Modesty and the Conquest of Mountains

There are many ways of experiencing mountains. I would rather assert, however, that mountains have innumerable aspects or, even better, that the term mountain may be used to designate vastly different entities. What I describe in what follows are mountains. They are connected with what other people call mountains through some sort of interpersonal, social structure, a marvelous common frame of reference. Thus I may locate the mountains I speak about, may give details about the minerals of which they are said to consist, may even discuss their age—all this without getting into trouble with identification. The common frame of reference, however, is not the mountains themselves—not the mountains I know. The motive here for trying to describe mountains as I know them is not the rather indifferent detail that I know them, but that many others know them the same way but do not always or consistently act upon their knowledge.


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© Springer 2005

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