Editor's Letter | The Mountain Issue - October 2016
This month's long reads are all about mountains
As adventure sports enthusiasts, mountains play an outsized role in all of our lives. For those lucky enough to live amongst them, it’s their actual physical presence - you can’t help but be overawed by the sheer scale of the peaks which surround Chamonix for example. But even those of us who only get to travel to the mountains a handful of times each year often spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking and dreaming about these magnificent natural wonders.
Mountains are, after all, our playground. They’re the arena in which we do the things we love. Whether it’s rock climbing, skiing, mountain biking or road cycling, mountains are the place to do it. But it’s more than just that. Mountains aren’t just about having a good time. They can also be an incredibly unforgiving environment, and one that often presents us with our toughest challenges.
"We spoke to Steve Wakeford, a man who's lucky to be alive..."
This month’s issue contains plenty of aspirational tales of people enjoying themselves in the world’s mountainous regions - from heli-skiing in Iceland to sampling adventure sports in the frozen hills of Quebec. We also spoke to the British freestyle skiers who are shaking up the establishment, and it was hard not to get caught up in their infectious enthusiasm. But this month we also looked at the darker side of mountains. What happens when things go wrong.
Alf Alderson submitted to being buried under a simulated avalanche for his story about rescue dogs. Meanwhile Ollie Peart interviewed Steve Wakeford, a man who is lucky to be alive and to answer his questions, let alone go ice climbing again. You might have thought after surviving his narrow brush with death, that the last place Wakeford would want to go back to was the scene of his accident. But as he explained, he was plotting his return before he’d even recovered enough to get up from his wheelchair.
Because this is the thing about mountains. The two sides to them, the enjoyment and the danger, are inextricably linked. The real thrill of adventure sports, the sense of achievement, comes from having challenged yourself in a difficult environment and passed the test. As Mark Twain wrote after a trip to Switzerland: “There is probably no pleasure equal to the pleasure of climbing a dangerous Alp."
Deputy Editor Stuart Kenny experienced this pleasure first hand this month riding his mountain bike down a glacier for the first time. Lou Boyd felt the same thing as she battled against heat and exhaustion in the mountains of Taiwan, where she tackled some of the hardest - but also the most rewarding - rides she’d ever done on her road bike. It’s a feeling that as adventure sports enthusiasts, we’ve all felt at one time or another.
It might not be the easiest thing to explain to those who don’t get it. As Twain went on to say, “it is a pleasure which is confined strictly to people who can find pleasure in it." But for those of us in the know, mountain environments - and the combination of danger and pleasure they offer - are just about the best places in the world.
Here’s hoping that this month’s features get you thinking about the mountains, and inspire you to get out there and get stuck in.
Enjoy the adventure.
- Tristan, Editor-in-Chief
Keep your eyes peeled for The Other Issue, dropping this month.