Specialization Among Mountaineers and its Relationship to Environmental Attitudes


  • Cameron Dyck
  • Ingrid Schneider
  • Marilyn Thompson
  • Randy Virden


Recreation specialization, mountaineering, new ecological paradigm, environmental attitudes, low-impact practices


Mountaineers participate in a highly technical activity in environmentally sensitive areas. Subsequently, understanding their attitudes toward minimum-impact practices is critical to manage and protect resources and sustain satisfactory experience opportunities. Mountaineering participants’ general environmental attitudes and attitudes toward low-impact practices were evaluated in this study, with a focus on potential differences in these attitudes across specialization level. A mail questionnaire sent to 450 members of a mountaineering organization assessed mountaineering specialization, environmental attitudes, and attitudes toward low-impact practices (60% response rate, N=270). Results suggested that recreation specialization is a reliable measure of intra-group activity among the sample. Attitudes toward low-impact practices significantly differed among specialization levels, whereas general environmental attitudes did not. Contrary to what managers might expect for such a technically competent group, mountaineers’ attitudes toward low-impact practices vary. Consequently, planning and education efforts for mountaineers can be tailored toward specialization level, resulting in more effective education programs as well as continued resource protection and experience opportunity provision.





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