Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tinandog, Atimonan, Quezon, the “Paradise District”

Atimonan, it’s a climbing area that has been established more than a decade ago.  I’ve heard about it for the longest time, yet have put off visiting the area until early this year.  Reason behind the lack off pull is something of a mystery I can’t fully understand.  Maybe time wasn’t right or perhaps what I heard about the area didn’t quite ring too well in my ear until late.

February 1, 2014.  The early morning chill and the previous closing-down-of-Fat Skillet- night-celebration's healthy helpings of Hungarian sausages, sauerkraut, and Weißbier, pronounced "vaisbeer", the fancy name for beer made from wheat hence called liquid bread, all served well to inspire a text message to be sent early in the morning saying “I’ll be late.”  The meet-up for the Atimonan trip felt too early. My sluggish, heavy head was still drowning in fusel oil, that ingredient in beer that is produced in small amounts during alcoholic fermentation directly related to hangovers, a thing I learned early on in chemistry class in high school.  After snoozing for a no longer accountable number of times, I got up, dumped climbing gear into a haul bag and drove off to meet up with the early campers.  We all had a breakfast of the disgustingly delicious McDonald’s treats and shortly after drove to Quezon Province.

Weather reports sarcastically said it was going to be a fine day for climbing.  The gray skies were continually looming, following wherever our convoy of three cars went.  Little by little droplets of rain started to pitter-patter the windshields, one, two, three, four, until counting them became impossible.  We arrived at Lucena, met up with Pastor Noel, the man directly responsible for the development of the Atimonan climbing.  He was all too happy to see us and I felt a warm fuzzy feeling when he said he was so ecstatic to see me finally making my way to Atimonan.  He had been inviting me to come over to climb with him there and finally I took the step.  He was animated in sharing local climbing stories of the past, the days when bolts were of no existence in the area.  His tragic and funny recounting of “Mike Test” and “Pocket Full of Dreams”, routes aptly named for their history, was the perfect distraction from the continually worsening weather.  There were still a few kilometers left though from Lucena to Atimonan and so we bid goodbye for the meantime and expected to see Pastor the following day.

We arrived at Tinandog, the “Paradise District” a little after lunch.  The weather did to the rock as we expected.  We saw the crag from the roadside and all we could do was chip-in for beer to pass the long afternoon of what promises to be one of no climbing.  After long hours of starring into nothing and more beer, the rock started to change to a lighter color shade.  The rock was finally drying up and there was still enough sunlight for a few climbs.  The “North Wall” area was dry enough and we spent the remaining hours of the day climbing in the cool shade.  Huge bats flew out one of the routes and it was a spectacle that signaled a good afternoon of fun climbing.      


The thatched roof of the open-air nipa hut that stood still on the small hill a few meters from the rocks was all that sheltered us from the cloudless starry night.  We all took turns sipping throat burning gin and sweet rhum to help warm the night.  Soon the hammocks hung heavily with our weary bodies.  The lights from headlamps turned off one by one and the dark of the night lulled us to sleep.  The stars, the sky, and the cool breeze sang a single tune assuring us that the next day promises to be a longer happy day of climbing under the warm sun, with the wind in our ears, with friends, with kindred spirits, and with the large open landscape of freedom.

Potential hard lines

Nice flow stone features

Slightly overhanging rock

Good clean topouts

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