by Gideon Lasco, Author, PinoyMountaineer.com with Erika Moises, Head, UP Mountaineers Environmental Committee
Mountains can be hazardous to man, but what I worry more is how man can be hazardous to mountains. As mountaineers, we must keep ourselves safe in the mountains and we must also keep the mountains safe from us. How can we do this? There are certainly many ways, as many as there are trails up the mountains. And while some of them require a lot of dedication and determination, there are also other, little things that everyone can do – and if everyone will do them, it will mean a lot. here are ten little things that mountaineers can do to protect the mountains:
1. Be prepared. Proper planning goes a long way. Always be mindful of and prepare for potential dangers in the outdoors so you won’t have to compromise the mountain for the sake of safety.
2. Pack it in, pack it out. It is every climber’s responsibility to make sure that the mountains will be as clean as before he arrived. Pack out all trash, including leftover food. Biodegradable trash is still trash. We must never leave behind anything which does not belong to the mountains.
3. Pick it up. Even if it’s not your trash, picking up even just one piece of garbage that others left whenever you climb will. With this attitude, our mountains will be a much cleaner place.
4. Limit your numbers. There has been a lot of talk about “mass climbs”, and most have. Yet these climbs will not succeed. Before you join a climb, ask first how many slots there are, and if you feel that with your participation, the impact will be too much for a certain mountain, then opt out of the climb! Responsible hiking is a shared responsibility – of organizers and participants alike.
5. Plant a tree. The tree I planted last year at the foothills of Mt. Makiling is getting bigger and bigger; it gives me a sense of fulfillment. I believe that the single tree that I planted in Ipo Watershed two years ago has . I have to admit that , but the point is: don’t wait for a tree-climbing activity! There are many things that are best done by just doing it, without waiting for any publicity or invitation. Of course, if there are tree-planting activities it is also very good to join them.
6. Encourage others. We have many heroic individuals who fight to protect the mountains. Many of them are underpaid and overworked, like the forest rangers in Makiling, Pulag, and many others peaks. Just by expressing to them how much they inspire you, just by giving them words, you can motivate them to continue what they are doing. If you can afford to leave a token behind – like a jacket, a flashlight, a used bag or even a used tent, this will go a long way in helping the people who help the mountains.
7. Spread the word. If you see an illegal activity on a mountain, spread the word about it! In this modern day, we all have our platforms to broadcast our sentiments – through our blogs, websites, and Facebook pages, and even to our friends. Every blog post, every Facebook status messaage counts in our desire to create a positive influence among everyone who enjoys the outdoors. Who knows, someone important might. Remember the butterfly effect? What we spread and share might reach people who have the ability to help our cause.
8. Share the passion. If you think one person cannot make a difference, then influence others so that the sum of you can make a bigger difference! Inspire others to embrace hiking in a responsible way, so that they too can be part of this movement to protect the mountains.
9. Say it nicely! This is very important. No matter how good the message, if the messenger is antagonistic, no one will listen! Instead of saying hurtful and offensive words about 0ther people or clubs, let us find ways to involve them and turn them into our allies.
10. Keep climbing. Keep climbing in a responsible way! The very presence of hikers on a trail is many times enough to keep illegal loggers from visiting. By climbing mountains, we are able to deter many activities that are harmful to the environment. Moreover, locals realize the importance of beauty of their own forests and peaks – sometimes it’s difficult to see the beauty of one’s own place.
Let us all do our part in this battle!