Anatoli Boukreev's Great Words

Anatoli Boukreev was a Russian climber, a mountaineering legend. From 1989-1997, he made 18 ascents on peaks above 8000 meters. He died in an avalanche on Annapurna in 1997, but no one today doubts that he had the stuff that Gods are made of.

When I was at Annapurna Base Camp, I read this quote by him, and I think it truly reflects what an obsession that climbing can become for some true fanatics.

"I wanted to achieve something essential in life, something that is not measured by money or position in society. I wanted to respect myself as a man, and I wanted the respect of my friends and family. My fate was to be an athlete. I was born with a certain physical and mental ability...I have tried to use those gifts to realize myself as a human being. The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambitions to achieve. They are my cathedrals, the houses of my religion. Their presence is grand and pure. I go to them as all humans go to worship. In their presence I attempt to understand my life, to purify myself of earthly vanity, green and fear. On their alter I strive to perfect myself physically and spiritually. From their vantage point, I view my past, dream of the future and with unusual acuteness I experience the present. My ascents renew my strength and clear my vision. They are the way I practice my religion. In the mountains I celebrate creation, on each journey I am reborn."

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