Friday, December 11, 2009




Only a few weeks ago I found myself protesting or at least parts of me were…my fingers, my arms, my shoulders, my very core against the constant 9.8m./sec.2.  The conglomeration of the weeks, months and years of rallying against gravity provided a sort of bitter sweet nostalgia and meditative realization.  Now, yet again, I’ve come to something nucleic.

I have been struggling over this one project that I wish could have been outdoors.  Sadly it isn’t and so I’m half unenthusiastic about it, but then again there is a very serious tone in which it has etched itself into my consciousness.  The boulder problem has been on the wall for over a month.  The four crimpy holds that start the route on the most inclined part of the wall, probably 60o off from the vertical, always had scraped the most essential skin off my fingertips even before the crux of the problem.  After going through the heavy battle on crimps, a serious looking sloper marked halfway.  My foot come off the wall majority of the times I’ve tried the move.  What needs to be done is to get your foot to stay and slowly peel off to get a good handle on the hold.  Following an already epic mêlée comes in an almost frictionless block.  The green volume that I reach with the right hand to match with the left, has marginal friction when held at an awkward angle.  The greater part of the move comes from twisting the entire torso at the hips to gain a position that maximizes leverage from it.  The long reach to the last sloper followed by a pragmatic reach to the last edge seem to be the icing but isn’t at all too easy either. The problem’s done.  It has been a month long project that at times I simply had to put off for weeks just to get it out of my mind.  The hurt and the indelible expectation of falling again and again gave me nightmares in my waking hours.  It called back several times but I ignored it.  As I write this it has only been two and a half hours since I’ve finished the problem…finally.  I had attempts when I felt solid on the moves but fail on the last sloper.  I had attempts when I felt good on all the crimps, only to fall on the match on the halfway transition from crimp to sloper.  I also fell trying to hold onto the green volume from a bad angle.  Before I ever did the problem, I always thought I had to get to the holds perfectly, latch on every one of the crimps solid as possible…no mistakes, hold on to the slopers…no mistakes.  The final send was surprising.  It wasn’t at all perfect.  The first crimp felt heavy from the take off.  I almost fell on the 2nd crimp, the chalk on my fingers slowly becoming slimy at will.  On the third crimp, I had to adjust my fingers a bit as I didn’t land them perfectly.  On the last crimp, again I had to readjust everything.  The move for the transition sloper had to be fast, I had only a few seconds before the body sags again.  I shot my right hand for the volume only to find my fingers inches away from slipping.  The send was less than perfect.  I almost failed again and the tone of this blog would be different.   I wouldn’t have it any other way though.  I’m even grateful it had been an epic struggle.

Even in perfect situations there is bound to be problems.  Even so, if the circumstances surrounding your “ascent” is less than perfect,  you should still hold on, never giving in to the will of what weighs you down.  It is as simple as that.  It is amazing to me that at times when harsh realities sink in, I find my climbing lecturing me on life’s ambiguity.  It feels good.

