“Mountains seem to answer an increasing imaginative need in the West. More and more people are discovering a desire for them, and a powerful solace in them. At bottom, mountains, like all wildernesses, challenge our complacent conviction - so easy to lapse into - that the world has been made for humans by humans. Most of us exist for most of the time in worlds which are humanly arranged, themed and controlled. One forgets that there are environments which do not respond to the flick of a switch or the twist of a dial, and which have their own rhythms and orders of existence. Mountains correct this amnesia. By speaking of greater forces than we can possibly invoke, and by confronting us with greater spans of time than we can possibly envisage, mountains refute our excessive trust in the man-made. They pose profound questions about our durability and the importance of our schemes. They induce, I suppose, a modesty in us.” .
― Robert MacFarlane, Mountains of the Mind: Adventures in Reaching the Summit
I was late coming to mountaineering, and due to a lack of my own transport which shall shortly be rectified with the (also late) passing of my driving test (as I’m bloody determined), I don’t get out as much as I would like in recent years. .
But I can’t talk about Slow Mode without a nod to the activity that brought me out of the late-night domain of smoke and techno-filled party rooms and up to the far greater heights of Kilimanjaro and Mount Elbrus (which these pictures are from). I may do more of the Seven Summits (if I can ever afford to), but as I get older it gets less important to me. .
I think Nature in all its forms has lessons to teach us. It certainly taught me about the meaning and use of the sublime, and, as the MacFarlane quote suggests, started to attune me to rhythms beyond the scope of human ego. Also, climbing a mountain like Elbrus, whose glacier, as you can see, is receding with each year, you cannot ignore the sad realities of climate change. I recently read in an article that the very nature of climbing in the Alps is changing because of it. You can no longer climb the same routes our forebears did in the same way, and that’s really sad.