Why did Doug climb?

People often asked Doug why he went rock and ice climbing and mountaineering. It is such a dangerous endeavor. I understood...and supported it. It was a part of Doug that I never would have denied him.

When I was going through Doug's things, I found this quote that I had printed out for him. It says it all.

I think Doug and I actually met the author - Charles Houston, a physician on the K2 expedition. We were at an American Alpine Club meeting in New Hampshire, where Houston gave a presentation on high altitude medicine. I was awed. I chatted with him afterwards and bought him a beer.

The Call to Climb
~ Charles S. Houston, K2

Why climb mountains?....We have been asked that question many times and have answered it in many ways. No answer is complete or satisfactory. Perhaps there is no single answer; perhaps each climber must have his own reasons for such an effort. The answer cannot be simple; it is compounded of such elements as the great beauty of clear cold air, of colors beyond the ordinary, of the lure of unknown regions beyond the rim of experience. The pleasure of physical fitness, the pride of conquering a steep and difficult rock pitch, the thrill of danger---but danger controlled by skill--are also there. How can I phrase what seems to me the most important reason of all? It is the chance to be briefly free of all the small concerns of our common lives, to strip off nonessentials, to come down to the core of life itself. Food, shelter, friends - these are the essentials, these plus faith and purpose and a deep and unrelenting determination. On great mountains all purpose is concentrated on the single job at hand, yet the summit is but a token of success, and the attempt is worthy in itself. It is for these reasons that we climb, and in climbing find something greater than accomplishment.




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