Why I Climb Mountains for Fun

December 27, 2009 · 2 comments

So I’m at the beginning of my Catskill 3500 Club winter peaks goal, right?  I mean, I’ve been talking about it for a while now, but why am I doing it (you ask yourself)?

At the end of the day, I think it’s basically ego-driven.  I enjoy hiking, but I like the sense of accomplishment I get from checking peaks off a list in pursuit of an overall goal.  I was shooting for my Catskill 3500 Club patch, and now I’m shooting for the winter patch.  When I’m done with this goal, I’ll move on to the 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks, for the Adirondack 46ers patch.

It’s the patches I’m after, not joining the clubs.  Not the physical piece of fabric and thread, but the symbol that I’ve accomplished the goal.  And, to a certain extent, the harder the goal, the better; the more valuable the patch to me.

I don’t hike or climb mountains for the simple joy of it, as many people do.  I don’t really want to climb a mountain unless I can check it off my list when I’m done.  I don’t really like climbing the same mountain twice.  Oh, I don’t mind climbing a mountain again if I’m taking someone out to see what it’s like, but I prefer to have a reason for climbing the mountain.

In the past few months I’ve skipped hiking quite a few weekends simply because I didn’t have any mountains to climb that were part of an overall goal.  I’ll be out there for the next 12 weekends (and a few more days this week) simply because of my winter peaks goal.  I recently climbed Kaaterskill High Peak and Indian Head and Twin because I wanted to get my skinny ass in shape for this week, but also to be sure that I knew the best way to climb them when they counted (which is now).  Those hikes were more scouting runs than anything else.


I recently received the latest issue of The Canister, the Catskill 3500 Club’s newsletter.  Between now and March 22d, member-led hikes are scheduled for just about all of the winter peaks I have left to climb.

I think I might sign up for one or two, but I’ll probably continue to hike alone this winter.  Again on the ego-driven thing, I won’t get the same sense of accomplishment if I follow someone to the top of the mountain.  I’d rather figure out how to get there myself.

That said, there are a couple of mountains (Friday and Balsam Cap, and maybe one or two more) that are particularly difficult; it may be worth my while to learn the best way up the mountain by following someone else.  And for a couple of the other tougher bushwacks, I may just contact the hike leader to find out from where they plan to set out, so that I can follow their tracks the week after.  For whatever reason, that seems to be a loophole that’s acceptable to my ego.


So whatever my motivation, at least I’m getting out there and climbing mountains.  As I’ve said before, it’s really good for me – physically, mentally and spiritually.  Sometimes I feel like I need it in order to stay sane.  There are plenty of mountains left within driving distance for me to climb.  I won’t run out of goals for at least the next couple of years.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria December 28, 2009 at 01:14

Sometimes its accomplishing those lil goals in life that keep you sane


Scott December 28, 2009 at 09:07

Ted is far from sane


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