Mountain Climbing

I was recently asked by someone I'd just met "What kind of climbing do you like to do?"

I didn't have a very good answer. Or rather, I didn't have a very good way of saying my answer. I responded that I mostly enjoyed "mountain climbing" and left it at that, probably a pretty vague and unsatisfactory answer to what seemed a straightforward question. But I came across a quote from John Muir today that would have been a more apt description of why I most enjoy heading for an adventure in the alpine.

Thousands of nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home, that wilderness is a necessity, and that wilderness parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.

Of course, if I'd answered with all of that, I'd really have gotten an odd look.

Sunset bivy from the highest point in the North Cascades National Park, after 2 days of mountain climbing with my friend Sol Wertkin. We were "living the dream" before the 20-something mile return to the road the next day.


  1. So... what kind of "mountain climbing" do like?

  2. I'll steal the quote from myself a couple years ago in the Northwest Mountaineering Journal -

    "Attempting a new route provides a rare opportunity to step beyond the limits of known difficulty and pre-determined level of ability. Suddenly, meeting unforeseen challenges becomes necessary. While any traditionally-protected pitch of climbing requires overcoming mental and physical difficulties, only on committing and personally difficult routes with sustained teamwork do all aspects of climbing converge. I find the most satisfaction through logistically-complex climbs that combine the gymnastic moves of sport climbing, the self-reliant protection of trad climbing, the versatility to climb snow and ice, and the single-minded teamwork of a 60m partnership."

    In other words: a long line (full day at least) some fun, aesthetic, but not-too-scary snow or ice, unknown terrain suprises, just enough hard-fought gear, no bolts, and a partnership as solid as the stone on the crux pitch.

  3. Sounds good to me. :)