Climbing on a ridge in the setting sun, Switzerland

I love extremes

I love extremes.

I always go for the extremes. I always have since I was a child. I loved cold water. I loved the idea of scorching temperatures, overambitious plans, and later, the cold. I loved things that took extremely long, or were extremely strenuous, or extremely forbidden.

Things tend to bore me when they’re average. If I “have” to climb a Plaisir route with someone, I need to make it a game. How fast can we do it? Can we beat 12 minutes per pitch? Can we be back down before 12 a.m.? How can we make abseiling more efficient? I’m obsessed with efficiency.

Do I want to take a day hike in a beautiful surrounding? No. I don’t like hiking.

Do I want to walk a distance meant for three days in 24 hours without eating, in the wrong season, conditions are precarious? That starts to sound interesting.
I need challenges. Otherwise, I get bored having a regular day. When I’m not challenged enough, my mind starts doing all sorts of bullshit.

I think that’s one of the reasons why I love alpine climbing that much: It is all-consuming. There is space for absolutely nothing else. No needless thoughts, no feelings. Only the route ahead and the setting sun. The cold. Having a sip of water at the next belay is enough to look forward to. The last bite of food. The summit. Then the valley, quick.

By the creek I will take off my helmet.

Prospects like these are enough. There is no space for anything complicated. Work. Your relationship. The debt that you’re trying to pay off. These thoughts don’t exist. Nothing exists but the cold, the hunger, the darkness, and the person you share it with.

I think what I love climbing for is not the euphoria I sometimes feel. It is the deprivation. It is being thirsty. Being on the edge of complete exhaustion. Being cold.

I love surviving.

Of course, all you do while you’re there is trying to get out of the situation. But you’re alive 100 percent. The problem with this, as with everything, is that you need more. A situation that you’ve already faced will seem less threatening next time. Which makes you grow, but when you’ve mastered a certain type of thing, and some loose rock will not scare you to death anymore, you miss the excitement it previously gave you.

This is shouting addiction. But I don’t think danger is what I go looking for when I go climbing.

I just like extreme sensations.

Everyone knows how loud I yell “FUCK” when I fall off my sport climbing project. But clipping the anchor doesn’t elicit an equally loud “YAY”. Alpine climbing, on the other hand, doesn’t induce feelings as strong as these at all. It elicits sensations so strong that nothing else matters.

Except maybe gratitude for surviving a rock fall, or the decline of tension after sending the crux pitch. But are they really feelings? If there is time for regular +/- feelings, the route is not hard enough.

I need a challenge to make me want something. Only the unknown is captivating enough to light me on fire, and this is what sets my eyes ablaze.

I love surviving.