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Mountains of the Mind: a History of a Fascination

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MacFarlane’s own stories of perilous treks and assaults in the Alps, the Cairngorms and the Tian Shan mountains between China and Kazakhstan are compelling.

The copyright to all contents of this site is held either by Granta or by the individual authors, and none of the material may be used elsewhere without written permission. When you look at a mountain, you should be filled with awe, but the awe should not be with yourself. Aside from this band, the route offered nothing serious in the way of technical obstacles and, keen to save weight, Lachenal and Herzog left their rope behind them.Scurvy ravaged the explorers as well, destabilizing the flesh so that it fell from bones like wet biscuit. Combining accounts of legendary mountain ascents with vivid descriptions of his own forays into wild, high landscapes, Robert McFarlane reveals how the mystery of the world’s highest places has came to grip the Western imagination—and perennially draws legions of adventurers up the most perilous slopes.

Then there was the combination of aristocratic finickiness (the sixty tins of quail in foie gras, the bow-ties and the vintage Montebello champagne that were carried on the 1924 Everest expedition, for example) with enormous hardihood.

Once you become a supporter, you’ll get a monthly newsletter with ideas for outdoor trips, inspiring stories, and exclusive discount codes from our partners, including exclusive 15% gear discount from Ellis Brigham. Then I felt a thump, and was tugged backwards and round, as though somebody had clamped a heavy hand on my shoulder and turned me to face them. Over and over I read that passage, and I wanted nothing more than to be one of those two tiny dots, fighting for survival in the thin air. The convex surface of the glacier looked hard, silvered and pitted like old metal, and it was pocked with stones which had fallen from the cliffs above. How could we expect anyone else to understand the peculiar exhilaration that we drew from this barrenness, when man's natural tendency is to turn towards everything in nature that is rich and generous?

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