Thursday, November 26, 2009



Last night’s bouldering session was no less than exceptionnel.  The skin on my fingers felt sandpapered thin, almost bleeding, pink and raw.  There wasn’t any blood coming out through the skin but they felt just as sensitive.  The once cabled forearms that held me hanging on the small edges burnt deep and began to limp and feel heavy.  We sat on the old, worn out bench press, its inner lining foam gutted out from the small patch of an unleathered hole in its middle.  We stared at the usual suspects for the pain we nurtured on our finger tips. The boulder problems on the wall stared back just the same.  Whether these problems minded us like girls unwilling to be persuaded into consent was impossible to know.  They could also be just impassive.  We occasionally glanced on our hands, the way they were bruised up, the way they were chalked up, the way they felt dry, the way they throbbed with our pulse.  In no time we found trente, no, quarante, cinquante, I soon lost track of the digits that hung in the air, in a formed arc beneath our stark glares.  The amount of abuse we exacted on our bodies is so mirrored on our worn out hands and fingers.  Flakes of old skin slowly peeling off and spots of blood forming beneath the skin on the very tips of each finger featured our heavily callused hands.   I wondered how much more was needed before we are ever satiated, how much more I need before I am satiated.  It has been an obsessive journey and I wondered which will come to the foreground faster.  Will it be the gradual decline, the wavering of the fire within or will it be the failure of the physical shell that held my spirit? Already there is no denying the reality that both my middle fingers showed tell tales of calcification at the joints and I have to exert added effort in digging deep to awaken my will.   I never did put too much thought into reasons or any rational verification for my climbing, not until now, or more or less somewhere between now and a yesterday that seem not too long ago.   These things slowly are becoming an anvil that weighs me down.  Looking into the future, like a prophecy that unfurls, like an end that is certain to come isn’t exactly all comforting.  The only way to unload these divinations would be to pour out some of my thoughts into Dumbledore’s Pensive.  Such accoutrements could exist somewhere, somewhere but not here.  This blog entry could be good enough, or at least I think it should.
I stared and listened to our comparative study of our individual fingery personas.  I should have taken a photo of my hands and fingers before I started my climbing career.  My fingers are now fatter, stubbier and seemingly heavy and numb.  They sometimes feel incapable of a more sensitive touch. Save for the skin at the back of my hand, a thick overlayer now covered my hands.  A “career”. That sounds like a little too serious but I’ve no other way to express how deep I am in this leviathan’s throat.  Sometimes I have to remind myself what comes from this practice.  Like a runner, we see the horizon ahead but never its real end entirely.  We never exactly know when we’d get there.  Even if we reach a milestone we’ve set, there is always the new horizon, always farther away.  Maybe it is exactly for this reason that it captures me.  Like a good book, you really don’t want it to end.

I’m slowly taken into a new world. I’m becoming aware of some differences which I’m appreciating more each day.  Where I came from, I jumped, ran, climbed… never have I reached fully into an alternity that asked more of me than to exert physical effort.  Magic…the world of magic is not at all too impossible to understand.  No, not the illusionary magic nor card tricks or any other sleight of hand.  I am talking about conjuring, worded magic.   The search for “true” words and the ability to arrange or disarrange them to produce a sensitivity, a vulnerability, whether mine or somebody else’s doesn’t bear too much difference.  It is difficult.  The simple weaving taxes me out.   The spindle from which my threads of words come from is too new.  I’ve still to learn much from its workings.  Wiser wizards and witches inspire me to try harder, to conjure up greater magic but as of now I am an avid learner, much like the way I was when I first took up the sword and learned from stronger warriors.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Beyond Words

Beyond Words

“You ‘ave to ‘old ze undercut like zeez”, he motions his left hand to pinch a hold that began to be soundly familiar.  His arms contorted, his palms faced upward, thumb, forefinger and middle finger on the bottom edge of the invisible piece of rock, elbow pointing up and left, a certain strain, I thought, developed on his left shoulder.

I shot a perplexed glance at the guy as if to hint to cut off his intermittent z’s.  His name’sPierre which was, I thought, such a cliché for a French guy.  He continued on as I shared a glance and rolled my eyes up halfway to his lovely seatmate across the table.  This could go on all night I thought so might as well try comfort our other friends some sort of respite from the monologue by trying to at least push the pause button on Pierre’s turbulent zzzpastic air climbing.  Problem was I didn’t know where.

“And ‘zen move your right foot on ‘zee small hold, push wiz’ it and ‘zen your right hand above like zeez…”, from below the table his right knee crooked up to float on thin air, all whilst his right hand hung way above his head, seemingly holding onto an edge he and I could only imagine to be there.

I took a short glance at the wine bottle sitting just a foot from the table’s edge. The orange firelight bathed us in a warm glow, giving the gathering a medieval feel.  The heavy set, weather beaten wooden tables and chairs could have come from old taverns and inns where many travelers of old huddled in the cold winter months after traversing the dirt roads that once connected the small towns than ran along the borders of the mountains. I shot back immediately to Pierre, I didn’t want to look uninterested with his lengthy mime, he was after all, enthusiastically addressing me with his “beta.” Although I found all his attention flattering that he’s going a great length shoving energy at me on the route that I tried hard to pre-place, it was also quite embarrassing. I was eager too to start conversing with the girl infront of me who I still didn’t know by name. She had an elvish look I thought, fine featured but her eyes of bright hazel shone with deep insight.  She almost looks like to be squinting at the flickering light. Almost as though studying all the words and thoughts flying around our table.  I thought of commenting on the fine wine and the cheese we’ve been chewing on… “This is really good, I love wine and cheese!” or maybe the French translation of which just to spark a different topic.   But then it would really be rude to cut Pierre’s animated explications short like that.   The route he was beta spraying was 35m. long and by what I have gathered we was only halfway.  It could take longer.

