Can we feel and live the mountains from home ?

1 March, 2019

From Tulson Tolf we say yes, yes and yes. But of course, why is it possible, how is it possible, in what way is it possible? It is through literature, through the mediation of books. What happens now is that after this decisive affirmation the question arises, but what books, and how it can be possible to reach that feeling for the mountain, and for the great deeds of mountaineering. Well, it is possible thanks to that literature as large as we have extensive about our favorite activity, Mountaineering, developed in that natural and magical environment of the Mountain.

We have many titles of all kinds, but we will try to put aside those somewhat gloomy or morbid by their way of expressing experiences, and we will stick to those who marked a generation of climbers, who were motivated, delighted, and they were able to make feats thanks to that literary inebriation that their authors were able to impregnate in each page, in each paragraph, in each experience. We will talk about those books written a few decades ago. We could list all of them one by one, but we will start with those classics that we have no doubt read by 98% of the mountaineers of this past generation. For example the classic of Stars and Storms of the great writer and mountaineer Gaston Rebuffat. Reading this book is to accompany the author in those walls of the Alps in those times where everything was rudimentary, everything was improvised, where the equipment does not resemble those of today, where the mountaineering was in its pure state. Well, this climber was able to take us through those six northern walls of the Alps, showing us all the faces of the mountain, that of the climber with his effort to get his routes, but in a charming, motivating and above all trickster language, because a large number of repetitions of these walls you owe to this book. From Gaston Rebuffat we could talk about illustrious books, such as Ice, Snow and Rock, or The 100 Ascents of the Alps, a graphic guide of some classic Alps, which also inspired many mountaineers and has been a benchmark reference for infinity of climbers. As not also its other classic, The Mountain is my Kingdom.

Within that golden age of mountaineering, we can not stop mentioning Lionel Terray, with his Los Conquistadores de lo Inútil, a masterpiece that, as its title very well says, does not need to describe its content, but it also leads us to be able to live those gestas with those rudimentary equipment, without cat feet, without “Gore”, without duralumin materials, that is to say a lot of weight and few benefits comparatively to today. Between Zero and eight thousand, what can we say about that book that shows us and transports us to that long duration of gradually climbing mountains to its most emblematic height of Everest. This is the great Kurt Diemberger, his protagonist. To speak of Ricardo Cassin, is synonymous of effort, hardness and tenacity, and for that reason the reading of Chief of Rope is a sample of that enigmatic brave one called Cassin for all. Of course, Anapurna of Maurice Herzog, with his conquest of the first 8000, describing what was a true alpine expedition, all an adventure. There are so many books all of that golden age where literature was very much part of the mountaineering, as there was no internet or current technology, it was the means of information and inspiration to program various escalations.

Without describing getae climbers, but feelings towards our love for the mountains we would speak of The Feeling of the Mountain by Eduardo Martínez de Pisón, a great writer who takes us to the magic of our surroundings, or his Cuadernos de Montaña, another book to read. Meditations of the summits of Julius Evola, is a book whose magnetism and depth requires us to read and reread several times its deep meditations given the depth of its expressions. From our beloved Reinold Messner, whose presentation is not necessary because he is an icon, we have a book that goes ahead in time to what we intend today in mountaineering. Alone, or his other book Free Spirit, where his soul is left naked by the freedom he always exercised in mountaineering, and of course his book The Challenge. This great climber pioneer in his genre has been able to transmit to us through literature a new way of conceiving mountaineering. Of Walter Bonnati, that legendary mountaineer creator of the great alpine routes whose seal will remain eternal because their difficulties are still a challenge today. In his book Mountains of a Life, he tells us about his experiences, including the negative ones he had. And Roger Frison-Roche’s First Rider, perhaps the most unintelligible for the last generation of mountain climbers, but which marked a mandatory reading in that golden age of our classic mountaineering.

Many others from the same period, Crack in the Roger Frison-Roche Glacier, Unjust Mountains of Agustin Faus, Alpine Vocation of Armand Charlet, The Three Last Problems of the Ander Heckmair Alps, The Conquest of the Matterhorn by Eduard Wimper, Cordades of Alert by JJ Mollaret, The Conquest of the Mountains by Eric Shipton, The Mountaineering Today by Hermann Huber, Once Upon a Time the Sixth Degree by Richard Cassin, The Spirit of a Time by Royal Robbins, The Spirit of the Rock by Ron Kauk, The The Dizzying Andes of Rene Desmaison, The Mountain did not Want of Saint-Loup, The Seventh Sense of Kurt Diemberger, and the Dark Shed of Joe Simpson, all books written by great mountaineers and writers, which as they say their titles are of great recommendation its reading. All an extensive bibliography capable of making us fly by any massif, by any wall in any mountain, getting that the mountain climbers feel for a few moments during their reading the introduction to the activities described by these great writers, to the point of being able to feel and live the mountain from home.