The Reasons Why We Climb

“You feel more accomplished and it makes you appreciate the little things in life.”

“Hey boy, whats with that huge bag of yours, where are you going?”, An old lady asked.

“To the mountains, I’ll hike and make camp up there”, I replied enthusiastically.

“For sure your bag’s heavy, and the mountain sure has many steep terrain, isn’t that tiresome, and why would you do that?”, The old lady inquired confusingly.

I just looked at her and gave her an uncomfortable smile, I simply could not explain to her – right then – why….ohhh why

Alot of us, for sure had been asked the same question – why do we climb, why do we love/like/want to climb?, Whats in it for us?, What do we get from it in return?, Is it worth the pain? Or do we even know what we’re doing?

And I guess many , if not all,  climbers struggled finding an answer to the question too; simple as it may seem but it’s really hard to express our thoughts. So, i asked a couple of my climbing friends – all sorts of them from beginners, regular climbers to veteran climbers, to express their thoughts, in writing, on why they’re passionate about climbing. Some of them just took an instant to answer, while some took weeks; nevertheless, they all have one common ground – it boils down to their love of nature and the search for one’s soul.

Without further ado here’s what they have to say:

Mary Jean Pauline Plarisan, 22                               Registered Medical Technologist/Student Doctor of Medicine

“I love climbing mountains kay tungod it makes me appreciate God’s creation and His greatness and that maka say ka nga “Thank you God”. I also feel like I’m one with nature and through it kay it makes me feel so alive. It’s something I need to feed my soul with every now and then.”

George Kevin Omandac, 23                                     Marine Engineer

“I love climbing mountains for it makes me realize how small I am and how huge the world is and how my life is just a small portion of it. I love to gain experiences that most people can’t have, and to appreciate what the world has to offer. In the mountains, there is always new adventures and experiences that awaits for us to discover and learn. I also love meeting the local communities living in the mountains. So pack up and lets have a great adventure!”

Faye Dianne “Anne” Pozon, 32.                           Registered Medical Technologist

“Im just a newbie, and I don’t climb that often, but when I do, I love how quiet and calm everything is up there. Living in a city with all the noise and bustle; it is a breath of fresh air (Literally! :-P) to be in a place where you can actually hear your thoughts!”

Michelle Ganub, 27                                                  Banker

“Bitaw, I love to climb because its something that feeds my soul,  I like how mother nature bewitched and enchant me every single time with its beauty.”

Jesivel Knight, 45                                                              Housewife, Mother of two

“I love the challenge, the freedom to wander and the sense of achievement in conquering the mountain but do we ever really conquer the mountain? Hehe”

Ellen Tamboboy-Pepito, 47                                Home Management, Mother of three

“I climb because I want to explore…                                 I climb because I want an adventure…                           I climb because I love nature…                                         I climb because I’m curious whats in the mountains…                                                                           I climb because it gives me peace inside of me…”

Ferdinand Dailisan, 25.                                                Assistant Researcher

“Because its healthy, many health-benefits , clean fresh air, friendships , It’s like meditation kay maka relax sa imoa stress sa work.. ahahha thats all”

Jing Lavilles de Egurrola                                         Author/Writer/Cebu Thruhiker

“Because it is an obstacle and I need to see what’s on the other side.”

What you’ve read above are straight to the point answers – short and concise – however, some of my climbing friends took some mouthful of words to fully convey what they have to share, some even open-up a life story on how climbing changed  the way he sees himself, some recounted how climbing created wonderful memories and one even submitted her response in a two-page narrative! Indeed, each climber has a story to be told:

Dim Jorsan Tesiorna, 37                                          Senior Art Director

“To someone who haven’t tried mountain climbing he’d probably say you’re risking your life and you get no tangible thing from it. Explaining why you climb to a person who hasn’t been to any mountain is like describing what the world looks like to a blind man. Looking at life from a different vantage point changes its meaning. In the mountains, you always learn something every time, you discover more of you and you become a better version of you. You learn to respect the environment and how to protect it. You get to see amazing places and worship them. Mountain climbing expands your mental and physical limits. You develop incredible strength and endurance. The mountains teaches you patience and perseverance. The struggles and challenges along the paths you take empowers you to become stronger and pushes you to get to the top. It builds your confidence and teaches you to push past your deepest fears. You learn to be humble and enjoy the small luxuries in life. In the mountains, your problems become insignificant. It reminds you how very small you are in comparison to the world that surrounds you when you’re standing at the summit. It is the best way to get to know someone and make amazing friendships. Most people who climb mountains are the best breed of human of beings – positive, strong and happy.When you take the risk and push yourself to the limit, everything tastes better. You feel more accomplished and it makes you appreciate the little things in life.”

