A Filipino member of the British Mountaineering Council once emailed me to suggest that I change the terminology in PinoyMountaineer.com and Philippine mountaineering in general, saying that mountaineering is more closely related to alpinism and specifically refers to snow and rock climbing. Trekking, he adds, is the more appropriate term for the activity we know in the Philippines as ‘mountaineering’. Which is which? And if ever our definition is different from other countries, do we have to abandon our understanding of the term to accommodate this?
First, let us definite the terms, using Wikipedia as common denominator:
Mountaineering is the sport, hobby or profession of walking, hiking, backpacking and climbing mountains.
Mountain climbing – the sport of recreation of scaling or hiking up mountains with the specific goal of reaching the summit
Hiking- is an outdoor activity which consists of walking in natural environments, often on hiking trails.
Trekking/Backpacking (in US; tramping, trekking, or bushwalking in other countries)- combines hiking and camping in a single trip. A backpacker hikes into the backcountry to spend one or more nights there, and carries supplies and equipment to satisfy sleeping and eating needs.
Using these definitions, we see no reason to change our terms. The method we do to climb mountains is hiking and camping (that is, backpacking or trekking) and since our objective is usually to reach the summit (mountain climbing) which sometimes involves technical skills such as in Guiting-Guiting (mountaineering), then the terms become a matter of choice. Of course, hiking seems to be the most common denominator — whether you climb Maculot or Everest, it is universally accepted for you to say that you are going “hiking”. This is the reason we style PinoyMountaineer as “Your Guide to Hiking in the Philippines”.
We acknowledge, however, than our concept of mountaineering may be closer to the international definition of “trekking” or “hiking”. Yet, there are really differences in terminology that are inevitable across cultures and countries. Even the term backpacking, depending on where you are, can mean urban budget travel or wilderness camping.
Moreover, Filipino hikers have begun to become “mountaineers” even in the strictest definition of the term. Our countrymen have scaled Everest and other major summits of the world. They may not be the toughest climbs in the world, but you have to admire the grit and the determination of people like Romi Garduce, Leo Oracion, Regie Pablo, Carina Dayondon, and many others.
Amid the plethora of terms used to describe something that doesn’t even have to be named, but that which we profoundly enjoy, for whatever reason, we should stick to what we have come to know as our brand of adventure. We are hikers, trekkers, backpackers, mountain climbers and yes, mountaineers in our own beautiful country.