Let's look at that statement!
First, is the descent route the same as the ascent route? There are some peaks that you (probably not you, but others) can opt to take a tram down. And, wait for it... maybe even have in beer in the tram!!!
Other summits have a much easier descent route. Let's talk about Windy Peak, East Face route, in Red Rock Canyon. The East Face route is a tough, exposed route that not a lot of hikers would want to descend. If they opted for following the Windy the Backside route (mostly a trail hike), then the descent route is much easier and faster. The summit, in this case Windy Peak is much more than halfway.
So, why do experienced mountaineers etc. make that statement?
They are telling you that you need to have something left in the tank to get off the mountain. That is true but...
Normally descending is easier overall than ascending.
Descending is much easier on your cardiovascular system (heart and lungs) then when you are ascending. For most hikers it's their cardiovascular system that gives them trouble on the ascent. I am not talking complete failure, but where the hiker slows down or even quits and descends.
For you, and I really mean you, I will play Devil's Advocate!
Descending is tougher on the knees.
That's why smart hikers use their arms while descending. It takes pressure of their knees.
Hikers are more tired while descending.
True, after all they just climbed 2,000, 3,000 feet or more to the summit.
Their balance is not as good.
Tired leg and core muscles decrease balance.
Research shows majority of accidents happen during descents.
All good points, but I wonder how many accidents result from losing focus?
I don't know the answer, but I bet a higher percentage of accidents occur because of losing focus. For me, I don't relax until I am in my car.
When you are at the summit, you are only halfway there is good advice, but like everything in life, it depends on the circumstance or in this case the summit and the available routes you can descend.
Agree, disagree? Make a comment. Thanks for reading!
Branch Whitney is the author of Hiking Las Vegas and creator of the 52 Peak Club where members hike to the best 52 Peaks around Las Vegas, NV