Friday, September 15, 2006

Climbing Mountains

Why in the world do we climb mountains? Last night I started climbing a 14er (14,000 foot mountain for those of you who are not associated with Colorado) at about 11:00 at night. Surely only a crazy person would climb a mountain like that when it's below freezing and it's almost impossible to see the huge rock in the middle of the trail that you're about to trip over. I generally do not consider myself to be crazy so there must be some other reason people do these kind of things. I've been hiking mountains since I was a wee lad and haven't really stopped to think about why I do it. I think part of it is to have a sense of accomplishment. There is definitely a difference between climbing a mountain that has a road to the top and climbing a mountain in the middle of nowhere that is too rugged and steep for any vehicle to climb. I don't think that the sense of accomplishment is the only reason we continue to climb because I still enjoy climbing places that cars can get to like Nike Missile site north of Anchorage. My favorite thing about that hike was that it was, what I call, "The best view of everything in Anchorage." It sure is beautiful to look out from the top of a mountain and see that you are higher than anything else around you and to be able to see miles and miles away. I think it gives you a feeling of superiority which sounds kind of weird but humans like to be aware of what's going on and being on the top of a mountain lets you see everything. I definitely know that I don't climb mountains for excercize because I never do anything purely for excersize. I can't stand running, road biking, weightlifting, etc. Climbing mountains isn't exactly fun. When I think of fun I think of mountainbiking, hanging out with friends, and playing ping pong. Walking up a mountain by itself is not my idea of fun. It definitely has to do with the experience you have when climbing a mountain. I am always amazed by God's creation when I look out from a mountainside especially at night time when you see thousands of stars. It's a humbling experience. When you really think about it though, I think that mountains and stars are some of the less cool creations of God's so that's not my top reason that I climb mountains. I think that my top reason I climb mountains is to explore the unknown. Every mountain that I have everyclimbed has been climbed by thousands of people but it expands my knowledge of the area. In Eagle River (My hometown) I love looking at the mountains, naming them, and getting to know each of them by hiking them. This summer one of my goals was to do as much hiking as possible and as much time studying the chugach range as i could without getting in trouble with my boss for looking at maps the entire day.
So, there you have it. My reason for climbing mountains is to get to know the area and make it a familiar place. It intimidates me to see a mountain I've never seen before so I like to become familiar with them. I don't know why really but there's something inside of me that wants to be familiar with areas.