Mountains

Time to turn from politics to more important matters: mountains, being among them, climbing them, breathing in their fragrant air, listening to their song, feeling their weather, experiencing their life.

When I was younger, I used to take long walks through the glens. Sometimes along ancient paths, sometimes over less traveled passes. I wanted to experience the geography  of this land from beyond the modern arteries of communication that cut through it. I wanted just to walk and was not much interested in getting to the summits of mountains.

Partly I was still young and fearful of what I might find at the top of a mountain, partly I was constrained by work and could not always coordinate holidays with weather that was suitable for getting to the summit of a mountain. Partly I belligerently refused to get involved with Munro Bagging as a competitive sport – I did not yet realise that in these things the only real competitor is yourself. I did get to the top of a few though.

Always I went on expeditions, carrying enough on my back to survive however many days and nights it would take to get where I was going. Sometimes I stayed in bothies, but mostly I slept in a tent. Sometimes I had a partner or companion with me, but mostly I was alone. It took many years to learn how to be alone in the mountains.

Now that I am older, I have decided that I do after all want to get to the tops of the mountains, to walk along ridges rather than through glens, to sleep out as close to the stars as possible rather than always to seek the shelter of corries and glens for the night, to sleep among hare and ptarmigan, watching eagles and peregrines, seeing how the clouds move to paint the sky with so many colours using only low sunlight, hoping for a cloudless night and views of the heavens that are witnessed only where there is no artificial light.

Since July 2014, I have at the time of writing been to the top of 38 Munro summits, 35 of these since April 2015. Before then I had been to the top of about 30 more. It is my intention to reach the top of all 282 Munro summits before I die.

I am turning over this blog now to sharing experiences of my journeys.

Also, there might be a little politics along the way.

Author: Duncan Spence

Mountaineer, retired bicycle messenger, philosopher, wordsmith, proofreader, Dutch translator.

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