Ramon Corro, 63                                                       Assistant Vice-President of a Power Company

“During my high school days, as kids it was quite normal for young boys to be curious about what lies beyond those hills and at one time was even reprimanded for skipping classes because me and my friends took the risk of climbing the mountains near our school.  My love for exploration got halted after getting to college due to lack of opportunity and thought that it already died a natural death until my interest got ignited again few years back when a friend invited me to join Cebu Mountaineering Society. At our age, climbing those peaks is already quite exhausting, challenging and dangerous but becomes rewarding upon reaching the peak knowing that only a few seniors can still do the same. Every peak became new experience and new memories to make in our lifetime.  The game is to transport your body to a higher elevation. Mathematically speaking, it’s all about strength to weight ratio. If you are not yet lean and have no plans of getting lean, this could be difficult. On top of it all, determination plays a very important role for senior climbers. The challenge becomes even tougher knowing that most of the groups out there are young mountaineers and our best at this age is nowhere near their pace. However, it is quite rewarding to note that these sacrifices bring great effect to our health. No Guts, No Glory.”

Alexius Yap, 26                                                           Web Developer/Designer

“I hate to admit it, but I was an alcoholic before, I drank for days on end; I had a well paying job but wasted all my money on alcohol, constant visits to motels for meaningless sex and just complete shit. The reason simply because I was weak, too weak to deal with my recent break-up and the fact that I was an Irresponsible father to my daughter; there were times I even contemplated in ending my own life,  I completely shut everyone out in my life including my own family. The very first time I was introduced to mountaineering by a friend, I wasn’t quite exactly a fan, I was never the athletic type and I just hated hiking, it was daunting and pointless and it constantly reminded me of how weak I was, whenever, I ran out of air so easily. But overtime I slowly noticed my strength building up and for the first time in a long while I felt good about myself and I wasn’t about to let go of that so easily; long story short, I decided to quit drinking and smoking and started believing in myself more that I can be better than who I was before and this in turn has made my mother more proud of me than ever. Climbing mountains has made such an impact in my life, it pushes me to even further better myself and it enabled me to apply that mentally to other aspects of my life, like landing my dream job for instance, and learning to accept how things have turned out, because of this hobby I am gradually learning to brave whatever challenge I may come to face, that is why I climb because I can.”

Roger Padriga, 61                                                     Retired Sales Manager (my dad, btw)

The first time I climb a mountain is when I was about 11 or 12 yrs old together with my brother, my cousin and 2 neighbors our age. Way back then, any hill, for us, is a mountain. During that climb, the 5 of us spent our first overnight outdoors because we were lost. Our parents went ballistic and worried at the same time when they learned that we were out there with nothing but the bare t-shirt we wore. We shivered to the bone that night due to the cold wind and nothing to protect us but the tree leaves we gathered that served as cushion bed and insulator. But  young as we were that time, we were thrilled by the experience. So at an early age I climb mountains for the thrill of being up there. Ever since then, I always desired to climb, but the daily rigor of working for my education, and then eventually the hardships of earning a living to raise a family set back my passion in climbing . Then about 4 yrs ago I was assigned in Western Visayas in a very stressfull management function. And to relieved myself from the stress, I started to trek outside the city every weekend and eventually start climbing again…and oh boy what a wonderful feeling to be recharged and refreshed after each climb and  I simply did not feel any job related pressure. So now a days I climb for “Green/Forest medication ” to keep me afresh in physical health and in mind. Sometimes its sad to note that newer generation climb with blasting music and a container of beer to perk up the climb. Maybe they miss the point that serenity is much greater music and the scenery is intoxicating enough to lighten up any mood.

Shout out to miss almera for having the longest response 😁

Almera Bravo, 36.                                                    Computer Engineer

“I wanted to be with nature, to see and appreciate the wonderful creations of God

-I always remember the poem in my Elementary days titled All things Bright and Beautiful. Indeed the poems tell the truth about how wonderful the world is and its up to us to discover it.  One part of the poem I like is He gave us eyes to see them, And lips that we might tell, How great is God Almighty, Who doeth all things well. You can appreciate life more when you see God’s creations and then you can say to yourself Kaanindot gyud sa kinaiyahan, naa gyud diay ingon ani nga lugar gihimo si Lord para makita ug ma experience nato ang iyaha gibuhat para angay ampingan”.

The mountain is calling and I must go

-Mountains are calling me, I dont know why but maybe because every time I climb mountains I feel refresh from negative vibration in life. I feel that I am healed from any heartache in life. I feel more responsible in life because you learn to take care of the nature; you learn to be aware that you need to protect them in order for other generations to experience it.

