Vital Tips For The Aspiring Mountaineer
by Ruby Bayan-Gagelonia (
Mountain climbing, even in the tropical regions, is a sport that shouldnít be taken lightly. Itís your backpack which that you should strive to keep light! Seriously, mountaineering is an extreme activity that puts life and limb at risk. So, the better prepared a climber is, the better the chances he wonít suffer injury or, heaven forbid, acquire a total disliking for the experience.
Now, Iím aware that a lot of aspiring climbers surf the internet, looking for information on what to do and what to expect, hoping to learn as much as they can to vicariously better equip themselves for peaking those magnificent mountains. Some seem to be excited, daring adventurers who may or may not have had adequate training.
I decided to put together these "Vital Tips For The Aspiring Mountaineer" to give the beginners a few "words of wisdom". These are actually some little details, though by no means inconsequential, that they will otherwise learn the hard way Ė that is, by climbing a good number of times. Iím sharing these tips to help the new climbers appreciate the trek and the scenery, at the onset, instead of get all caught up in an amateurís comedy of errors that in this sport could sometimes prove fatal. Hopefully by being better informed, the young mountaineers can come home energized rather than distressed. And so learn to love to climb again and again.
Our premise here is we are climbing the mountains of a tropical country like the Philippines, where the closest we can get to either ice or snow is frozen morning dew on our tent flysheets. The extreme environmental conditions we are gearing up for, on any one trek, range from full exposure to the sun, to heavy torrential rain, to strong winds, to near-zero-degree night chills at the peaks.†
But before we proceed, an important reminder to the aspiring mountaineer: My sharing these tips with you does not, in any way, aim to take the place of a thorough and complete mountaineering training course. If you are serious about being a mountaineer, join a reputable organization that will comprehensively train and competently guide you, to ensure your safety during your climbs.
An aspiring mountaineer needs to do a lot of serious preparation. Physical fitness, first aid (CPR, please!), camp management, map and compass reading, and survival training are all essential. Never venture the wild without the necessary skills Ė make them your own personal skills, not the Trail Masterís.
And remember that, first and foremost, a true mountaineer has the deepest respect for the environment Ė yes, mountaineering is essentially about appreciating and preserving the beauty of nature. Always keep in mind: leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time.
So, if youíre ready, letís start packing!
Tip Set I: "Come, let's pack!" - about packing light, packing right, packing foresight, how to pack clothes and foodstuff, how to organize your backpack.
Tip Set II: "I† my climbing buddy!" - about the importance of having a climbing buddy; building trust; camaraderie; looking after one another; what you and your buddy expect from each another; the value of friendship and fellowship among the members of a climbing team.
Tip Set III: "When the climb gets tough, the tough keep climbing!" - about the importance of physical fitness; how to build endurance, stamina, resiliency; the effect of your physical condition on the whole climbing team.
Tip Set IV: "I have a score to settle with that mountain!" - about psyching-up for a climb; setting standards and expectations; the red-blooded mountaineer's mindset; why climbers climb.
Tip Set V: "For the love of mountains." - about appreciating the beauty of nature; taking pictures and writing stories; environmental concerns; when climbers shouldn't climb; how mountaineering organizations can assist in conservation projects; how one climber can make a difference.†

About the Author: Ruby Gagelonia was inducted into the Meralco Mountaineers in 1995. She was elected Vice President of MM for the following two terms. Her favorite mountain is Mt. Pulog. She is now in Florida working as a freelance writer and maintains her Simple Joys website where she shares her inspirational writings.

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