Finally as if to hasten the conversation, I raised my arms to synchronize with his. In a flurry of moves I found myself communicating with him with the same gestures.  A sudden comfort swept through, this will be over soon, ran silently in my head.  It was interesting though. We shared a common lingo in spite just meeting beneath the indifferent rock only that afternoon. “From ‘zer, tak, tak, tak,” a vicious left and right hand cross and a leg swing that almost toppled off the gorgeous maiden infront of me from her seat…”phurrrr… easy…”, the guy’s lips parted as he blew through it, ending our tête-à-tête.   In a single wave, I felt the route map knowledge burn into me.  Having prior knowledge of a route isn’t  exactly the purest way to climb but the bold Ariel typeface “8b” on the guide book gave a bit of an apprehension so I guessed it really didn’t matter.  For sure I would be getting huge falls on it despite the inadvertent tip.  I pouted my lower lip out, shrugged my shoulders, raised my palms up to level the table and struck a sparkly stare across the table, “We’ll see if it works tomorrow.” With that we raised our beers, laughed and enjoyed the silent breeze’s failing effort lulling us to restful slumber.

Nights, after a long day of climbing, sounds like ‘zeez…this… when you’re out there amongst the hardy climbers in Europe.  When they said it was there that climbing was “sup-perrr.” (Yes, you have to stress the “p” and then prolong a guttural slurry fading “r”), they weren’t kidding.  In the few weeks that I’ve shared climbing spirits with the numerous Sweds, Brits, Pols, Slovs, Slovaks, Espanyols,   Italianos, Japs (the only Asians on the beaten track), Aussies, Belgians, Americans, Canadians and of course the infallible French, I’ve become awares of the bigger scale of the lifestyle I tried hard and willed to exemplify.   Coming from the east, from one of the struggling nations of the orient, from a country desolate of an enlightened yet trying perspective, coming from the Philippines, I just could not help but be at awe of what I have only begun to wade into.  It was there that I realized, in its enormity, what climbing and being a climber is really like.  Climbers are like a hybrid backpacker, adventurer, the not so hardcore but hardcore mountain man, the solitary but social rat, the druid, the not so touristy tourist.  We share a language understood only amongst us.  A crimp is always a crimp, a sloper is a sloper, a pinch is a pinch, a pocket is a pocket, beer is beer, wine is wine, a 9.2mm is thin, a 10mm is good, an 11mm is so 80’s, the Gri-gri is a belay device, a FiFi is a fifi hook and we all love to be with the mountains regardless of where we come from.

Friday, October 9, 2009


"CUT LOOSE…" core screamed as I heaved air out my labored throat, a guttural cry of anguish and desperation.  “Cut loose…”,  like a whispering ghost echoing heavy in my mind.  Heed the warning else fail…in a fraction of a second the imminent became easier to accept.  Slowly like a warp machine coming out of hyperspace my feet came off.  The air became suffused with a loud thundering crack that almost broke the barriers of time and space.  It was impossible to contain the expansive swell of energy that spewed out my lungs.  A torrential gush of sharp pain pierced the edges of the last remnants of skin that held me hanging in mid-air.  The fragile edge bit deeper in to my consciousness, kept me from falling into the void of despair.  My feet groped for a small hope of relief.  It found its mark only to help me realize a profound empty comfort.

