11th Dec, International Mountains Day

December 11, 2021

“Mountains……., the word itself sounds so giant in our heads, doesn't it? These giants play a very important role on our planet earth. It is the source of freshwater where 20 – 80% of the world’s freshwater is contributed by them. They are the homes for at least one-tenth of humankind in the world and their agricultural biodiversity feeds millions of us. The mountains offer great diversity of habitat, distinctive human communities, and species in the animal kingdom.

The revealing fact about wonders of nature tells us, these mountains are formed more than 55 million years ago when the 2 plates of land masses collided against each other leading to the formation of mountains and leaving many other pieces in the ocean as continents. The formation of these mountains in every continent plays a crucial role in regulating climatic changes along with, deciding the seasons of those continents. About 13% of the world’s population living in the mountains continue to give us clean air, food in spite of the abuse it is facing.

As a child, I failed to concentrate in my geography class, and now my passion for being a mountaineer is making me unravel the most beautiful things about mountains.The mighty Himalayas, which separates the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan plateau is the home for many species, age old cultures, various human communities, birth place of many sacred rivers and offers protection from the neighbour countries. Mountains matter for many things such as tourism, agriculture, indigenous people, biodiversity,and many more. It harnesses great knowledge about the history of mankind, cultures and tradition, spiritual growth lies in the deep valleys of these mountains, which ideally should be passed on to future generations as well. Unfortunately, we are losing that ability due to the migration of youths from mountains to the urban areas in search of employment, and leaving those agricultural lands barren; traditions and cultures fade away.

Living at sea level, experiencing life above it, is so mesmerizing and life-changing. Mountains bring a sense of discipline, the importance of valuing every small creature on this planet, also the realization of true self. Mountains know no color or caste, rich or poor, educated or illiterate, and moreover, it doesn’t understand the human ego. You surrender, you realize your own self, the true you. Mountains will guide you and be your spiritual guru. Getting out of the comfort zone and living in the mountains for even a few days, mountains do tell a lot about an individual’s personality, strength, and bravery. A good personality is not the one that is ruling and dominating, instead of being kind and humble. A strong person is not the one who always succeeds and climbs higher and higher, instead of the one who accepts failure with a whole heart. Bravery is not winning a fight against someone, instead fighting with your own self and negativity. Sitting on the top of the mountain and posting pictures are so hyped and where every person would want to see themselves sitting there on top. But, every step to take towards the peak tells you how brave you are in fighting with your own thoughts and taking that very hard and painful step ahead and climbing high, bringing yourself towards positivity.

As a part of tourism, mountains have got a lot to offer for the economy. However, due to lack of awareness on sustainable living, mountains are also being directly affected by all types of pollution due to human activities; and if the same continues, no question of improving the economy or saving the endangered cultures, traditions, or endemic species. This resulting climatic change due to excessive pollution is causing mountains to undergo more disasters like cloud burst, landslides, melting of the glaciers, mountain floods which is a threat to both livelihoods of living beings and the infrastructure. I do remember reading about the climatic changes and possible disasters stated by environmentalists and researchers a few years back, but from the past few years it hasn’t remained as a piece of information anymore; instead, we are witnessing those changes and being victims of these disasters. We knew what changes could lead to disasters, yet we continued being selfish, and from now onwards we should be sensible enough to take care of our planet earth, respect mountains, and follow eco-sustainable tourism.

On this day, 11th of December celebrated as International Mountain Day, let us all take a pledge on being aware and implementing sustainable living. A small initiative from each one of us can make a big difference. Also, it’s our responsibility to support and preserve traditional practices, culture, and heritage by promoting local crafts and high-value products.



By Dr Usha M
Dr Usha M is a speech language pathologist and mountaineer.
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Comment on this article

  • Reva, Mangalore

    Mon, Dec 13 2021

    Very informative article Usha. Keep writing and sharing your mountaineering experiences.

  • mohan prabhu, mangalore/canada

    Sat, Dec 11 2021

    Thank you for this interesting article. Mountains are the abode for peace and tranquility, the Shangri-la. When I was young I occcasionally climbed the local hills of Mangalore, but these were just small hills as we lived in the valley and had to go everyday to school up the hill (Ediyar). But I really enjoyed the mountains, so called, twenty years ago in the summer of May 2001 when in collaboration with ICIMOD (International Centre for Mountain Development, Khatmandu) I directed the Himalaya Ecology Study Program for Canadian University students of Geography when twenty students from across Canada, two medical doctors (persi=onal friends) from Saskatoon and Edmonton, participated. It included trekking at the mid level of Annapurna Mountains (to 4,000 feet), climbing the last part of the hill in Kathmandu to view Mt. Everest, and visiting some of the forests, as part of the programme. Unfortunately, I was too old at 70 to go beyond the base of the Annapurna. However, the following year, I climbed two hills in Nainital (just bbeyond the Nainital lake) with the hope of getting the program once again in the Indian Himalayas. These two hills, one after the other would have been a 1,000 feet.Indian Himalayas. That was the only t ime I climbed the big hills and I cannot say I was a mountaineer! But I do love the mountains and the peace and serenity. Our trekking also included white water rafting in the rapds. It is just a dream now!!! And your article brings back the memories as well as the tragedy in Kathmandu on the day we left when at the airport just before departure we heard the massacre in the Palace when one the nephews of the King killed the entire family. I wonder if you heard about that.

  • John Monteiro, Bondel, Mangaluru

    Sat, Dec 11 2021

    Dear Dr Usha: Beside being topical, your article is well-focussed. All the best for your exotic hobby. dear Dr Usha

  • Lloyd, DK/ UK

    Sat, Dec 11 2021

    Looking at the picture at the top - "...Blue Ridge Mountains.." - "Country Roads" by John Denver

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