I should never give up

-Climbing mountains teach me to be more patience, keep going and never give up. Climbing mountains is very hard. Difficult trails, long stretches of constant vertical climbing can be exhausting. But if you have a goal and you set it in your mind, then the reward is amazing at the top. This experience teaches me in life that no matter what life throws at me I take it and I will handle it.

I will meet the most amazing people whom I call friends

-The friendship and the camaderie are different. You will accept them no matter who they are because they are true people when they climb. Hikers and climber is awesome breed of people as what I experience in every climb. They are positive, strong, confident, happy and sometimes they show there soft spot every time they make their hugot moments about their lovelife hahaha



Teach me a lot of Lesson

-Every mountain has different difficulty level and every time you finish climbing the mountain, its an achievement in yourself that you did it again, you have succeeded and you never stop climbing because you still look forward for another mountain to climb to conquer.”

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You see, each of us might have different backgrounds and divided by generations, but we are somehow connected, deep within us we long to be one with nature and we share this connectedness, some have forgotten this primal force that pulls us together but its there – we are one. As for me, I climb because I am at my utmost peace when I’m up a mountain, it may sound cliche but when I’m up there I feel the connection with everyone and everything in this planet – as if in a state of trance.

For the Newbie Mountaineer – Apir bi :)

You’ve been wanting to climb but don’t know where or how to start, you’re in the right place… go on reading

Lately a bunch of friends, acquaintances and even strangers asked me on how they could start to climb, like what mountain is best for beginners, what equipment to start with and, in their current state of fitness, would they be able to climb mountains. And it’s funny because this is exactly the same questions I asked the first time I showed interest in mountaineering. And I’m happy to share my thoughts. I’m not an expert, I myself am fairly new in this, but I have some little bits of info that I believe could help newbies start a passion worth pursuing.

Equipment/Apparel

Now, you really don’t need to have those fancy branded mountaineering items, maybe in the future you’ll eventually want/need those, but as for now basic stuff will suffice. Except maybe for shoes, I suggest you invest on trek shoes, because this is the one item in mountaineering that basically takes almost all the battering, having a sturdy shoe really does help. For the rest of the apparel, inexpensive and unbranded trek shorts and dry fit shirts will do. For starters you really don’t need that much of an equipment: a backpack, a durable water bottle, a whistle, a portable first aid kit and probably a trekking pole are primarily what you’ll need. When camping, an inexpensive Dome-type tent, a sleeping bag and an earthpad will serve; all other important equipment like burners, cook sets and blades etc. have your more experienced companion bring those items. Eventually and gradually you’ll learn to upgrade your arsenal of equipment, it’s only a matter of time and budget of course.

Where to climb?

And now that you have your basic apparel and equipment where should you take your first step to climb?

Unfortunately, I’m only going to recommend mountains within Cebu, since I live in Cebu City and I’m quite unfamiliar of other mountains for beginners outside Cebu; My apologies for non-Cebu residents who are reading this. Anyways, here is a list of mountains perfect for newbies.

Sirao Peak

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Sirao Peak via Malubog Trail – my personal favorite route to Sirao

Sirao Peak is that hill across Ayala Heights at the Transcentral highway; there are multiple entry points to Sirao Peak, However, the most popular route is via Budlaan. Budlaan is in Barangay Talamban, the trail features a river trek, a semi wall climb and an open field assault to the peak. The peak also has a wide campsite with a very beautiful view of Cebu City. Budlaan falls is probably the highlight of this trail.

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Budlaan Falls

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Mt. Babag

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Babag peak – View of Brgy. Bonbon’s Valley

If you’ve been to Cebu City you may have noticed those prominent towers on top of a mountain facing the city. That mountain is Mt. Babag. Mt. Babag is known by local mountaineers as the practice grounds or the playground. The Mountain is also the highest point in Cebu city and probably the most climbed mountain within the city. It offers a non-stop assault to the peak – a feature that most veteran mountaineers are looking for, for practice. When climbing this mountain, it is advisable that you follow your own pacing – going too fast will definitely drain you in no time. Once on top of the peak, you’ll have yourself a 360 view of both the city and the vast valleys of barangay Bonbon and of course a closer look of the gigantic towers of Mt. Babag.

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Babag Towers – they’re HUGE, like really

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Spartan Trail

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The Long Spartan River Trail

The Spartan trail lies beneath the forest inside the Pamutan-Buhisan water reserve. The first part of the trail is a steady assault and followed by a decent to a long river trail leading to the Buhisan water shed. This is a very long trail, so prepare your knees.

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Bonbon-Cantipla Trail

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River and Boulder Trail

It is recommended that you have had climbed Sirao and Babag before climbing this mountain trail because if not for its lack of height this could well be considered as a major climb. It is approximately 75% river trek with huge slippery boulders, aesthetically beautiful to look at, but very dangerous to tackle with. This is by far the most scenic trail I’ve been to that is within the jurisdiction of Cebu City, this is undeniably a must try trail.

