Mountain climbing is a relatively new sport in human history. Until the eighteenth century, mountains were considered inhospitable, even evil. It was the Romantics who taught us to feel a new awe and admiration for the alpine world. Since then, most of the world's mountains have been climbed. Climbers experience the natural world in some of its harshest conditions, and from each climber, each climb, come fresh appraisals of the connection between humans and nature.The twenty-three climbing narratives collected and contexualized by Jeffrey Mathes McCarthy in ""Contact"" explore our changing attitudes toward mountains and the natural world. These stories - some classic texts, others original works - tell of climbers thrilling to the conquest of a previously unclimbed peak or their own physical and psychological limitations; or celebrating mountains as the place where they find the best part of themselves. Other narratives display a keen appreciation not only for nature but for human responsibility toward it. Still others meditate on the craft of climbing; the beauty of becoming, for a time, part of a place that onlookers can only observe; or the astonishing impact of global warming on hitherto frozen environments. Among the authors are John Muir, Gary Snyder, Arlene Blum, John Daniel, Barry Blanchard, Lynn Hill, Conrad Kain, Yvon Chouinard, and Doug Robinson.""Contact"" can be enjoyed as a profound examination of the philosophy of the environment or as a collection of exciting accounts of alpine climbs. In both cases, the book illuminates the spectrum of human attitudes toward mountains and the environment, and the growing symbiosis between climbing and environmental awareness.
Jeffrey Mathes McCarthy is chair of Environmental Studies and associate professor of English at Westminster College. He has climbed mountains in Asia, Africa, and Europe, and his work has been published in academic journals and climbing magazines.