ONLY the hill-walker
understands the enchantment of climbing a mountain in the rain. To the
average city-dweller, the very idea is repellent -- and, indeed, when
analysed in the cold light of wisdom or common sense, it is hard to tell
wherein lies the attraction.
The mountaineer himself (if he be honest), will never go quite so far as
to say that he "enjoys" it. In fact, at the time of asking, so to speak,
he will express his disapproval of the weather in terms so striking and
forcible as to leave the listener in no doubt whatever concerning the
sincerity of his feelings.
It is only afterwards, when he has "dried out" by the inn fire, that his
lamentable inconsistency will assert itself. And then, like the
incomprehensible creature that he is, he will gloss over his recent
discomforts with a sort of rough affection, and find all sorts of
compensations to explain his change of mood. Oh, certainly, it was heavy
going for a while, he will admit modestly, especially up on the peat-bogs
where there wasn't so much as a whin-bush for shelter and you could
scarcely breathe for the force of the wind. . . . But there was a fine
view down the glen, for the sun was out there, flashing and winking on the
burn, and he wouldn't have missed it for the world! Oh, yes-he got wet
enough during the actual climb -- soaked to the skin, in fact, and the
water was running down his body in icy streams before he was half-way up.
. . . But there was a rainbow so near that he could have touched it -- the
whole thing, perfect and intact, painted across a nearby mountain face on
a level with his eyes. Made him feel like a god. And the cloud-formations
were really extraordinary when one could take time off to look… And so on,
and so forth. Pity he didn't get to the top, though. Still, there was
So he will go on talking of the mountain as a lover talks of a beloved but
fickle mistress, admitting her faults, deprecating her faithlessness-but,
with every word, challenging the world to show him her peer.
And the more he talks, the more surely will he confound the charabanc-tourist
and the dweller in cities, and confirm in them the suspicion that these
mountaineers are eccentric fools who ought to know better.
But the man with understanding in his heart -- he upon whom, at some time,
the spell of another mountain has fallen-will only smile to himself . . .
and remember … and go quietly away.
Skye peaks and mists, amid the high tops of
View from Sgurr na Banachdich.