The answer cannot be simple; it is compounded of such elements as the great beauty of clear cold air, of colors beyond the ordinary, of the lure of unknown regions beyond the rim of experience. The pleasure of physical fitness, the pride of conquering a steep and difficult rock pitch, the thrill of danger -- but danger controlled by skill -- are also there.
How can I phrase what seems to me the most important reason of all? It is the chance to be briefly free of the small concerns of our common lives, to strip off the nonessentials, to come down to the core of life itself.
-- from K2: The Savage Mountain by Charles S Houston
“I am greedy. puritans scold me for running breathlessly over life’s table of contents and for wishing and longing for everything.”
-- Nina Cassian
"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves."
-- Sir Edmund Hillary