Kiss or Kill










Mark Twight

P30
I don’t care about what I climb, only how it affects me. Success merely punctuates the experience.
P34
Social Darwinism in choice of team members. Composed of the nation’s best climbers. They want they’re flag on top, so they send their nations best to put it there. What is needed for success is a leader and a few crack troops,
..petty conflagrations erupt from the fact that the (climbing) itself is not the most important thing to the team players. Trivial social conflicts prevent or soil successful expeditions all too often.
P35
Unspoken, unorganized competition is the only way to force alpine climbing standards higher
As technological and psychological advances increase, the danger and difficulty of the routes must be raised as well to maintain an equivalent human experience.
We are not satisfied repeating what others have done.

By failing to outgrow traditional practices while opposing new methods and style,

P36
The public, the vicarious adventure-parasite consumer, can trudge slowly up the wall with the slow-moving climbers and imagine themselves doing the same thing.

P39
You are what you do; thus, if you do nothing, you are nobody. If you once did great things, you think you are great. You coast along on dead, preserved laurels, lifeless and wasting away.
“I spent 12 weeks on crutches after knee surgery. During recovery I surrounded myself with wannabes, pretend-to-bes, has-beens, and never-will-bes. I met people who wasted their talent or were afraid of it. They taught me why I hadn’t become a good climber. Like them, I was afraid to succeed, scared to commit. I didn’t want to be any better than anyone else. Eventually, I sickened of people, myself included, who don’t think enough of themselves to make something of themselves – people who did only what they had to an never what they could have done. I learned from them the infected loneliness that comes at the end of every misspent day. I knew I could do better.
The progress I made during physical therapy blossomed into drive. I began training the softness out of myself. I worked to become hard. I vocally put down mediocrity. I pushed myself to extremes and set off on a series of trips.
P41
Some people chase pain harder than others, consciously or subconsciously. Some use it to inflate their sense of self importance. Others test their will by working through it. Each of us has a threshold someplace short of serious harm. Kevin’s different. His definition of pain is more highly evolved than ours. He’s willing to hurt himself permanently to get what he wants. In a conversation about calories, he told me that there is always something left to burn, even if it’s brain matter…I learned to overcome myself.
P49
The abattoir – best chapter
P55
(crows) To weak to attack anything living, they feed on the deceased and discarded. Just like we feed on our memories to nourish us.
P56
Why prolong life? Why imagine what I’m doing is anything special, that I’m contributing rather than breathing air and eating food another might need?
Everyone dies, equalized by it.
Some found justice in religion, choosing a particular god to suit the situation best.
Meaning and rationale are digestive agents. They make it easier to be a survivor.
…assign (name here) death value at a human level; turning it into an act of god cheapens it, absolves him of any responsibility. In (name here) case it was 100% his act. He was human. He failed. He paid.
Must realize you are 100% responsible. There is ‘I can’ and ‘I can’t’; there is no ‘I will try’ 98% means hitting the ground.
Every cell must believe the situation serious. If you think you can survive a fall, you will take that fall. If you think you’re going to heaven or will become a bright light illuminating your friends from a parallel universe, you won’t fight hard enough to live through the shit. If you believe dying is an act of fate, you cede control over both your life and your death. You put someone or something else behind the wheel.
But if you’re convinced that once you die, it is all over, you’ll fight with every last calorie to keep hold of what you have now. You’ll do whatever it takes to stay alive – alive in the present.
P58
Soloing means self sufficiency, independence, and the strict refusal to let other people influence decisions.
Each member of a partnership must accept responsibility for the influence they have on their team mate.
P64
After a very hard route it’s important to settle down, to review things. It’s dangerous to get caught up in the euphoria of success and become greedy.
Whenever I feel sure of myself, certain that I can solo a rout, I quit. It is good to have some fear.
It’s a choice, an acceptance of extreme responsibility, and it preserves the quality I enjoy most – uncertainty, the thing supportive people and fixed ropes/safety devices destroy.
P69
When they responded by telling me what I proposed was impossible, I didn’t argue. I never said, though, that I wouldn’t do it.
P73
A little advance planning goes a long way toward fooling the public, especially if they want to believe you.
P78
Surviving is succeeding. “Come back alive, come back as friends, get to the top – in that order.”
Self confidence cannot be based on the approval of others. Somewhere inside me I found the courage to stand alone, believing in myself without needing an audience. My reluctance to let myself be influenced by others is (mis)understood as antisocial.
P82
I realized I hadn’t achieved anything. Others would think I had. They’d congratulate me with unreciprocated camaraderie. The parasites would gather around, growing fat on a diet of vicarious little calories.
P84
Going away alone without broadcasting my intentions beforehand protects my freedom, leaving only private dreams and goals to live up to.
P96
Recall I’m adept at cutting away anything I perceive to be holding me back. I’ve used the knife on my country, my family, and finally – with no small amount of hesitation and fear – my wife. It wasn’t clean; it wasn’t pretty. I killed a part of me when I did us in. I slapped convention and everyone who believed in us in the face. I soiled the proud institution of marriage beneath my selfish feet and think about it every single day.
Confessing does not absolve me of guilt or make it easier for anyone affected by my acts.
P105
Every situation in life has its black side. Every human being on this planet would love to make that side go away. Wishing it away, ignoring the danger and the consequences, they can make believe it no longer exists. I refuse this option.
P106
I wonder what we might have done (together) had I not been afraid of feeling more pain.
Most men don’t have a list like mine at all because they live life insulated from living and dying.
P112
Saying “I’m going to hell with the lid off”
I do it because I can. I climb because it hurts, and the pain gives me perspective. It’s not necessarily about ‘fun’.
Men who refuse to recognize that other, more capable men will come after them, men who may climb the routes clean.
P118
For whom idle chat is preferable to the loneliness of silence.
Even though I don’t fit in, there is no reason to complain.
The common availability of high-quality terrain causes complacency. It makes them wait for perfect conditions – which makes their remaining plums ripe for plucking.
P128
He schemed with the cunning instinct that keeps hunted men alive.
Those guys gave it all they had, and then gave more.
P138
All I have to do is get through this moment. Then the next. It’ll be easier after that.

