ODE TO MOUNTAIN CULTURE
Words and Photos by Abby Cooper / Abbydell Photography
Raising a koozie-adorned beverage, seated on a dusty tailgate in a parking lot with an interchangeable name… this one is for the people of the mountains.
To the climbers with sandpaper hands, no toenails, and perpetually shattered phone screens.
To the hikers who spend their free time dehydrating meals and staring longingly at maps.
To the mountaineers who know no shame for sunscreen not rubbed in and think that duct tape is a jacket’s best friend.
To the mud-coated mountain bikers with pedal ponies worth more than their cars.
To the paddlers who can’t remember what it’s like not to have pruned appendages.
To the injured bodies that attempt to cure their craving for the mountains with the stories of others until they’re ripe for their own again.
To the aspiring mountain folk who soak up any ounce of information shared and spend too much time trying to buy the “right” gear.
To the souls who have left a legacy, and made an impact on the culture, gear, and resources we have today.
To all the people who participate in, make, and mould the mountain culture we love.
This is for you.
Our disciplines aside, we’re united by a mutual love. Unspoken respect and understanding are shared by all who insist on intertwining their identity with the mountains. The result? Mountain culture. We respect each other’s passions and dedication. We know that to thrive in the mountains, we must be stronger mentally than we are physically. We know that the pain is worth the reward.
Some mental battles never disappear, but rather become part of your ritual, like debating snoozing your alarm on the morning of a big outing because you were too excited to sleep the night before. No matter how many times you’ve woken up cowboy camping, you’ll always hesitate at the thought of crawling out of your cozy sleeping bag and putting on sweat-marinated boots. But now it’s a process, not a surprise. No matter how many times we’ve dealt with blisters, we still lack the foresight to avoid them. Breaking your hard-to-find rhythm for water breaks, loose shoelaces, and other mundane tasks doesn’t get easier, even though you know it’s necessary. Cramming in carbs and protein at ungodly hours makes you feel nauseous, but that passes. At least once a season there will always be an “I’m never doing that again” moment – that’s a fact.
As a mountain-culture-oozing soul, you know there’s a but to these less-than-glamorous moments because you’ve lived them over and over again. Living this life you’ve chosen is yin and yang at its finest, with a net positive.
Greeting your partner-in-crime by headlamp will soften your groggy morning voice and convert your rough state into a state of flow. Feeling the sheer power of the wind on a towering peak will make you feel more alive than ever before. Seeing the potential in a new-to-you vista will make you eager for more. Relishing in the memories over a well-earned beverage will ignite your internal fire to do it again. The sense of accomplishment and growth, unlike gear and minor injuries, is irreplaceable and irresistible.
Each adventure ensures a renewed perspective. The addiction to do so comes from a quest for self-progression. We’re fuelled by the fear of being stagnant, we have a need to live a life with plenty of markers and a sense of accomplishment. Letting the curiosity of what’s around the next corner lead your life requires the right amount of loving the unknown and accurately preparing for it.
The mountains are undoubtedly polarizing. This vast contrast is evident from peak to valley and all the microclimates, varying landscapes, and ecosystems in between. Our experiences in them are equally as dramatic in contrast. Our physical and mental states are altered countless times – before, during, and after any experience. As a product of where we live and what we choose to consume, we are inevitably shaped by the mountains.
We are living, breathing mountain culture.
Your life’s ambitions of pursuing a clear mind, exhausted body and accomplished soul is granted when you’re consumed by the mountains. And that’s what’s making our modern mountain culture. Be the legacy you’d want to share because you’re part of a community and culture that are bigger than your lifetime. Our actions, or lack thereof, will shape not only the landscape but also how the things you love the most are perceived, and enjoyed, by the current and next generation.
It’s important that we, the current generation of mountain caretakers, are stewards for education, proper etiquette, and preservation for the places we adore. Cheers to you, your efforts, your failures, your rewards, and your ambition to do it again.
With love for all who speak the same unspoken language of the mountains,
A lover of all things outdoors, Abby Cooper is a splitboarder, climber, hiker, adventurer, photographer and writer.
The views and opinions expressed in the articles on CrowfootMedia.com are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editor, the editorial team or the publishers.