• Jeannette McGill

Summit Steps: It's all in the name!

Updated: Jun 22


Hiking vs Backpacking vs Mountaineering - Confused yet?!

Hiking - Mountaineering - Trekking - Walking - Bushwalking - Tramping - Climbing - Wandering .... 🤨😶


In the outdoors there are many names for what we actually do that can leave people spoilt for choice & scratching their heads ... we are here to help!

👣Wandering/Amble/Stroll - something you might do around your grandmothers rose garden, not much effort, no special gear requirements, also good for recovering from injury.


👣Walking/Bushwalking/Tramping/Hiking/Backpacking - each country has their own favourite word (for example you will go tramping in New Zealand; Bushwalking in Australia; Hiking in South Africa; Backpacking in the USA) and this could be single day or overnight - generally carrying a backpack large enough for the duration of the activity


👣Trekking - When Hiking/Walking/Tramping extends over multiple consecutive days then this becomes a trek. Like trekking the Inca Trail or trekking to Everest Base Camp.


👣Mountaineering - Heading up to the top of a mountain often using specialised equipment makes you a mountaineer. This can be a single day or over multiple days, and requires for example crampons and an ice axe/hammer and some skills. The entire duration of a mountain climb is an expedition and can comprise specific stages (like the rotations required on high mountains).


👣Climbing - When one is mountaineering you can be walking but once the terrain is steep enough or the conditions sufficiently complex then 4 point contact (hands and feet) & ropes will be required and this shift magically makes you a climber .... but not all climbers are mountaineers! 🤨 Vertical indoor or outdoor traditional rock climbs are also undertaken by climbers.


❓So is Kilimanjaro a trek or a climb?!

Because you walk up Kili with no specialised equipment this makes it a trek; but you do reach a high point and it’s a mountain?! Generally we say that we trek up Kilimanjaro. One Kili ascent unfortunately won’t pass you as a mountaineer just yet - but it is a serious undertaking & great beginning on the journey and path to more adventures!


But like most things in life don’t worry too much about the wrapping: simply head out into nature, breathe deep and smell the flowers! Keep On Stepping !! 👣🌺👣

🌺Co-authored by Dr Jeannette McGill and Saray N. Khumalo


Summit Steps: As part of Summits with a Purpose (check out the FB page) Saray Khumalo and Jeannette McGill are collaborating to share knowledge around hiking and mountaineering with the aim of making a positive and inclusive impact allowing more African woman to dream big and reach their outdoor goals.

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