Currently viewing the tag: "mountains"

Create whatever this visual prompt inspires in you!

During World War I (and, to a lesser extent, World War II) the Dolomites saw extremely fierce fighting. The year 1915 had Austro-Hungarian forces taking up strategic positions in the Dolomites to protect themselves from the advancing Italian army, and over the next few years both sides created and relied upon via ferrata as a method of moving through the mountains…

Italians referred to the battles in the Dolomites as il fronte vertical. Soldiers were fighting not only the enemy, but the elements as well: 60,000 World War I soldiers are thought to have died in avalanches in this relatively small mountain range. Temperatures plunged to 40 degrees below freezing for days on end as troops huddled in the mountainside huts and tunnels. –Ladders Through Time: Hiking the Dolomites’ Via Ferratas by Charlie Boscoe

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story in which troops have to improvise  in order to survive.

Journaling Prompt: Write about the toughest hike or climb you ever did.

Art Prompt: Via Ferrata

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the Via Ferrata and its role in WWI.

Photo Credit: Jan on Flickr

K2 from Concordia

It was more beautiful than she could ever have imagined. The picturesque mountains of the Alps, the Andes, even Nanga Parbat couldn’t compare to the majesty of the mountain in front of her. It rose out of the deep valley, its summit cone crowned by an enormous hanging glacier. If she looked long enough, she was sure she’d see the thing crack and fall off. With a stupid shock, she realized that if she was actually there, looking at K2, then she was as far from her home and family as she had ever been. Her body tensed with the exhilaration of exploration; she knew with every fiber of her being that having received this mountain into her soul, she would never again be the same. -Jennifer Jordan, Savage Summit

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a woman undertaking the challenge of K2.

Journaling Prompt: What sight has had this effect on you?

Art Prompt: K2

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about the power of beauty and wonder.

Photo Credit: sjorford on Flickr

Gavarnie Avalanche 2b

Himalayan avalanches travel at horrifying speeds, upward of 125 miles per hour as they careen miles down the steep slopes of the world’s highest mountains. Even in a relatively small slide, the force and volume pack the snow and ice like cement. If climbers don’t die instantly from blunt trauma, they usually suffocate within minutes, unable to dig out of their crushing tomb. –Jennifer Jordan, Savage Summit

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about characters caught in an avalanche.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when you felt life was as out of control as an avalanche.

Art Prompt: Avalanche!

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Write about avalanche safety measures that can be applied to more metaphorical avalanches in business.

Photo Credit: sgillies on Flickr

purple mountains

Create whatever this visual prompt inspires in you!

Photo by joiseyshowaa on Flickr.

everest base camp

Unhappy people are attracted to other unhappy people. You might think that they want to commiserate, but the truth is more complex than that. In a place like base camp at Mount Everest or K2, where personal foibles are magnified, this creates an interesting stew.

Base Camp, on a good day, is a hotbed of ego, frustration, aggression, and envy, and climbers, eager for any distraction from their own dysfunction, find great sport in picking the bones of other, even more unhappy expeditions. -Jennifer Jordan, Savage Summit

Writing Prompt: Create a scene with a high pressure situation and a cast of dysfunctional characters. See what happens!

Journaling Prompt: When do you notice yourself drawn into gossip?

Art Prompt: Gossip

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the damage that gossip can do to relationships and give them strategies for dealing with gossipers.

Photo Credit: huwowenthomas on Flickr


My mother worked in churches when I was little, so I grew up playing tag in sanctuaries. The concept of hallowed ground wasn’t introduced to me until I was older. Now I feel that sense of sacredness more frequently in nature than in buildings. Here is the story of one place considered hallowed ground by the natives of the region.

Kangchenjunga translates as “five treasure houses in the snow.” Tibetan mythology deems the mountain the sacred seat of the Gods and says it contains their five treasures: gold, silver, copper, corn, and divine books. Although climbers have traditionally gotten to within feet of the true top but out of respect stopped short of that holy ground, it has become increasingly trampled by climbers with little or no spiritual connection to the sacred surroundings who want to tag the true summit. For women climbers, simply avoiding the hallowed ground evidently isn’t good enough to mollify the Mountain Gods; local legend has it that the spirits don’t want women anywhere near the sanctified summit for fear they will “pollute” its purity. Many devout believe this is why women have had so little success on Kangchenjunga. -Jennifer Jordan, Savage Summit

Writing Prompt: Describe a place that will be considered hallowed ground in your story.

Journaling Prompt: Describe a place that is hallowed ground for you.

Art Prompt: Sacred

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience how to create their own sacred space.

Please share your story about hallowed ground in the Comments.

Photo Credit: Jakub Michankow on Flickr

mountain climber reaches summit
I am crazy about mountaineering stories. It started when a friend of my father’s left Into Thin Air by John Krakauer with him after visiting. My father handed it to me, saying “It’s not really my thing.” Well, it wasn’t really my thing either, but I read it anyway. That book was like crack cocaine for me. I loved it, and I wanted more. More stories about tragedies at high elevation. More stories about people who survived when left for dead. More stories about the triumph of people who are blind or have no legs or have a serious medical condition making it up the mountain against all odds. More stories about teenagers who aren’t old enough to drive climbing the world’s highest peaks alongside their parents.

I want more!

As a writer, nowhere else do I find characters so clearly drawn as they are in mountaineering stories. Climbers are frequently flamboyant, bigger-than-life characters, on or off the mountains. As they ascend, their worst and best traits become ever more salient – narcissism and heroism shining together in a mix that is at once inspiring and repulsive.

I want more!

For today’s writing prompt, I’m sharing a quote from Savage Summit, the story of the women who have summitted K2. While K2 is the second highest mountain on Earth, the mortality rate is much higher than on the highest peak, Mount Everest. It’s a more technical mountain, which means that climbers need to have excellent skills in order to get up and down it. There is no circus-like base camp, no guided expeditions, no sherpas to help the climbers carry equipment, break trail, or set up camps. This is a serious mountain for serious climbers only.

Only 6 women have summitted K2, and 3 of them died during their descent. Five others have died trying to reach the summit. The stories in Savage Summit are full of pathos, courage, and inspiration. Here’s the quote:

“You don’t appreciate the full flavor of life until you risk losing it. The perils of climbing fascinated me because they released so much joy and delight in simple things, like the feel of the wind, the scent of rock warmed by the sun, the sudden relaxation of tension, or the hot tea in the cup. By the end of my very first day’s climbing, I knew that it surpassed anything I had ever experienced. The mountains have become the inner force of my life. There is no escape from a passion like climbing, even though it may be the path to death.” -Wanda Rutkiewicz, first female to successfully summit K2 (1986)

Writing Prompt: Write a character sketch or a scene about someone who comes alive in the face of death.

Journaling Prompt: How do you feel when you take a big risk?

Art Prompt: Risking it all

Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt:Tell a story about someone who faced death and lived to share the experience.

Here are some of my favorite mountaineering stories:

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by John Krakauer

High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed by Michael Kodas

Savage Summit: The Life and Death of the First Women of K2 by Jennifer Jordan

Lost on Everest: The Search for Mallory and Irvine by P. L. Firstbrook

You can also follow the climbing news, often in the climbers’ own words at EverestNews

Footnote: One additional female climber claims to have summited K2, but the picture verifying the summit has been challenged. Officially, she is not recognized as a K2 summiter. (If you like controversy, google Oh Eun-Sun and settle back for some interesting reading.)

Illustration Credit: Illustration from on Flicker