It isn’t a surprise why many enthhusiasts find climbing mountains rewarding. Aside from giving you some cardio boost, mountaineering guarantees a mesmerizing summit view and a physically and emotionally stronger you. But because mountaineering requires thorough preparation you've got to be armed with all the information you need pre-climb. Here are basic essentials you need to list down and check off before packing your backpack and hitting the jump-off point for the first time.
1) Start with a purpose
Some may consider hiking to improve their health. Some want a breather from the bustling city life and commune with nature. Other consider trekking mountains—and conquering them—as a way to nourish their spirituality. Before going up, know the reasons why you are doing so.
2) Be informed
Preparation for a hike means doing research. First, you need to assess your fitness level.
Hiking is an activity that requires strength and endurance. Mountaineer and travel organizer Meg Aran Lyn Riel, founder of hiking group PANHIK, says first-timers should know the right mountain to climb. Otherwise, it may result to a bad experience.
“Start with minor hikes and less difficult mountains, once you gain experience, you can level up your next hikes,” he says.
Read on resources available on the internet about the mountain, its difficulty, the trail, the equipment and the food you need. Knowing the weather bulletin before the climb is vital too, Riel adds. “The mountains can be treacherous, so being equipped with the right knowledge will be our main weapon.”
It helps to research online about the Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC) before a hike. You can learn the history of mountaineering, basic backpacking, basic equipment, ropemanships, basic survival, and basic first aids in this course. If you are joining a hiking group, ask if they are conducting this.
Pre-climb meetings are important as well. Pinoy Mountaineer blogger Gideon Lasco says these will further prepare first time participants on what to expect. “The very act of holding a pre-climb is a reminder that the climb must be taken seriously,” he advises. “It goes back to the basics, bringing to every participant’s consciousness that even if hiking has become routine, we still have to run through all the details.”
3) Power up your legs
Being ready for a hike also means training yourself physically through cardio and leg strengthening exercises. If you are going for an overnight stay, it is also better to train your back in carrying heavy loads. Aside from the physical requirements, mental and emotional preparation is also equally important.
“Hiking can really push you to your limits so it’s important that you have a positive mentality and attitude towards it,” Riel says, adding that this can result in not finishing the hike and being a burden to your fellow group mates, which you wouldn’t want to happen.
4) Bring only what you need
After research, it’s time to pack on the essentials you need, starting with a backpack that fits your body and can also carry enough weight. Your clothes and trekking shoes are another. Equally vital must-brings are these 10:
1) Navigation (maps, compass, GPS, etc)
2) Sun Protection (cap, arm sleeves, sunblocks.)
3) Insulation (extra clothing)
4) Illumination (flashlights)
5) First- Aid Supplies
6) Fire (lighter, waterproof matches)
7) Repair Kit Tools (duct tape, needle, thread)
8) Nutrition (food, trail foods)
9) Hydration (water)
10) Emergency shelter (hammock, tent)
Your backpack for a day hike should not be overweight. You would not want to kill your shoulders with a heavy load. Camping for an overnight hike is another thing so it is fundamental to know proper packing to save time, energy, and effort during the trek.
5) Don't be a rule-breaker
Your fellow hikers are just as excited to reach the summit as you. But because you all traverse the same path, it is better to know basic courtesy when going up and down. The locals also deserve the respect as they are the caretakers of the mountain. Lasco adds hiking groups and organizers should follow ordinances and respect the laws of the place.
6) Live up to the LNT Principle
The Leave No Trace (LNT) Principle is every hiker’s mantra. As they say, "Take Nothing But Picture. Kill Nothing But Time."
“What we will bring up in the mountain should also be brought down,” Riel says. Avoid leaving anything which was not there before you climb the mountain. Do not pick flowers. Kill time, but not animals. Take in the beauty of the mountains as it is and respect the living things that came before you.
And as you go up and take note of all the basics, all you need is to enjoy the climb.
“Leave all problems behind,” Riel concludes. “It’s time for you to relax and appreciate the nature. The mountain will offer a temporary relief to the busy and cruel world, so might as well make the most out of it.”