Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Mountains are spiritual places in most cultures

One of the enjoyable things about social media, is about being able to post something that means a lot to you, and others add their thoughts.

Today I posted this on facebook:

I think I realised that my main interest did not consist in trying to test my strength; nor was it essential for me to achieve some victory. The Mountains had taught me about life. I needed to learn that comfort and security are not essential prerequisites to a sense of satisfaction…. The mountains had already given me physical fitness and friends, a deeper appreciation of the planet in which we, a clearer perception of values distinquishing the stable and the essential from the petty and ephemeral… Mountaineering had to be the whole mountain experience - the huts in the valley, the shepherds in the upper valleys, the flowers by the glacier stream, the upper icefield, the snowy ridge, the rocky crest and the lonely summit. It was sufficient the mountains were aesthetically satisfying. I did not need to seek difficult climbs, although I tried to acquire competence to deal with difficulties that might arise in my quest for perfect accord with the mountain environment.

My old friend Akira Nakata from Japan replied:

" Very impressive commentary, Bob. In our country, different level of "mountaineering" has been a boom for long time. There are hundreds of novels, plays and songs, featuring mountains. Mt. Fuji could be our spiritual symbol. Recently, there is a guy at 30 year old, who already climbed all world summits, except Mt. Everest, where he has tried for two, three times in winter. What is controversial Nobukazu Kuriki is that he carries his video camera in one hand to report "live" climbing to his sponsors and supporters. He said "single" and "non-oxygen" climb but, in fact, many professional climbers pause a question why single as he used to start from the camp nearby the summit, which is established by many colleagues and local sherpas. However, for those young people or Sunday trekkers who can not experience such expedition, his spectacular "live" with painful breathing or frostbite risk is, indeed, very exciting, touching entertainment on the internet or TV programme. When I read your personal thought or spiritual value of mountain, I could not but think of this guy. One said that there is no rule on mountaineering but a manner. Thanks a lot, Bob."

I replied to Akira,

"I greatly enjoyed your comments about the important role of mountains in the spiritual and cultural life of your people. Modern day mountaineers such as Nobukazu Kuriki are playing to a certain audience that enjoys such stunts, without considering the ethics. To me, Naomi Uemura was Japan’s greatest modern day explorer and mountaineer for his solo achievements and his sincere modesty and unassuming nature. Another part of his greatness lay in his deep interest in everyone he met.

I also met Junko Tabei after her first ascent of Mt. Everest in 1975 when I was working for the Red Cross in Nepal.She was the first woman to climb Mt. Everest I believe, and was another humble and sincere person I had the good fortune to know. Both Junko and Naomi had the ‘manner’ you refer to in your comments. A New Zealand poet Charles Brasch's wrote something about mountains I am sure you will relate to."
"Man must lie with the gaunt hills like a lover,

Earning their intimacy in the calm sigh

Of a century of quiet and assiduity,

Discovering what solitude has meant

Before our headlong time broke on these waters,

And in himself unite time’s dual order;

For he both to the swift and slow belongs,

Formed for a hard and complex history


Altitude said...

I meticulously enjoyed your conversation; couldn’t be described any better.

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