[MUSIC] The abodes of Gods, sacred embodiments, the focus of pilgrimage. All of these ideas persist in today's widespread romantic enthusiasm for mountains. A landscape commonly celebrated for its beauty and its wildness. But the western attraction to wild landscapes is relatively new. For example 250 years ago North Americans and Europeans were not seeking wilderness experiences, something that's very much en vogue today. In fact as late as the 1700s the most common usage of the word wilderness in the English language referred to landscapes that generally carried adjectives far different from the ones used today. Wilderness meant things like desolate or deserted or savage or barren. Wilderness was considered a waste or a wasteland. The point to take is that the word's meaning was anything but positive. And the emotion that one was likely to feel in wild landscapes, like mountains, was one of bewilderment, or terror. In only a couple hundred years, mountains would be transformed in popular western thinking from sites of wild desolation to site of wild splendor. And two ideas really remade the way that we think about wild landscapes. The doctrine of the sublime and the myth of the frontier. And of these two ideas the sublime is older. It's more pervasive. It's one of the most important expressions of that trans-Atlantic romantic movement. Conversely, the myth of the frontier is particularly North American and American to be even more precise. The sublime is an aesthetic concept. It's first articulated by Edmund Burke in the mid 18th century, which referred to the thrill and the danger of confronting untamed nature. One might meet devils and run the risk of losing one's soul in such landscapes, but one might also meet God. And for some, that possibility was worth almost any price. These were typically landscapes of vast and immense scale. They were places where one couldn't help but feel insignificant in the face of it all, and to be reminded of one's own mortality. This sense of mountains as a landscape where the supernatural lay just beneath the surface was increasingly expressed in the literature, the poetry, and the art of the day. God was on the mountaintop, in the chasm, in the waterfall, in the thunder cloud and mists. Let's consider for a moment the sites that North Americans chose for their first national parks. Yellowstone National Park was the first national park in the US in 1872. In fact Yellowstone was the first officially designated national park anywhere. It's best known for its geothermal features, especially its geysers. And then there's the beautiful Yosemite Valley. There's the Grand Canyon, Mount Rainier. Canada's first was Rocky Mountains National Park, later renamed Banff. It was followed by Yoho and Glacier National Parks. These are all sublime landscapes, and they were nearly all in mountains. They're certainly all places of tremendous physical relief. Less sublime places weren't yet seen worthy of celebration and protection. So what sort of experiences did sublime spaces evoke? For the earlier Romantic writers and artists in the 1700s, to enter the sublime was far from pleasing. Here's a classic example from William Wordsworth, a major English Romantic poet, as he recounted an experience in the Alps in his autobiographical poem, The Prelude. >> The immeasurable height of woods decaying, never to be decayed. The stationary blasts of waterfalls, and in the narrow rent at every turn, winds thwarting winds, bewildered and forlorn. The torrents shooting from the clear blue sky. The rocks that muttered close upon our ears. Black drizzling crags that spake by the wayside as if a voice were in them. The sick sight and giddy prospect of the raving stream. The unfettered clouds and region of the heavens, tumult and peace. The darkness and the light were all like workings of one mind. The features of the same face, blossoms upon one tree. Characters of the great apocalypse, the types and symbols of eternity. Of first, and last, and midst, and without end. >> This is heavy stuff. It was certainly no casual stroll through Switzerland. To enter the sublime was to have a religious experience, but one with a wrathful God. No mortal was meant to linger long in these places. The symbols that Wordsworth detected in this wild landscape were much more supernatural than natural. To enter the sublime was to also to come face to face with the abyss. The absolute other of philosophical inquiry in the period of the European Enlightenment. In 1816 a group of English literary writers gathered together at a rental house in Geneva, Switzerland, and challenged one another to write a new kind of story. They all traveled that summer, though not all together, to the largest glacier in France, the Mer De Glace, high above Chamonix. And marveled at the vision of a world made waste by endless, life destroying ice. This, remember, was during the tail end of the Little Ice Age. When fears of advancing glaciers and a future Ice Age gripped their western imagination. The group believed that this particular way of experiencing the conceptual abyss could lead to profound changes in the way that writers told ghost stories, for example. Or stories of romantic isolation, or stories of unforgettable horror, and they couldn't have been more right. To explain, here's University of Alberta English professor Stephen Slemon. >> The ideas that came out of that mountain fed meeting in Geneva have come to the center of literature and popular culture, and they've stayed there. Percy Bysshe Shelley's long