Simplicity Refined

by Steve House
Fall 2008

Climbing is simple.
Ascent is an ideal.
Doing becomes understanding.

I think of route names as story titles: rich, fleeting and individual. We tell these stories over our modern-day campfires – blogs, Web sites, books and catalogs – in equal parts homage and interest.

The depth of each story is proportionate to the protagonist’s commitment to his goal, the complexity of the mountain and the simplicity of the style. We are entertained, but an astute few may learn and go on to build upon these stories, creating new stories of their own. Innovation inspires.

Motivation is the ultimate clean energy. So fueled we try, and usually fail, to reach our summit goal. Bargaining for better conditions, a stronger self or a bluer sky. Trading success to live another day. But success, when achieved, is empty. By attaining the goal we lose it, and then we are lost again. Goals are the plotline to our lives.

We return to the canvas of the mountains, to plot a new route or to combine four summits into a single traverse.
We restrict the means at our disposal. Climbing a route on a mountain to its summit and returning in alpine style – without fixed ropes, bottled oxygen, blood doping, sherpa support – is simplicity refined.

We go simply.
Climb well.
Action is the message.

About the Author

Steve House has been a Patagonia ambassador since 1999. While you’re reading this, he is preparing an autumn expedition to Nepal to attempt to climb the West Face of Makalu. Alpine style, of course.