Friday, December 11, 2020

“Mountaineering and health” (1)

Alpinistic advice from a mountaineering medic of the silver age

Healthy as the pursuit of mountaineering may be, it is not on physical grounds alone suitable for all sorts and conditions of men. “It is hard,” says Lord Bacon, “to distinguish that which is generally held good and wholesome from that which is good particularly, and fit for thine own body.” 

At the same time, even high mountaineering does not demand any exceptional physical requirement of its votaries. Broadly speaking, any youth who is sufficiently sound to pass the medical examination for entrance into the army is fit for mountaineering, while minor defects, such as short sight or slight varicose veins, need not debar him. 

Men climb, as trainers say horses run, in all shapes. Short, thick-set and muscular men, lean, flat and wiry persons, may make equally good mountaineers. On the whole, the best type physically for climbing purposes is the wiry man of average height and of a weight proportionate to his stature. 

But something more than the corpus sanum is wanted. In all forms of active exercise, as the 'Autocrat of the Breakfast table' has noted, there are three powers simultaneously in action the will, the muscles, and the intellect; and in mountaineering the first and the last are by no means the least important.


C T Dent’s Chapter III in the Badminton Library Series on Mountaineering, third edition (1901).

No comments: