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Tita Ruby's Tips For The Aspiring Mountaineer
by Ruby Bayan, 1999

Mountain climbing, even in the tropical regions, is a sport that shouldn't be taken lightly. It's your backpack that you should strive to keep light! Seriously, mountaineering is an extreme activity that puts life and limb at risk. So, the better prepared a climber is, the better the chances he won't suffer injury or, heaven forbid, acquire a total disliking for the experience.

Mt. Pulag with the Meralco Mountaineers

Now, I noticed that a lot of newbies visit the Meralco Mountaineers Base Camp, looking for information on what to do and what to expect, hoping to learn as much as they can to better equip themselves for peaking the beautiful mountains of the Philippines. Some seem to be excited, daring adventurers who may or may not have had adequate training.

I decided to put together these "Tips For The Aspiring Mountaineer" to give the beginners a few "words of wisdom". These are actually some little details, though by no means inconsequential, that they will otherwise learn the hard way -- that is, by climbing a good number of times. I'm sharing these tips to help the new climbers appreciate the trek and the scenery, at the onset, instead of get all caught up in an amateur's comedy of errors that in this sport could sometimes prove fatal. Hopefully by being better informed, the young mountaineers can come home energized rather than distressed. And so learn to love to climb again and again.

Our premise here is we are climbing the mountains of the Philippines, or some nearby Asian region where the closest we can get to either ice or snow is frozen morning dew on our tent flysheets. The extreme environmental conditions we are gearing up for, on any one trek, range from full exposure to the sun, to heavy torrential rain, to strong winds, to near-zero-degree night chills at the peaks.

But before we proceed, an important reminder to the aspiring mountaineer: My sharing these tips with you does not, in any way, aim to take the place of a thorough and complete mountaineering training course. If you are serious about being a mountaineer, join a reputable organization that will train and guide you, and ensure your safety in your climbs.

An aspiring mountaineer needs to do a lot of preparation. Physical fitness, first aid, camp management, map and compass reading, and survival training are all essential. Never venture the wild without the necessary skills -- make them your own personal skills, not the Trail Master's.

And remember that, first and foremost, a true mountaineer has the deepest respect for the environment -- because mountaineering is essentially about appreciating and preserving the beauty of nature. Always keep in mind: leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time.

So, if you're ready, let's start packing!

Tip Set 1: "Come, let's pack!" - about packing light, packing right, packing foresight, how to pack clothes and foodstuff, how to organize your backpack.

Tip Set 2: "I *heart* my climbing buddy!" - about the importance of having a climbing buddy; building trust; camaraderie; looking after one another; what you and your buddy expect from each another; the value of friendship and fellowship among the members of a climbing team.

Tip Set 3: When the Climb Gets Tough, the Tough Keep Climbing - about the importance of physical fitness; how to build endurance, stamina, resiliency; the effect of your physical condition on the whole climbing team.

Tip Set 4: "I have a score to settle with that mountain!" - about psyching up for a climb; setting standards and expectations; the red-blooded mountaineer's mindset; why climbers climb.

Tip Set 5: For the Love of Mountains - about appreciating the beauty of nature; taking pictures and writing stories; environmental concerns; when climbers shouldn't climb; how mountaineering orgs can assist in conservation projects; how one climber can make a difference.

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