Perhaps This is Why We Climb…

So it happens that the wealthier and more advance a society, the more fanatic its interest in certain kinds of sport. Civilization’s trajectory is to curve back upon itself – naturally? Helplessly? – like the mythical snake biting its own tail and to take up with passion the outward signs and gestures of “savagery.” While it is plausible that emotionally effete men and women may require ever more extreme experiences to arouse them, it is perhaps the case too that the desire is not merely to mimic but, magically, to be brute, primitive, instinctive, and therefore innocent. One might then be a person for whom the contest is not mere self-destructive play but life itself; and the world, not in spectacular and irrevocable decline, but new, fresh, vital, terrifying and exhilarating by turns, a place of wonders.

—Joyce Carol Oats

I believe that quote speaks straight from the part of my soul that yearns to climb and could never tell me why.

This is in the introduction of the book El Capitan: Historic Feats and Radical Routes. I don’t remember when I bought this book but this quote is the most perfect opening to a climbing book I’ve ever read.

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