I am not going to list a set of rules on how to behave in mountains, which we all are supposed to follow. It is up to you, this is all the matter of home education, of respect for other human beings and for nature, of dignity, and of conscience. We have it in us or we do not, reading prescribed rules will not help. Instead, I would like to give some short sketches of what I observed in passing.
We were in Verbier in Switzerland. One day my two daughters and me were walking from the village aiming to climb the nearby peak Pierre Avoi. We were just at the exit of the place when one car passed us at some speed causing the usual turbulence in the air. This lifted some plastic bag which was somewhere near the road, and it started swirling through the air.
The driver obviously noticed it, the car suddenly stopped about 20-30 meters in front of us, a young boy jumped out, rushed toward the plastic bag, picked it up, and they continued.
We were deeply impressed with this simple event, so much that I have decided to write it down here. I shall certainly never forget it.
On Bishorn glacier:
I was on my way from Cabane Tracuit to the summit of Bishorn. It was early morning and only one group of three climbers were in the distance in front of me. Somewhere in the middle of the route on the glacier, I stopped to take a breath, put my backpack on the ice, and to my horror, I realized that my camera was detached from the backpack and was sliding down the glacier in its dark leather box which I was using to carry it around.
It slid quite off the route and in the direction where the glacier breaks towards the Turtmann valley, with a huge drop below as can be seen from the picture here.
Eventually, it stopped and I could see the dark spot far below. So I had a choice to make, to continue without it and pick it up later on the way back, or to spend a lot of energy and go back.
It was at around 3800 m. At such altitudes every step was hard, and I decided to continue without it.
On the summit I could not stay long, the glacier was becoming softer and I realized it would be dangerous to go off the route to get the camera.
So after just about 10-15 minutes, I descended. Knowing that there were hidden crevasses that could open under my weight with the softened snow, I put my helmet on. I guess this would be not much of a help if I would get swallowed by one of the crevasses, but it was better than nothing.
There were hordes of people coming in my direction; the night before around 120 was sleeping in the hut.
At one moment, I heard one person, who was leading a group of at least 10 roped people, was shouting something in my direction.
We were quite at a distance on the glacier and I could not hear well, but I was foolishly hoping that perhaps they might have picked up my camera. So I made some effort to get closer to the group, only to hear this: “Are there some rocks falling around?”
Obviously, the brave climber was referring to my helmet, which indeed people would not normally wear in such an environment.
Till that moment I was, obviously naively, thinking that mountains somehow make us better human beings. I guess this is because I feel that, being surrounded by such an amount of beauty, we tend to reflect this within ourselves and instinctively show up only what is best in us.
Indeed I have seen it in many situations, even in such tiny details like the manner of how cordially people greet you when you meet them somewhere on a lonely mountain path.
But this was not the case that day on the Bishorn glacier. In the first instance, obviously unprepared for such behavior, I was taken aback, could not answer anything. So I just turned away and continued, later successfully picked up my camera and left Bishorn, with that simple sentence staying in my mind ever since.
My only hope is that someday he might read these lines.
While writing this text I found this statement by UIAA: “Every person we meet in the mountains or on a rock face deserves an equal measure of respect. Even in remote places and stressful situations, we should always treat others as we want to be treated ourselves.”
So perhaps even a fool wearing a helmet on the Bishorn glacier might be treated respectfully.
Bananas on the summit of Barrhorn:
I arrived at the summit a bit after 8 am and was alone for about half an hour. Then a group of schoolboys arrived accompanied by three guides.
Soon they started eating. One of the guides was eating bananas, and I realized he was just throwing the peels down the rock.
Descending Teide – bananas again:
I was back from Teide (3718 m) on Tenerife descending toward the car parking. At a short distance from the beginning of the steep section which leads toward Altavista mountain hut (3260 m), there were a few groups of people coming up.
I heard them talking and realized those were people from an important big central-European country. They appeared to be rather relaxed, eating and drinking on their way up, but they did not bother with carrying banana peels and other stuff with them, they were just throwing them around the path.
I was wondering what they were going to do at the hut because obviously, they were going to spend a night there; when I took a coffee from the coffee machine there earlier that morning, there was a notice written on it to carry the plastic cup away with me even though they were selling it.
Please give some examples of your own, there is a comment box below, this might keep mountains cleaner and even more pleasant than they are.