AMCI Basic Mountaineering Course (BMC) 2002
- The leadperson is always in the front and is responsible for pacing the group. He is also in charge of putting up trail signs.
- The sweeper is responsible for bringing up the rear and makes sure that nobody is left behind.
- Line formation on narrow trails should be in single file.
- Allow comfortable distance between you and the person in front. The ideal distance is two meters.
- Always start with a slow pace, gradually increasing to the group’s desired pace. This will help you get used to the weight of your backpack.
- The slowest member or the person with the heaviest load should set the pace of the group. Do not let anyone lag behind.
- Should there be a need to stop, inform the team/group leader, lead/trail person so that he can give the appropriate signals.
- maintain a steady rhythm. When negotiating a steep slope, keep the rhythm but shorten your strides. On level ground, maintain the rhythm but take longer strides.
Rest stops are most effective when they are kept brief. Prolonged rests let the body cool down too much, making it even harder to get started again. The duration of rest stops depends on different situations:
- Level Ground : five minutes for every hour of hiking
- Ascent : five minutes rest stop for every 30 minutes of climbing. On steep slopes, rest is fifteen minutes.
- Descent : five minutes rest for every hour of descent
- The signal for stopping is one long whistle blast. Signal to proceed is two short whistle blasts. A continuous blast of the whistle is a call for help.
- The team leader and designated lead and trail persons are the only ones authorized to give order to stop or proceed.
- prepared to talk your way through stressful situations. Meals and rest breaks offer excellent opportunities for members to share their thoughts.
- Remind group members to be polite and courteous to people they meet on the trail.
- Manage rest breaks properly.
Trail signs are temporary markers used by trekkers or climbers for two purposes:
- to guide others who are following
- to guide themselves on their way back
For making trail signs, you may use stones, leaves, grass, branches, sticks or any other available material that can convey the message.
(illustrations and indications…)
To effect confidence during a climb, some safety rules must be followed:
- Always have a buddy with you, especially if you are not confident about the trail and the place. Better yet, do not stray too far from your group.
- When the group is not sure of the way, designate some members to scout for the correct trail.
- Be observant of trail signs. Do not be confused by trail signs put up by other groups. (note: the types of trail signs to be used during the trek must be discussed in the pre-climb meeting). Be careful not to displace trail signs put up by your lead group on.
- If you encounter a fork and you are not certain which path to take, wait for others behind you who are familiar with the trail. Otherwise, explore both trails but make sure to put up adequate trail signs to enable you to go back to the junction. Once you have determined the correct trail, make sure to remove all trail signs you put up while investigating the other path.
- Be attentive to the sound of your surroundings. You might miss a call from your companions.
- If lost, do not panic. Try to assess your position and situation.
- The person on the rear should check the person in front if the latter has dropped or missed something on the trail.
- The person in front should check the person behind him if the latter is still able to follow.
- Inform the person behind you of imminent obstacles or dangers along the path. If possible, remove the obstacles.
- In inclines with loose rocks, hikers should never travel with one person directly above another. Hikers above may dislodge rocks that may hit the person below.
- It is easier to climb up rock walls than to climb down it. It is difficult to climb down rock walls due to lack of holds.
- To make your path safer, cut sharp thorns and poisonous plants found along the trails. Wear long sleeves or gloves.
Mountaineers must treat nature with respect, thus, they should observe proper trail behaviors. By keeping trails in peak condition, we will not further disturb the pristine state of the surroundings
- Primary rule : STAY ON THE TRAIL. The more heavily used the wilderness and the more fragile the landscape, the greater the importance of this rule. By keeping trailblazing to a minimum, we avoid further harming and disturbing the original state of the environment. Staying on the trail means the following:
- Avoid straying off the established trail to avoid harming trailside vegetation, causing erosion, and "killing" the area, eventually.
- Avoid cutting "switchbacks" (hairpin turns). Taking shortcuts is an invitation to severe erosion.
- Avoid walking side-by side if the trail only accommodates a single file to avoid widening the trail.
- Avoid walking around mud holes that form in low spots on the trail. As much as possible, walk directly in them to avoid trampling trailside vegetation and widening the trail.
- When confronted with multiple trails, pick the one most used and stay on it as much as possible
- Exceptions to the rule : yield the right-of-way to a.) horses b.) hikers laboring uphill.
When hiking off-trail:
Pick up trash. Collect the pop cans, wrappers, and cigarette butts left behind by careless types.
Snip aggressive foliage. Pack along a lightweight pair of garden clippers and you become a one-person trail crew.
Remove downed limbs and branches from the trail.
Clean out clogged water bars (low wooden or stone barriers across a trail that divert flowing water off the path). Swift kicks with the heel of your hiking boot along the entire uphill side of a water bar are usually enough to clear it. Pile any dirt you clear out on the downhill edge of the bar to bolster the structure.
Remove loose rocks. Put them to good use as stepping stones through wet areas or as buttressing on the downhill side of the trail.
Close down volunteer trails. Drag rocks or downed tree limbs across makeshift paths that spring up as shortcuts on switchbacks or as detours around mud holes, fallen rocks, and downed trees.
Clear the way for trail blazes. If you had a hard time finding a blaze because of overhanging branches or brush, then chances are the next hiker will, too. Put those pruning clippers to good use.
The kindest cut. Trail corridors should be trimmed 2 feet on either side of the path and, if possible, to a height of 8 feet. Make sure your pruning doesn’t leave "spikes" protruding onto the trail. Cuts should be close to the trunk or ground.
