The dictionary’s definition of ‘ethics’ refers to ‘moral duties and obligations.’ So how does ‘ethics’ apply to mountains? First of all, the mountains demand respect. They represent a unique environment because they are a reflection of nature in all its splendour. Mountain ethics also means respect for other people. But what does this mean, concretely?
Mutual Help, Support, and Respect
Living and working in a harsh environment, such as the mountains in winter, has created a profound esteem for humanity among mountain-dwellers. The values of mutual help, support and respect have thus been handed down from generation to generation.
Respect for all means, first of all, a friendly greeting to everyone you meet. It also means letting faster hikers, climbers or skiers get past you. Furthermore, it means taking care not to create a dangerous situation for others. Mutual help is another key value for mountain-dwellers, and they never hesitate to come to the aid of people in difficulty.
This concept of human respect is symbolised by many initiatives on behalf of the handicapped population. An association called Handi Cap 38, for example, takes
people with sensory disabilities or limited mobility for excursions into the mountains and other natural spots that are normally inaccessible to them.
Respect for the Environment
Both for full-time mountain-dwellers and seasonal vacationers, the power, beauty and grandeur of the mountains inspire great respect. Therefore, mountain ethics also entails respect for the environment, which is everyone’s responsibility on a daily basis.
Do not throw or leave rubbish in nature, be economical in your use of water and electricity, go on foot rather than by car, and so on. Respecting nature in mountain regions is everyone’s business.
Initiatives for Sustainable Development
resorts now defend the concept of mountain ethics, which means implementing new
policies with regard to transport, rubbish disposal, and so on. It all adds up to sustainable development and preservation of the environment.
This is also why, ever since 1964, the Station Verte (Green Resort) label has been awarded to municipalities that take positive measures in terms of reception, accommodation, facilities, services, activities and environment. Winners of the Green Resort label include Le Grand-Bornand, Talloires and Samoëns in Haute-Savoie, Gèdre and Loudenvielle in Hautes-Pyrénées, Saint-Laurent-en-Grandvaux and Les Rousses in the Jura, and La Bresse and Contrexéville in the Vosges. All of these resorts share a commitment to limit the use of snow-making equipment – which, even if it has economic advantages, creates problems in terms of pollution, water supply, and noise.
Also worth mentioning is the remarkable work done by numerous associations such as Mountain Riders, which promotes awareness of the need to respect the mountains. This is notably done by publishing three ‘eco guide books’ on resorts, equipment, and events: L’Eco-Guide des Stations de Montagne, L’Eco-Guide du Matériel de Montagne, and L’Eco-Guide de l’Evénement.