Viewpoint: Solo hiking is a personal choice and a personal responsibility

by Francis Quinon

Blogger’s note: I picked up this set of interesting comments by Francis Quinon on Facebook and with his consent, I have taken the liberty of posting them here for the benefit of all. 

Emotions are ripe when things go wrong – as in the case of the disappearance of Victor Ayson – especially when we touch on a sensitive issue like solo climbing. I think it is not fair to curse expletives at someone simply because we don’t agree with their opinion. We disagree with the opinion but we don’t have to be nasty with the person. A hurtful word, once delivered, is hard to take back. Thus, let’s keep our eye focused to two issues: The missing hiker and whether it’s a good thing to solo climb or not. About the solo hiker, let’s just hope that he is safe regardless of the number of days that’s gone by since he went missing.Letter to a young mountaineer: Why do accidents happen?

Solo climbing is a personal choice and personal responsibility. It is difficult to simply make a rule forbidding solo climbing simply because of this incident or of rare previous ones. Because following this line of thinking, maybe we have to ask ourselves these questions:

Because there are car accidents, do we have to ban the manufacture of cars?
Because there are airline disasters, do we have to stop all flights?

There were skydiving incidents all around the world but it did not deter the whole world to stop skydiving right?

And what about bungee jumping? There were ocular injuries and ropes that snapped, but it still is a popular sport for the adrenaline junkies. Has the world put a halt to this activity?

And what about drunk driving? You see it all over the place. But really? Have we done anything about it? Have we stopped selling liquors for that matter?

I have met a lot of mountaineers and rock climbers who have done solo and I tell you they have loads of experience in their belt that would shame some of us here. They said that solo climbing is not the problem rather it is the individuals lack of self-assessment, preparation and risk assessment.

Solo climbing has its dangers but it is the sole responsibility of individuals to evaluate that measured risk whether the decision is properly considered and all steps were taken to ensure safety or it’s simply a straight on gung-ho attitude which smells of carelessness and immaturity.

Again, it’s the not the act but the person doing the act that fails. We can disagree with opinions but we have no right to attack personally. To call oneself a mountaineer is not simply having the right skills set or the amount of hiking gears you have in your garage or the humongous amounts of climbs you have in your resume. Being a mountaineer is a lot more than that. It spells compassion, understanding, camaraderie and total respect for every individual regardless of beliefs and differing opinions. I hope we can still get on the same boat and enjoy the friendship that we have in this climbing community. Thank you very much.

The opinion expressed in this piece is solely that of Mr. Quinon and does not necessarily represent PinoyMountaineer’s point of view. For dissenting views and your own thoughts on this matter, please feel free to comment on this post or email me at gideon@pinoymountaineer.com

What do you think about solo hiking? Share us your thoughts by commenting in this post.

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18 Comments on "Viewpoint: Solo hiking is a personal choice and a personal responsibility"


Guest
Anonymous
7 years 7 months ago

Those defending solo climbing because "accidents can happen to group or solo" do not get the point.

Accidents can happen to anyone, and bringing more people does not eliminate the chances of an accident. That's a given.

But who you're with and what they do after an accident will determine if you live or die.

Very few mountaineering accidents resulted to instant death. Usually, there will be a 72-hour window of survival. Your chances of getting found or rescued is significantly increased if you are climbing with other people.

What I'm saying here is, there's equal chances of accident, regardless of solo or group. But those climbing in a group have a better chance of surviving after having an accident.

Guest
Chris
7 years 7 months ago

We may want to look upon the facts surrounding his death.

Is he an experienced climber? well i don't know him personally, but based on the writeups about him, I guess he has lots of experience in this activity.

Is he prepared to climb that day, after all his experience?. Based on the news, he just came back from another climb. He may have been tired, exhausted even. Yet he still opted to climb another mountain, a mountain that is relatively "easy" for most to climb! Passion or not, I think this is the point where he made a grave mistake. A mistake that should serve as a lesson to all.

This accident is just an isolated case. He brought this upon himself. It is not an issue of going solo. Accidents also happen even in group climbs (remember Batulao, though it may have been a different scenario).

The thing is, one should acknowledge his/her limitations. And this goes to all, experienced climber or not!

Guest
7 years 7 months ago

I think doing the basics is a must if u'll be doing a solo climb.. Top on my list is informing others of your whereabouts.. Putting markers is one of the most effective for my opinion.. U don't have to put markers on everywhere u go, maybe u can do it everytime u'd make a stop.. Maybe it's helpful.. Just saying..

RIP Sir Biki..

Guest
Anonymous
7 years 7 months ago

Mountaineering is a sport with an inherent risk. By doing it solo, you are exposing yourself to further dangers.

I don't have data, but logic tells me that you have higher survivability if you meet an accident with a group of people than if alone.

Yes, accidents can happen anywhere, whether solo or group. But you have better chances if you have people around.

And I believe that some of us here would not be around if it is not for the help of someone along the trails.

Unless you can mitigate the risks of solo hiking like what Ryan Sales does, then I'd say it's better to hike with a group.

Guest
Anonymous
7 years 7 months ago

Don't underestimate the powers of our mother nature. Even we know the trail sa mga gusto magsolo hike ingat po lagi.