General information and history
Located 120 lele west of Iganefta, Mount Yurch is the ultimate Ghyllian challenge to mountaineers. For centuries, it defied climbers, claiming dozens of lives, including that of the (at the time) famous sage, Momfrex "Chinchilla" Resgrew. It was first successfully scaled in -98 EC by Izzimae Grommie, sister of Daffid Grommie. Izzimae later rose to the position of Supreme Omigod of the Order of Truth, largely on the publicity of her book "Lurch up Yurch."
Mount Yurch is 118.4 lunanits tall, making it about 25 lunanits taller than Mount Rotyg, the second tallest mountain in Ghyll. However, it's not so much its height that makes it such a challenge, as the terrain, weather, and wildlife.
Mount Yurch is thought to have grown up rather rapidly, over the period of perhaps as little as 2000 years, during the time of the Avazian civilization. This is largely conjecture, but is based at least somewhat on fossil evidence and myths of a cataclysmic earthquake vaguely set in that period. What is more certain is that the mountain is the result of a fearsome tectonic event, as the sheer eastern face of the mountain appears to have once been a horizontal rock layer.
There are two possible approaches to Mount Yurch, for those desiring to climb at least half way up.
The eastern approach can be seen by anyone arriving from Iganefta, and appears, from the base, to be the easier of the two. This is very misleading, and has led to more than one climbing party vanishing into the crevasses without a trace. It starts as a gentle climb, and gradually steepens as it rises above the treeline, until one is compelled to cut steps into the face at many points. Over the generations, sufficiently many such stairs have been cut, however, that now less-experienced climbers have an advantage over even the most skilled climbers of earlier years.
The second approach, from the south, is a much easier climb. The winding gentle path makes the total climb about four times as long as the eastern approach. But more importantly the wild animals encountered along the way make this approach at least as dangerous as scaling a sheer cliff in freezing winds.
While there have been numerous reports of encountering aelfants on the southern approach, no evidence of this has yet been produced. More commonly reported are encounters with tuckarandos, many of which will gleefully eat your ankles at the slightest provocation. Such as walking through their territory, for example.
Economic significance and amusing anecdotes
Of particular importance to the tourist trade of Iganefta is the company "Mount Yurch Climbers", which advertises aggressively throughout the country, and brings thousands of tourists to Iganefta every month, presumably to climb the mountain. Barely one in a hundred actually makes it out to the mountain, and barely one in a thousand actually makes it to the top. But most of these visitors stay several days in Iganefta, buy millions of trinkets, and souvenir shirts that imply they climbed the mountain.
So many Ghyllians have made this trek, and so few have actually made it to the top, that it is considered particularly bad taste on seeing one of these shirts to ask if the wearer actually climbed the mountain. Most recently this led to the popular shirt line with the caption "Mount Yurch: I won't ask if you don't", and the vitriolic debate on the floor of the Parliament about which members of Parliament had in fact climbed Mount Yurch, and which ones had just bought shirts claiming that they had done so. It is generally assumed that none of them climbed the mountain, but few people will state this publicly.
Residents of Iganefta, on the other hand, don't go in for climbing what they refer to as "The Grim Mr. Yurch," and look with the greatest scorn on the people that flock to Iganefta intent on killing themselves on the slopes. They've seen their share of disasters, not least of which was the death of 27 climbers in -2 EC, when a rope froze and snapped, sending a dozen climbers plummeting down the slope, falling into the midst of another party and sending the whole lot of them over a cliff. And, of course, nearly every week, someone comes down from the southern climb with severe tuckarando bites, resulting in an average of 14 deaths per year due to infection and other complications.
The Mount Yurch Rescue Society has a gift shop at the base of the eastern route, where they sell trinkets and attempt to talk would-be climbers out of risking their lives by showing them grisly documentaries of previous incidents. They also do a roaring trade in "I might have climbed Mount Yurch" shirts.
--DrBacchus 09:41, 26 Dec 2004 (EST)