“Our doubts are traitors, And make us lose the good we oft win, By fearing to attempt

How good it is to quote Shakespeare when the morning dawns foul, the rock route drips with ice and fog shrouds the valley.

Taking books to the heights has long been a tradition, from climbing stories, to poetry, to yes, even Shakespeare – who has the remarkable ability to provide great quotes for the difficult moments of a climb.

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Cho Oyu on a good day to hide in the tent – perhaps reading Shakespeare. 

My year of study at University in London introduced me to proper theatre. The combination of an inspiring theatre class, cheap student tickets and a friend who was an usher and opened the back doors, gave access to a host of performances.

I fell in love with the stories, the in-your-face live talent of real actors and the British theatre atmosphere. It was far beyond simple entertainment and provided a host of ingredients to stir into the recipe of life.

With the Royal Shakespeare Company now touring the U.K. it was a good opportunity to pick up the three performance bundle and spend a week going to the theater – what is better on a rainy British evening?

The first performance was Measure for Measure, a theme that while so old, fits so well into the current #metoo conversations. The ability to transcend time, relate human stories and be relevant 500 years after he laid the words down is one of Shakespeares timeless qualities

With the story unfolding around a plot involving trading sex for the life of a brother, some classic Shakespearean side plots, and tying it all up with a twist at the end, it is a non-stop, fast moving story with more than a little to say about our human desires, no matter what the age.

If you have read this far, you may be interested in a real review that was certainly well done in The Guardian.

The applicable climbing quotes shine out, humbling us with:

O, it is excellent

To have a giants strength, but it is tyrannous

To use it like a giant.

A good reminder to let our humility guide our progress, no matter what the objective. For those going off to the mega-mountains, where mega-egos dominate, it is a good reminder of our fallibilities  and the importance of balancing our ego with reality.

Denali, West Buttress, South face, Cassin Ridge
On the glacier, Denali South Face and Cassin Ridge, with the West Buttress on the left – mostly hidden behind the ridge itself. 2 days of storm ensured our home made tent walls were well fortified. 

Of course as the route steepens, the storm comes in and the tent walls close in there is always:

The miserable have no other medicine

But only hope

And if looking for inspiration to just keep going, you can always search for goodness in yourself with…

Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful

And should you need the book for the climb, The Complete Works of Shakespeare, conveniently digitized, will save you carrying the 1,000 of pages around with you.

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