It is often claimed-by mountaineers needless to say-that mountaineering has a more distinguished literature than any other sport or pastime.Certainly, the best of what is written in the major journals stands comparison with the best essays written in the English Language. Mountaineering has produced a huge library of books, and a significant number of them are of lasting importance. (Is mountaineering a sport? in Philosophy and Sport, ed. by Anthony O'Hear)
I do not understand the meaning of the second sentence at all. Also another parts of the article gives no hint about it; the author just presupposes that the reader should know what it means.
Mountaineering, in the eyes of this Oxbridge professor, is a real sport which is for fun and diversion.It is even the most gracious one.
Thus much I can say, please help me clarify what the second sentence means!