Mountains, no matter what their size, always have a strong attraction for the adventurous. When I lived in Switzerland some time ago, I’d take every opportunity to ride my bike over high passes or hike up grassy slopes that eventually left the tree line far below the trail. Most weekends I’d grab a map and head for a new summit.
These days the obvious mountain, although not a big mountain, or even a mountain by European standards, is Mount Cooroora.
The site of the relatively famous King of the Mountain race, the trail climbs through scrubby bush land, eventually leading up to steel stairs, chains and large rock, natural steps. The slope for the last 400 metres or so has a gradient of almost 80 per cent, according to my gps watch – meaning it is very steep, at times almost vertical. The whole process requires struggling, puffing and panting to the summit. It’s a cliche to say the view is worth it, but, quite frankly, it is.
Running, and scrambling my way up the mountain the other day, I thought about why I was doing it. To get fit, to test myself? Or was it the almost magnetic attraction that mountain summits provide? Heart rate racing, I struggled with each step, sometimes feeling an urge to stop, but each step brought me closer to my goal. Reaching the top I slowly walked on the peak’s rocky spine to catch my breath. The view east drags your eye towards the coast and its distant blue horizon. As my heart rate decreases, a sense of calmness washed over me. No matter how many times I climb the mountain, reaching the summit never fails to make me smile.
I guess that might be the answer – mountains bring us challenges and views to calm our soul, and in doing so, they provide us with happiness.