Editor’s Note: Interested in the highest point on Earth? Be sure to watch Everest the movie, out in theaters today, September 18.
Mount Everest is a place at once both awe-inspiring and unforgiving. It is where people go to live out their wildest dreams, many times proving to be too big for even the biggest dreamers. And while not everyone overwhelmed by the mountain leaves their life on one of its hallowed faces and along its taxing routes, those who live through the most extreme tests often walk away with deep-seeded scars and heavy, torn hearts that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
“I wish I’d never gone,” Into Thin Air author Jon Krakauer states before explaining why to a young, aspiring climber asking for his hero’s advice.
But despite one of its most famous climbers and consummate scribes reflecting on his experience in such downtrodden light, the mountain remains an pinnacle of human feat and a pursuit representative of the greatest passion and drive.
10 Awe-Inspiring Quotes About Mount Everest
“Because it’s there.” – George Mallory
“You do not climb a mountain like Everest by trying to race ahead on your own, or by competing with your comrades. You do it slowly are carefully, by unselfish teamwork. Certainly I wanted to reach the top by myself; it was the one thing that I had dreamed of all my life. But if the lot fell to someone else, I would take it like a man, and not a crybaby — for that is the mountain way.” – Tenzing Norgay
“You perfect a sport when you can do all of these things with less stuff. The most impressive ascent of Everest was by the Swedish guy who bicycled from Stockholm to Kathmandu and then soloed Everest and bicycled back to Stockholm. That is cool, as opposed to this huge multinational guided thing with computers and internet cafes at the base of Everest.” – Yvon Chouinard
“Everest has always been a magnet for kooks, publicity seekers, hopeless romantics and others with a shaky hold on reality.” – Jon Krakauer
“But there are men for whom the unattainable has a special attraction. Usually they are not experts: their ambitions and fantasies are strong enough to brush aside the doubts which more cautious men might have. Determination and faith are their strongest weapons. At best such men are regarded as eccentric; at worst, mad.” – Walt Unsworth
“When I rest I feel utterly lifeless except that my throat burns when I draw breath… I can scarcely go on. No despair, no happiness, no anxiety. I have not lost the mastery of my feelings, there are actually no more feelings. I consist only of will. After each few meters this too fizzles out in unending tiredness. Then I think nothing. I let myself fall, just lie there. For an indefinite time I remain completely irresolute. Then I make a few steps again.” – Reinhold Messner
“We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.” – Mallory
“This forms the nub of a dilemma that every Everest climber eventually comes up against: in order to succeed you must be exceedingly driven, but if you’re too driven you’re likely to die.” – Krakauer
“The way to Everest is not a Yellow Brick Road.” – Krakauer
And one quote invoking a sense of ethereal awe for the mountain…
“Many years ago the great British explorer George Mallory — who was to die on Mount Everest — was asked why did he climb it. He said, ‘Because it is there.’ Well, space is there, and we’re going to climb it. And the moon and planets are there. And new hopes for knowledge and peace are there.” – John F. Kennedy
Don’t forget to watch Everest the movie, out in theaters today, September 18.