The relevance of the “natural toilets” issue is growing together with the number of hikers and alpinists in the mountains. In recent years it turned into a real problem solving which solution is vital for major climbing routes worldwide. According to numerous queries in search engines, the increasing number of mountaineers are seeking for the science of a simple action – how to pee and poop in the mountains.
The Toilet Culture
The culture of going to the toilet depends on the nationality. In many countries, it is considered indecent to discuss the topic how pee and poop, even so, everyone outdoor enthusiast should know that.
In childhood, we learn how to pee and poop from our parents before pronouncing the first word, as this uncomplicated skill is transmitted from the ancestors. Nevertheless going to toilet outdoor is different. Keeping this in mind, we tourists can prevent the undesirable effect.
The ethic problems
Esthetic is the least impact that excrement may cause in the mountains. Pee and poop spots along hiking paths and climbing routes make these areas unattractive to the public. In the process of time hikers prefer to select another trail, which is pleasant for eyes and smelling nice.
The ethic and aesthetic problem is especially critical for Everest. Mountain climbers who are about to step on the top of the world have to face the “minefield” on the way to the summit.
According to the National Geographic research, there are about 12 tons of excrements gather in the Everest Base Camp annually. Even though there are special barrels on the way to the very top, many alpinists still ignore them deciding to pee and poop in the mountains anywhere.
Although this problem has been widely spread in the media, it isn’t completely resolved so far. However, now the most prospective scientists of the planet work on the plant, which could utilize “the mountain of poop” without bad influence on nature.
No wonder tons of humans’ excrements contaminate breathtaking mountain landscape and turn the areas into habitats of flies as well as the other annoying insects. The territories with disgusting smell become unusable regarding tourism, agriculture or grazing. It is obvious to every intelligent person that extensive urine and poop in improper areas cause a tangible impact on land and surroundings.
Nevertheless, many people are not educated enough in this field. Some of them behave like animals because they do not want to take responsibility. But eventually, their regular actions lead to global problems, which cause terrible pollution of the environment.
Just imagine: more than a half of popular climbing routes in the USA are horribly contaminated by poop. Even though there are enough public toilets to dispense on most climbing routes, this problem still concerns the most developed countries in the world.
Everybody cares about the personal hygiene, but not everybody is ready to adhere an ecological way of life for the sake of personal hygiene. When pee and poop are seeps into the natural water resources, it leads to ecological disaster and affects personal hygiene as a result. If hikers want to be responsible for their personal hygiene, they have to care about the environment as well.
The problem of contamination has the same root most countries. Basically, it is just not common to raise this topic in the society so that nobody explains how to pee and poop in the mountains to both kids and adults. Unconditioned rules are not clear to outdoor enthusiasts, especially if they do hiking for the first time. As we all understand, it causes a lot of unpleasant consequences.
Therefore, in order to solve the problems of growing contaminations along the mountain routes we need to know and obey the simple rules how to pee and poop in the mountains mindfully.
Rules of Sustainable Development
If nature allows us to observe its beauty, we have to respect and preserve that. Luckily, in contrast to pervasive pollution, the science of sustainable development has been developing quickly in recent times.
The growing number of tourists understand their trace and want to maintain natural resources we have nowadays. Responsible hiking is about sustainable development. Let’s figure out what we can do regarding going to the toilet in the mountains and keep them pure.
Learn about the ecological situation of your route beforehand
Read important information about the hiking or climbing route you are going to visit in advance. It will allow you to avoid many undesirable consequences, such as dangerous places, unexpected weather conditions, and accidental contamination. Pay attention if there any public toilets along the trail.
If you are going to hike in the national park, it must be forbidden to pee and poop everywhere. In case if you are unsure where you can use toilets, it is better to ask the staff of the national park or a forester.
For example, before entering Denali National Park & Preserve for climbing McKinley Summit all registered alpinists get special containers for collecting their poop.
Try to find official toilet areas
In many developed countries, there are public toilets on the way, which you can use for free. Normally, they are located often enough. So, it is better to endure a little bit until the next one.
Trekking tip: sometimes there are sockets inside the toilets so that you have an opportunity to recharge your mobile devices if needed.
