What is Mt. Shasta to you and what does it mean to live in the shadow of this beautiful mountain? Is it something to be climbed in the shortest amount of time possible as described in last week’s paper, reporting on Max King’s “astonishing” five and a half hour up and down climb?

This is newsworthy because it is unusual. But is it something that we should aspire to or celebrate? Is the mountain here only to be climbed? Perhaps feeling wonder at an “astonishing” sunset on the mountain is more appropriate and worthy of emulation. So “if anyone is interested in taking a shot at King’s record” I would ask, why would you? What is the value of climbing the mountain and staying there only long enough to take a picture before descending?

The native peoples who live here state that it is in fact wrong to climb the mountain because we should not be placing our feet on such a sacred place.

Mt. Shasta is here. We are here. What should our relationship be? The news of this record climb, with a return “just in time for lunch” offers us the opportunity to ask this question. Personally, I would rather emulate John Muir, not only for his leisurely contemplative climb of the mountain, but for the wonder he felt looking out his window at the “astonishing” view, seeing “… the great white Shasta cone wearing its clouds and forests, and holding them loftily in the sky. How fresh and sunful and new-born our beautiful world appeared!”

Micha-El (Alan Berkowitz)

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