Climbing Quotes


Climbing Quotes

Looking for some great rock climbing quotes? Keep reading for a curated collection of the best climbing quotes.

Need a new book for the coffee table? The Quotable Climberhas over 250 pages of great quotes from famous and not-so-famous rock climbers.

Motivational Climbing Quotes


“Climbing is not a spectator sport.”

– Mark Wellman


“Getting to the summit is optional, getting down is mandatory.”

– Ed Viesturs (from No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks)


“What advantages do we hope to gain (from climbing mountains)? Naturally, there is the pleasure we get from the climbing process itself and from our victories, but as well as the delights of exercise in a mountain environment, there is also the process, coming every time as a surprise, of self-discovery deepening a little further with every climb: who we are, how far we can go, what is our potential, where are the limits of our technique, our strength, our skill, our mountaineering sense: discoveries whose acceptance means that, if necessary, we may turn back and return another time, several times if need be-‘Tomorrow is a new day.'”

– Gaston Rebuffat (from The Mont Blanc Massif: The Hundred Finest Routes)


“It was a cold, warm, breezeless summer night,

Wan, dull, and glaring, with a dripping fog

Low-hung and think that covered all the sky;

But, undiscouraged, we began to climb the mountainside.”

– William Wordsworth (from The Prelude)


“I don’t think I would become a climber if I were young man now… What is freedom to a bird if it is in the middle of a flock ?”

 John Gill


“One does not climb to attain enlightenment, rather one climbs because he is enlightened.”

– Zen Master Futomaki


“When you ride your bike, you’re working your legs, but your mind is on a treadmill. When you play chess, your mind is clicking along, but your body is stagnating. Climbing brings it together in a beautiful, magical way. The adrenaline is flowing, and it’s flowing all the time.”

– Pat Ament


“In climbing you are always faced with new problems in which you must perform using intuitive movements, and then later analyze them to figure out why they work, and then learn from them.”

– Wolfgang Gullich


“One can’t take a breath large enough to last a lifetime ; one can’t eat a meal big enough so that one never needs to eat again. Similarly, I don’t think any climb can make you content never to climb again.”

– Woodrow Wilson Sayre


“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.”

– Barry Finlay (from Kilimanjaro and Beyond (A Life-Changing Journey))


“Stand at the base and look up at 3,000 feet of blankness. It just looks like there’s no way you can climb it. That’s what you seek as a climber. You want to find something that looks absurd and figure out how to do it.”

– Tommy Caldwell


“Climbing is as close as we can come to flying.”
– Margaret Young


“The best climber in the world is the one having the most fun!”

– Alex Lowe


“I’ve climbed with some of the best climbers in the world, more importantly, to me, they are some of the best people in the world. That’s another reason why I climb.”
– Jim Wickwire
“To be a climber one has to accept that gratification is rarely immediate.”
– Bernadette McDonald


“As I hammered in the last bolt and staggered over the rim, it was not at all clear to me who was the conqueror and who was the conquered. I do recall that El Cap seemed to be in much better condition than I was.” 

– Warren Harding


“Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.”

– David McCullough Jr.


“Mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
– Ed Viesturs (from No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks)


“Turn your brain off and send”

– Chris Sharma


“The rope connecting two men on a mountain is more than nylon protection; it is an organic thing that transmits subtle messages of intent and disposition from man to man; it is an extension of the tactile senses, a psychological bond, a wire along which currents of communication flow.”

– Trevanian (from  The Eiger Sanction)


Funny Climbing Quotes


“I have noticed that youngsters given to the climbing habit usually do something when they grow up.”

– Elbert Hubbard


“Climbing is hard to give up, it’s just as hard to give up as cigarettes.”

– Layton Kor


“Remember that time spent on a rock climb isn’t subtracted from your life span.”

– Will Niccolls


“To qualify for mountain rescue work, you have to pass our test. The doctor holds a flashlight to your ear. If he can see light coming out the other one, you qualify.”

– Willi Pfisterer


“Bouldering isn’t really a sport. It’s a climbing activity with metaphysical, mystical, and philosophical overtones.”

