Sharing this article again, taken from my old blog. I wrote this way back 2011, when I was still a fan of solo hike. But now, I no longer hike alone because I have my husband and our baby. We always climb as a family.
What is a solo hike / climb?
Definition of solo climbing or hiking varies from person to person. But when you look up in the dictionary, the word solo means a thing done by a person alone; unaccompanied in particular. From the definition itself, solo climbing for me is when you trek alone, self-contained, and no companions.
If you go on a hike with yourself and you get a guide, for me it’s not considered as a SOLO hike because the fact that you have a guide means you are NOT alone. You are not alone because the guide is your companion and the two of you are trekking together, therefore you are not doing a solo hike or climb. Well, other people call it "guided solo climb".
If you climb with a group but you got separated along the way (either you are fast and they left behind or vice versa) and there’s only you alone trekking in the wilderness, that will be considered as a solo hike. This applies when you are the only one who got separated with the group. If there are two or more of you, it is not a solo climb anymore.
If you start your trek alone but you saw some friends along the trail and you tag along with them, it is no longer a solo climb. But if you saw some people along the trail even if you know them and you just had a little chat then you decided to overtake or left them or go on a separate way, that is still a solo climb.
If you hike alone as planned from the very beginning until the end of your trek, that is a solid full solo climb.
The above mentioned situations are just example of whether you are on a solo climb or not. The definition is simple and the logic is simple as well. Solo means one. Sometimes, even if you decide to hike alone, you will end up joining a group of other climbers especially when you know some of them. And sometimes even if you climb with a group, you will end up wandering off along the trail alone.
Why do some hikers intend to do a solo hike?
I’m annoyed when people told me not to climb alone because it is dangerous especially that I’m a girl. It only shows that mountaineering in the Philippines is sexist. So what if I’m a girl? Can’t women do the things that men are capable of doing? Then I realized that those people are just concerned to me and same thing goes to other female hikers who do solo climbs.
So why do some hikers intend to do a solo climb? Because they want to:
- climb but the schedule doesn’t permit them to go with a group and no one is available to join them;
- unwind, pull out the bad vibes from a stressful work, escape a polluted city, and temporarily forget some problems;
- isolate themselves from a noisy group and just want to have a quiet time alone and be one with nature;
- test their speed on climbing and running a specific mountain;
- train themselves and measure their strength for their upcoming trail run or marathon or a very major hike;
- separate with a group because of the need to go ahead first and running out of time for some urgent matters;
- capture photos of a panoramic view without any people that can ruin their nature picture trip;
- challenge themselves to do the things they haven’t done before;
- simply boost their ego, impress and make some lousy record.
These are only some of the reasons behind solo climbing. Perhaps there are still many reasons that I haven’t mentioned but solo climbing is discouraged among hikers. I’m not against solo climbing because I’m also doing this before but I also do not recommend you to do so. It is not bad to climb alone as long as you are prepared for whatever circumstances that you might encounter along your way. Preparation is the key.
If you really want to do a solo hike or climb for whatever reasons you have, you should be prepared in all aspects. Make sure that you have the right mountain gears and equipment with you and have complete hiking essentials on your backpack. Climb the mountain you are familiar with and let someone know where you will go. It is also important that you have the knowledge on survival so that you know what to do if ever you got lost in the wilderness. Most of all, do not ever go on a solo climb if you’re tired and exhausted because energy is extremely needed even it’s just a minor climb.
Solo hiking needs enough courage to face the risk and responsible spirit to prevent this. However, unwanted incidents may happen whether you’re on a solo hike or with a group. I hate the fact that people blame solo climbing when someone was gone or died in a solo climb. If it is meant to happen, it will happen. It is just a matter of sense of responsibility and self-assessment to escape danger. The only difference is that when an accident happens with a group, there are people who can report it immediately and state the real story.
When I’m new to mountain climbing, I’m so aggressive that I climbed every week and even on weekdays. There came a point that I don’t have any sleep because my life is from night shift duty to a day hike and to office again. During those times, I have all the courage to do solo climbs even I’m a newbie. But now that I have a baby, all of the courage I had before fade away in a snap.
This is the outcome of the self-assessment I’ve done to myself. Maybe because I know my personality as a careless woman that I even dragged my feet to death. I loved my baby so much and I’m afraid to leave him. In most situations, buddy system is the best option. And now that I am married, my husband is my buddy and I promised not to do a solo hike anymore.
By the way, this article is applicable only to the mountains here in the Philippines. Mountains in other countries especially alpine climbs have different levels of terrains and it is strongly not advisable to do a solo climb there unless you're really a professional on this field.
Have a safe climb everyone! Always remember, do not underestimate a mountain.