Flutterby™! : Kim Stanley Robinson on climbing

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Kim Stanley Robinson on climbing

2003-09-20 21:23:41.251372+00 by Dan Lyke 0 comments

Quote of the day, Kim Stanley Robinson[Wiki] in Mother Goddess of the World[Wiki], collected in Escape from Kathmandu[Wiki], because every few years I find myself thumbing through the book trying to find it again:

... it's hard to explain. But it's something like this: when you get on a mountain wall with a few thousand feet of empty air below you, it catches your breath. Of course part of you says "oh my God, it's all over. Whyever did I do this! But another part sees that in order not to die you must pretend you are quite calm, and engaged in a semi-theoretical gymnastics exercise intended to get you higher. You pay attention to the exercise like no one has ever paid attentyion before. Eventually you find yourself on a flat spot of some sort &emdash; three feet by five feet will do. You look around and realize that you did not die, that you are still alive. And at that point this fact becomes really exhilirating. You really appreciate being alive. it's a sort of power, or a privilege granted you, in any case it feels quite special, like a flash of higher consciousness. Just to be alive! And in retrospect, that paying attention when you were climbing ? you remember that as a higher consciousness too.

You can get hooked on feelings like those; they are the ultimate altered state. Drugs can't touch them. I'm not saying this is real healthy behavior, you understand. I'm just saying it happens

Although the three stories collected in Escape From Kathmandu[Wiki] can feel kind of goofy (especially the last one), the tales of stoned climbing guides discovering Yeti, meeting Jimmy Carter, and accidentally climbing Mt. Everest[Wiki] are worth a read.

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