Scaling the Philippine Slopes

Pack a ton, rig yourself the heaviest possible gear - and then you'll "in." For coming up the high slope with these pack of darers is a feat by itself. Foremost of all is to gaze at the grey hue of a peak disappearing behind the dark, gathering nimbuses, and that's when you begin rechecking your spirit.

But then for an anxious starter, the rudiments to a safe climb is actually simpler than what's expected. That a slightly more than enough food is basic in the preparation stage; that a medical kit is imperative for these slight cuts.

For a beginning mountaineer, giving the Philippine landscape a try is knowing the challenges offered by its tricky, and at times capricious, flora and fauna, and its most of the times erratic climate.

The theory behind why there are such highly-disparate cultures among the countries in the Southeast Asian region is largely because of geography. Its rough and irregular terrain gives natives a hard time to travel from one place to another. And while there are rivers serving as convenient thoroughfares, these are interrupted by ranges of unpredictable slopes, ravines, cliffs, tunnels thus splitting these into smaller arroyos and rejoining a bank underneath caves or pushing unto the sea.

In the Philippines, the sport of mountain trekking, according to many of its local enthusiasts, would rather be termed as "mountaineering" rather than "mountain climbing." This is because much of the mountains are either they have been trekked quite on a lot of times already or strewn with clusters of inhabitants and thus, familiarized.

Mountaineers seek the help of barangay captains of the area, nearest the mountain, who in turn would recommend a guide who is familiar with the terrain. At times, the mountaineers would submit a formal letter to the barangay leader asking permission and guidance. Another reason for this is that this ensures proper monitoring of current trekkers. The barangay leader could also point out areas on the mountain where there are residents from whom the mountaineer could seek help in times of emergency.

A tour guide could be a mountain inhabitant, a farmer usually, whose upland community has cleared a trailway. The mountaineers, however, may not follow the usual tracks these natives are using. A trailblazer may innovate on these tracks seeking the vantage points where scenery is magnificent.

At a certain temperature, mountaineers may have to go through damp forest areas where the temperature is relatively low. Trekkers with a low resistance to cold temperatures are endangered to hypothermia. It is best to bring a Bunsen Burner where food can be cooked and eaten hot. Besides, according to cause-oriented mountaineers, burning twigs in the forest is not environment-friendly. "Take nothing but pictures." This has been the fond motto to many of the local mountaineers. (Text and photos courtesy of Sunstar Horizons)