Climbing & Mountaineering: Understand the Appeal

28/04/2018 | Adventure | By Hunter Alexander | 0 Comments

I’m often asked how to describe the experience of mountain climbing—and mountaineering in general—to people who have never been and who may only know the activity through, say, Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air or some movie(s) they say. I can try to convey my own experience, but whenever I get started up, people tend to regret it, I’m told. I tend to provide, not too much information, but much too detail. Or else I get too far the other way and go straight to the euphoria of summitting and surviving. I’ve never been great at book learning, I’m okay, but I do have a memory that’s very experientially oriented.

So I’ve thought about over the years, and one of the unusual references I make, which sometimes work and sometimes doesn’t, but I’ll ask if the person has ever read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. There’s a kind of effortless focus that humans are capable of only when their immediate safety is threatened, even if it’s hopefully in a controlled way. Pretty much every climber I’ve talked to doesn’t have a death wish—well, no more so than other people. I’ve never met a climber who seemed suicidal, anyway.

Like riding a motorcycle across the country, climbing and mountaineering evoke this effortless focus and way of being. From the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Northwest, here is a list of places that you should check out to learn how to climb and go mountaineering.


American Alpine Institute Bellingham, WA  1515 12th St, Bellingham, WA 98225, USA 1 360-671-1505
Northwest Mountain School Leavenworth, WA 940 US-2, Leavenworth, WA 98826, USA 1 509-548-5823
Baker Mountain Guides Bellingham, WA 214 W Holly St, Bellingham, WA 98225, USA 1 360-319-1160
North Cascades Mountain Guides Mazama, WA  48 Lost River Rd, Mazama, WA 98833, USA 1 509-996-3194
Alpine Ascents International Seattle, WA 109 W Mercer St, Seattle, WA 98119, USA 1 206-378-1927
Kaf Adventures Seattle, WA 2960 4th Ave S #115, Seattle, WA 98134, USA 1 206-413-5418
Mountain Madness.Inc Seattle, WA 9249 17th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106, USA 1 800-328-5925
Jackson Hole Mountain Guides Jackson, WY 1325 US-89, Jackson, WY 83002, USA 1 307-733-4979
Teton Mountaineering Jackson, WY 170 N Cache Dr, Box 1533, Jackson, WY 83001, United States 1 307-733-3595
Colorado Mountain School Estes Park, CO 341 Moraine Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517, USA 1 800-836-4008
Apex Mountain School Avon, CO  51 Eagle Rd, Avon, CO 81620, USA 1 970-949-9111
Pikes Peak Alpine School Colorado Springs, CO  1819 N Corona St, Colorado Springs, CO 80907, USA 1 719-368-9524
Peak Mountain Guides Ouray, CO  280 7th Ave, Ouray, CO 81427, USA 1 970-325-7342
The Colorado Climbing Company Springs, CO  Colorado Springs, CO, USA 1 719-209-6649
Colorado Mountain School Boulder, CO  5958, 633 S Broadway unit a, Boulder, CO 80305, United States 1 800-836-4008
Rocky Mountain Ventures – Climbing Guides Steamboat Springs, CO  2619 Copper Ridge Cir, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487, USA 1 970-870-8440
San Juan Mountain Guides LLC Ouray, CO  725 Main St, Ouray, CO 81427, USA 1 800-642-5389
Mountain Trip Telluride, CO 135 W Colorado Ave #2a, Telluride, CO 81320, USA 1 970-369-1153
Mountain Chalet Colorado Springs, CO 226 N Tejon St, Colorado Springs, CO 80903, USA 1 719-633-0732
Ouray Ice Park  Ouray, CO 280 Co Rd 361, Ouray, CO 81427, USA 1 970-325-4288
Ouray Mountain Sports Ouray, CO 732 Main St, Ouray, CO 81427, USA 1 970-325-4284