Mountain Climbing: Why it is Obligatory for People Who Have not Done it

Written by Dito Fajar Indrawan

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Imagine being on a mountain, feeling the cold fresh air entering your nose as you inhale, and then seeing a puff of air coming out of your mouth as you exhale. Imagine seeing the scenery, the vast blue sky above your eyes with soft white clouds beyond, complete with the color of green as far as the eyes can see. Imagine touching the grass-covered in pristine dew, soft with a touch of cold, begging to be held. Imagine hearing the sound, the whoosh of wind rushing around the roof of the world. Now imagine feeling all these things at once. Quietness, peacefulness, and serenity. Mesmerized, you are standing there motionless, with your senses capturing the best of what Gaia could offer.

Solitude will introduce itself once the vast scenery comes before your eyes. A mix of feelings will rush through your soul with every beat of your heart. Joy, pride, and gratitude will climb onto your head (Pun intended). Feeling joyful because of the bewitching experience, feeling proud of this huge achievement, and feeling grateful because you are alive to experience one of the pristine locations on earth. Your heart will start beating faster, pumping the excitement to every bit of your body. Your mind will be cleansed, as you are focusing to reach the summit and to capture every experience mother earth could offer.

Mountain climbing will change your life for the better. Not only because of the fascinating experience you will get, but also because it is beneficial to your health and well-being.

Personal Documentation: The view from Mount Lawu, Central Java, Indonesia

Mountain climbing is good for your brain, research has shown that long and serene hikes release brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports the survival of neurons by playing roles in the growth, maturation, differentiation, and maintenance of new neurons and synapses. BDNF also has a role to regulate synaptic plasticity, which is vital for learning and memory and preventing brain-related diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Mountain climbing is also an excellent exercise for your body as a whole. Long hikes on an inclined surface with weights on your shoulders is an excellent cardio exercise. It will improve your blood pressure, lower the risk of heart disease, lower your cholesterol, and speed up your metabolic rate.

Aside from cardiac benefits, mountain climbing will also benefit your bones and muscles. Walking on uneven terrain with weights on your back will engage and strengthen your muscles, especially leg muscles such as calves, quads, hamstring, and glutes. Those weight-bearing walks will also boost your bone density, which will lower the chance of osteoporosis knocking on your door. And lastly, since mountain climbing is a physical activity, the more and the longer you do it, the longer your life expectancy will be.

Mountain climbing also has psychological benefits that will improve your well-being. “Research shows that hiking has a positive impact on combating the symptoms of stress and anxiety”, says Gregory A Miller, Ph.D. Spending time outdoors can also increase your attention span and creativity since you can let go of your deadlines and responsibility. You will only enjoy the moment once nature has shown its true color.

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Mountain climbing is also a very good time to bond with your friends and family. There is nothing more lovely than being up in the mountains, sharing the gorgeous view, and bewitching experience together with the people you care about. But if you share the joy together, you also share the ordeal together.

If one of your companions is tired, you rest together. If one of your companions felt that they could not make it, you encourage them. If rain decided to pour and there is no cover, you got wet and cold together. If all of you are too tired to continue, you camp and sleep together. Up there, you share logistics, you share foods and water, and you share bits of help and concerns because those people that you climb up with is all you have when the nearest help is hours away from you.

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But you take photos together, you have a laugh together, you eat and drink together. When you reach the summit, when you see what you climbed all the way up for, when you see the clouds beyond, all those efforts and hard work will be paid off. And those things that you shared together, the joy and the ordeal, will create an unspeakable bond.

But, the journey together is far more important than the summit. As the famous mountaineer Conrad Anker told us “The summit is what drives us, but the climb itself is what matters.”

If you climb a mountain up and then come down safely with your friends, you will become buddies for life. There is a sense of camaraderie when you climb a mountain with those you care about. Every food and drink you shared, every word of encouragement you said, every hand that you gave, even every warmth that you shared when you huddled together in your sleep. All of those will be remembered fondly. Those memories will be cherished forever, and the unspeakable bond lives on.

Mountain climbing will also be a humbling experience. When you see the huge obstacle you are trying to climb, you will feel insignificant or irrelevant, but in a good way. You will truly understand why nature is vital, and why we must protect and preserve it. The oxygen that we breathe, the water that we drink, even the fertile soil that yields our crops came from nature. Sadly, however, the condition of nature is only getting worse. Please try your best to leave things the way they are, consume less water and electricity, try to use public transportations, and DO NOT CUT DOWN ANY TREES WITHOUT RE-PLANTING THEM.

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With this writing, I wish can inspire my readers to have an adventure. Don’t just stay in your house, many pristine locations are waiting to be explored, and many dazzling places are waiting to be visited. Go open the Pandora box and have once in a lifetime experience. Oh, one last thing, there is a strict rule that you must follow

Do not leave anything behind except footsteps

Do not take anything except photographs

Do not kill anything except time

Now go out and have a wonderful adventure!

“You don’t climb mountains without a team, you don’t climb mountains without being fit, you don’t climb mountains without being prepared and you don’t climb mountains without balancing the risks and rewards. And you never climb a mountain on accident, it has to be intentional” — Mark Udall

Atchley, Ruth Ann., Strayer, David., Atchley, Paul. (2012). Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings. PLOS ONE Journal

Bathina, Siresha, and Das, Undurti. (2015). Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor and its Clinical Implications.

Archive of Medical Science (2019). Why Hiking is So Freaking Good for You. fridayhealthplans.com

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