Quoted: Eric Shipton

It is impossible of course to provide an entirely satisfactory explanation for any recreation. The predominant motive in any human activity varies according to the temperament of the individual. Mountaineering provides good exercise in pleasant surroundings, a sense of satsfaction in overcoming difficulties, the joy, akin to dancing, of controlled rhythmic movement, a stimulating contact with danger, a wealth of beautiful scenery and a release from the tiresome restrictions of modern life. The expert likes to practice or display his skill. Some confess to having been drawn to climbing by a physical inferiority complex engendered by their failure at school to hit a ball straight and far. These motives are probably sufficient in themselves, and they certainly form the basis of many other sports. But in the deep devotion to any form of active endeavor there is generally something else we seek. In the case of mountaineering it is a kind of personal identification with the hills themselves, which comes of intimate understanding and strenuous contest and which brings with it a wealth of philosophical content. Above all, in my view, the attraction lies in the memory of those rare moments of intellectual ecstasy which occur perhaps on a mountain summit, perhaps on a glacier at dawn or in a lovely moonlit bivouac, and which appear to be the result of a happy coincidence in the rhythm of mind and scene.

From Upon That Mountain.

Pretty much sums it up.

First Morning in Town

There still are rushing rivers in my dreams;
There still are grinding boulders in the streams;
      There still is mountain madness,
      Thund’ring down in reckless gladness
—Tho I’m safely in my bed in town, it seems.

There is still a shining world of ice and snow;
There still are steps to slog and miles to go;
      There still are fragile bridges,
      And windy fearsome ridges,
—Tho the city sounds about me all say “No…”

There is still a threat’ning avalanche to round;
There still are blinding fog banks, summit bound;
      I can find no safe belay
      Yet the suns ays “Do not stay”…
—Then I wake to find I’m home on level ground.

I’ll be toiling up sublime eternal heights,
I’ll be threading huge seracs by candle lights,
      I will pause where none may pass
      By some bottomless crevasse…
—I’ll be dreaming that I’m climbing… many nights.

by Clark E. Schurman

WATCH: Vertical Sailing Greenland

An inspiring and entertaining bit of expedition climbing that managed to pull in a well-deserved 2011 Piolet d’Or. These guys seem like a lot of fun. Climbers Nico Favresse, Olivier Favresse, Seán Villanueva and Ben Ditto head out with 75 year-old Captain Bob Shepton on his 33-foot sailboat in search of unclimbed big walls rising out of Greenland’s fjords. Catch the whole 5-part video series over at Patagonia.

WATCH: The Love Letter

Fitz Cahall is slaying it. It’s been a real trip watching his list of projects grow, from simply noticing his articles in climbing rags, to the last few years of The Dirtbag Diaries, to The Season, Tracing the Edge, and Fringe Elements. Just last week or so he and his wife Becca released a more personal, emotive project called The Love Letter, which follows the pair in an epic trip across the Sierras and ponders on the importance of wilderness in one’s everyday life. It works well – and definitely a different approach as far as these little outdoor adventure narrative pieces go. Fitz is a darn good storyteller, and I’m already looking forward to his next project.

P.S. – If you have a love letter to share with a person or place, you can do so on their Facebook page

WATCH: Path of the Paddle

While this post somewhat varies from the implied typical subject matter of this site, I think I’m going to include it anyways and open things up a bit into the wet stuff out there as well as the mountain topics. There’s too many commonalities and histories and players to not keep it all circulating here, so keep your eyes peeled for more of this kind of stuff as I come across it…