At night everything seems bigger, more mystical in the mountains

SZ-Magazin 2nd January 2004 | Text: Hubert von Goisern

I grew up in Goisern, in the Salzkammergut. So I was surrounded by the rubble of the Dachstein massif from when I was small. Mountains signify memories from my childhood and memories also mean: security, safety. In the lowlands you are much more exposed, mountains offer protection. I have always felt that.

When I was ten, I went from Goisern, up half an hour into the mountain forest, to stay there alone overnight. It was a bit eerie, the wind blew, branches and trees creaked here and there. Nevertheless, I have never felt the noises and darkness to be ominous. At night, the horizon moves far away, no little things distract you, everything seems hazy, bigger, more mystical, quieter, more mysterious. And as a child with a lively imagination, I thought: if you meet a goblin now, it would be high time.

I cannot say whether I gather strength when I climb a mountain alone today, mostly around the Dachstein, because I mostly know my way about there. But I know most certainly that it has a cleansing effect which is eternal to also stay in these surroundings at night. All the knots that seem to be undoable during the day undo themselves there. In the mountains I am frequently successful in suddenly seeing things completely differently. I feel that there is a way out of the thoughts which I previously thought I could never overcome. It has always helped me.

The enormous nature, the masses of rock let those things come to light which were always there, but which are much more difficult to detect in a loud world. In the cities, also in little Salzburg, where I live, you must first cut out all the noise, the acoustic as well as the visual. But no neon lights flicker on the mountain and people aren't scurrying about everywhere. You are thrown back into yourself, into your own mind which you consider. And you notice how the senses are calmed, the eye, the ear.

When you go into the mountains alone at night, with great certainty, you don't meet anybody. And yet I don't feel the loneliness up there, there I can establish contact to each and every person via fantasy and dreams. I only feel loneliness in very different moments, in interesting ways in each case, when I am among other people: when I am incapable of approaching someone myself and nobody approaches me.

For me, the deserted environment is the main thing in the mountains. Therefore you can also read something in to everything, every romantic thing and every horror. Perhaps the mountains are nothing more than a big mirror, big projection surfaces for our souls. Just like the desert and the sea. Mountains, desert and sea are all the same. I need the mountains because I have grown up with them. They were always there and when I cannot see and feel them for a long time, cannot go into this landscape, then something is missing for me.

We recorded my new album at the top of the Krippenstein, 2100m above sea level in an abandoned hotel. Some musicians were sceptical at first, but when they enjoyed the panoramic view of the Dachstein mountains for the first time, all doubts flew away. We even went skiing in the middle of the night with forehead lamps. Can there be a more fantastic environment in order to work?

Hubert von Goisern