Note [write “I am” to give the reader experience]
It hurts. I hate it. It’s necessary to improve. I do it.

It is easiest to blame pain on those who act in their own self-interest.
Involved themselves with women who had no idea what they were getting into. Many women had never taken second place to anything, much less the mountains. I loved several despite the fact they were no conscious of their own plans to rein me in. Few manage to confront their programming.
We grow up believing the sanctity of one relationship that lasts “forever.” Those who break the pattern are vilified. But when the right man finds the right woman, neither makes huge concessions to appease the other.
P141
In going against the grain and defining my own limits myself.
I need an exercise in competence to do away with self-doubt.
P144
You’d do well to read your own writing sometimes.
Put IT away instead of giving IT away. Sharpen the power and direct it precisely, instead of giving the shotgun blast to everyone who will listen. If you don’t shine it then they can’t bask in it. Every one of them just wants what he believes is his or her share, to hold any fcking way they please. Say this instead, “Here asshole, hold it like this, it’s how I think you should hold it.”
Don’t patronize me. Leave me alone with my weakness. I’m not giving you my best, which makes me detest me. My sickness insists I take your small portions of praise, your interest and your joviality as nourishment. But I don’t need you. I can get over needing you to help me feel worthy of you. I’ll take this doubt and transparency and I’ll armour myself against you with it. I’ll turn it into drive. Being frightened of talent makes a man waste his talent; and that is wasting life. I want instead to use my time.
P145
The guerrilla strike; supernaturally fast, with little margin for error, fragile in the extreme.
P147
I take car, these days, not to waste any precious time by (climbing) with someone whom I do not love or respect.
How can I be tired while climbing on the mountain when I have become the mountain
P150
There is a way out. Live the lifestyle instead of paying lip service to the lifestyle. Live with commitment. With emotional content. Live whatever life you choose honestly. Give up this renaissance man, dilettante bullshit of doing a lot of different things (and none very well by real standards). Get to the guts of one thing; accept, without casuistry, the responsibility of making a choice. When you live honestly, you can not separate your mind from your body, or your thoughts from your actions.
Learn the reality of your own selfishness. Quit living for other people at the expense of your own self, you’re not really alive.
What you need is uncertainty…drive you harder

P156
Americans jealously guard what knowledge and power they have. We don’t share or communicate because it may deny us the 15 minutes of fame we’re “entitled” to. This selfishness prevents rapid progress and development. It blinds us to the fact that evolution as a process never stops. An open ended supply of new participants brings fresh ideas and energy; thus, you isolationist attitude holds us back.

P162
Happily, I am climbing for myself, not them, I can easily quantify my experiences and what they contribute to or subtract from me.
Neither of us cares what the self proclaimed guardians of tradition and ethics think one way or the other.
We urge others to do exactly as they please because we certainly do.
It matters little what you do, as long as you say what you do. Admit it. Believe in your actions enough that you don’t care what others think. Attack traditional values. Right or wrong, we must constantly determine whether these values are defensible. Don’t go along with what people say. You, the doer, empower them, not the other way around.
Every man must establish his own values and ask himself why he behaves as he does.
“He” often assumes the values and traditions established by… whom, in fact?
Why should you care what these judges say, unless of course you’re climbing for the approval of others and not for yourself? Look in the mirror and think about it.
I don’t care what hierarchy says, I don’t have to.
P169
He was ruthless when someone let him down, which is always attractive.
For my chosen lifestyle, wrecking my lungs is counterproductive.
P175
The publics demand for stronger vicarious sensations.
In football you must earn your right to play against the best team through a laborious, structured elimination process. In climbing, if you want to try the most difficult route in the world, you are free to do so. You may fail, but there are no restrictions against trying.
I abdicate the right of judgement to no man.
P183
Petty personal battles rage between the most talented practitioners. They savage each other in pursuit of contracts, peer recognition, or the need to appear superior. The conflict crosses oceans and generations, allowing a look at the ugly underbelly of human nature.
P189
We all pass judgement when we feel threatened. I try to recognize when I behave this way now. Recognition is the first step toward changing a bad habit, they say.
P192
Folks call it whatever their egos need to hear.
Intolerant about empty words and arrogant about action.
I’m an elitist prick and I think posers have polluted mountaineering. They replace skill and courage with cash and equipment. They make the summit, not the style, the yardstick of success.
What my true motivation for helping was, and why I enjoyed being so skilled at it. – because it further justifies your elitist attitude.
Until such critics confront the likelihood of death, they can’t understand how easily ethics are traded for continued existence.
There was gradually born within me the tendency towards positive acceptance of pain, and my interest in physical suffering deepened.
How far are we going to take this? The question is not how far. The question is, do you possess the constitution, the depth of faith, to go as far as is needed.
P196
How far a disciplined mind can take the man that isn’t particularly strong, or brave.
P198
I test the power of a will according to the amount of resistance it can offer and the amount of pain and torture it can endure and know how to turn to its own advantage.
P201
Hear and forget.
See and remember.
Do and understand.
P203
A lifetime before death: How much a man can live in a short time.
No time to cry: “Do what must be done and don’t say maybe.”
We don’t have to prove a point because we live it.