I’ve been looking at a lot of geo-porn recently. In moments of weakness I’ve been fantasising about what it would be like to walk along a distant ridge and head into the clouds. I’ve been picturing myself conquering remote hills, standing heroically beside a summit cairn before a back drop of snow covered hills or sitting, content, before a roaring bothy fire after a long day’s trek. Such are the secret, wicked, pleasures of the hill goer.
I might spend an evening leering at glossy pictures of hills and mentally imagining the views from their summits or the feel of their gravel beneath my boots. Or I can use the Internet to find accounts of others ascending the mountains I lust after, vicariously experiencing the hardships they endured and the triumphs they enjoyed.
Geo-porn or, to give it its full title, geographical pornography, is everywhere. Open any climbing magazine and there are mountains flaunting their good looks like the shameless hussies they are. Ben Nevis teases us with the verticality of its north face, Cairngorm tempts us out with its vast artic plateau or the Skye ridge beckons to us with pert jagged peaks. There are so many different ways to be lured towards the hills these days.
Google Earth allows you to make a virtual visit to any mountain you like. You can stand in cyber space, beside any mountain bothy you like and enjoy the remote hills around you. I notice that everywhere I go, Google has made the skies cloudless, the views endless, and there is not a breath of wind on any simulated trek.
It was only recently, whilst planning a little trek into the distant Highland bothy of Maol Bhuide, that I became aware of the dark secret of my indulgence in geo-porn.