December 11 is designated by the UN as international mountain day.

In the promo for the day, the UN notes:

“Almost one billion people live in mountain areas, and over half the human population depends on mountains for water, food and clean energy. Yet mountains are under threat from climate change, land degradation, over exploitation and natural disasters, with potentially far-reaching and devastating consequences, both for mountain communities and the rest of the world”.

True. But today I feel like ignoring the (very real) threats to the mountains we know and love, and instead focus on how much the existence of mountains improves our lives.

Mountains are a bit like having kids: you not allowed to have a favourite. But all of us mountain obsessed fanatics have our faves, of course.

If I could teleport anywhere this morning, here’s a couple of places I’d like to be:

On the west peak of Mt Howitt (VIC) – with the Howqua River Valley below, long lines of rocky mountains in all directions, and the crows riding the updrafts from the valley

Bogong (VIC) (of course) on a spring day with the south side gullies still covered in snow, and the first of the wildflowers coming out

Cathedral Mountain in TAS.

Possibly the best peak in the universe – remote and a bit hard to get to, on the west side the huge dramatic cliffline, and lovely tarns, sub alpine veg and pencil pines on the gentle eastern approach

Jagungal in the northern Snowies (NSW).

Summer or winter, there is always something really special about the slow climb to that humped over summit ridge, frost hollows and snow gum stretching out below you as you climb

On the summit of Galena Peak in central Colorado, that splendid view of the Mosquito Mountains to the east and Continental Divide to the west, south to Mt Massive. Leadville in the distant basin below. (The picture at the top is the view east from South Galena Peak)

Geryon (TAS).

If mountains can have charisma, Mt Geryon is the kid you meet at school who you absolutely want to be best friends with the minute you see them. Awesomely cool (and sometimes a bit aloof).

What’s your favourite mountains?

A couple of key facts and figures on mountains from the UN:

  • Mountains cover around 22 percent of the earth’s land surface and are home to 13 percent of the world’s population.
  • They provide sustenance and well-being for 915 million people, but also indirectly benefit billions more living downstream.
  • Ninety percent of the world’s mountain dwellers live in developing countries, where a vast majority live below the poverty line and 1 out of 3 faces the threat of food insecurity.
  • Mountains provide 60-80 percent of the world’s freshwater – without which sustainable development that aims to eliminate poverty and hunger would not be possible.
  • Mountains have a key role to play in providing renewable energy, especially through hydropower, solar power, wind power and biogas.