Why do I want to climb Mt Everest?

I have been putting off for sometime writing this particular blog.  A little bit like that trip to the dentist you know have to make when your tooth starts aching. You don’t really want to go, part of you hopes that the tooth will fix itself, but as time goes by and the tooth gets worse you know inevitably that you have no choice but to shape up and just do it.

I often get asked why I want to try and climb Mt Everest.  There is a saying in climbing that if someone even has to ask you why you want to climb, then they will never understand the answer you give them.  I try not to use this line, as I feel it is at least better to try and fail than never try and succeed!  I can see that when people ask me why I want to climb Everest, they are searching for some straightforward answer to the question, that in one or two sentences will put their mind at rest and trigger something in them that says – ‘oh, now I get why he is doing it’. 

After many attempts at attempting to explain the answer to this ‘why’ question,  I always end up in the same situation.  I will mumble away a few overused clichés such: because of my love of mountaineering, the challenge of attempting the highest mountain in the world, to raise money for the non-profit organizations I am supporting, because of my fascination with Everest history and the climbers who have gone before me etc…  However my bumbling explanations sound hollow even to my own ears, they leave me feeling disappointed, frustrated and even depressed that I cannot even seem to adequately put into words why I am trying to do what I am doing.  It makes me feel like I do not even know myself. 

The reasons I give above are in fact PART of the reason that I want to climb Everest.  That much I do know.  However there is something much more powerful, some incredible attraction that I cannot even describe in words, similar to being totally in love with a beautiful woman and when your friends ask you what you love about her – your descriptions don’t seem to do her justice to the feelings you have for her.  You tell them its because she is pretty, caring, sweet, intelligent, generous, sexy, funny, on the same wavelength as you etc, but there is more to your feelings that simply what these adjectives describe.

Maybe it is obsession.  I guess its better to be obsessed with mountains rather than something like drugs, cigarettes, my body weight, or what other people think of me?  Before Everest there were other mountains that I developed these feelings for.  Never more than one mountain at a time.  I am always faithful to my mountains.  In 2009 it was Mt Cook.  For months I thought about Mt Cook, dreamt about Mt Cook, read about Mt Cook, trained to climb Mt Cook and worried about climbing Mt Cook before finally getting my chance to stand on her summit.  Before Mt Cook there was Mt Aspiring. Before Aspiring, there was Aconcagua.  The list goes on… 

A part of wanting to Climb Everest is bragging rights.  I am not particularly proud of this and I am not generally the sort of person to go around loudly proclaiming what I have done, but cannot deny that I do not sometimes think how nice it would be to tell people that I, Grant Rawlinson, had successfully climbed the highest mountain in the world. As the climb gets closer and the reality and the enormity of what I am trying to achieve dawns, these feelings are becoming overshadowed by much stronger feelings.  Feelings of self-doubt and anxiety. 

At times I feel like a spoilt selfish brat, like a school boy who has not grown up and is chasing some silly childhood crush.  I feel guilty when I am with Stephanie to the point I will disguise my actions on a daily basis when I am day dreaming of the mountain, planning things for the climb, wondering about gear and equipment, stealing furtive glances at Everest websites on the internet with every opportunity and reading every book I can get my hands on about the mountain.  It almost feels as if I am having an illicit affair, as if a third person is in our relationship.

Everest will be around the 35th mountain I climb or attempt to climb.  It will not be the last mountain I climb.  I do not think it will be the greatest or the most difficult mountaineering challenge that I will face in the future.  I know myself that after Everest there will be a new mountain in my life.  A new mountain to obsess over, to dream about, to plan and train for, to fret about and ultimately to have a date with in attempting to climb to her summit. I hope I will be climbing at some level, happily and freely with good friends in beautiful parts of the world, for as long as my body and my family will allow me. 

Certain parts of mountaineering I live for, yet certain parts I hate, certain parts scare me so much I can feel my stomach tightening just writing this, certain parts bore me to tears, certain parts frustrate me, certain parts are very painful, certain parts exhaust me to levels I never knew possible, certain parts make me wish that the only place in the world I really want to be is at home with Stephanie and as far away from this god-forsaken mountain as possible.  However at the end of the day, when everything is done and dusted, planning to climb mountains, training to climb mountains, and climbing mountains makes me a very happy guy.  Maybe that’s why I climb?

Posted on January 10, 2011, in Everest 2011. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. To use a familiar phrase of late; “You took the words right out of my mouth”. At least we know we’re alive, old mate — not like a few people I know that have to ask why do it. The poor buggers don’t know they are alive, will never come any were near the edge, and bore themselves to death thinking that all their knowledge comes from newspapers, TV or mates down at the pub. Those who believe in that kind of reality have no imagination! Live and let live I guess, but I’d rather die having accomplished something that I once thought was beyond my capabilities … until I tried.
    Keep up the hard yakka Grant, I’ll be sharing your trials all the way to the top!


  2. Great goal! I set out to climb Mt. Mitchell, not a very tall mountain, in the peak of winter and when asked why I had a difficult time doing so. You stated it the best I have read thus far. It’s far more complicated than a simple 1 sentence answer. Thanks for the inspiration to stay focused on the goal. Best of luck making it to the top!


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