All over the world, people, especially young people, suffer from a feeling of senselessness. They have the means to live, but they lack a purpose in life for which it makes sense to live for. John Glenn, the American astronaut, once said: Ideals are the very stuff of survival. Without the focus on ideals, human beings cannot survive; but that creates a tension, and one has to be able to fight, one has to be able to wait, in a word, a so called frustration-tolerance is required; and such a tolerance needs training.
But today's upbringing, which is mainly concerned with minimizing tension, brings you up to a level of frustration intolerance, a kind of psychological immune deficiency, if I may say so. Young people are then unable to "put away" frustrations; they are unable to wait for their wishes to be fulfilled, they are unable to forego something they do not yet have, or even to sacrifice something they already have. In their frustration-intolerance, young people are no longer able to avert avoidable suffering and endure inescapable suffering, let alone to show pity for someone else - they only know pity for themselves.
But man knows how to help himself - he has always known it. And it was the poet Holderlin who once addressed this fact in beautiful words: Where there is danger, there is also something that can save us from danger. And how does man face the danger of a tendency towards pampering and softening, which is evoked by a technologically perfected industrial society and a consumer society geared towards the total satisfaction of needs?
Let's take a look at everyday life: Today's people don't actually have to walk anymore. One just gets into his car and - drives. Let alone that one has to run. But what is happening? Man invents jogging. Or: Today's people do not need to climb, not even climb stairs. And what happens? One thinks about hiking in the mountains and climbing to their very summit. In a word, man - the naked monkey - imitates his ancestors, who had to climb trees to get food or flee from enemies - all things that are necessary for the monkeys, but no longer for him.
But that’s what mountaineering is about: the biologically under-challenged man arranges for himself voluntarily, artificially and deliberately necessities of a higher kind, in that he freely demands something from himself, denies something, renounces something. In the midst of prosperity, he a situation of deprivation; In the middle of an affluent society, he begins to pile up islands of asceticism, so to speak - and this is exactly where I see the function, not to say the mission, of sport in general and alpinism in particular: They are the modern, secular form of asceticism.
Viktor E. Frankl in Mountain Experience & Man's Search for Meaning