The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, “What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?” And my answer must at once be, “It is no use.” There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behavior of the human body at high altitudes, where there is only a third of an atmosphere, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. It’s no use.
So, if you can not understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain to this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.
~George Leigh Mallory, English mountaineer who took part in the first three British expeditions to Mount Everest in the early 1920s
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