poem, Mont Blanc, made the idea of mountain landscapes a necessary part of the concept of the romantic sublime. Lord Byron's dramatic play, Manfred established the figure of the brooding, reclusive Byronic hero. Here in the play, he's standing high on a mountaintop in the Alps and planning to throw himself off. But you can find that Byronic hero in fictional characters like Emily Bronte's Heathcliff, or Severus Snape of the Harry Potter books or Edward Cullen from the Twilight series. That Geneva gathering in 1816 led to the publication of the first ever vampire story, John Polidori's short prose work, The Vampyre. And it led to the publication of what is probably the most influential horror novel ever written, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, subtitled The Modern Prometheus, first published in 1818. In the early sections of that novel the young Dr. Victor Frankenstein appears as a lover of the mountain landscape. His first glimpse of the Mer de Glace brings him to a sublime ecstasy that gives wings to the soul. This sunny mountain disposition soon gives way to a much darker view of the mountain sublime. When Victor Frankenstein crosses the Mer de Glace alone beneath mountains belonging to another earth, the habitation of another race of beings. And on that glacier, encounters for the first time since its escape from the lab, the hideous monster he has created. And at the nearby hut at Monte Ver, the monster tells the doctor his story. And it's a gloomy, doom ridden vision that emerges from the telling. Scientific ambition has turned into hubristic pride. Human beauty has transformed itself into gigantic hideous deformity. The world of this novel will conclude itself in a vision of endless ice. Frankenstein begins with one vision of mountain sublimity. The solemn silence of this glorious presence chamber of imperial nature. And the novel ends with a very different vision. It's a vision of endless waste and science, culture, and human reason made waste with it. >> But even as mountain landscapes were vested with the awesome power of the sublime. Wilderness areas throughout North America, especially in the United States were being tamed throughout the 1800s. Settlements and railways were all changing the character of these places. Add to that all of the people who by century's end were now coming to bask in the non-human beauty. Maybe to collect fossils, or to see glaciers, or to catch views. The terrible awe captured by Wordsworth and his contemporaries began to adopt a much more comfortable, sentimental demeanor. Wild landscapes were still sacred, but their religious sentiment that they evoke was much more that of a pleasant parish church than a grand cathedral. The writer who perhaps best captures this late romantic sense was John Muir, a Scottish American naturalist whose description of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California brought him considerable fame. >> No pain here, no dull hours, no fear of the past, no fear for the future. These blessed mountains are so compactly filled with God's beauty, no petty personal hope or experience has room to be. Drinking Champagne water is pure pleasure, so is breathing the living air, and every movement of limbs is pleasure. While the body seems to feel beauty when exposed to it as it feels the campfire or sunshine, entering not by the eyes alone but equally through all one's flesh like radiant heat. Making a passionate ecstatic glow not explainable. >> The emotions that Muir experiences and evokes in this passage welcome ecstasy, very different from words worse awe-filled bewilderment. Both are participating in the same cultural tradition. Both are contributing to that same myth, the Mountain as Cathedral. In the American context, the second cultural movement that helped transform wild places into sacred icons was the Myth of the Frontier. American historian, Frederick Jackson Turner, wrote the classic academic statement about this myth near the end of the 1880s. In a nutshell, Turner's thesis was that the best antidote to the ills of an overly refined and civilized modern world was a return to a simpler, a more primitive living. The myth goes something like this. In moving to the wild, unsettled lands of the Western American Frontier, Easterners and Europeans shed the trappings of civilization. They rediscovered their primitive energies and reinvented direct democratic institutions. They re-infused themselves with a vigor, an independence, which remains to this day a source of American democracy and national character. Wild country in the American instance became not just a place of religious redemption but one of national renewal. The quintessential place for experiencing what it meant to be an American. Built into the frontier myth from the very beginning was the idea that the frontier was passing away. Those who have celebrated the frontier myth have almost always looked backwards, and as they did so mourned an older, a simpler, somehow truer world that was on the brink of disappearing forever. Now this is an old but pervasive story. Whereas the American West, the Wild West, was mythologized this way during the 19th Century. During the 20th Century and still today ideas of the North and Alaska are often romanticized in the same way. These were powerful ideas, in the late 1880s, the myth of the disappearing frontier laid the seeds for the first conservation movement. If wild lands were so crucial in making a nation, then surely wild places needed to be protected. And so it's no surprise