I adore Mountaineering and I adore Writing. Inspired by a meeting at the Kendal Mountain Festival, I’ve written a number of Love Letters to some of the Mountains I’ve climbed over the past 30 years. They’re a varied selection of peaks spanning the Himalayas, Africa, Asia, The Arctic and Europe.
The quest to see what is ‘Over the Horizon’ has intrigued man for millennia. The desire to explore the world has led to much of it being extensively mapped, with people like Magellan, Carstensz and Cook being fine examples, but for centuries, the physical horizon was as far as we could see. For example, if you are 5’7” it would be just under 3 miles, whereas from the summit of Everest you can see over 200. This is why for centuries man has sought high ground. Defences always needed long distance views to see an enemy coming, and explorers want the best viewpoint into the unknown that they can get. This fact remained unchanged until the onset of the Telegraph and the Radio. Suddenly you didn’t need a semaphore or signal fires to communicate over distance. Within years, messages could be sent around the world, pushing the horizon far from view. But there is another horizon – limit of a person’s knowledge, experience or interest.
The modern world seems to rely on instant news media. Satellite communications and Social Networking relay information around the globe within milliseconds, against the hours, days, weeks and even months that used to be required. Though this has a good side, it can also cause unnecessary stresses and tensions, as my family found out recently…
The Kendal Mountain Festival is the highlight of the climbing calendar in the UK, but for me it wasn’t always that way. I had visited the festival years back and even had my Discovery Channel documentary “Nightmare at 20,000ft” premiered there, but I always felt a little lost. Was it because I was on my own? Or the fact that I didn’t know a soul? Who knows, but it all changed one day on the Hornli Ridge.