– John Gill


“Climbing may be hard, but it’s easier than growing up.”

– Ed Sklar


“I’m not happy but I guess if you climb enough off-widths, one of these days you’re going to get your knee stuck and then shit your pants. It’s just an odds thing really.”

-Jason Kruk (from his unfortunate YouTube video)


“The only zen thoughts you can find on a mountain summit are those you brought yourself.”

– Robert Pirsig


Mountain Climbing Quotes


“A man does not climb a mountain without bringing some of it away with him and leaving something of himself upon it.”

– Sir Martin Conway


“Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous.

– Reinhold Messner


“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.”

 Greg Child


“Mountains have a way of dealing with overconfidence.”

– Hermann Buhl


“In the mountains there are only two grades: You can either do it, or you can’t.”

– Rusty Baille


“K2 is not some malevolent being, lurking there above the Baltoro, waiting to get us. It’s just there. It’s indifferent. It’s an inanimate mountain made of rock, ice, and snow. The ‘savageness’ is what we project onto it, as if we blame the peak for our own misadventures on it.”
– Ed Viesturs (from K2: Life and Death on the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain)


“The bizarre trend in mountaineers is not the risk they take, but the large degree to which they value life. They are not crazy because they don’t dare, they’re crazy because they do. These people tend to enjoy life to the fullest, laugh the hardest, travel the most, and work the least.”

– Lisa Morgan


“I believe that the ascent of mountains forms an essential chapter in the complete duty of man, and that it is wrong to leave any district without setting foot on its highest peak.” – Sir Leslie Stephen


“Some mountaineers are proud of having done all their climbs without bivouac. How much they have missed! And the same applies to those who enjoy only rock climbing, or only the ice climbs, only the ridges or faces. We should refuse none of the thousands and one joys that the mountains offer us at every turn. We should brush nothing aside, set no restrictions. We should experience hunger and thirst, be able to go fast, but also to go slowly and to contemplate.”

– Gaston Rebuffat


“Doubly happy, however, is the man to whom lofty mountain tops are within reach.”

– John Muir


Climbing Motivational Quotes
Photo from Acroterion.


“Each fresh peak ascended teaches something.”

– Sir Martin Convay


“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.”

– Barry Finlay


“The mountains have rules. they are harsh rules, but they are there, and if you keep to them you are safe. A mountain is not like men. A mountain is sincere. The weapons to conquer it exist inside you, inside your soul.”

– Walter Bonatti


“To those who have struggled with them, the mountains reveal beauties that they will not disclose to those who make no effort. That is the reward the mountains give to effort. And it is because they have so much to give and give it so lavishly to those who will wrestle with them that men love the mountains and go back to them again and again. The mountains reserve their choice gifts for those who stand upon their summits.”

– Sir Francis Younghusband


“The mountains have done the spiritual side of me more good religiously, as well as in my body physically, than anything else in the world. No one knows who and what God is until he has seen some real mountaineering and climbing in the Alps.”

 Reverend F. T. Wethered


“The aim of the mountaineer, if he wishes to be an artist in the full sense of word, is neither escape nor ‘the search for the absolute’ as some have claimed, but rather seek that place where ‘the mystic remains silent and the poets start to speak towards men.’

– Bernard Amy


“I thought climbing the Devil’s Thumb would fix all that was wrong with my life. In the end, of course, it changed almost nothing. But I came to appreciate that mountains make poor receptacles for dreams.”
– Jon Krakauer (from Into the Wild)


“Because it’s there.”
– George Mallory


“For a climber, saying that you are stopping by Everest is like saying that you are stopping by to see God.”
– Roland Smith (from Peak)


“I had great times leading at Devil’s Lake, where the ground was never too far away, and hard to miss if you should happen to fall to it.”

– Andy Cairns


“The simple fact is this: when you go to Alaska, you get your ass kicked.”
– Mark Twight (from Kiss or Kill: Confessions of a Serial Climber)


“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

– John Muir

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.”
– John Muir


“You don’t climb mountains without a team, you don’t climb mountains without being fit, you don’t climb mountains without being prepared and you don’t climb mountains without balancing the risks and rewards. And you never climb a mountain on accident – it has to be intentional.”

