Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Behaviours and Traits of True Mountaineers

Mountaineers are fun people - one of my best teams to-date - my Cho Oyu team in Camp1 (Sep2005).  You can see all the smiles (not knowing the struggles ahead of course)

In the mountaineering and hiking community, as well as the ‘expanded’ community (involving non-outdoorsmen), there are these sometimes-funny philosophies, behaviour or traits   - while most sounded like jokes, others have a semblance of logic behind it.   

While these weird traits or sometimes pseudo “life philosophies” varies by group – there are these common things that we share… This is just my own recollection or guess, the last section are more ‘serious’ stuff that I’ve added.

1.     Ang tunay na mountaineer (a.t.n.m.) ay hindi naniniwala sa stretching (true mountaineer doesn’t believe in stretching).  There was an era when mountaineering was not dominated by endurance athletes.  Non-stretching prior to runs or hikes typically reflects gung-ho, no-to-sport -science type of individuals who all believe that stretching is for weak and doesn’t give benefit.  Guess what, some modern studies suggest that at certain levels or conditions – this could be a fact.  Stretching could actually be harmful.  I myself don’t stretch pre-hike/run (only occasionally after a tiring routine).  Verdict: we’re just lazy!

2.     A.t.n.m… kahit saan kaya mag-poops! (can poops anywhere). Very true, camping anywhere or sleeping in different types of conditions, terrain, climate, etc. will train one to be tolerant about pooping anywhere.  If you’re the type that still avoids this relieving routine – well then you’re not yet a true-blue mountaineer!  Go climb more mountains!
3.     A.t.n.m… kaya mag-commando! (can ditch his underwear). Mostly for guys. You see, wet cotton underwear can cut or chafe your skin (we’re always wet in the tropical mountains, if not rain-wet, at least sweating).  Poly-based underwear, on the other hand - gets stinky fast, even if you do “side-b” (reversed) or side-c and d (don’t ask how).  There’s only a partial truth about encountering medical issues if guys don’t wear support.   By letting it ‘hang lose’, you’re helping little brother to relax and let the Christmas balls’ thermo-regulatory function to work properly.  Have not tried it?  Well, this could be your next experiment.   Start with shorts with built-in mesh brief. 

4.     A.t.n.m… nakakatulog kahit saan! (can sleep anywhere). I see a lot of people in an advanced level here. As for me, well as long as I’m lying down, I can sleep even if on a pile of rubble, on ice or snow, on sandy areas, on thick undergrowth,  even wet and soaked… I do have a hard time sleeping in buses or airplanes (except business class hah!) but better in boats, but camping?! Easy peasy!  I have many outdoor friends whom we call ‘masa’.  Masandal lang, tulog! (lean on anything and he/she’ll fall asleep).
5.     A.t.n.m… ay malakas uminom! (have a good alcohol tolerance).  Well not all.  But the majority that I’ve seen can drink a lot.  Verdict:  climb hard, party hard mentality.   
6.     A.t.n.m… ay malakas kumain! (eats a lot). Understandable, one needs to burn lots of fuel.  Or after a long hike, needs to recover from lost calories.  Climbing mountain is a good alibi to eat a lot, just don’t overeat (i.e. eating a lot even at home!)

7.      A.t.n.m…ay hindi takot sa multo! (ain’t scared of no ghost).  Well may not be exactly true as I have colleagues who have their back hairs standing from a sudden weird sound from the forest or a sight of 2 red eyes (presumably a civet).  Or maybe, they’re still in the process of growing up… 
8.     A.t.n.m…ay romantiko! (is romantic or sweet).  There must be something about the mountain air that ignites someone’s heart to be more caring, loving, etc.   So if you’re partner is not that romantic – take him/her up the mountains!

9.     A.t.n.m…deep! (is profound).  I see some.  Somehow, a person’s poetic and philosophical sides are also awakened by some magical force in the mountain. 

Now, on a more serious side…

10.  A.t.n.m… maasahan! (someone you can rely on).  Mountaineers are slowly and naturally trained to go beyond their personal needs.  We carry loads for others, cook for others, trail-blaze for a team, patch up a wound, offer a shoulder to cry on, drink with lonely friends, buy food in a dirty market,  make other smile, walk in a dangerous place with someone scared, offer a gadget or tool that everybody forgot to bring, carry an injured friend, and other hundred things.  No one seems to rely on you yet?  Just change your brand of deodorant.  Or at least use one. 

11.  A.t.n.m… may malasakit sa kalikasan! (environmentalist).  For how can someone enjoy the beauty of a mountain, if there’s no such beauty to see?!  

12.  A.t.n.m…may pagpapahalaga sa kalusugan! (health conscious).  For how can you survive major mountain ordeal if you’re weak and sick!  How can you pass on and share your joy if your mountaineering life is but short-lived. 

13.  A.t.n.m…matulungin sa kapwa tao. (helpful to others).  Travelers, hikers and mountaineers visit the remote parts of the world. In the process, they see the struggle of communities living near, around or on the mountain itself.   They see poor communities lacking basic needs, on some occasions - they witness how some people are marginalized, or neglected by society.  Part of the desired pleasant experience is to see beauty in everything.  A sickly or hungry town may not offer that.  True mountaineers not only visit mountains, but also reach out to help. To restore the beauty that they want to see or experience. Sometimes, the true spirit of ‘being one with the mountain’ is being one with the people that live there.
14.  A.t.n.m…ay esperituwal!  (spiritual).  One may find a moment of profound, even transcendental experience in the mountains.  There are reasons why monks, priests and prophets visit mountains to meditate.   How one lives a ‘spiritual life’ is beyond this post, but enough to say that true mountaineers believe in something beyond.

15.  A.t.n.m…ay masayahin! (or masayang kasama) (joyful).  Rowdy and noisy could be the usual description from an outsider’s point of view – but the fact of the matter is that, mountaineers are really fun people.  Easy to get along with (being very social), good conversationist (they can tell you endless jokes or weird mountain stories),  they laugh a lot (sometimes very loud), and more importantly – carries a very healthy mindset about many things (they don’t let issues bother their lives).

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