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Himbabawud Falls
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Rappelling the waterfall

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San Carlos Heights

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Sann Carlos Heights Peak

It’s a small mountain near where I live, it is here where I usually run, jog, hike, walk and meditate ^_^ whenever I got not much time to do a minor climb in a larger mountain. If you happen to live in Basak Pardo, Cebu City or somewhere near it, give me a ping and let’s climb, it’s a perfect site for climbing practice.

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You can also join Mountaineering groups in facebook that schedules a climb every weekend – SuOC, DIY Travel, Cebu DIY-KKB climb, DimenEU, Kat-Kat just to name a few

There are many mountains in Cebu Province that you can try, most of them are friendly to beginners. Mt. Mago, Mt. Manunggal, Mt. Mauyug, Mt. Manghilaw, Mt. Lanaya, Mt. Hambubuyug, Candongao Peak, Osmena Peak, Mt. Kapayas and the list goes on

Fitness

Unless you have a serious heart problem There is no excuse, you are capable to climb, so Welcome my Friend and see you on Top of a Mountain!

Candongao Peak, Badian

​Im not going to write about itineraries, there is plenty of sites out there that discusses such and besides I really don’t know how to make one. Speaking of itineraries do check sir Gian’s and mam Shiela’s blog – “Adrenaline Romance” you’ll find plenty of infos there.



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Candongao Peak, Badian

I remember back in the days when I was a kid, I’ve always wondered what it was like on top of those pointed, somewhat-hilly peaks on the mountain ranges in Badian, Cebu. I thought maybe they’re just like the Chocolate Hills in Bohol… But way bigger.

Chocolate Hills?
Scattered Hills along the trail

Only about a few months ago that I finally got to see what it actually look like up there,  I’d have the chance to climb up one of those peculiarly pointed peaks. The locals call this particular peak “Candongao”,  it is one of the highest among the many peaks that line the Mountain Range and among the few that actually has a trail.

Candongao Peak (looks near but very very very far)

T’was a Sunday when we went there, together with my dad, my sister, my sister’s boyfriend and a bunch of other climbers (eventually, a few of these “bunch-of-other-climbers” become our friends and now, our regular climbing companions). The day was perfect for climbing, it was a fair day or atleast the sun was not always out, because there were many scattered clouds blocking it; but it was humid, humid enough to squeeze out our sweat and humid enough to make us see water as gold. The jump-off area is near Sohoton Elementary school which is about 7-8 kilometers (I’m not really sure with the numbers in kilometers, I’m bad in estimating things, but you get the idea) away from the main highway, which required us to ride a “habal-habal”; and boy, that particular ride was terrifying!, the road was bumpy and dangerous and really tiring than the actual trek itself because you have to grip hard and hold on to dear life not to fall out of the motorcycle on your way to the abyss. And what a relief it was when we finally reached the jump-off area in one piece.

Sohoton Elementary School (jump-off area)
Sien (The Guide)

Anyway, once in the jump-off point, Mr. Sien (the one and only lakwacherong hampas lupa Guide – as he fondly calls himself) oriented us on the do-and-don’ts on the trail and gave us little bits of trivia about the place, said a prayer and off we trekked up the mountain. The trail was Amazing!, it was changing, as if it was an unfinished canvass – the painter still unsure what to paint. From dry forest to lush jungles, from grasslands to pointed stone gardens, and from wild plants to tamed vegetable farms. It was indeed a masterpiece, an art that anyone can appreciate. It made me wondered that there’s really something beyond our comprehension when nature crafts things, its messy and sometimes just way too out of order but it’s beautiful and graceful at the same time.

Lush Jungle
My sister on the grassland
Rock Gardens
Vegetable Farm
Wild Plants

The peak was nothing I imagined, it was beyond what I expected. It was spectacular up there, both the west and east side of Cebu is visible from the peak’s vantage point, it was like for a brief moment I peek on an eagle’s vision from way above. It was a glorious feeling on top of Candongao Peak. And although, they say, that pictures speaks a thousand words; no amount of words (or pictures for that matter) can describe its beauty, you need to actually be there to see it for yourself.

Top of Candongao Peak
The Ridge (just below the peak)
View from the peak
That’s a long way down!
Time to descend
Decending

Incidentally, Osmeña Peak (O peak) is only a few kilometers from Candongao Peak. I can only hope that what happened to O peak (being over commercialized, littered upon and raped) will never happen to Candongao Peak. Lets do our part and save whatever is left of nature and nurture it; we have done enough damage already.

The Gang

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