“The experienced mountain climber is not intimidated by a mountain — he is inspired by it. The persistent winner is not discouraged by a problem — he is challenged by it. Mountains are created to be conquered; adversities are designed to be defeated; problems are sent to be solved. It is better to master one mountain than a thousand foothills.”
  — William Arthur Ward (1921-1994), American dedicated scholar, author, editor, pastor and teacher.

“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.”
  — George Leigh Mallory (1886-1924), English mountaineer. Lost on Mount Everest in 1924.

Speaking of George Mallory, I’m currently reading Lost on Everest: The Search for Mallory & Irvine by Peter L. Firstbrook … a fascinating story about the men who some think may have been the first to summit Mount Everest, although there is no proof.

I think it’s because of the majestic mountains of the Wasatch Front that I’m finally starting to enjoy after 4 years in Utah, but I’ve been gobbling up books about mountains and mountaineers, especially those about Everest. A lot of it, of course, stems from my recently re-discovered love of the outdoors, of the mountains, and of playing in the snow.

Some of it has to do with the perserverance that it takes to accomplish something so magnificent, and so difficult. Since 1953, about 1000 people have successfully climbed Everest. About 160 have died attempting to do so, many on the descent. Attempting to climb Everest gives you about a 1:6 chance of not making it off the mountain alive.

I wonder if Kim thinks I’m going to run off and try to climb Everest … it would be an incredible thing to stand on top of the world, but somehow, I don’t think I’m ready for an adventure of that magnitude.

Other great reads have included Tigers of the Snow: How One Fateful Climb Made The Sherpas Mountaineering Legends, by Jonathan Neale, and Touching My Father’s Soul: A Sherpa’s Journey to the Top of Everest by Jamling Tenzing Norgay, son of the man who summitted Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953.