Words have power. They can push you to greater heights, or they can tear you down to the very depths. And when it comes to hiking the mountains of your life, whether real or imagined, the right words can give you the boost you need to continue your journey with a lift in your step and a lightness in your heart. Yes, and a smile on your face. They could also help you get out of hiking slumps or make your trekking aspirations reality.

So, when you’re in need of some mountaineering wisdom or just need an inspirational thought to accompany you in your adventures, the following quotes may just be what you’re looking for.

On Overcoming Adversity

Photo taken at Faulhorn and Mannlichen

He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary.”   – Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher

Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain.”  – Author Unknown

It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”  – Sir Edmund Hillary, mountaineer

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”  – Mahatma Gandhi, Indian independence movement leader

On the Rewards of Climbing

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, explorer

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, rock climber

On the Wisdom of Climbing

You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”  – René Daumal, poet

Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.”  – Greg Child, mountaineer

In a sense everything that is exists to climb. All evolution is a climbing towards a higher form. Climbing for life as it reaches towards the consciousness, towards the spirit. We have always honored the high places because we sense them to be the homes of gods. In the mountains there is the promise of… something unexplainable. A higher place of awareness, a spirit that soars. So we climb… and in climbing there is more than a metaphor; there is a means of discovery.”  – Rob Parker, cave explorer

It’s the Journey Not the Destination

Photo taken at the Matterhorn

The best climber in the world is the one who’s having the most fun.”  – Alex Lowe, mountaineer

Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion.

Then, when you’re no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn’t just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose. From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer. These are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here’s where things grow.”  – Robert M. Pirsig, philosopher and author of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values”

Which ones moved you? Share your favorite hiking quotes with us!


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