Creases formed hard on my forehead forcing my brows to form one strong crooked line. Sharp arrowhead tips on the edges of my eyes felt like the devil’s horns, intently evil.  My eyes reduced to slits, filtered  the insignificant details wrapped around me.  An invisible glowing orb formed a foot right in front of my eyes as I effortly conjured a focus.  The warm glow radiated, the pain faded away and the standstill shattered like glass to a hammer’s strike.  My face shot forward towards the invisible orb.  It parted, gave way, half resisting, like mercury being pierced by a blunt point.  On the other side, the reflections vanish as a new vision became clear.   My hands pierced through the thin layer of air to reach for the miniscule edge that shouted pain from it’s comfort.  A quick solid transition shuddered through my core. No longer than a sudden thought, the entire length of my arm, from fingers to my chest, to the back of my shoulders, down to my lower back , even down further to my foot solidified into one.  Concrete, no, steel, no, not even steel.  It became one strong, living, breathing connection hardened by a deep longing urge to claw into a renewed  existence.  To fail would mean another seamless struggle, to succeed would mean a temporary victory that would comfort the soul.

My fingers dug deep into the crimp.  A quick sigh of relief filled the empty hollow left by the one swift, guttural, throaty, agonizing plea for reprieve.  As quick as it came, it vanishes.  The crimp suddenly felt like a sharp blade fresh out of a furnace.  “Let it bite…”   It was a soft comforting tone that guided my other hand to match on the precarious  little edge.  I followed willingly, almost a trance, an acceptance that could spell either disaster or success.  Yet, I trusted.  Breath faded fast from my body, depleted it to a shell, hollow and brittle.  My throat became parched, my tongue felt like sandpaper scratching deep for moisture.  All six fingers, three from each hand, met on the edge only millimeters  thick.  Color faded from each knuckle as I felt another swelling brew inside my stomach.  A protest surged inside…but I held on…for dear life…I gnashed my teeth to almost powder them to dust.  Another cycle continues…such is climbing…silence pervades…such is life…

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pitching for life...

Pitching for life…

Well, it's another fine day.  Raining, but still fine.  I'm now looking forward to some other things left undone.  Another visit to the new crag near Antipolo, maybe a short trip to China, and maybe think of something to follow-up on the recent exhibit.  Whatever will be good, I think.

Sometimes I reflect on these things and figure out what's with them.  It's kind of cool to see them as milestones but to think like that sometimes just boosts ego, so I try to not delve into that so much.  I'm just looking forward and forward.  People sometimes think what makes you are the things you've done, but I like to disagree.  It's what you want to go after that makes you.  The past becomes distant and will drown in the void soon enough.  It's what's ahead that should be left in the focus.

Right now there are still so many options.  Whichever to choose?  All roads leads to the same place I think.  It's this place called absolute realization, or the absolute truth.  It sounds blurry, but I guess everything is.   The point is to keep moving.  Pause, but keep the music runnin', then keep pitching until you got nothing left.  

Sunday, July 5, 2009

1 week off climbing + 16oz. coffee

In a cyclone of words and stirring, passionate expressions that I, by and large, want to express, I try to imply the craziness of what boils unfathomably deep.  It’s immensely uncalled for or might even be just musings of a deranged, simply, distant mind.  It’s just plain insanity. How in the world do I find myself in such situations that sometimes deprive me of the little quiet I need?  It’s almost impossible to think about anything else.   The many things that go on, the unrelenting social sparkle, political junk and the occasional devilish impulses do try to derail a perfectly flawed persona.

No matter the thought, it’s always impossible to recall everything that goes on in a span of a few minutes and try to remember what it that got me so neurotic in the first place.  Maybe it’s an exercise or maybe it might be that I’m trying harder than usual to just run out of energy.   The whole effort comes to no fruition and seldom becomes something useful anyways.

