Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Many of us have been wondering what the difference is among the terms HIKING, MOUNTAINEERING and TREKKING. I was in the dark for quite a while. I simplistically thought that because the name of the destination has the word 'Mount / Mt' in it, then it is already mountaineering. I later realized that many of the journeys we consider as 'mountaineering' in the Philippines are hikes. Many alpinists might probably not consider any journey in the Philippines as 'mountaineering'.

Many have wanted to establish the delineation among these terms but decided not to put it in writing either for fear of criticism or because of the confusing nature of some journeys that could be considered both mountaineering and hiking; or trekking and mountaineering; or all three of them.

The eagerness to criticize a certain set of standards or definitions usually springs from ego. Many Filipino outdoor enthusiasts have come to regard mountaineering as a superior activity to hiking and trekking (even before knowing the meaning of the terms). So when someone tells us that our 'Mt Maculot climb is a hike and not mountaineering', we often volunteer to hear 'It's JUST a hike' and we feel less 'astig'.  The truth is, they are apples and oranges. Would you think basketball is superior to baseball?

With that note, I hope the readers keep both a critical and an open mind, when reading my own definitions of HIKING, MOUNTAINEERING and TREKKING.

All three (HIKING, TREKKING and MOUNTAINEERING) are done outdoors and all three are done as a sport or a recreation. This means that a local, even if he traverses three peaks just to get to his home, is still not trekking or doing mountaineering. He's just going home or he has just bought some soy sauce.

Hiking is a journey amid beautiful scenery.
Trekking is a long* journey amid beautiful scenery.
Mountaineering is a quest for the summit.

*One may ask 'How long is long?'. Well, that would be at least 2 days under normal conditions.
** One might say, 'I struggled at the roped segment in Mt Batulao, is that a quest?' NO. Try Mt Halcon or Mt Baloy, you'll know what I mean by 'quest'. A quest for the summit (in the Philippines) should involve extreme physical struggle. You may be journeying for days in rugged conditions, with occasional rock scrambling, bush whacking, roped ascent/descent, river crossings, rattan spikes, and no guarantee for beautiful scenery or abundant water. The summit itself doesn't have to be picturesque. What's to be photographed at the summit of Mt Baloy or Alto Peak? All you have in mind is to get to the summit.

In both trekking and hiking, the goal is beautiful scenery. In mountaineering, the goal is the summit. With this difference, we can easily remove those journeys that don't involve the quest for the summit from the 'mountaineering' list.

Be warned, however, that not all journeys that involve summits are mountaineering. Treks and hikes can include summits as long as there is beautiful scenery in the journey.
In like manner, a mountaineering activity can also include beautiful scenery but it is not the goal, it is just a bonus.

Immersion is typically involved in a trek

While hiking and trekking seem similar, they differ in some elements other than the distance and the physical demand of the activity (which are vague parameters). One of these elements is that trekking typically involves immersion in remote communities and learning about their culture and practices. Another factor is that if the journey can be done comfortably within a day, it is not a trek, it is a hike. But a hike can also be a two-day journey. It just doesn't have to involve immersion.

With this simplistic set of definitions and differentiation, we can now classify many popular journeys accordingly. But, of course, there are still gray areas.

The list will always be subjective. You can make the list longer.

Pulag (Amba-Amba)
Osmena Peak
Mt Batulao
Mt Maculot
Pico de Loro
Mt Romelo 
Basically all climbable hills in the Calabarzon and Bulacan area except, Banahaw, Makiling and Cristobal

Kibungan Cross-country
Amburayan to Camp Utopia

Mt Guiting-Guiting
Mt Mantalingajan
Mt Halcon
Mt Apo
Mt Namandiraan
Mt Sicapoo
Mt Baloy
Mt Madja-as
Mt Mt Nangtud

Mt Makiling
Mt Mariveles
Mt Tapulao
Mt Cristobal
Mt Ugo

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