"My hunger to climb had been blunted, in short, by a bunch of small satisfactions that added up to something like happiness (page 25-Into Thin Air)." I'm consistently intrigued by why people choose to do these extreme adventures. I take the quote to mean something like he believes he climbs to fill the void of happiness. He only needs to climb when he is unhappy and needs something more in his life. To him, the mountains give him what he believes to be the equivalent of a loving wife, a tolerable career, and living above the poverty line. Yet this chance to complete his childhood dream to climb Everest pushes him over the edge to somewhere he is not happy enough to not climb. He also mentions not being able to bear only going to Base Camp without a chance to go to the top. We mentioned in class about the summit being the essential, but small, hinge in these climbing adventures. I'm still trying to work out the importance of the journey and the goal. It seems that obtaining/ not obtaining the goal affects the attitude afterwards, while the journey does more of the teaching.
"But trying to tell a climber who's turned around on Everest that his trip was really about the journey, not the destination, and the reply may well be a punch in the mouth. ...It only mattered privately that you'd climbed well, or strong, or smart, or turned around in order to save yourself, or your teammate, or someone else's." ~Nick Heil from "Dark Summit"