that the movement to set aside national parks and wilderness areas, began to gain real momentum at precisely the time that laments about the passing of the frontier, reached their peak. The rejuvenating power attributed to mountains can also be witnessed in late 19th Century tourism trends. Mountains now provided city dwellers with that which they most lack, health and relief from boredom. Throughout Europe and North America, health resorts sprang up and health sanitariums were often built to accommodate sufferers from the ailments of the modern age. The dry, clean air, just being in nature, was believed to have excellent therapeutic results. And so too did bathing and hot mineral springs, which could be found everywhere in the mountains. The supposing curative powers of the warm thermal waters created a whole bathing culture at the turn of the century. Here's what one witness had to say about hot springs in the Rockies. >> When I was there I saw invalids carried down to the springs in chairs by friendly hands. And when I returned from the Pacific Coast, I saw the same people able to walk down themselves. And they were basking in the sunshine on the mountain side. >> The popular image of mountains was no longer that of a cold, inhospitable land of terrors, but that of an attractive, healthy environment. Canadians have a long tradition of using their mountains to revive body and spirit. In fact, the Lower Mineral Springs, those on the slopes of Sulphur Mountain in Banff, were actually the birthplace of our entire national parks system. We'll visit this national historic site in a later lesson when we turn our focus to the natural world of mountain environments. The romantic enthusiasm for mountains in 19th Century stimulated the proliferation of mountain arts and literature. English artist such JMW Turner for example, such reevaluate a natural world defecting nature and mountain as a divine creation as supposed to human artifice. Other unique cultural forms are worthy of mention too such as elaboration of new sporting practices which also emerge from this re-imagining of mountain landscapes. Today mountains play host to a number of sporting and recreational activities. Everything from hiking to skiing to mountain biking and rock-climbing. Adherence range from dabbler to the hardcore. And for some mountain sports are an all consuming passion, almost a religion. One of the earliest institutionalized mountain sports was mountain climbing, or mountaineering, which was first promoted by a British club formed by London in 1857, the Alpine Club, it was called. Other mountaineering clubs were soon established throughout Europe and some were huge organizations. By the 1880s for example, the Austro-German Alpine Club had over 18,000 members. Mountains were now imagined as a playground. They had become an unlimited field for adventure. So who were these early climbers and why on earth were they climbing mountains? [SOUND] Members of the early Alpine Club were largely drawn from the professional urban middle classes. It was at first a gentleman's dining club, a sort of learned society in which members would read peer reviewed articles outlining their climbing exploits at meetings. Articles that were subsequently published and circulated in Alpine Journals. You know that from earlier lessons that interest in geology, and glaciology, and cartography motivated much of the early exploration of the European Alps. And a continuation of this tradition meant that a large number of Victorian mountaineers had a decidedly scientific bend. Many climbed for geographical information, adopting the language and zeal of imperial explorers. Others were artists and writers inspired by romanticism, ascending mountains in contemplation of the sublime. Increasingly into the 1860s and thereafter though, athleticism would provide the dominant framework. Imagine in this way climbing mountains was purely sport. Its virtues lay in moral and physical improvement, derived from the hard effort competition, manliness, mastery over nature. Here's how one English climber, Albert Mummery explained it in 1895. >> If we consider for a moment the essence of the sport of mountaineering, it is obvious that it consists and consists exclusively in pitting the climber's skills against the difficulties opposed by the mountain. Any increase in skill involves an increase in the difficulties grappled with. It is true that extraordinary progress has been made in the art of rock climbing, and that, consequently, any given rock climb is much easier now than thirty years since, but the essence of the sport lies, not in ascending a peak, but in struggling with and overcoming difficulties. >> Mummery would perish not long after writing those words in an avalanche on Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world in Pakistan. But his philosophy of climbing gained popularity among later generations of climbers. The mountains were now an arena for sport. Critics have called mountaineering the most literary of all sports. This may come as a surprise to anyone who regards climbing as nothing more than the driven antics of adrenaline addicts. Here in Canada, our country's second longest continuous running periodical is actually the Alpine Club of Canada's Canadian Alpine Journal, first printed in 1907. Mountaineering today, globally, is the one sport that's most likely to have its own section in book stores. And climbers often talk about their favorite climbing books with almost as much enthusiasm as they talk about their favorite