Take special bags for carrying your poop as well as a shovel and toilet paper
Even though you are expecting public toilets along the trail, it is still better to be prepared for everything. Take special bags and a container. A specific shovel helps to take a poop and put it inside the container to carry the excrement until the next toilet.
You can find them in equipment stores or sometimes pharmacies. They are lightweight and convenient in use.
Don’t throw your poop together with regular garbage if possible. Look for special places or in the toilet.
Avoid any contamination of water resources
Sometimes you need to do it urgently but have neither container nor bag. Then try to hide in a secluded place where nobody can see you. Just remember one fundamental rule – never pee or poop into natural water resources. River flow throughout mountains and the other hikers or animals may drink from there.
How to Find Places to Pee and Poop When Hiking?
In some countries, it is allowed to put up tents wherever you want. If it is not a national park, you can organize your private toilet. It can be any separate place where everybody can go to pee and poop so that all the contamination will be located in one place, not all around. Here we prepare the most common ideas where to organize your forest toilet.
In the Camping
- Inside the camping
If you are staying in the camping, there must be standard toilets. As toilets belong to basic facilities, they include the price per night. In most cases, these are bio-toilets with big holes for excrements. Sometimes they smell unpleasant, so do not put up your tent near such toilets.
It is pretty common among mountain climbers to use bucket showers together with bio toilet in forest campsites.
Behind a large tree
If there is no public toilet all around, you can organize it behind a big and tall tree. It has to be at least 30 meters away from your tents. So, nobody will be shy or smell the toilet.
Just agree with everybody that this will be your standard toilet, so no one of your hiking group will be surprised while suddenly walking that way for picking mushrooms or flowers.
Hiking Tip: make small holes for your pee and a little bit bigger for poop. Cats can teach you how to dig the holes properly!
Behind the stones
If your camping is nearby stones, it is convenient to organize toilet there. Stones do not move often, and it is possible to hide your poop deep enough so that nobody will ever find the “hidden treasure.”
Still, it is the best to decide the same direction of the toilet for the whole group. You can even put an unusual item on the stone not to confuse it with the thousand of the other rocks around your campsite.
Some experienced hikers explained the method of flat stones
Poop on a flat stone you can find nearby the route. Then throw far away from the stone so that nobody can see and smell it.
On the glacier
When you are staying on a glacier in most cases, there are neither trees, not stones around. If it is possible to find a place where nobody can see you, that is the success. This area can become your toilet. Still, the organized toilet should not be located farther than 50 meters from the camping because it is pretty dangerous to walk on the glacier.
If you can not find any hidden place for toilet around the camping, then try to organize it using your own mat. If you put your mat in front of you, it can cover your body except for the head.
It is better to use avalanche shovel for hiding your pee and poop under the snow. However, it is highly recommended not to leave poop on the snow because it does not decompose at low temperatures.
On the Way
In the forest
When walking through the forest, there are many places to hide from everyone’s attention. You can even “be lost” for a minute and catch your group.
When you want to pee or poop in the forest, you can follow the same rules as for when you are in camping. There are two variants how to go to do it in the forest. Either you can dig a hole and collect your excrements there, or the best would be to put them in a separate container.
On the climbing route
The toilet is probably the most challenging part of climbing. When you are wearing your climbing harness, it is impossible to take it off hanging on the wall. The safety system does not allow you to do it.
It most climbing teams alpinists understand one another and do not care if someone needs to do that right in front of the other team. But never do in on popular climbing routes. Mountain climbers tend to use packages and containers for collecting poop there.
However, you should know about portable toilets, which were invented specially for mountain lovers who sleep in vertical walls.
The toilet kit blocks deodorize and destroy wastes using technology developed by NASA technologies. After use, the package can be disposed of as ordinary household waste. A small tip: when using a portable toilet, add a little bit of filler for cats’ toilet to prevent bad smell.
As you can notice, it is highly essential to know the art of pee and poop on the mountain even though it is not acceptable to discuss this topic in your society. Step-by-step ignorance, indifference, and irresponsibility lead to global contamination of the Earth. In order to avoid the natural disaster, we have to follow the ecological way of life and simple rules of going to the toilet in the mountains. Remember: releasing your favorite routes from excrements can become your first step to the clean environment and sustainable development.
Think globally – act locally!