– Mark Udall


Mountain Climbing Quotes
Photo of a statue of Edmund Hilary from Jonathan Keelty.


“Nobody climbs mountains for scientific reasons. Science is used to raise money for the expeditions, but you really climb for the hell of it.”

– Edmund Hillary


“Despite all I have seen and experienced, I still get the same simple thrill out of glimpsing a tiny patch of snow in a high mountain gully and feel the same urge to climb towards it.”

– Edmund Hillary


“Man can climb to the highest summits, but he cannot dwell there long.”

– George Bernard Shaw


“There are two kinds of climbers, those who climb because their heart sings when they’re in the mountains, and all the rest.”

– Alex Lowe


“There is probably no pleasure equal to the pleasure of climbing a dangerous Alp; but it is a pleasure which is confined strictly to people who can find pleasure in it.”

– Mark Twain


“Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.”

– Evan Hardin


“Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was.”

-Dag Hammarskjold


“Life is brought down to the basics: if you are warm, regular, healthy, not thirsty or hungry, then you are not on a mountain… Climbing at altitude is like hitting your head against a brick wall — it’s great when you stop.”

– Chris Darwin


“Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.”

– Edward Whymper (from Scrambles Amongst The Alps)


“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as the sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

– John Muir


“I would say that the need to climb comes from that tough, lonely place of searching for your dignity. You know, that place – where we actually choose to confront our own weaknesses and fears, where we rebel against the terror of death – is really about dignity. That’s why alpinism is not just the act of ascending a mountain, but also inwardly of ascending above your self.”

– Voytek Kurtyka (from an interview in Alpinist #43, Summer 2013)


“The mountains are calling and I must go.”

– John Muir


“Everybody wants to reach the peak, but there is no growth on the top of a mountain.  It is in the valley that we slog through the lush grass and rich soil, learning and becoming what enables us to summit life’s next peak.”

– Andy Andrews


“The pleasure of risk is in the control needed to ride it with assurance so that what appears dangerous to the outsider is, to the participant, simply a matter of intelligence, skill, intuition, coordination… in a word, experience. Climbing in particular, is a paradoxically intellectual pastime, but with this difference: you have to think with your body. Every move has to be worked out in terms of playing chess with your body. If I make a mistake the consequences are immediate, obvious, embarrassing, and possibly painful. For a brief period I am directly responsible for my actions. In that beautiful, silent, world of mountains, it seems to me worth a little risk.”

– A. Alvarez


“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.”

– Ernest Hemingway


“Chasing angels or fleeing demons, go to the mountains.”

– Jeffrey Rasley (from Bringing Progress to Paradise: What I Got from Giving to a Mountain Village in Nepal)


“It’s a wonderful feeling to push even a tiny piece of the planet down beneath one’s feet. If it’s overhanging plastic, it’s going to pump your arms like bloated sausages; if it’s a steep snow-slope at 27000 feet it’s going to deaden the legs and make the lungs like overworked bellows. Either way, the challenges are obvious.”

– Adrian Burgess


“It’s always further than it looks. It’s always taller than it looks. And it’s always harder than it looks.”

– the three rules of mountaineering


“Great things are done when men and mountains meet; This is not done by jostling in the street.”

– William Blake

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…”

– John Muir


“My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing.”

Aldous Huxley


“No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied – it speaks in silence to the very core of your being”

– Ansel Adams


“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

– Sir Edmund Hillary


“I’m a person of the mountains and the open paddocks and the big empty sky, that’s me, and I knew if I spent too long away from all that I’d die; I don’t know what of, I just knew I’d die.”

– John Marsden (from A Killing Frost)


“Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

– John Muir


“I think I mainly climb mountains because I get a great deal of enjoyment out of it. I never attempt to analyze these things too thoroughly, but I think that all mountaineers do get a great deal of satisfaction out of overcoming some challenge which they think is very difficult for them, or which perhaps may be a little dangerous.”

