Mountains of the Mind: a History of a Fascination – Robert Macfarlane

Phil bought this for me from Daunts as holiday reading for the Croatia-Berlin-Paris mini tour, in anticipation of a trek in Nepal later this year.

Not surprisingly the chapter on Everest particularly appealed. As it turned out, the account of Mallory’s expeditions to Everest resonated strongly as last year’s Himalayan Journey meant that I had followed in some of his footsteps through Tibet – and this section about mountain light rang particularly true:

There is the Midas light,the rich yellow light which spills lengthways across the mountains, turning everything it touches to gold. And there is the light which falls at the end of a mountain day, and unifies the landscape with a single texture. This light possesses a gentle clarity, and brings with it implications of tranquility, integrity, immanence. page 214

Covering a range of histories – geology, alpine travel, travel writing, tourism, mountaineering, Everest – plus poetry, psychology and philosophy, it is a fascinating read, although in parts the “testing out” as articles was a little too obvious. But the main theme of the book is why we are drawn to the mountains, and it is a book to read if this snippet rings true for you….

Returning to earth after being in the mountains – stepping back out of the wardrobe – can be a disorienting experience. Like Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy returning from Narnia, you expect everything to have changed. You half-expect the first people you see to grip you by the elbow and ask you if you are all right, to say You’ve been away for years. But usually no one notices that you’ve been gone at all. And the experiences you have had are largely incommunicable to those who were not there. I have often felt as through I were a stranger re-entering my country after years abroad, not yet adjusted to my return, and bearing experiences beyond speech. page 204 link: Mountains of the Mind: a History of a Fascination – Robert Macfarlane

Late afternoon light brings out the colours of the landscape surrounding our campsite