Holy Mountain

Pic D'Estats is a bit over 3000m, and the highest mountain in Catalonia. I reached it after 5 weeks on the HRP, the day before my 40th birthday. 


It was lunchtime when we arrived at the lake at it's foot. At that point I was full of grace and fit as a Chamois, I was bound to go up. I remember boundless joy that afternoon. I began to run, only slowing as I reached steep red screes to pass friendly Catalans descending. Everyone seemed to have a blue spark in their eye, and they were all were smiling too, radiating happiness. It wasn't just altitude or achievement, it was something else.


I spoke to one woman who was moved to tears. During our conversation of broken English and Spanish, what she described was a pilgrimage. In the remainder of my time in the eastern Pyrenees, I learnt that for Catalans, this place had an almost religious draw. Pic D'Estats was a symbol of a longed for sovereignty. Perhaps like me, for that woman I spoke to, reaching the top demonstrated to herself her own personal sovereignty. 


I reached the top myself at 5pm, and spent an hour alone there. I found many tributes to the loved ones of Catalonia. I don't approve of hill furniture in general, but I was a guest and this is most definitely their mountain. Then the air grew chill and clouds began to gather. I left a small message of thanks in the ledger I found in the tin box, and began to run down.

Scots and Catalans are both mountain people, not by some essence but because high and wild places are important materially and culturally to both... so aside from any historical and political allegiances, for me it's no surprise to see a solidarity shown. The cynics can roll their eyes all they want, but it can only be positive to show support for an impulse towards self determination. There's no getting around it - that blue spark just won't be denied.