Being a Mountaineer…

Words and Photos by Rocky Chu

Mountain climbing is a kind of hobby or a sport at the same time a fashion which involve hiking and trekking through rugged terrain, rock climbing, passing a trail inside the forest, crossing rivers, camping, and exploring the beauty of nature. Climbers must have a lot of patience, high endurance and also must have a presence of mind. It’s not only about conquering the mountains but it’s also about conquering your self and live the life close to mother nature.

As a mountaineer, we are encouraged to undergo “Basic Mountaineering Course”. This was conducted by a Skilled mountaineers who has a lot of experience in mountaineering. In this course they teach proper physical training, important outdoor skills, proper back packing, things and equipment that are needed during the climb, proper gears and proper ethics. We have a role to protect the mountains and its trails. Anything you bring going up to the mountain must bring it back especially garbage and dispose it properly. Do not vandalize or write anything on rocks and trees, minimize your noise and respect other climbers and also locals. Just greet any people you meet in the trail or along way. If you see something beautiful, just take a picture and leave it there. Just follow the “leave no trace principle- “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but foot prints, kill nothing but time.”

Mountains are classified according to its height and scale of difficulty from easy trail to more technical. A Minor climb can be accomplished within 1 to 2 days by trekking it 5 hours or less to reach the campsite or the summit. A Major climb can be accomplished in 2 or more days which normally takes 5 to 8 hours in each day to reach the camp site or the summit. It requires advance training, develop your body strength and endurance and a good mind setting.

Safety precaution and possible risk must be observed always. Climb in a group of experienced mountaineer that you trust, follow your itinerary, let your family or one of your friend knows about your climb and keep them updated if possible, never climb alone, have a climb buddy system along the trail, follow the trail signs always drink water especially during summer season, have some trail food on your pocket, always watch your step on the trail to avoid sprained or any injuries and keep you rain gear ready on a easy access compartment from your back pack. Some mountains have leeches along the trail so prepare an alcohol spray to keep them away from you. If you’re not fortunate and they bite you, better to remove it immediately and cover your wound with bandage to stop bleeding.

At the campsite, select a good place for your tent, change your clothes, cook your food and enjoy the scenery of mountain scape with the fresh air and truly sound of Mother Nature. At nightfall, there is always what we called “socials”. After enjoying your dinner, you have all the night for fun with your group or even the other group who share the same sky at night with full of stars and experience the coldness of wind at the top. Don’t sleep too late because you have to wake up early morning for a summit assault so that you can catch a good sunrise from the top and take some good picture out there with your group or by yourself to fulfill your documentation during that climb and of course have fun.

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MOUNT PULAG Famous for its majestic view of the Milky Way Galaxy at dawn, which has attracted many tourists who wish to see the “other-worldly” scenery.

Things to prepare for back packing

Camping Gear/Equipments/Food/Water and Clothing

40L backpack for overnight climb will do but for multi days climb, it will require a larger packs. Make sure you have a rain cover to protect your pack from rain.

Tent that is strong enough to protect you from rain, wind and some insects. It must be durable, lightweight and packable. It must contain a mesh, flysheet, ground sheet and pegs to protect your tent from strong wind to stay on the ground.

Earth Pad and Sleeping bag your sleeping comfort and protection from hypothermia.

Sets of clothes ideally must have only 2 sets. First set use forgoing up and for the entire trek then it can be use also for going down. It must be a dry fit shirt with a trekking pant or short with leggings to protect you from thorns and insect bites. Second set use in the camp and after the climb going home.

Waterproofing is to protect your dry clothes, jacket and sleeping from the rain. It can also protect your camera and some gadgets. You can use dry bags or plastic bags for those

things. Some fabric has a waterproof capability like Gore- Tex fabric in clothes, jacket and shoes. You can bring poncho or rain coat to protect your body in case of rain.

Cold Protection contains is a must. 2 layer Jacket, which has an outer shell with waterproof fabric. Inner layer that can protect you enough from coldness. A Thermal pants a must have 2 layers. Body warmers such as bonnets, gloves and socks.

Trekking pole is to assist you in steep trails and help you to distribute some body weight including your backpack into it.

Stove can be butane based or multi fuel. Make sure you have enough fuel for the entire climb. One butane cylinder usually last for 1-2 meals. Bring 5 to 10 lighter fluid for multi fuel stove.

Cook set must be lightweight, enough sizes for the group meals and can be packable and easy to clean.

Cooking and eating utensils such as spoon, fork, knife, foldable or collapsible plates and cup.

Water. Ideally each person must bring 6-8 liters of water used for trail hydration and for cooking. But some mountains has a water source so it can minimize your water load. You can use hydration pack or some plastic bottles.

Meals. Plan for a meal for the entire climb. Usually if you start your climb in the morning, pack lunch is advisable and eat it along the trail when you cannot still reach at the campsite. Traditionally mountaineers cook in the camp. Just bring rice, pre cook meat, dried fish etc. including spices and condiments. It will always depend upon your meal plan. You can bring can goods and noodles as emergency foods.

Trail food can help you to prevent from loosing your energy during the trek. It can boost your energy and continue your hike. It can be chocolates, power bars, gelatins, candies, raisins dried mangoes etc.

Group Lamp. It is usually a butane base or may be at battery base. Campfire is discouraged.

Toiletries – sometimes we called it “kikay kit”. personal things are also important before the climb at the jump off, at the camp site and after going down from the mountain. It includes toothbrush, toothpaste, tissue, trowel for digging of soil just in case for the call of nature, wet wipes, alcohol, small soap, shampoo cotton buds etc. Choose some small items to complete your packable toiletries to make it light weight.

Garbage bag – used to collect trash to keep mountains and trail clean. you can only throw bio degradable materials out there.

Gadgets – Being an outdoor enthusiast, you need to have a cool mountaineering gadgets. Basically you need flashlight or head lamp with enough battery. You must have a camera like DSLR, mirror less or any action camera. Some bring compass and GPS for navigation and also altimeters to know your elevations. It can be incorporated in your watches.

Utilities – swiss knife can be handy and can do a lot of purpose. First aid kit, lighter, insect repellant, efficascent oil, sun screen, utility rope, multi purpose cord, duct tape, whistles, ball pen, paper and ID with emergency phone number and blood type.

 

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