[Updated] Halfway up a mountain: a MTN diary

Day nine: We didn't start the fire

[Updated] Halfway up a mountain: a MTN diary
| Mountain

Mountain isn't really a game. It's an art installation on your phone, a series of ideas and concepts that demand some sort of interpretation.

And everyone knows there's no better way to interpret something than making someone poke at it for a few hours every day and then getting them to write down what happened.

Oh good, I'm writing another diary. Check back every day for more exciting adventures halfway up a mountain.

Day 9

There were no strange objects sticking out of any of the mountains I walked up this weekend. And try as I might I couldn't find any invisible pianos either.

I thought I saw a bottle-cap on the bottom of my mountain today, but I was just looking at a rock.

From certain angles the tooth looks like it has a disgusting cavity, but I think it's just a tree model next to it clipping through the molar.

The clock hands don't move. I remembered to check.

A fire extinguisher has now landed on the side of my mountain. It's just what I've always wanted. Now I can put out all the fires on the bare slopes.

Oh, no I can't, because there aren't any fires and I can't pick up the fire extinguisher anyway.

I'm starting to suspect that the grand message Mountain is trying to cryptically lodge in my eyes is actually a load of bibbly nonsense.

Day 8

There is now a bright red cartoon heart stuck in the side of my mountain. I think it's a heart anyway, it goes pretty deep and I can just see the curves at the top.

It's also pretty windy at the moment. I've been trying to learn the Jurassic Park theme tune in order to entice dinosaurs to my mountain. It is not working.

Sometimes I accidentally spin my mountain when I'm trying to zoom in. It swooshes round at dizzying speed and I worry my trees will fall off.

They never do.

This weekend I'm going to climb some real mountains. I will probably get struck by lightning or crushed to death by a giant clock face plummeting from the sky.

Won't that be delightfully ironic.

Maybe I'll play MTN on a mountain. Probably not though.

Day 7

I can't play the song that Tom Hanks plays on a giant piano in the movie Big on the invisible piano in MTN. Life is cruel.

The chair appears to have turned around, like some giant hand plucked it from the rock and then pushed it back in again. Maybe that did happen, I don't really know.

It's raining but I can't see any clouds which is a little off-putting. Oh, no. There they are.

I just thought, I never check whether the hands on the clock are moving. I'll do that for tomorrow. It'll be exciting to find something out together.

There appears to be a cross carved into the bowl of the tooth. I can't tell if it's sinister or just the slightly borked textures the game boasts.

The game just saved. It's very dark. In the real-world it's very hot. So there you go.

Day 6

Clock, crate, tooth. Clock, crate, tooth. Rain. Fireflies. Gibberish quote from a rock floating in space. Clock, crate, tooth.

My new trick is playing the Star Wars theme tune on the invisible piano. No empire has sprung up on my barren mountain though, which is a shame.

There's a mysterious blue rock embedded in the bottom of my mountain. I want to pull it out, but obviously I can't.

What looks like a chair is now stuck in the mountain too. Its legs are in so deep that it's hard to tell what it is. I didn't see it land.

Clock, crate, chair, tooth. Snow. A bit of wind. Star Wars theme tune. Spin the mountain round until you start to feel a bit sick.

I don't think I'm patient enough to get along with this game.

Day 5

I now have a clock face, a tooth, and a crate embedded in my mountain. I had a coin as well once, but the coin is gone.

Today I learned to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the invisible piano. It seemed apt.

Perhaps some great change would occur when I finished the refrain. No such luck. Even when I played it in odd triplets.

But then as I was aimlessly spinning my mountain around, a clock face smashed into it just below the summit. What a day.

Time is fleeting. Teeth are fleeting. Coins are definitely fleeting. I guess crates are fleeting as well, but that seems like a pretty odd leap.

I think I like my mountain best when it snows. The trees look silly, and the dusting of flakes can be seen all the way out in space. Snow and galaxies are my favourite things.

There still doesn't seem to be a point to all this, but I bet that's probably the point.

Still, spinning the mountain is fun, and who knows what delightful tune I'll pick up tomorrow?

Day 4

"Nothing" says my mountain. I am inclined to agree.

It's dank and cloudy and sometimes when I'm spinning the rock around I scare myself by pushing one of the invisible piano keys.

I have learned to play the Eastenders theme tune on the keys. My mountain appears not to care. One evening, as I serenade it, a giant tooth plunges into one of its grassy flanks.

Perhaps other soap opera theme tunes will see other bodily chunks hurled into play. An ear for Coronation Street? A lump of grizzled flesh for Crossroads?

I don't remember what any of those songs sound like though. So I just poke and prod.

"I have no words for this perfect night" says my mountain. I reply by telling it that doesn't make any sense.

A chorus swells up as the sun rises over the shoulder of the spinning space lump. And then, inevitably, it starts to rain.

Day 3

Sometimes you just have to sit and spin your mountain on a train. Not because it's cathartic, but because you don't have an internet connection and the game you're trying to review demands you have one at all times.

My coin appears to have disappeared. A metaphor for the impermanence of money? Or did I just imagine it? Both are quite likely.

I've been looking at the faces of the other people on the train, trying to detect whether they understand.

I'm not just mashing tired fingers into the screen of my iPad like some caged monkey, I'm playing a magical invisible piano thank you very much.


I got a train up a mountain once, when I was about ten. For a moment, my giant young head was the highest thing in England and Wales. I still have it listed on my CV.

This train doesn't go to the top of a mountain though. It doesn't go anywhere near any mountains.

So I'll spin mine some more, and thwack my invisible piano, because it's marginally more fun than glaring at my own reflection and imagining I'm eating the countryside.

Day 2

I think it's autumn on the mountain. Some of the trees on the slopes are turning brown and shedding their leaves.

The evergreens remain evergreen. Childish triangle trees clinging to a digital rock propelled through space by an invisible piano.

I don't know if this is the second or third autumn the mountain has endured.

It stopped raining once at night, but now when I zoom in on the flanks of my space rock, it's always tipping it down.

Nothing else has fallen on my mountain. It did ask if it was in space, and told me it was studying the long day. So I spun it around really fast and hit invisible piano keys.

The further you zoom out the duller the sound of the piano. A muffled buzz of notes that makes the speakers in my iPad vibrate.

It's raining again. And some sort of coin just embedded itself in the side of the mountain.

"I am made whole by this spring night," says my mountain. I nod sagely and then go and do something more interesting.

Day 1

I've been up a mountain. Not a huge mountain hovering in its own bubble universe, though. It was in Yorkshire, and all I could see from the top was the inside of a cloud. I suspect there's an analogy here somewhere.

The first thing that Mountain (or MTN as it insists upon calling itself) asks me to do is draw. I draw happiness, the past, and my brother. At least one of these things is represented by a beard.

And then I am a mountain. Or there is a mountain. It's more of an asteroid really, if you think about it.

There are some trees, some rocks, and it's raining. I drew a crap picture of a bass guitar for happiness because it's nine o'clock in the morning and I'm too hungover to think about anything meaningful.

That's probably why it's raining.

Within five minutes I can basically play Frère Jacques on the invisible piano at the bottom of the screen. The faster I play it, the faster the mountain spins.

And then a crate appears. It's half embedded in the grassy slopes of the mountain, and I instinctively tap it because crates always have things inside them. Maybe I'll get a health upgrade or a new laser gun.

The crate ignores my tap, the mountain spins a little, and the summit is wreathed in thin grey cloud.

Harry Slater
Harry Slater
Harry used to be really good at Snake on the Nokia 5110. Apparently though, digital snake wrangling isn't a proper job, so now he writes words about games instead.