This is why I climb

June 19, 2007 at 3:47 pm | Posted in Travels, UP Mountaineers | Leave a comment

Why do mountaineers insist on lugging 40-liter backpacks to scale thousand-meter heights?

I can’t speak for others but as far as I’m concerned, never am I more aware of just how infinitesimal my own existence is, than when I am at the mercy of the elements.

Up there, nothing reminds you of all that you can’t leave behind except what you can humanly impose upon your back. Everything else is excess baggage and you have to do away with them. So it’s sort of metaphorical for the way we ought to live our lives. You shouldn’t load up on what you don’t really need in your life.

As I said to my batch mates during our Ugo post-climb, we all have excess baggage when we go up a mountain. Both literally and figuratively: can openers, fruit baskets, pepper holders, too much underwear, and thoughts of boys and no more paychecks by July.

But in every step you take to the summit, none of that matters. The point is to get there. Otherwise, why climb at all?

And that is why I am a mountaineer. Because up there, I am at my smelliest, slimiest self. But it is also up there where I am at my sincerest self. When I am tired, it shows. When I want to keep quiet, I can do so at my own convenience. Up there I do not have the comforts of pretension. What you see is what you’ll get because it’s back to the basics up there.

And the company I keep is the company that could even probably save my life because no mountain should ever be underestimated. Any attempt at climbing can kill you.

Never mind the cliche. Mountaineering is really about exceeding your own limits as a person. And I have been pushed to my limits. Three years ago I could never imagine running 15 kilometers without fainting at the idea. Or even 10km, for that matter. Or running down mountain trails despite blisters forming on both my feet.

And now, with my being an official UPM member, I find myself with some of the best of the lot. And I look forward to reaching more summits under its orange and white flag. It feels good, this past year of doing some things I have never done before in my life. I am imbibed with a sense of courage that I can go through what other boundaries are set before me from this point on.

The adventures beckon. And it is my fondest desire to meet them head on.


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