Are you really that angst-filled, or is it just an image?

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Marc Twight

November 20, 1995

What tortures your soul and why do you write?
Can you recommend a fun climb in North America?
Are you really that angst-filled, or is it just an image?
What exactly is an ice grade? They seem so subjective.

Are you really that angst-filled, or is it just an image?
Question: OK, Marc. What's with the angst shtick? I mean, you're a hell of a climber, no question there. But a "soul full of rats?" C'mon. Isn't this just a way to boost your profile in the outdoor market? You can't really be that twisted a soul, can you?

Mike Strauss
Boulder, CO

Marc Twight: First of all, see Chris Tromp's question and response. Sure it's lame, and that's not the inflammatory response people have decided to expect from me. As "public property" in the climbing community, I laugh long and hard at the people who "know" who I am based purely on my writing, the routes I've done, and hearsay.

Mike, I could care less about my public profile. I climb the routes that inspire me. Most of these are "dangerous" when judged by others. I often climb in a way that is judged dangerous by others: either alone or with little margin of safety. These actions take me dreadfully close to my own mortality. I look at it in the face and it scares the shit out of me. I read my list of 36 climbing partners and friends who are dead and it scares me more. I ask myself why I need to go to these difficult physical and emotional places in order to be momentarily fulfilled. Often the answers are troublesome. Sure I'm twisted. All thinking human beings are.

One must ask oneself what he's doing here, is he a parasite or a contributor? Does he have the right to live and breathe simply because he was born? Is there really something great to live for or should he end it right here? Is he evolving, progressing toward some form of human perfection?

It's been six weeks or so since I last had the .45 in my mouth, testing the fit, tasting it. I think that night I was worried about stagnation, about whether or not I had done anything worthy (of my own ideals) in the last year. But the answer wasn't positive enough one way or the other to make a choice one way or the other. The moment of terror is the beginning of life, Mike, so take the "No Fear" stickers off your truck.

©2000, Mariah Media Inc.

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