climbing roots. And mountain book and film festivals have become an annual tradition in many mountain towns. So what's the relationship between mountains, and films, and books? To answer that question, here's University of Alberta English professor, Stephen Slemon, and the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival's programming director, Joanna Croston. >> Mountaineering didn't just happen, it came together as a consolidation of club culture in the middle of the 19th century. And in those moments, publication played a really significant role in the establishment of climbing as kind of a technical practice. >> It was more than just documenting in a exploration and adventure is it? >> And science, yes, it was. I mean, climbing writing had to cover the science, how altitude measurements, glaciology, and so on. It had to address the romantic sublime. It had to be practical. It had to tell you how much you would pay for guides, and for pack animals, and where you would stay in hotels, and so on. But beyond that, it was also the way in which a climber would secure his or her claim to having made a climb. It was enough that you just did the climb, that you got to the top, that you had all the technical achievement to do it. You also had to write up that climb and have it published by the club. And, so, it became really, very early on the case that mountaineering practice required this other skill. You had to not only be able to climb, you had to be able to write. You can't go to a mountaineering game. [LAUGH] You can't sit on the stands and watch mountaineering. And so that what happened from an early time was that mountaineers had to not only be able to write but be able to make it come alive. So that they had an audience for what it was that they could do. >> And I think it's fair to say, just the past few decades is when film has really come into the mountains. And prior to that, that opportunity just wasn't available. >> Yeah, and we're all waiting to see how that's going to change, the world of mountaineer representations. >> And it has with social media and all this instant sort of documentation is happening as we move forward. >> It may be the case now that mountaineers need the skill, not so much of writing, but of filming. >> Exactly. >> They've got to wear a GoPro with a certain elegance. >> All arounders, yeah. >> [LAUGH] Is it the case that maybe writing is giving way to film in some way? >> I think as we were talking about earlier, you not only have to be a climber, you have to be a writer and maybe a filmmaker all in one go. >> And with films specifically, we're seeing more and more like shorter snippets, shorter films, I think probably designed for online consumption. Well not probably, I'm sure it is rather than the longer feature-length 90 minutes feature films that maybe once would have been more popular. And in terms of writing, it's hard to say but we've got this new mountaineering article award as well, all right? And that's have nod toward short form writing, so I think it's just a matter of people having to be more well rounded. >> Yeah, Jo, you've been associated with Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival now for nine years. What is it? >> The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival is now in its 41st year, it's one of the oldest festivals in the world celebrating mountain culture. So, we do films, we do books, we do photographs, exhibitions, a whole gamut of things, including panel discussions, speakers. And here at the Banff Center, over the course of nine days, we see 19,000 people visit. And the beautiful thing though Stephen is after the festival's over here in Banff, we go around the world. We have 1,000 different screenings around the world in 40 countries, all seven continents, which is quite amazing in itself. And so the festival lives on all year and there's just an appetite for this. People love this stuff. [MUSIC] >> Today the emotions and attitudes that impelled the early mountaineers still prosper in the western imagination. If anything, they're more entrenched. Mountain worship is given to millions of people around the globe. And going to the mountains has become one of the fastest growing leisure activities of the past two decades. An estimated ten million Americans go mountaineering annually and 50 million go hiking. Some four million people in Britain consider themselves to be hill walkers of on stripe or another. Global sales of outdoor products and services are reckoned at ten billion annually and growing. It's interesting, isn't it? Mountains are merely contingencies of geology. They don't deliberately scare people nor do they intentionally please, any emotional properties they posses are vested in them by human imagination. Never before in human history have mountains been in such demand or regarded with such favor as they are today. The resulting influx of people to mountains has created unprecedented pressure on mountain environments and communities. Our adoration of these special places presents some serious challenges for land managers and community planners particularly in regards to use and preservation. It's a theme that will return to you before the end of the course. It's time again to return to your mountain world. Take a few minutes and try to locate some of the world's sacred mountains. Laura Redmond has a tech tip on managing cold weather conditions in the mountains. And then there's your end of lesson quiz. See you next time for a lesson exclusively devoted to mountain hazards.