylenol #3 crap either. Something with a 'dan' or a 'done' at the end." — Brent Ware after a fall.
"When on the wall, the bottom of the learning curve can be the top of a long free fall..." — Brutus of Wyde.
"No mistakes or big pancakes."
"Make that move or six foot groove."
"Cruise or bruise
Summit or plummet
Make haste or tomato paste
Finger locks or cedar box
Climb in style or fly a mile
Unravel the mystery or soon become history
Underclings or angel wings
Nail the seam or giant scream." — Dick Shockley, Cruising Up the Salathé Wall, Ascent 1980.
"Place well thy protection lest the Earth rises up and swallow thee."
"I had great times leading at Devil's Lake, where the ground was never too far away, and hard to miss if you should happen to fall to it." — Andy Cairns.
"I climb way too badly to worry about cholesterol..." — Brad Brandewie.
"If you fall, stand tall, and come back for more." — 2Pac.
"If you fall, act like you're swimming to amuse your friends." — Jack Handey.
- A climb where you were so scared you almost pee'd your pants.
- similar to Yellow-Point except for more severe consequences.
- a blood stain left by a cratered climber.
"Crater (to) /v./ To fall and hit the ground."
"Unzip (to) /v./ simple yet spectacular way to remove protection."
"Walking: uncommon means of mountain locomotion. See fall, glissade, etc."
"Well, you don't see that every day." — Bev Johnson to her partner after seeing a body fall off El Cap.
"I was feeling far too claustrophobic to worry about falling." — Merry about the 3rd pitch of the Worst Error.
"Solo climber: One climber falling.
Alpine style: Lots of climbers falling, tied together.
Bouldering: One climber falling and missing a thick mat.
Trad: One climber falling on another climber."
"It's not advisable to drink too much strong liquors while climbing in the Alps. If, however, you are going to fall over a cliff, it's advisable to be thoroughly intoxicated when you do so." — Anonymous English alpinist.
"Do you think I'll make it ?" — Catherine Destivelle, after breaking a leg on the summit of Mt Viets, Antarctica.
"The fall was like sliding down a slanting Empire State Building, six times higher than the real one." — Robert H. Bates after having been stopped with 6 others falling climbers by Pete 'The Belay' Schoening on a 1953 attempt on K2.
"Looks like we found the fast way down." — Rick White after a 200m fall off the summit of Shivling with Greg Child.
"I like big fat men like you. When they fall they make more noise !" — Tuco in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
"They that stand high have many blasts to shake them;
And if they fall they dash themselves to pieces." — William Shakespeare, Richard III.
"Cave ne cadas." — Ritually said by a slave to the triumphing Roman emperor during a defile.
"The bigger they come, the harder they fall." — Robert Fitzsimmons (1862—1917).
"He who never fell never climbed." — Unknown.
"Live to lie about it." — Lowrey's first law of climbing.
"Backing off a climb is not failure. Not surviving is failure." — Brutus of Wyde.
"First of all, thank you so much for getting it right. Finally, a magazine committed to putting the death back in climbing." — Letter to the editor in issue #3 of Alpinist Magazine.
"As my own life began to slip away, I was stuck with an overwhelming sense of how wonderful it is to be alive." — Art Davidson, during a winter attempt on Denali.
"Men's resources in energy in the face of death are inexhaustible. When the end seems imminent, there still remain reserves, though it needs tremendous willpower to call them up." — Maurice Herzog.
"Death is a gift. Without it we wouldn't value life." — John Bachar.
"Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion." — Anatoli Boukreev, memorial plaque at Annapurna Base Camp.
"When you die it negates the whole game: you haven't just fucked yourself, you've hurt lots of other people — that's when it becomes irresponsible and tragic." — Greg Child.
"In order to climb properly on big peak one must free oneself of fear. This means you must write yourself off before any big climb. You must say to yourself, 'I may die here'." — Doug Scott.
"Dying seems to me a bigger failing than not improving as fast as humanly possible." — Theresa Ho.
"I suppose at this point I should have said something consoling like: 'He died doing what he loved'. But I couldn't bring myself to say it. Nobody loves hanging from a rope and freezing to death." — Ken Kamler.
"— Mommy, mommy, a man just fell off the cliff !
— What did Daddy say ?
— AAAaaaahhhhhhhhh !"
"Was that 'on belay' or 'off belay' ?" — Common climbing last words.
"I'd feel better if we had some crampons. Oh, what the hell, let's go for it..." — Common climbing last words.
"Yes, I'm sure this hold/belay/anchor/rope is good." — Common climbing last words.
"Interesting." — Common climbing last words.
"Oh that pitch... it's a piece of cake." — Common climbing last words.
"If you die, we split your gear." — Seen on a T-shirt.
"You will die before your Verve pants do." — Advertisement in Climbing magazine.
"If you're ever killed mountain climbing, then all that you've worked for is gone" — Jim Whittaker.
"That which does not kill you will make you stronger." — F.N.
"That which does not make you stronger might be lots of fun before it kills you." — D.U.
"The client is trying to kill you, the client is trying to kill himself and the client is trying to kill the rest of the clients." — The 3 rules of mountain guiding.
"Different kinds of climbers:
Novice — Someone (often dead) who should be kept off the mountains at all costs.
