Until three centuries ago, the mountains were places of peril, not beauty. When Everest was conquered, in the middle of the 20th century, climbing had become a search for perfection and the mountains were seen as adversaries to be defeated. Today a million people are enchanted by the magic of the mountains. The mountains have become recreational sites, managed and commercialised like amusement parks. However, they are much more than just a distraction or an enemy to be beaten. Their value lies in their ability to remind us of the limits of our ambitions.