Mt. Pulag screams NO TO MASS CLIMBING

This blog post is intentionally way different from the ones I’ve written about Mt. Pulag. My eyes wide shut for the past few days thinking what to do after what I’ve seen in the mountains.  I can’t bear not to share my recent climb hoping to open the eyes of new age travelers and ask for support from fellow mountaineers out there to say NO TO MASS CLIMBING.

The first time I climbed Mt. Pulag was in 2008. I didn’t really believe in “love at first sight” but Mt. Pulag proved me wrong.  I went back 2 weeks ago, a lot has changed in only 5 years and it seemed that the mountain was screaming for help.

Case 1: Porters are humans not animals.

During the ascend, while I was catching my breath, I saw a porter hardly able to step as the sack he was carrying seemed heavier than himself. I stopped under a tree to rest and I overheard my friend asked the porter what’s inside the sack. Coke and alcoholic drinks, said the porter. After him was a group of almost 20 people.

I went back hiking, and each step I wondered why these people climb; if it’s to party in the mountain???  Then for all time’s sake, please stop and stay in the city, I BEG YOU!

Case 2: If you can’t bring your own backpack instead paid a porter to bring it for you, then at least pick up your trash and carry a small trash bag with you.

Ladies, I’d be very direct as I understand how important is for you to wipe “it” after you pee, most especially in the mountains. But don’t think that the wet wipes you use are biodegradable, IT IS NOT. So please be responsible and bring your trash with you. I suggest bringing a medium-sized zip lock in your pocket so you can put your small trash there.

Gents, for the most of you who can’t resist the urge to smoke even if it’s reiterated in the DENR presentation and in the BMC course that SMOKING IS NOT ALLOWED, PICK UP YOUR CIGARETTE BUTTS WILL YOU??! PLEASE! Those mints cans/plastic cases like that of SMINT, MENTOS, DOUBLEMINT etc. can be reused as a small cigarette butt case.

To all, our trash, regardless of the size could be really dangerous to the mountain. So be responsible and do your share to maintain the ecosystem.

Case 3: Let nature’s sound prevail.

A challenging hike from Akiki with your huge backpack on is not a joke. After a day’s hike and with the discomfort of the freezing temperature, your body would really retire. But how can you rest if the people around you are drinking and laughing so loud it can be heard up to the next mountain?

It is in the Leave No Trace (LNT) Principle to respect other climbers. Be very sensitive about the privacy of other groups.

Case 4: NO TO MASS CLIMBING

To travel organizers and group leaders– ARE YOU SURE THAT THE PEOPLE YOU BRING WITH YOU ALREADY HAVE COMPLETED THE BASIC MOUNTAINEERING COURSE (BMC)? That I doubt! If you’re all about the money you earn from that business and not about the conservation of the mountain, then please, for a moment, pause and think of what you’re doing. YOU’RE NOT HELPING!

When we arrive at the saddle campsite, it looked like a tent city. There were approximately 40 tents already pitched excluding those groups who came in late and those who camped in Camp 2. One porter said we were almost 500 people in Mt. Pulag that day only.

Compared to my climb in 2008, now the trail has widened, some they’ve put cobbled stone path as it can become too muddy. That’s the huge impact of bringing big groups in the mountains.

With these I raised and with my fight to SAY NO TO MASS CLIMBING, please take time to read these facts I got from Convention on Biological Diversity website:

Mountain systems, covering about 27% of the world’s land surface and directly supporting 22% of the world’s people, are the water towers of the world, providing for the freshwater needs of more than half of humanity. The world’s mountains encompass some of the most spectacular landscapes, a wide variety of ecosystems, a great diversity of species, and distinctive human communities. The world’s principal biome types—from hyper-arid hot desert and tropical forest to arid polar icecaps—all occur in mountains. Mountains support about one quarter of world’s terrestrial biological diversity, with nearly half of the world’s biodiversity “hotspots” concentrated in mountains. Almost every area that is jointly important for plants, amphibians, and endemic birds is located within mountains. Of the 20 plant species that supply 80% of the world’s food, six species (maize, potatoes, barley, sorghum, tomatoes, and apples) originated in mountains. A large portion of domestic mammals—sheep, goats, domestic yak, llama, and alpaca—originated in mountain regions. Genetic diversity tends to be higher in mountains associated with cultural diversity and extreme variation in local environmental conditions. 

However, mountains are vulnerable to a host of natural and anthropogenic threats, including seismic hazards, fire, climate change, land cover change and agricultural intensification, infrastructure development, and armed conflict. These pressures degrade mountain environments and affect the provision of ecosystem services and the livelihoods of people dependent upon them. The fragility of mountain ecosystems represents a considerable challenge to sustainable development, as the impacts of unsuitable development are particularly intense, more rapid and more difficult to correct than in other ecosystems.

Please also watch this video I got from International Mountain Day website:

And lastly, visit this link in Facebook. Like what its title says “Dapat ito mapanood ng lahat ng Pinoy Mountaineers”. I admire you who made this video. This is not just an eye opener, you’re also able to put some humor to it. I salute you!

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