The term ‘man of the mountains’ appears in various cultural discourses basically in two contexts, referring either to the situation of people born in the mountains, living near the mountains, and whose their daily lives are connected to the mountains, or to people fascinated by the mountains, for whom mountain peaks and their own attitude towards them are the subject of verbalised reflection, often of a philosophical, axiological, and aesthetic nature. In the first case, one simply is a man of the mountains (permanently, due to the circumstances), while in the second case, one becomes such person, more or less consciously striving to achieve this status. The first situation is exemplified by literary works and various descriptions of journeys in which a highlander is treated as an integral, natural component of the landscape being described (such an image can be found in Stanisław Witkiewicz’s most famous work, Na przełęczy [On the Mountain Pass]). The second and chronologically later situation, on the other hand, is exemplified by specific testimonies of representatives of the mountaineering community. They function in the form of own literary works (written by, among others, Reinhold Messner, Jernej (Nejc) Zaplotnik, Denis Urubko, Jerzy Kukuczka, and Marek Raganowicz) or in the form of interviews with famous climbers, which are very popular among readers interested in mountain-related issues (an interesting example of this is the book Rozmowy o Evereście [Talking about Everest], in which Jacek Żakowski interviews Krzysztof Wielicki and Leszek Cichy). These books include various themes and reflections, often of a personal nature. The authors often do not limit themselves to presenting their own achievements in the field of extreme Alpine and Himalayan mountaineering but also highlight the specific process of inner growth of the climber, their discovery of mountain secrets, their own place in the world, and their knowledge of themselves and their abilities and limitations. These reflections also often reveal the symbolic meanings of mountain climbing, which may turn out to be a metaphor for human existence.
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