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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 9 (December 1, 1938)

The Mountains Challenge

The Mountains Challenge.

Many attempts have been made to find an answer to the question: “Why do people go into the mountains?” Only those who find their joy in the high hills can answer that question. Some say that they go to climb peaks, some to geologise or botanise, while others say they go just to tramp, and to photograph the alpine scenery. To be sure, some do go for these purposes. Others again go because they feel the mountains offer a perpetual challenge. They climb the peaks, explore the untrodden valleys, endure the hardships of nature, not only for the reward of conquest, but because nowhere else do they feel fully alive.

Mr. C. E. Mathews, a veteran climber, writes a different answer to the same question. He says: “Everything seems to be in our favour. We breathe a diviner air, we watch the clear streams bounding out of the mountain side and racing laughingly
The Godley Glacier, showing Mt. Peterman and Stewart's Saddle, Southern Alps, New Zealand.

The Godley Glacier, showing Mt. Peterman and Stewart's Saddle, Southern Alps, New Zealand.

down the valley as if, as Ruskin says, ‘the day were all too short for them to get down the hill.’ We see the great forests wave and the rivers roll, we are hushed to silence in the early morning by the awful beauty of the rose of dawn, we see the rising sun strike the snowy peaks with a crimson flush; we see the western horizon in the evening one vast sea of fire; we hear the crash of the avalanche and the roar of the torrent, and yet beyond these voices there is peace.”

When one leaves the haunts of men for the solitude of the mountains,

“… the cares that infest the day Fold their tents like the Arabs And as silently steal away.”

Every year, especially during the climbing season which usually extends from the month of December to March, we find many heavily-laden men setting forth into some remote part of the Main Divide or the adjacent valleys in search of adventure. All the year they have been planning with enthuisasm and thoroughness the necessary details for some enterprising expedition, while at the same time delving into the historic records of past explorations.