Weihnachtskneipe! This is when all our club’s mountaineers get together for a cheerful Christmas drink. There is singing and drinking in the lofty guildhall, while mountain memories waft along in the blue smoke of many a summit pipe.
|Original illustration from Ihr Berge (1916)
I join them as the club’s youngest member.
What a band of warriors is gathered here! There is the black-bearded giant, here the blond colossus, the quiet and serious ones in between, a head of grey hair on the one who is already getting along a bit.
Many of them I’ve never set eyes on before, and yet I know their names and mountaineering records better than I know my next-door neighbour. And what I know is this – these men have seen the mountains in a way I might never be privileged to.
When the worthiest of this high company shows us some of his most exquisite pictures, a chorus of seniors voice their approval: “Great stuff, well done.”
When they tell of battle and victory, when I hear from their own mouths all the epic ventures that resound among us striplings like sagas of the heroes – then how small this makes me feel by comparison. How likely is it that I’ll ever carry off anything like these feats of theirs? And how these sacred incantations of the club cut into my heart. What use to me is high ambition, spades of daring and an iron will?
For it is Titans I see in front of me, wrestling with giant mountains. I shiver as in a dream. The evening that looked so enticing does yield all it promised – and yet not so much. I must leave the room and, down at heart, I stride away through the dark night.
This is an excerpt from a centennial translation of Ihr Berge (1916), a mountain memoir by Hans "Hamo" Morgenthaler (1890-1928). Translation (c) Project Hyakumeizan.