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Mountain Quotes: 50 All-Time Favorites

Mountain Quotes: 50 All-Time Favorites

Here are 50 of my favorite mountain quotes, with a generous helping of John Muir the naturalist’s words mixed throughout for good measure. Not all of these quotes are rosy and sweet, and neither are the mountains…

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


  • “The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir


  • “Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.” ― David McCullough Jr.


  • “Human life is far more important than just getting to the top of a mountain.” – Edmund Hillary


  • “If adventure has a final and all-embracing motive, it is surely this: we go out because it is our nature to go out, to climb mountains, and to paddle rivers, to fly to the planets and plunge into the depths of the oceans… When man ceases to do these things, he is no longer man.” – Wilfrid Noyce


  • “Every man should pull a boat over a mountain once in his life.” – Werner Herzog


  • “You are not in the mountains. The mountains are in you.”  – John Muir


  • “How wild it was, to let it be.” – Cheryl Strayed


  • “Everybody wants to reach the peak, but there is no growth on the top of a mountain. It is in the valley that we slog through the lush grass and rich soil, learning and becoming what enables us to summit life’s next peak.” – Andy Andrews


“Great things are done when men and mountains meet; This is not done by jostling in the street.” – William Blake


  • “When I rest I feel utterly lifeless except that my throat burns when I draw breath… I can scarcely go on. No despair, no happiness, no anxiety. I have not lost the mastery of my feelings, there are actually no more feelings. I consist only of will. After each few meters this too fizzles out in unending tiredness. Then I think nothing. I let myself fall, just lie there. For an indefinite time I remain completely irresolute. Then I make a few steps again.” – Reinhold Messner


  • “I go to seek a great perhaphs” – John Green


  • ‘’The most dangerous thing you can do in life is play it safe.’’ – Casey Neistat


  • “Mountains are the beginning and the end of all natural scenery” – John Ruskin


  • “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” – Edmund Hillary


  • “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.” – John Muir


  • “I believe that the ascent of mountains forms an essential chapter in the complete duty of man and that it is wrong to leave any district without setting foot on its highest peak.” – Sir Leslie Stephen


  • “Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous.” – Reinhold Messner


  • “Mountains have a way of dealing with overconfidence.” – Nemann Buhl


“When we tire of well-worn ways, we seek for new. This restless craving in the souls of men spurs them to climb, and to seek the mountain view.” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox


  • “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


  • “I like the mountains because they make me feel small. They help me sort out what’s important in life.” – Mark Obmascik


  • “That’s what mountains do, they taunt you, lure you to the freedom of the wilderness, and it is fucking exhilarating.” ― Shannon M Mullen


  • “Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion.” – Anatoli Boukreev


  • “Only mountains can feel the frozen warmth of the sun through snow’s gentle caress on their peaks” ― Munia Khan


  • “The mountains here contained a sense of time, geologic time. They lay in embryo, a process unfolding, or a shriveled dying perhaps. They had the look of naked events.” ― Don DeLillo


  • “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.” – John Muir


  • “The mountains themselves call us into greater stories.” ― Donald Miller


  • “The mountains were so wild and so stark and so very beautiful that I wanted to cry. I breathed in another wonderful moment to keep safe in my heart.” ― Jane Wilson-Howarth


“Mountains are freedom. Treat them respectfully.” – Conrad Anker


  • “Great men are rarely isolated mountain peaks; they are the summits of ranges.” – Thomas Wentworth Higginson


  • “On life and peaks it is the same. With strength we win the grail, but courage is the thing we need to face the downward trail.” – Jacob Clifford Moomaw


  • “Today, climbing has shown me a courageous, strong side of myself, a beautiful bravery. Other days I’ve seen pitiful weakness. I’ve watched myself crawl, belly-flat, across a mountainous landscape of fear. Climbing has shown me that I am all of these things: strong and weak, brave and cowardly, both immune to and at the mercy of the fear of death, all at the same time. Risk is the fee to learn these lessons. The cost is not negotiable. It is a price that, for now, I pay gladly.” – Steve House


  • “Achieving the summit of a mountain was tangible, immutable, concrete. The incumbent hazards lent the activity a seriousness of purpose that was sorely missing from the rest of my life. I thrilled in the fresh perspective that came from the tipping the ordinary plane of existence on end.” – Jon Krakauer


  • “In the mountains, you are sometimes invited, sometimes tolerated, and sometimes told to go home.” – Fred Beckey


  • “The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark” – John Muir


  • “You never climb the same mountain twice, not even in memory. Memory rebuilds the mountain, changes the weather, retells the jokes, remakes all the moves.”- Lito Tejada-Flores


  • “Even a bad day of climbing is better than a good day at work” – Unknown


  • “Although I deeply love oceans, deserts and other wild landscapes, it is only mountains that beckon me with that sort of painful magnetic pull to walk deeper and deeper into their beauty. They keep me continuously wanting to know more, feel more, see more.”
    – Victoria Erickson


“My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing.” – Aldous Huxley


  • “The greatest joy in climbing is to be in charge of one’s own destiny” – Sir Chris Bonnington


  • “Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” – John Muir


  • “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” – John Muir


  • “The mountains are fountains of men as well as of rivers, of glaciers, of fertile soil. The great poets, philosophers, prophets, able men whose thoughts and deeds have moved the world, have come down from the mountains – mountain dwellers who have grown strong there with the forest trees in Nature’s workshops.” – John Muir


  • “Going to the mountains is going home.” – John Muir


  • “I never saw a discontented tree.” – John Muir


  • “None of Nature’s landscapes are ugly so long as they are wild.” – John Muir


  • “I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news.” – John Muir


  • “This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.” – John Muir


“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” – John Muir


Mountains are some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Looming and majestic, they inspire us to climb them and to write about them.

Not surprisingly, the thoughts they germinate are profound; the mountains are sublime, after all. If you’ve read anything written about the hills, chances are you’ve heard John Muir’s name.

An instigator of the Park Service, the man’s legacy is immense, and he had quite the way with words. Spellbinding in his descriptions of the wild, he is often referred to as the Poet Laureate of the High Sierra.


Related content: Thoreau Quotes: 25 Most Popular

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