My relationship with the mountains actually started when I was 16. Every year, a group used to be taken from Auckland Grammar down to the Tangariro National Park for a skiing holiday.
I believe that of all the things I have done, exciting though many of them have been, there's no doubt in my mind that the most worthwhile have been the establishing of schools and hospitals, and the rebuilding of monasteries in the mountains.
I think I mainly climb mountains because I get a great deal of enjoyment out of it. I never attempt to analyze these things too thoroughly, but I think that all mountaineers do get a great deal of satisfaction out of overcoming some challenge which they think is very difficult for them, or which perhaps may be a little dangerous.
I can remember when I first went into the Himalayan area way back in 1951. Money, for instance, was not important at all to the local people. But now, finance has become just as important to them as it is to us, and this is a change maybe not for the better.
James K. Polk