The English poet William Blake put it best when he said, “Great things are done when men and mountains meet.” The consent is virtually unanimous when it comes to nature’s tallest peaks and crags. There’s something breath-taking, awe-inspiring, invigorating, and downright beautiful about the mountains that you simply cannot find anywhere else. No cutting-edge VR or augmented reality experience, entertainment extravaganza, or shocking cityscape can ever come close to the sheer awesomeness that emanates from every mountain range in existence.
So what exactly is it, then, that makes the mountains so alluring? What is it that makes a trip up a mountainside better than a session with a therapist? Here are a few of the key factors that radiate from mountainscapes and come together to form a therapeutic experience so many humans look for as they pack up their gear and trek off in search of adventure.
The Nature Factor
Nature, when honestly sought and engaged with, has long been known to provide humans with a unique experience.
It’s the motivation that compels seafarers to hoist their sails over and over again and take to the waves. It’s the reason rock climbers the world over continue to search out new cliffs to scale. It’s the compelling factor behind the endless curation of personal gardens in every society since the dawn of time. In short, nature delivers a natural high that cannot be found anywhere else.
Whether you’re in search of a physical challenge, a peaceful retreat, or you’re looking to get some stellar photos with your drone, the natural beauty and mystique of the mountains always promise a uniquely satisfying experience that is rooted in nature itself.
The Peace Factor
While the thought of climbing a mountain may sound like a busy, exhausting, stressful task, often it is the startlingly peaceful landscape of the mountainsides that can be the most rewarding part of a hike. In fact, the idyllic atmosphere of the mountains enables mountaineers to escape from everyday life, lost in the wind and stoic serenity of the stone giants themselves.
This peacefulness can bring a distinctly powerful sense of relaxation, naturally reducing stress and quieting the thoughts and cares of a world left behind hundreds or thousands of feet below. The sheer tranquility of a good mountainscape speaks directly to the heart, soul, and mind.
The Perspective Factor
Along with things like the natural high and the pursuit of peace, the therapeutic power of the mountains can help deliver a sense of awe and perspective unlike any other experience. It’s difficult to truly understand how small you are until you’re standing on a cliff’s edge, looking down a mountainside you just scaled or out onto a valley, plain, or ridge of mountain peaks receding into the distance.
The sense of perspective that a good mountain view can deliver is profound. It allows the viewer to detach from the petty stresses of everyday life and puts the cares and concerns of the world on the back burner for a moment. It can form a marked contrast from the constantly zoomed-in view that the average modern person spends the bulk of their lives engaged in. Gaining a mountain-sized perspective allows you to “unplug,” take a step back, and just take it all in for a moment.
While there’s nothing quite like the real thing, the truth is, you can’t remain unplugged on a mountainside at all times. However, even the simple act of keeping mountains “nearby” in your everyday life in the form of a phone background or photo display can help set up those little reminders to keep everything in perspective, even when you’re not physically out on the bluffs yourself.
The Challenge Factor
Finally, there’s nothing like a good physical challenge to help ease the mind and reward the soul. Taking on natural challenges like scaling a cliff, hiking a mountainside, or even simply camping in a mountainside forest all take a certain level of physical exertion that can be exceptionally gratifying, not just externally but internally as well.
As the seasoned mountaineer Edmund Hillary put it, “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” Overcoming the challenge of the climb in order to gain the reward of the view is a rare experience in life that only mountains can truly offer.
Whether you’re viewing them from a picture frame, gazing from afar, or physically climbing, mountains offer an amazing sense of peace, perspective, and gratification. They help humans detach from the exhaustion of modern life in order to tap back into nature and all that it has to offer. The opportunity to experience and benefit from a good mountain view, one way or another, is one that should never be passed up by man, woman, elder, or child.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.”
― John Muir, Our National Parks