Landscape Writing,  Mountain Writing,  Writing

Emotional Mountains

Swirling autumn mists on Dalehead, Cumbria. A fine fell running day.

I’m not one of those folk who ascribe motives or emotions to mountains.  A mountain, whether Kinder or K2, is just a lump of rock, maybe covered with slippery and/or squelchy bits.  Any treachery, cruelty, intimidation, or indeed welcoming friendliness, is our human projection; nothing more, nothing less.  A mountain just is; it cannot physically be anything other. 

And I genuinely believe, and hold to that idea.  Books, films and especially news reports anthropomorphising a fell or mountain as treacherous or evil really pisses me off.   

But then there are lumps like Dalehead, that thumping great fell plonked on the south side of Honister Pass.  It is, true, like all fells just a lump of rock and bog.  An inanimate thing, neutral.  But.  All those false summits, on that straight up the slope ascent.  I swear, that fell, it’s tormenting me, laughing at me.  It’s actually a version of classical mythology’s Hydra.  Each ruddy “summit” as I reach it spawns two more, looming away into the mist (and there’s always mist). 

It’s still a pathetic fallacy to attribute emotions or motives to a mountain though.  The only ones truly to be found there are those we carry in, and carry out, in our minds.