Foreword from Extreme Rock and Ice

Extreme Rock and Ice - 25 of the World's Greatest Climbs by Garth Hattingh - is Published by New Holland 2000. This is Paul's foreword for the book:

When I had an accident on the Totem Pole the one question I was repeatedly asked by non climbers was, “Why did you do it? Why did you nearly kill yourself just to climb a rock?”

Because it’s there? Because it’s there? Nonsense!

What about the adrenalin rush? That’s a popular reason for climbing rocks, yet I don’t see it. You will get an adrenalin rush when B.A.S.E jumping or sky diving every time but not when climbing, even extreme climbing. It is much more complex than just a charge of chemicals to the brain.

The only activity I have found that comes close to the act of extreme climbing is yoga. The suppleness required to hold a single position for several minutes, the muscles screaming as lactic acid floods in and the nerves stretch and become taught as steel cables.

The mental agility and strength that is required to overcome the fear that is often engendered on these climbs is that of a yogi master. You are living in that moment and when that moment is gone there is the next moment to contend with. To climb routes of an extreme nature you must transcend your conscious mind, normally so cluttered with, “Have I paid my tax bill and mortgage.”

The climbs in this book are about pain and dread, whether it be the lung bursting agony of climbing in the Himalaya or the fear factor of soloing a big wall. These routes are enjoyed only in retrospect. When you are back on the safe, firm earth, then and only then can you appreciate the magnificence of the Great Trango’s rock architecture or the beauty of an alpine sunrise.

Yoga teaches one to appreciate the journey and not to look to an end. This doctrine in the climbing of such extreme routes might one day save your life.