– Edmund Hillary

“A few hours mountain climbing turns a rogue and a saint into two roughly equal creatures. Weariness is the shortest path to equality and fraternity – and, liberty is finally added by sleep.

-Friedrich Nietzsche


“Every alpinist who climbs 8,000-meter peaks searches for ways to prepare the body so that it will adjust to the variables. The environment at extreme altitudes is as alien as outer space. The dynamics play out in ways that we cannot fully understand. A mountaineer can only hope that a commitment to constant training will prop up his or her ambitions to explore the earth’s highest reaches.”

-Anatoli Boukreev (from Above the Clouds: The Diaries of a High-Altitude Mountaineer)

Ice Climbing Quotes

“All ice is dangerous.
Grade 4 pillars are pumpy.
Grade 5 pillars are pumpy and dangerous.
Except for certain rare days of triple-high biorythms and favorable planetary alignments, grade 6 is beyond reach.” – Dougal McDonald


“You put up with the grind of work or school as long as you can or is required. But then, one day, the phone rings one too many times, or the line at the gas pumps seems unending. The air smells bad. The food foul. ‘Enough of this’ you cry. You grab your ice tools and are gone.”

– Duane Raleigh


Other Climbing Quotes


“It doesn’t have to be fun to be fun.”

– Barry Blanchard


“You never climb the same mountain twice, not even in memory. Memory rebuilds the mountain, changes the weather, retells the jokes, remakes all the moves.”

– Lito Tejada-Flores


“In this short span between my fingertips and the smooth edge and these tense feet cramped to a crystal ledge, I hold the life of a man.”

– Geoffrey Winthrop Young


“In the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”

– Jack Kerouac


“Climbing here saved my life from the confines of materialistic illusion that we’re taught as children in school. The way I see it, there are two worlds: there’s the world where nothing is sacred except money, and the other world where everything is sacred.”

– Ron Kauk


“Bolts are the murder of the impossible.”

– Reinhold Messner


“It goes, boys!”

– Lynn Hill after the first free ascent of The Nose


“Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.”

– Anatoli Boukreev


“There are a dozen reasons for climbing, some bad, and I’ve used most of them myself. The worst are fame and money. Commonly people cite exploration or discovery, but that’s rarely relevant in today’s world. The only good reason to climb is to improve yourself.”

– Yvon Chouinard


“The best part of climbing is when it all clicks and gravity ceases to exist.”

– Chris Sharma


“When in doubt, run it out.”

– Unknown


“Never did I explore life as intensively in its beautiness, as while hanging on two fingertips freely over the deep hollow.”

– Wolfgang Güllich


Rock Climbing Quotes
Photo from Amila Tennakoon.


“I don´t want to climb hard, I want to climb easily. It should of course be hard, but it should look easy.”

– Bernd Arnold


“Technique is no substitute for power.”

– Ben Moon


“Instead of the god of security, we bow to the greater god of freedom, the freedom to take risks and master danger in order to be intensely alive.”

– Royal Robbins


“I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news.”
– John Muir


“Those who travel to mountain-tops are half in love with themselves, and half in love with oblivion.”
– Robert Macfarlane (from Mountains of the Mind)


“Climbing is an artistic, creative thing; it’s about being spontaneous, traveling, seeing the world, hanging out. It’s a balance of setting goals while enjoying the process, being ambitious without being too competitive.”

– Chris Sharma


“Surfing and climbing are both useless sports. You get to be conquistadors of the useless. You climb to the summit and there is nothing there. And you could hike to the top from another direction. How you get there is the important part. It’s the same with surfing.

– Yvon Chouinard


“If you don’t have the strength to pull a single move… there is nothing to endure.”

– Tony Yaniro


“Firm rock, rich in good holds. Up I go, no need for pitons here. There is nothing finer than this kind of unprotected climbing, with the abyss ever-deepening below.

– Hermann Buhl


Some quotes from Training for the New Alpinism by Steve House and Scott Johnston

Know of another great climbing quote? Please leave a comment below!