Essay: Mountaineering vs. hiking vs. trekking

by Gideon Lasco

A Filipino member of the British Mountaineering Council once emailed me to suggest that I change the terminology in 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.

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28 Comments on "Essay: Mountaineering vs. hiking vs. trekking"

13 years 6 months ago

maiba lang po ako ng question. kung isasalin po sa tagalog ang mga salitang ito, ano ang pinaka angkop na tawag sa mga sumusunod:


14 years 10 months ago

no problem sir Gid,and thank you for understanding also.I'd rather accept correcting me than to be judged by any behaviour of such topic.After all I'm just a simple samaritan here.

A saying say's
"The best remedy for those who are afraid,lonely or unhappy is to go outside,somewhere where they can be quiet,alone w/ the heavens,nature & God.
Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be & that God wishes to see people happy,amidst the simple beauty of nature.I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles." AF

more power PM!

14 years 10 months ago

to edge

yes bmc amc etc is very important but it doesnt mean that those people who didnt have those formal trainings should be labeled as PASYALNEER / KALATNEER / MOUNTAINTRASHkck who are you to create such label anyway? BMC amc etc can be found anywhere in the internet posted by some groups. although this training are important . u can acquire dn nmn all of this handson wid the help of those people na batikan na or hardcore. Edge ur not so different from that member of the british montaineering council, ur as a snob as he is. and i like wat sir neil said i think for u nkakabawas lng sa bragging ryts mo. what important is take it seriously know what u r getting into. and always remember never under estimate any mountain. – belle

14 years 10 months ago

filipinobritish and edge the mountaineers mabuti pa kay hatton na lang kayo maki-pagusap, malamang gising na yon. email nyo ko sa na mga yan.

tnx gilbert i luv u pacman!

14 years 10 months ago

..from a good friend, outdoor addict and mentor NUR – " a pagiging mountaineer ay hindi nasusukat sa dami, taas at technicality ng mga bundok na naakyat mo; eto ay nasusukat sa dami ng mga bagay na natututunan natin everytime umaakyat tayo ng bundok"…peace and blessings to everyone…

— sakto lang