New Book Captures Spiritual Quality of Mountains

Book review

“The Spirit of the Mountains” by Ron Hay, published by Mary Egan Publishing. Price $39.95. Due to be released July 30. Reviewed by Tony Orman

For half a century, Ron Hay has climbed in the Southern Alps. He loves the mountains. He feels a deep attachment of a spiritual sensitivity based around intangibles such as freedom, a sense of adventure and an appreciation of the beauty and wildness. Therefore it’s not surprising really that former teacher and church minister Ron and his wife Liz now live in Canterbury’s Castle Hill Village surrounded by the Torlesse and Craigeburn Ranges. 
“Mountains whet and fulfil that appetite (for adventure)” he writes. The beauty of the mountains is capable of holding a person spellbound and in awe. And the “wildness” of mountains is exhilarating.  Ron Hay has climbed Mt Cook, Mt Aspiring and Mt Earnslaw to name three of his many summit conquests. But family trips are his special high country joy and in particular within the Mt Aspiring National Park.
Mountains are an avenue to escape to.
He writes “Time in the hills has been important in reminding me that there is a world beyond the realm of concrete and asphalt, cell phone towers and motorways, shopping malls and cafes.” 
Being in the mountains brings special benefits for the individual. “Trips into the rugged terrain of the backcountry build physical stamina and mental resilience.”
Wild places are more than ever indispensable and necessary for society.
“In light of the special gifts they give, it is vital that we protect our national parks and wilderness areas for the generations to come. We have received a priceless treasure. We must preserve it and vigorously oppose all attempts at exploitation for commercial self-interest.”
There’s a deep spiritual theme running through the book and frequently the author uses quotes from various people, among them poet James K Baxter, US conservationist John Muir and Henry David Thoreau, to accentuate the intangible attributes of wilderness. This book is very much a celebration of mountains, their pristine character and the sense of freedom and adventure in being there. 
The 170 page book is liberally illustrated with photos mostly excellent. Overall “The Spirit of the Mountains” is an absorbing read and at a very acceptable price.

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