I can’t wait for tomorrow when I get back on those crimps and slopers and long reaches, or the occasional dyno.  Thoughts would fade and marginal sanity is restored.  My batteries get charged and once again I’m able to capitalize on some fine good moments to reload my whole spectrum a further.  Centering becomes so easier when I’m out climbing.  There is a solitary mindful approach and that relieves me of the relatively hasty multi-tasking environment I’m drenched in.
"Familia Manson" - Rodellar, Spain
A small gash
First layer of taping before trying again
Embrace the pain and take pleasure in the few seconds of immense effort.  With changing some words, fitting in the word “climbing”, I quote…"To be a climber is to be a student of climbing's core lies pain, hard and bitter as the pit inside a juicy peach...If you never confront pain, you're missing the essence of the sport. Without pain, there's no adversity. Without adversity, no challenge."  Ah, yes…someone whose view on singularity that refreshes mine.  There is indeed a vast, deep and intense focus related to pain.  In this confrontation there is peace and therein lies one of humanity’s greatest gift.  It’s frailty and weakness.  I am therefore weak and I have to admit that.  It’s a hard lesson learned with numerous failures and a small percentage of successes.  These victories, hard earned and shortly lived, fully restores you on a level equal to others.  It destroys ego.
Final product after trying again and again . . .
As anticipated this stroke of reflection ends and so does my caffeine high.  What’s next is to come around tomorrow, awaken to a new day that once again would try to re-administer several new vitamins and minerals to chew on.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

High on the Edge

High on the Edge

There is no doubt that climbing has been a big part of my life.  Sometimes though I hear climbers say theyve been climbing for more than half of their lifetime and this makes me feel like a baby.  I would love to find myself answering the unavoidable question, How long have you been climbing,  in the same manner someday.  11 years seem long but for me I havent even touched base of what I would consider the full immersion into climbing.

Ive been out there hanging onto these edges  for a full 11 years and a half but I feel not much really has there been any full-on expression of what the experience is like.  At least not locally.  There are competitions and rock-trips but those are mostly appreciated only byclimbers.  What meets the public eye is a thin layer of ice, never whats beneath it.

It just occurred to me, maybe, maybe it wont be too bad to publish some cutting edge climbing photos that would tell stories in single frames.  A lot of photos have been flying around in local web pages and its kind of like in a closed loop.  It might be good to share some of these experiences onto a bigger circle.

I guess that’s the whole point of having this kind of an event.  Photos are meant to be seen and to have each photo convey a feeling, solicit a reaction or deliver a sensation is an even bigger accomplishment. To see past beyond lighting, color and effect would be a great effort. It is much like being able to appreciate fine art and the whole package of emotions the painter puts in every stroke.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Micro Fractures

Micro Fractures

What?  No trip this week?  The words ring around my empty head.  It's as if it is the only thing that mattered and there is a feeling of uneasiness.  I grope around, pacing restlessly along the sun baiste floor of the living room.  Everything felt wrong and the air felt stifling.  I feel dizzy and a sort of energy hole drained the life out of me through this weakness.  What is wrong with me?  Micro fractures in my skull form as I try and figure out , but everything I come up with ends up making no sense.  The reasons I lay down before me fall short in fully explaining the severity of these emotions.

I sit down and try to rest.  I take a look at my fingers.  It felt as if I've lost something.  Yes, my empty hands feel weird.  They long for touch.  I trace the ridges of lines that run circles underneath the skin.  The creases that form every time I close my hands magnify as shadows form on my otherwise pale palms.  They need blood.  A rush of blood is what they need.  They are thirsty and hungry at the same time, like a vampire to blood and a werewolf to raw flesh.  The pain if feels upon the bite of sharpness and the desperate frictionless feeling it tries so hard to latch on to become food, a basic need that needs to be met.

My skin grows more sensitive.  My hands feel light, my fingers feel feathery.  I raise my hands onto a small edge on the archway that opens to the living room.  My feet slowly lifts from the glassy floor.  The uneven surface of the edge pierce the skin on my fingers.  Food.  A momentary sustenance.  It doesn't last long.  The  moment I let go, more of the hunger rattles my senses.  I'm going crazy, I feel I'm going nuts.  Again I try to fend off the rushing desperation.  I'm tempted to let out a shout to help me breathe.  I am beyond reason.

It's calling out to me.  It's need for me is as much as my own need for it.  I can't refuse it.  I have become part of something bigger.  To some, maybe it is trivial.  A passing expression of aesthetic kinesiology.  To others it may also seem foolish.  It doesn't matter.  Reckless passion drives me deeper into the depths of this journey.  I am discovering more and more of life, of pain, of temporary victories... It's humanity in it's full magnificence.  The shards have been truly, deeply  imbedded in me.  Rational thinking forms but a shadow behind me as I walk head-on.  Emotion and savagery dictate the steps I take.