The evening rain served well in dampening the trail to a sloshy muck and covering the tall jungle grass with as much morning dew as it could hold. The early morning chill was damp but crisp enough to sink into the skin. Approach was slippery to an inch of mud and having to cut a trail into the jungle provided as much warm-up as it possibly could. By the time we got to the base of the cliff we're all soaked like wet puppies. The torso up, wet from sweat and the waist down, wet from accumulated dew from hiking through tall wet grass and jungle foliage.
All that fun is worth every cent! Back to the "Slayer" area in Wawa, Montalban is fast becoming a staple and I'm glad the rains are becoming sparse as the days go by. Weather forecast though says an unlikely change in conditions but from where I am, it seems different. The days when we decide to go out climbing is always a bright sunny day.
Three routes to shoot, one day, and an all star cast out on the crag ! I am so stoked. A roll call of routes has "Slayer"- 6c+ and it's extension "Dragon Slayer"-7b, to the middle, "Destruction"-7a/a+ to the left, and "Dragon Shit"-7a+ to the right. All routes have been bolted a decade or so ago and these routes by far are the "mucho gwapa" in the whole area to date. All these overhanging routes rest on the background of the small town below and the powerful river which can be heard while climbing. The intermittent karaoke coming from somewhere in town below, possibly from early patrons' morning stupor sometimes jolts you back from reverie, "Yes this is Wawa!"
|Stan Feleo enjoying "Slayer"|
|Too much posing on this route for a good photo is becoming draw !|
Mine though is not a drunken kind of stupor. I'm finally getting what I wanted. I've skipped the outdoors for quite a while in lieu of competitions and too much indoor and plastic. Now it's begun to feel more natural again. Each time I blink causes me to feel happy and sad all at the same time. Each blink comes with mixed emotions and me standing under "Slayer" amplifies that emotion. It's a bit of a drama and each time wind blows across my face I smile and feel good, I blink, close my eyes for a second, inhale, open my eyes, exhale and still find myself smiling for that exact moment. It's that moment when everything comes together, the climbing, the people you like to hangout with, the feeling of being small under a giant, the wide open view…the many things you see, feel, and hear each second, everything contributes to this unexplainable "like".
Being away from the outdoors and putting in time training on plastic is sometimes the most logical thing to do for me. The approach isn't for everyone though. The balance of life varies for each one. My approach to training sort of feels like being a raw block of iron ore, getting heated, getting pounded on, hammered to form. Going outdoors feels like being hot formed steel getting quenched in a dipping of water. Doing lots of competitions and lots of hard outdoor climbing over the years feels like being cold steel being sharpened to perfection. Voila! End process, a Katana, long, sharp to the point! But in climbing there is no end process. It goes on forever, at least for me. Sometimes you go over the process again and again, always rebuilding.
Hanging up on the cliff from my rig allows me to shoot a lot of fine photos. These routes have been there for quite a while and I think it's only now that these magnificent lines are getting the attention they deserve. I've found new angles and a good spot to film. One more bonus . . . I've spotted a new line in between "Slayer" and "Destruction". Consulting Gax "The Legend", yes, it's been playing around in heads for a while and maybe this is the right time to bolt that thing! It looks like a hard line, possibly 8-ish.
Left: Gax "The Legend" Ilanan scoping the line. Right: Kat trying out my rig.
Alex Espina trying not to be destroyed by "Destruction"
"Destruction" follows a line that starts off from "Slayer" and then turns left. The wall overhangs out further and the backdrop of the river allows for a very fine view while climbing. The crux is right to the very top which allows for good falls ! That's an idea right there ! If anyone wants to jump test ropes, this is the route for you !
|Spanish climber Enrique Caballero all the way from Spain slaying the "Slayer"|
|Frank Blase on the crux of "Destruction"|
"Dragon Shit" maybe to the innermost recesses of the cave but it's not to be dismissed. This was the last to go for the day. It could have been me getting tired by days end or the lack luster aura of this route which blew off ascents that allowed me to get off only a few shots. Whatever . . . Don't be fooled by the route's name, "Dragon Shit", which says absolutely nothing about the line's quality.
For whatever it's worth I'm giving all these routes the "All Star" rating ! Still psyched ! Filming will be a part time job until the new project route and before coming down to Cebu for an all out effort on "Jack Sparrow".