The majestic Himalayas are a formidable barrier that protect the northern boundaries of our nation and prevent the cold dry winds of Central Asia from blowing across the plains of India. They perform innumerable functions and give people innumerable opportunities to trek and climb. But, the Himalayas is a very fragile ecosystem and we, as trekkers must act as custodians of nature while in the mountains.
In order to get the best out of your trekking trip, you should follow some basic universal rules and cultivate certain important etiquettes, which are also called ‘mountain etiquettes’. It is extremely important to have complete respect and reverence for the mountains because we must remember that we are at their mercy. We are in the custody of the mountains and only through respect and care for nature, will we be able to get the best from nature.
1- Be grateful to nature
I have learnt a very important lesson in the mountains that has contributed greatly to my personality too. When in the mountains, we are in the lap of nature. And being nature lovers and enthusiasts, it is our primary duty to respect nature in all its forms and not indulge in any activity that is detrimental to the mountains and the surroundings.
I have been on a number of treks in the Himalayas and every time I returned to the mountains, I felt I had come home. We don’t dirty or pollute our homes, do we? I personally feel that as trekkers and custodians of the earth, we are obligated to protect nature at every point during the trek and otherwise.
2- Surrender to nature
We can never conquer a mountain. The mountain only lets us climb it. I wish to emphasize that if any day, when weather turns foul in the mountains, trekkers must not challenge the elements and act reckless. One should follow the instructions of the trek leaders and return to the safety of the campsite with humility. It is necessary for all of us to shed every bit of our ego before going to the mountains. There’s no place for ego in the mountains.
2- Leave no trace
While trekking, I request every individual not to litter even a square inch of the land with wrappers or any non-biodegradable material. It doesn’t take much to keep the plastic wrappers/waste in one’s backpack and dispose it safely at the campsite or on return to base camp.
4- Toilet manners
Another important aspect of the hygiene in the mountains is the toilet manners. Human waste contains a lot of bacteria, which is detrimental to the mountain soil. Although, trekkers are allowed to answer nature’s call in the open at a considerable distance from the campsite, I feel it is our responsibility to keep the mountains as clean as possible and therefore we should avoid this when toilet tents are erected by the staff for the trekkers. Toilet tents are basically pits dug in the ground with tents erected over them. It is always recommended to use them instead of using the open ground and spoiling the landscape with human waste.
5-Care for the animals
There are domesticated animals found in the mountains such as goats, horses, sheep and yaks. These belong to the people living in the villages that we normally pass through. We should treat all the animals with compassion and not act cruelly towards them.
6- Respect the staff
The staff from the company includes the trek leaders, base camp manager, cooks, porters, guides and support staff. Every one of them works hard with complete dedication and conviction to make sure each trekker has a memorable experience and does not feel the lack of any essential facility. In fact, the staff works beyond their capacities in all kinds of weather, be it is snow, rain or chills. Thus, it is extremely important that we as clients show them respect and appreciate their work. By being thankful to them, we have made their day. One should remember that without them, it is impossible to trek in the Himalayas for an amateur trekker.
7- Trek as a team
Every experienced trekker knows that trekking is all about teamwork. Thus, when trekking in a group, the entire batch is required to co-operate and this is easier if the group members develop a close friendship with each other from day one of the journey. And trust me, friendships made in the mountains last forever because they are special.
8- Encourage other trekking groups
On the way back to the base if your group comes in contact with another trekking group that is heading up, you along with your group members should encourage the members of the other batch to successfully complete the journey. Motivating each other all along the way is the key to success in the mountains.
Written By: Pooja