- with a group, spread out to avoid walking in each other’s tracks and minimize the possibility of creating a herd trail, which others are likely to follow
- try to walk through areas that can tolerate the traffic (e.g. sandy areas, rocks) to avoid trampling vegetation
- avoid marshy areas where your boots will compact water-logged soil
- avoid steep slopes, where you will have to dig in your boots , to prevent erosion
- when you come across a budding trail, try to take a more durable route aside from the incipient trail (e.g. rocks, logs) to avoid further disturbing the vegetation.
- refrain from building cairns (piles of rocks) as trail signs, as much as possible. Instead, learn to memorize landmarks. If cairns are necessary, be sure to dismantle them during your return trip to restore the area to its natural appearance.
- The ridge is not always followed in path finding. Avoid water lines and gullies. Water always takes the steepest route down the mountain.
- When crossing rivers or streams, bend your knees and face upstream to prevent the strong current form knocking you down.
- Don’t cross a river barefooted to avoid being injured by sharp rocks. If possible, remove your socks before crossing streams. Wearing wet socks during trekking may result in athlete’s or trench foot, or blisters.
- To maintain balance and traction during descent, learn to dig with the heels or side of the foot first. When walking downhill, always maintain a slight bend in your knees to lessen the shock of landing.
- On uphill treks, cock your pelvis 30 degrees forward from vertical. This allows your powerful gluteal muscles—buttocks—to drive your thighs more effectively.
- On really steep grades with heavy loads, you may try the rest-step: after each step, let the trailing leg straighten completely and lock your knee for a second or two. This allows your skeleton to support most of your weight while your unweighted leading leg gets a brief rest.
In selecting a camp, choose an environmentally sound site where you would do the least damage to the soil, water and vegetation, and cause the least disturbance to natural settings and the wildlife. Finding the ideal campsite may be remote but adopting low-impact camping practices can countervail this.
- Confine your impact to a small area by using established campsites. As much as possible, avoid camping in a pristine area to prevent destruction of vegetation.
- As much as possible, avoid camping in meadows. Tent floors smother the grass and boot tramps compact and, eventually, kill the soil. Such sites are also highly visible and disturbing to wildlife and other campers, so they are best avoided in most situations.
- The best site in forested regions are usually deep in the woods, well away from lakes or streams and out of sight of trails and other campers. Look for areas where deciduous leaves—not grass—carpet the forest floor and where your tent will not crush low-growing plants.
- The site should have a gently sloping terrain. This provides adequate drainage unlike that of a flat area. Do not dig trenches.
- The area should have a protection from strong winds or severe storms. Take advantage of natural windbreakers such as bushes, rocks, or trees.
- Do not pitch your tent directly beneath trees since there is the danger of falling limbs or branches. Also, during rainy season, trees overhead will continue to drip water long after a downpour.
- Do not pitch beside standing dead trees or large dead limbs that could topple or break off in a storm and flatten your tent.
- Should a water source be nearby, camp at least 200 feet away from the water source to prevent its contamination, spare the vegetation along the bank, and ensure that animals can come for a drink without intimidation.
- Avoid camping too near a river since flash floods may occur. Never camp in dried river beds since these are the natural byways for flash floods.
- Check weather reports before heading out, and keep an eye out for escape routes and high spots you can reach quickly.
- To further appreciate the wilderness, a panoramic view should also be taken into consideration. However, do not camp in the beauty spots and scenic overlooks that will draw other visitors.
- In deciding whether to use a slightly worn site or not: if there’s a chance that it will recover based on your estimate of the amount of damage that’s already occurred and the probability of other parties using it in the near future, then it’s probably best to leave it alone and camp in a pristine site.
Consider the number and arrangement of tents to be pitched. If space permits, tents should be in a semi-circle or U-shape arrangement. All doors/entrances should be seen from other tents. This is for control of movement, safety consideration, and to have visual contact.
- The camp kitchen should allow room for easy preparation of food. Make sure it has a windbreaker (devise one if there’s none) for faster, economical and efficient cooking.
- Clear grounds of flammable materials.
- Store supplies in reliable and sealed containers and should be kept of reach of scavenging animals.
- Hungry animals may unearth buried food wastes. As much as possible, bring all your food wastes with you.
- Collect garbage in a litterbag that you would later take down with you.
- Always clean your plate to avoid growth of bacteria that would cause illness.
- Scrape your pots with spoon and warm water. Wipe off the last bits of food or spots of grease with paper towels.
- Sterilize pots by boiling water in it. Dip other utensils, as well, in the hot water.
- Avoid using scrubbing pads. Food particles stick to it, rot, and eventually stink.
- Avoid using dishwashing soaps.
- Refrain from washing or rinsing pots in any stream or lake. Instead, carry your dishwater and rinse water at least 100 feet away from streams or lakes and scatter it on the ground. By the time the water filters back to its source, it will be clean again.
- Separate drinking water from non-potable water.
- Water may be purified by any of the following methods:
- Boiling. This, however, consumes time, fuel, and patience.
- filtration. This mostly kills protozoa and bacteria but not viruses. Some filters contain use iodine resin to kill viruses.
- halogenation. Uses iodine and chlorine that kills most parasites, viruses, and bacteria.
Tip: Mask the taste of iodine by mixing powdered juice in the water.
- Do not litter.
- Clean up before leaving the campsite. What you bring up, you must bring down. For multi-day climbs, biodegradable wastes may be buried.
- Urinate on rocks or in non-vegetated spots away from water sources.
- Defecate in a site at least 200 meters away from the campsite. Dig a hole no more than 6 inches (within organic soil layer) and cover it afterwards. In really remote regions, you may deposit your waste on the surface by smearing for more rapid decomposition.
- Bury toilet papers. Burning them may cause forest fire. Better yet, bring them down with you.