|Filipino alpine climber Dean Perez at the summit of Pico de Orizaba,
the highest mountain in Mexico (D. Perez)
One of our privileged correspondences is that with Dean Perez, a Canada-based Filipino who has done some amazing climbs all over the world – for instance, the famous Ama Dablam in the Himalayas – and a solo unsupported climb of Mt. Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America. Follow his adventures on his Facebook page! Here are some questions for
PinoyMountaineer: How long have you been staying in Canada?
Dean Perez: I have been living in Canada for 14 years.
PM: What’s hiking/climbing in Canada like?
DP: Where I live (Vancouver, British Columbia), hiking/climbing is one of the most popular activities in summer. There are hundreds of hiking trails in British Columbia (BC), and they are located in spectacular natural settings. We are surrounded by oceans of mountains, from jagged to glaciated peaks. In BC alone, it has more than 850 parks and protected areas. Most of the established trails do not require permit and free to use. A lot of mountains are very remote, either it takes several days of bushwhacking to get to the base of the climb or use a helicopter to get dropped in. Sometimes, you can roam away in the backcountry for several days without seeing anyone.
Hiking never stops in winter, we still do go out to the mountains. We use either snowshoes or skis as a floatation device on the snow.
In North America, hiking and mountaineering are two pursuits that share many common features and consequently there are many different opinions as to what distinguishes one from the other. “Hiking is a pursuit that can be followed without the need for any specialist or technical equipment, whilst mountaineering will require the use of technical equipment such as rope, a harness, crampons and ice axes. Generally, hiking is a pursuit open to almost anyone, of any age or fitness level, and requires little in the way of specialist knowledge and training to get started.Basic navigation skills are easy to learn and are essential as you should never rely on one person to guide a party.
“Mountaineering however, will usually be more physically challenging and a degree of knowledge and training must be attained before attempting any mountaineering routes. This knowledge might include navigation, rope techniques, crampon and ice axe use, basic first aid and understanding mountain weather.”
PM: How did you discover the outdoors?
DP: I started hiking back in 2008. I was just bored and looking to do something on my spare time. Since then, I’ve done several 6000m and 5000m mountains international and I have climbed over 400 mountains since I started in 2008.
PM: What are your most memorable climbs?
DP: I have a lot! Huayna Potosi in Bollivia, because it was my first 6000m mountaineering climb. My solo unsupported climb in Mount Aconcagua where I almost lost 3 of my fingers from frostbite. Ama Dablam, amazing technical mountain to climb in Himalaya. Recently, I did a 14 day solo traverse in British Columbia and was able to do 17 mountains in that expedition!
PM: What are your future plans?
DP: Denali (the highest mountain in North America) and If I have enough skills, I would like to go back to Patagonia to get some mountaineering objective. Nowadays, I’m more focused on ultra races.
PM:Any advice to Filipino hikers who want to pursue big mountains?
DP: Stop dreaming, Do it! If you have time and money, go for it. Kadalasan laging ganito ang comment na nababasa ko sa mga Filipino, “Pangarap kong maka-akyat” . Bakit puro pangarap nalang, bakit hindi mo gawin? It really depends on your objective mountains. Some high altitude mountains do not require technical skills. But you can’t just climb a big mountain without proper knowledge, otherwise you’ll fail. Learn mountaineering skills and train hard!