Climbing Quotes – Wise Words for Ambitious Adventurers

These climbing quotes are for everyone that loves the mountains and rock faces that populate our beautiful planet.

The Alps, Andes, Atlas, Urals, Carpathians, Himalayas, Jotunheim, Tian Shan, Pyrenees, Canadian Rockies, Sierra Nevada, Dolomites, Tatras, Ethiopian Highlands and all other mountain ranges are etched into the minds, cultures and histories of people all across the world.

These climbing quotes describe the beauty, bliss, danger and draw of the mountains from a multitude of different perspectives. They include many other emotions and lessons learn from these often harsh and brutal yet strikingly beautiful environments.


“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.”

– T.S. Eliot

“It’s always further than it looks. It’s always taller than it looks. And it’s always harder than it looks.”

– Reinhold Messner

“climbing a mountain represents a chance to be briefly free oneself of the small concerns of our common lives, to strip off nonessentials, to come down to the core of life itself. Food, shelter, and friends – these are the essentials, these plus faith and purpose and a deep and unrelenting determination.”

– Mateo Cabello, Of Mountains and Men

View through the rocks
Find your next adventure

“The harder you fall, the heavier your heart; the heavier your heart, the stronger you climb; the stronger you climb, the higher your pedestal.”

– Criss Jami, Killosophy

“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.”

– Barry Finlay, Kilimanjaro and Beyond

“Mountains seem to answer an increasing imaginative need in the West. More and more people are discovering a desire for them, and a powerful solace in them. At bottom, mountains, like all wildernesses, challenge our complacent conviction – so easy to lapse into – that the world has been made for humans by humans. Most of us exist for most of the time in worlds which are humanly arranged, themed and controlled. One forgets that there are environments which do not respond to the flick of a switch or the twist of a dial, and which have their own rhythms and orders of existence. Mountains correct this amnesia. By speaking of greater forces than we can possibly invoke, and by confronting us with greater spans of time than we can possibly envisage, mountains refute our excessive trust in the man-made. They pose profound questions about our durability and the importance of our schemes. They induce, I suppose, a modesty in us.”

– Robert MacFarlane, Mountains of the Mind: Adventures in Reaching the Summit

“You are not in the mountains. The mountains are in you.”

– John Muir

Woman climbing rockface
Focus, skill and determination

“Jumping from boulder to boulder and never falling, with a heavy pack, is easier than it sounds; you just can’t fall when you get into the rhythm of the dance.”

– Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

“It’s wonderful to climb the liquid mountains of the sky. Behind me and before me is God and I have no fears.”

– Hellen Keller

“Climbing, simply and joyfully, is the way I love the world.”

– Steph Davis, High Infatuation: A Climber’s Guide to Love and Gravity

“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.”

– Ed Viesturs, No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks

“Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste; look well to each step; and from the beginning think what may be the end.”

– Edward Whymper, Scrambles Amongst the Alps

“I like the mountains because they make me feel small,’ Jeff says. ‘They help me sort out what’s important in life.”

– Mark Obmascik, Halfway to Heaven: My White-knuckled–and Knuckleheaded–Quest for the Rocky Mountain High

“For the stone from the top for geologists, the knowledge of the limits of endurance for the doctors, but above all for the spirit of adventure to keep alive the soul of man.”

– George Mallory

“During my three seasons at Mount Rainier I learned a lot about mountain climbing and rescues, about politics and camaraderie in the mountains, and about what being a woman climber means. Now I know in all certainty when to bring my toothbrush and when to leave it at home, and, all things considered, that kind of confidence is hard to come by. The greatest skill I ever had, though, was the one I started with: being able to suffer for long periods of time and not die. In exchange, I got to see some amazing things.”

– Bree Loewen, Pickets and Dead Men: Seasons on Rainier

“To touch the sky, you just have to get that little bit closer.”

– Anthony T. Hincks

“To be a climber one has to accept that gratification is rarely immediate.”

– Bernadette McDonald

“To get over a mountain, you have to climb it.”

– Jonathan Tesch

Climbing Quotes with male athlete on cliff
Where will your next climb take you?

“There are cracks to other worlds, places in our daily existence where you can pry the walls open and arrive on the other side—if you can get your fingers around the edges.”

– Derek Franz

“Early on a difficult climb, especially a difficult solo climb, you constantly feel the abyss pulling at your back. To resist takes a tremendous conscious effort; you don’t dare let your guard down for an instant. The siren song of the void puts you on edge; it makes your movements tentative, clumsy, herky-jerky. But as the climb goes on, you grow accustomed to the exposure, you get used to rubbing shoulders with doom, you come to believe in the reliability of your hands and feet and head.

You learn to trust your self-control. By and by your attention becomes so intensely focused that you no longer notice the raw knuckles, the cramping thighs, the strain of maintaining nonstop concentration. A trancelike state settles over your efforts; the climb becomes a clear-eyed dream. Hours slide by like minutes. The accumulated clutter of day-to-day existence—the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison of your genes—all of it is temporarily forgotten, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of purpose and by the seriousness of the task at hand.”

– Climbing Quotes from Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.”

– Barry Finlay

“Better we raise our skill than lower the climb.”

– Royal Robbins

“Every man should pull a boat over a mountain once in his life.”

– Werner Herzog

“There are far better things ahead than the ones we leave behind.”

– C.S. Lewis

“Everyone wants to live on the top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.”

– Andy Rooney

“Stand tall on the summit after a tedious climb. Take in the remarkable scenery and the exhilaration of accomplishment. But don’t pause for long; there are greater mountains to climb while you still possess the drive and capacity to do so.”

– Richelle E. Goodrich

“You climb to reach the summit, but once there, discover that all roads lead down.”

– Stanislaw Lem

“The summit is what drives us, but the climb itself is what matters.”

– Conrad Anker

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”

– Muhammad Ali

“When preparing to climb a mountain – pack a light heart.”

– Dan May

Climbing rope on cliff
The way up

“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.”

– Greg Child

“Climb mountains not so the world can see you but so you can see the world.”

– Climbing Quotes from David McCullough Jr

“You won’t fall if you don’t climb, but there’s no joy in living your whole life on the ground.”

– Unknown

“In some ways, climbing in the clouds is comforting. You can no longer see how high off the ground you are.”

– Tommy Caldwell

“It’s like climbing a staircase. I’m on the top of the staircase, I look behind me and I see the steps. That’s where I was.”

– Jeanne Moreau

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

– Climbing Quotes from John Muir

“The climb might be tough and challenging, but the view is worth it. There is a purpose for that pain; you just can’t always see it right away.”

– Victoria Arlen

“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

“There’s no glory in climbing a mountain if all you want to do is to get to the top. It’s experiencing the climb itself – in all its moments of revelation, heartbreak, and fatigue – that has to be the goal.”

– Karyn Kusama

“A man does not climb a mountain without bringing some of it away with him, and leaving something of himself upon it.”

– Martin Conway

What other climbing quotes do you love? What others should we add?

Check out these insightful Hiking Quotes, or try these workouts to improve your upper body strength.

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