Ha ha, mountain - I WIN!

“Because it’s there” is my favourite answer to the question “Why did you climb that mountain?” but there are as many different answers as there are numbers of people multiplied by number of mountains. For some people it’s a physical or spiritual challenge, some people just like good views and one climber friend of mine says he just likes being able to litter his dinner party banter with climbing stories to compete with his author wife.

I’ve been collecting mountains since I was a kid. Then I did it because I had to, was dragged up by overzealous parents, but there is definitely something of an addictive quality to it that means I get why people want to check mountains off their personal to-do lists: Every mountain in Scotland, check, tallest mountain on each continent, check, highest ten mountains in the world, check (not really, just dreaming.). But I have climbed enough to know that now I do it because it’s fun (and they’re there.). Fun in a strenuous, exciting way that takes a bit of planning and some will power and gives me something to think about while my nose is daily against the grindstone and my rats feet racing.

I’m a kinda challenge setter, box ticker, high achiever so although there are gentle mountains which will still give you that view from the top I’m much more interested in the ones where you have to scramble around before the summit – then, with head bowed, ‘cause you’re having to pay so much attention to not falling over or off a cliff, the summit almost surprises you. There’s nothing like the feeling of standing before a mountain thinking, ok, this one looks like it could make some trouble then to see it fall away behind you – ah ha! Mountain – you thought with your snow and rocky incline at an angle of about 93 degrees you could take me but you were wrong – I win!

Everest doesn’t really inspire me like it does a lot of climbers. Yes it’s the highest, but it’s littered with litter and people. Real climbing is something you do on your own or in a small team, not with the hoards! Hillary wouldn’t have been into that kind of climbing either, no he’s a proper explorer! The best mountains I’ve climbed haven’t even had names but have just been numbers on a topographic map, those are the ones that you may or may not be the virginity-claiming conqueror of, their histories are more secretive. You also have the chance still to blaze a new trail.

Of course it could be that I’m too chicken to go after the big one, I’m just making excuses that I’m too cool for Everest, but there are plenty of big name mountains that I would love to have a crack at. Kilimanjaro, Kenya and Kinabalu I’ve ticked off, but to prove I’m not above the classics I have Hindu Kush and K2 etched onto my list (written on stone.). I get the impression from other climbers that these peaks haven’t given up all their mystery yet. But I get the same satisfaction from climbing some of my local peaks, some of those Munros aren’t that high but they’re pretty tricky up the top!

On a practical level, just like me saying there’s a different reason for every person to climb, there is also a mountain for every reason. You don’t have to book time off work and go into training to forge an ascent but you can if you make yourself.

Climb every Mountain...

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