If I die in Pulag, don’t blame the mountain

If a person dies while climbing a mountain, is it the mountain’s fault?

I am saddened to read of a recent death that took place in Camp 2 of the trail to Mt. Pulag.

Saddened and nervous, because I will be climbing the same mountain at the end of the month.

However, nobody said that mountain climbing is a safe activity to engage in. When planning to climb mountains, always put in the back of your mind that you might not be coming back home alive.

Harsh, but that is the reality.

And deaths are not only exclusive to hard and challenging mountains. You can check the list of hiking-related deaths in Pinoymountaineer’s article and see that even relatively easy mountains like Mt. Batulao and Mt. Maculot claim lives as well.

As a guideline, never underestimate a mountain. Even if you’ve climbed one numerous times, every climb is different and there is always room for error. Always be prepared, even if you take it to the bare minimum; at least carry some bandages and alcohol for scrapes. Even if you may not need it yourself, you might pass by a fellow hiker who will.

(This is why I always carry sunscreen, alcohol, tissue, and off lotion on every climb. Besides the tissues, I’ve never used them, but they’re already half empty because I have friends who need them on the trail. Be a blessing to others.)

And even before you climb a mountain, always make sure that you are physically and mentally able to perform. Some mountains have already started requiring medical certificates from climbers; let us not let it get to the point where every mountain needs this policy.

Mountaineering, or mountourneering, as called in this informative article also discussing the same issue, is currently booming in the country. Mt. Maculot, Mt. Batulao, and especially Mt. Palay-palay is basically full of people on the weekends and holidays. Now that almost everyone and their dog are basically “mountaineers,” those that still aren’t are curious to try this new trend.

But climbing a mountain isn’t like your trip to the mall. And even if you can climb in skinny jeans, converse shoes, with foundation and eyeliner (true story), doesn’t mean you should. And if you’re climbing for the sole reason of nakiki-trending, then I hope you find the true reason why when you arrive on the summit.

That said, always prepare yourself and know your limits before even climbing a mountain. While you’re searching for your latest summit for the weekend, check your condition. Are you physically well-off? Is your cardio health okay? Did you piss off anyone with a death note?

I’m not telling you not to climb, but I am telling you to be well-prepared. While deaths are unavoidable, a good preparation might just push the scales of life a little bit more in your favor.

“You can’t call it an adventure unless it’s tinged with danger. The greatest danger in life, though, is not taking the adventure at all.”  -Brian Blessed

This has been a reminder from someone forced to get a medical clearance to climb Luzon’s highest peak. I don’t think this post went anywhere, but the message I want to convey is that proper preparation for the risks involved in climbing leads to a high chance of survival, therefore more opportunities for summits to conquer.

Remember, your life is your responsibility when you’re up in the mountains. But when you die, you are everyone else’s responsibility. Respect the challenge that mountains offer, and never go unprepared.

Wonderful photos from idol photographer and hiker, biyaherong barat.

As always, climb, travel, and move safe.

-jgzn

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