Skip to main content
In his book Extreme Alpinism, Mark Twight makes this comment in a section called "Will and Suffering":

Suffering provides the opportunity to exercise will and to develop toughness. Climb on local crags in weather conditions far worse than any you would intentionally confront in the high mountains. Austrian climber Hermann Buhl carried snowballs in his hands to develop his tolerance (psychological) and to increase capillary capacity (physical). He climbed the local crags all winter long, even in storms, and bicycled for hundreds of kilometers on his way to the mountains. It all paid off when he climbed alone to the summit of Nanga Parbat - history's only solo first-ascent of an 8,000-meter peak.

I also seem to remember Twight making some comment about Buhl "putting the hard in hardman" or something like that. I've never read anything specifically about Hermann Buhl, but I think it's time I did. Nanga Parbat has an amazing history all by itself - Buhl climbed it solo for a first ascent, Reinhold Messner lost his brother Gunther in an avalanche after climbing the Rupal Face, and Twight himself barely escaped Nanga Parbat with his life in one of the great survival epics of our time.

People who embody this concept of "indestructible man" have fascinated me ever since reading Caroline Alexander's book The Endurance : Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition. It's stories such as these that remind me that, like so many things in life, happiness and comfort are relative. Our levels of happiness and comfort are determined greatly by the tolerances we develop. Suffering because you have to is bad. Suffering by choice in an effort to develop tolerances that will guide you through tough times can be an empowering experience. Some of us have better reasons for going to a mountain than "because it is there".

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Hibernation

It's the last half-hour of 2017 and I'm pushing out a post to keep my blogging streak alive. I can't imagine this is interesting to anyone else, but that's never really been what this blog is for. I could write more, and maybe I should write more, but the only goal I've had for this blog for a while is to write at least once a year.

The last week of the year has become what I call my period of "hibernation." Between Christmas and the New Year, I stay home, do whatever I want on whatever schedule I want. This year, that meant a lot of nights staying up until 4 am and sleeping until 10 or 11. Other than trips to get food, I pretty much had no social interaction for the week. I don't know that I purposely take this time as a mental vacation, but that's sort of what it is.
I had several goals for this year's hibernation, but the one I've done best to stick to is physical: pedaling my stationary bike 40 miles each day. There is a Strava challe…

Last.fm and Ten Years of Web 2.0

Ten years ago yesterday I scrobbled my first tracks to last.fm. What's scrobbling? On last.fm, scrobbling refers to automatic music track logging to the internet. For me, uploading a record of my music listening habits was my first real experience with "Web 2.0." Remember Web 2.0? It referred to websites of user-generated content that enabled virtual communities and interoperability. Now such sites are too ubiquitous on the web to warrant a special designation — they're just the web. But that wasn't true in 2006, and even though I'd been putting content on the internet since 1996, at the time it was enough to make me a little nervous. What did these strangers want with my data, and what was in it for me?

Ten years and 24,941 scrobbles later, I have my answer: I have a really cool record of all the music I've listened to the past 10 years! Well, not "all," technically: I've certainly listened to music in places and on devices that didn't …

The 15-Year Blogoversary

15 years and 1,213 posts! My first experience with the World Wide Web came in 1995, and by 1997 I had my own web page. The first web authoring tool I remember using was Composer, an HTML editor built into the Netscape Communicator suite. That helped me learn some HTML, and later I used Microsoft Word 97 and then FrontPage 98 and later Macromedia Dreamweaver to design more elaborate pages. Some of my FrontPage-built sites are still on the web. As I learned more about HTML standards and validation I wrote more HTML by hand, but I still wanted a way to make publishing to the web easier.

By 2001 I understood that (a) sites should be updated regularly and (b) FTP'ing sites and pages from my desktop to a server was a bit of a pain. I had heard about some early blogging platforms and chose one, Blogger, to try out. As you can see, I'm still here.
My first post using Blogger came on December 8, 2001. A few months later I paid for Blogger Pro, which offered additional authoring tools, l…