Experienced climber — Someone whose death was unavoidable.
Alpine Club Member — Someone who never dies but slowly fades away."
"I mean goddamn ! My life is filled with many great moments, only a few of them near death experiences." — Will Niccolls.
"Well, you might live longer, but at least I'll die with a full rack." — Craig Smith, arguing about rappel anchors with his partner who wanted to leave another stopper.
"The anchors are shite, but I've got a good foothold !" — Heard by Chiloe on a vertical wall.
"You only die once, but you're maimed forever. So if you're going to fall take a big one."
"Train hard and fight easy or train easy and fight hard — and die."
"Before you attempt to beat the odds, be sure you can survive the odds beating you..."
"Remember not to have a fatal accident, because the community will think climbing is a dangerous thing, your friends will be bummed... and you'll be dead." — Kitty Calhoun closing remarks at an American Alpine Club lecture.
"There is a time and a place for every drug on the market (and some that ain't...), but mixing distance from the nearest emergency room and speculation on what effect this or that chemical has on the body (especially at altitude...) can cause serious financial difficulties for your surviving relatives..." — Michael Riches.
"It hurts to admit you've made a mistake. But if it's a big enough mistake, the pain won't last long..."
"Luck can't last a lifetime unless you die young."
"I hope I die before I get old." — The Who.
"You are not going to be famous unless you get down alive." — Ed Webster to Stephen Venables after reaching the summit of Kangshung without oxygen.
"Summit or death, either way I win." — Rob Slater, before dying on K2.
"Death is nature's way of telling you that you failed." — SAS Commando.
"There are two kinds of climbers... smart ones and dead ones." — Don Whillans.
"Ich kann nicht mehr." — Toni Kurz last words while within touching distance of the rescue team, north face of Eiger, 1936.
"The mountains will always be there, the trick is to make sure you are too." — Hervey Voge.
"We stand on a mountain pass in the midst of a whirling snow and blinding mist, through which we get glimpses now and then of paths which may be deceptive. If we stand still we shall be frozen to death. If we take the wrong road we shall be dashed to pieces. We do not certainly know whether there is any right one. What must we do ? Be strong and of good courage. Act for the best, hope for the best, and take what comes... If death ends all, we cannot meet death better." — James Fitz.
"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.
"I've always been incapable of accepting fate, and I've always refused to die, and that has helped me to survive." — Walter Bonatti.
"I accept the consequences of all that I do. No matter what we do with our lives, our bodies are temporary. We're all going to die, and I'd rather die climbing than doing anything else." — John Bachar.
"Death is not behind the mountains, it is behind our shoulders." — Russian saying.
"Evolution will be served, one way or another."
"If someone dies trying to emulate a car commercial, how is that needless ?" — Tim Stich.
"Don't try to impress anybody out there. It's your own blood that you bleed man." — Roy Lowry.
"The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in war."
"Living with the immediacy of death helps you sort out your priorities in life. It helps you to live a less trivial life." — Sogyal Rinpoche.
"I think a lot about climbing still, but not during the daytime. I think about it mostly at night, and on special occasions. I think about climbing when I am fed up with life in general. When I wish I could go over to the rocks or the trees. I enjoy my dreams about climbing." — Fritz Wiessner after a stroke at 87.
"From death in valleys, deliver me O lord !" — A Mountaineer's Prayer.
"J'aime bien la nuance en pente raide entre la mort certaine et la mort quasi probable." — DavidG.
"Having disposed of my material possessions, I now turn to those items I hold in great esteem but which are without material value in this life. To all of my children I leave the most important things of my life: The sparkle of sunlight on the snow in the cool sunlight of the early morning after a new snowfall, the blue of ice in a serac poised against the blue sky, the clean firm grip of good rock, the music of a tiny stream in an alpine meadow, the smell of heather in bloom, the graceful tilted head of an avalanche lily, the clink of pitons and carabiners, singing of a primus in darkness at high camp, the flicker of flashlights in the pre-dawn climb, and the indescribable beauty of an Alpine dawn from high on a mountain. The feel of comradeship as the team moves swiftly up the face, the moments when fingers of fear clench at your insides on exposure, and perhaps moments of terror, the knowledge that life and death are sure, swift, and true. But above all, I leave to you my beloved children, those few short moments of attainment and peace on the summit, secure in the knowledge that you have conquered not the mountain so much as yourself. Those few moments in the sunlight you share with God, who has written his signature all about you as you sit in the magnificent cathedral in the sky created by God, for God, and which we mortals share but a brief time. Where you must accept the ultimate truth that we have but one end to our short life, before you descend again the burdens of the world, to shoulder the cross of responsibility to the family.
I know not whether or not you, my children, will follow in my steps to the Alpine world, and yet, knowing all too vividly the mountain dangers, I also fear that you will. But whether you go to the high places or view them from afar off as the sunset paints a crimson glory across and as the light slips from the mountain meadow, remember the restless spirit of your father amid the moss and heather seeking ever his eternal rest with God." — Paul M. Williams, the Mountaineer's Will.
Feeling in a dark mood today ? Then also check the famous last words and other death related quotes...
More climbing humor at the 'You might be a mountain climber' page.