Ghostly gunshots ricocheting on the smooth, pale rocks, bloodsteel grinding on the natural whetstones of black basalt, explorers traversing into the heart of the jungle to get to the west coast of the island… scenes from the past… alright, maybe a “little too long ago stories” perhaps but flavorful enough when served for today’s palettes. 2010 may not be as noble, bloody or as epic as the tales of heroism, hard effort, and bravery of the previous century’s, as might be what the ghosts of the past may speak of today’s chronicles. They watch us by the sidelines and “pufffttt” out judgment, but we in the now generation can at least give them a show of divine passion without being brutish, archaic and ancient.
2010. Efforts well spent, miles logged and numerous crimping and rock slapping birth new spots and new lines, sometimes even leaving behind worthwhile projects in the wake. This is a worldwide phenomenon. Some lead in the spectrum of difficulty, some in innovations, some in creativity, some in discoveries… the many ways to contribute to climbing’s progression is as healthy as a fat cow sucked for all its milk but still manages to produce some more a few days after. It is a process that repeats itself. This can be called the circadian rhythm of climbing, a macro cycle in the mirco vertical world. It has become my obsession to keep climbing and apparently when not climbing I’m just as oblivious in talking about it and writing what has led to my entirely exhausted fingers.
As perfect as any other day, maybe it’s a good time to recount some highs of the recent year before moving on. At least this way maybe we can further the progression.
January 2010. I’ve taken time off the beaten track of overseas climbing destinations. Instead, I’ve decided or more likely it has been decided for me by my tapped out resource bucket, to stay grounded to the local climbing scene. The nearest crag, Wawa Montalban, is the first logical place to start. Near, cheap expense, and the possibilities still raw. Numerous trips to the crag in the crispy early mornings have taken me back to those years when I first started climbing. Though the usual 6:00am call time is now 7:00am, I still feel the urgency to wake up instantly. Meet-ups are now slow going but once at the crag, hell breaks loose and new lines instantly get sent. The new facelift … some 30 new boulder problems. Not bad for casual trips to Wawa.
February 2010. In between trips to Wawa, I manage a few trips up north. The Mountain Province Region and Benguet is a second home for me and I find myself comfortably shuffling between crags in the cold, pine scented air of Baguio, La Trinidad, Lamtang, Asin and Mt. Cabuyao. I’ve yet to do a whole article on this less publicized arena of boulders. I’m hoping perhaps maybe this short intro may inspire me into doing just that. The whole landscape of Benguet and the Mountain Province is nestled on a plateau that breaks above the clouds. The low temps in the high altitude makes for the perfect weather for bouldering. The constant searching for new areas for bouldering and the number of boulders scattered throughout each area makes it very difficult to map out and document all the existing lines. Spread all throughout this region could be the highest number of boulder problems, named and unnamed, graded and ungraded, projects, moderates and warm-ups, all within reach and an hour or less drive from the city of Baguio.
March 2010. Projects. Within a few weeks of constant bouldering several projects have come up, fantastic lines that continue to puzzle and challenge the ego. I’ve laid my rope and quickdraws to rest and have fully dived head on into bouldering. Still, much of the trips are spent on searching and “projecting.” Even a day spent on just one problem yields nothing. The levels should be pushed and sometimes I feel worthless infront of these giant projects. Still we try. We push ourselves despite our bruised egos. The progress is at snail’s pace but hopefully it changes.
April 2010. Summer is in high swing and the Climbing Nationals are set to go. Sadly, I wasn’t able to take myself to climb on lead at the comps. I think I was bouldering up north when the nationals swung in. Nevertheless, the Nationals were held in Bagasbas Beach in Daet in the Bicol Region. Much of what I know, I know only from stories. It was for sure something I missed. I can’t say for sure though if I was unfortunate to miss the climbing or if I was more unfortunate to miss the partying at the beach! Maybe both, but at least it was an event which fills in a void in the local climbing scene.
May 2010. The last good days of summer are coming and it’s at this time when unfinished business should be settled. Trips to the crag become more and more geared to sending projects. Some specific training had to be done to refresh knowledge on kinetic principles. Time at the gym increases to fulfill an obsession. The hurt begin and the usual casual approach elevates to a more focused and engaged drama on the rocks.
June 2010. The rains have come. Time on the rocks grind to a halt and nothing is left but climbing in the gym. The time to get stronger doesn’t come at a more perfect time than during this season. There is nothing left to do except accept the fact that projects sometimes gets the better of us, some remain and all that can be done is use that factor as motivation for the next season.
July 2010. Relatively not all of the country experiences the sour weather. Down south, news of a new haven pops out over the internet. A local spot near Cagayan de Oro entices and word comes out spreading fast. Bouldering on new rock is always worthy news. In the meantime the thrust during the wet season takes a detour towards holding exhibits and lectures. Preparing for the “Puro Bouldering Exhibit” takes up the slack and while there’s not much climbing being done outdoors, the mind swims in a plethora of lucid dreams of climbing. The photo exhibit on pure bouldering would last a whole month and the opening night featured the new film I composed. Not much really, just a night of good vibes, and a month of showcasing some of the current local spots for bouldering.
August 2010. At last Cagayan de Oro is right outside the door step. We stepped down the plane, walked on the tarmac, exited CDO airport, threw our bags in the hotel and then went bouldering. The first day was a fast one. After checking in, we checked out the boulders of Catanico. The closest bouldering area to the city. Immediately we got awe struck by the new rock, the new set of vibes and the frantic energy. Like mad dogs set loose, our efforts went straight to sending route after route until we all got shut down by the resident project in the area. The finest there - the “Sir Robin of Locksley” project. It still stands unsent to this day. One hold broke on the last day of attempts which made the problem possibly a grade higher. Several other areas were visited. Kimaya and Jasaan also hold some new gems which can surely be added to one’s tick list. Projects on basalt rock, respite from the normal limestone bouldering.
September 2010. Rocktrips. After arriving back in Manila all that lurks in the mind was the return trip to CDO. Planning on taking a bigger number of local climbers to the basalt boulders were set in motion. Operation Goo-Goo Ga-Ga started rolling. The plan involved setting loose rabid boulderers on those rocks and expecting new breakthroughs. The day had to wait though. At the moment another annual rocktrip was also being set into motion. The Lust for Lime -Season 6 was just about to start. The series is an annual gathering under Cantabaco’s majestic limestone cliffs. The tune of the song twangs on ropes and quickdraws though. The remainder of the month was spent stringing up and clip-hanging to prepare for the 30m new lines.
October 2010. Lust for Lime-Season 6 begun airing. The show had a nice new setting, a few new cast members and new, entirely unrehearsed scenes. The new bolted lines and the new areas that opened up transformed even further the climbing in Cebu. New multi-pitch routes were bolted and new extensions to existing lines upped the grades. While the route dubbed “Lust for Lime” takes center stage much of the time, I’ve taken a liking for the route “Jack Sparrow.” It is perhaps the newest and hardest line in the area. Looking at the way “Lust for Lime” moves, I’m confident to say that it is much like a boulder problem, a short section of hard moves smack in the middle of some easier climbing. It is much more suited to my current condition of climbing. “Jack Sparrow” on the other hand is a full 2x the length of “Lust for Lime.” It’s an endurance fest and not necessarily something I’m prepared for. Dialing in the moves in your head begins the ordeal. The long route has so many moves it’s a bit taxing thinking of what to do every step of the way. I can only recall the two crux sections but the remainder is something I have to climb entirely on feel. I always blotch my sequences and it shows quite heavily when I get to the crux. It is a definite new high. The number of tries I made on the route now numbers at four . It will be good to return to it soon and see how much more beating I can take.
November 2010. Mourn the dead. Perhaps I feel, after failing on “Jack Sparrow”, that I’m sliding down the pit and slowly dying. But no, I think I’ve still enough juice to squeeze. All I need is a break. I laid down low and haven’t really pulled hard lately. I’ve less than a week to pull off some magic if I want to make a good showing in the up-coming Bouldering Nationals. A week or so after getting back from Cebu, the Bouldering Nationals set to full swing. Day one ended well, I got in to the semis. Day two started unexpectedly pretty well. I was properly juiced up going into the semis and finished well in top seed at the end of the round. I’m still doing well on the first boulder problem in the finals. But somehow, someway, all of a sudden I got tired. I failed on all three remaining problems. The problems weren’t impossible and on any good day those could have been pretty easy. Racking up excuses at this point though can be fairly easy but I’m not about to let that happen. There were things I should have done and things I shouldn’t have. It’s all about adjustments. I still managed 5th, so not bad though for a casual day at the office.
December 2010. Goo-Goo Ga-Ga. It is the event for the year. It’s been a long wait since the previous Bouldering Rock Trips. Kulafu in Malubog, GSM Blue in Lamtang and now Fighter Wine in Cagayan de Oro. Going Goo-Goo Ga-Ga over the basalt boulders of Cagayan de Oro I think highlights another fine year of climbing here in the Philippines. The short three days of climbing during the much anticipated event opened up yet newer lines and set standards higher. Going back home for the holidays in the wake of left open projects isn’t at all bad I suppose. Getting shut down time and again must only mean one thing. We’re setting up for new levels and we’re not satisfied with what is near possible. We’re setting up for bigger possibilities, paving the way for the future and making what looks impossible – possible.
From where I sit, now looking at all these, I feel 2011 has a tougher job to follow. But already there are climbers finding their way to Atimonan, to a new bouldering area near Baguio, to the long forgotten bolted routes of Wawa and to gyms to get even better and spend quality climbing time with like minded rock rats to wait for the next trip. It is a good start.