Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mountaineering: a booming leisure 
activity in the Philippines

Norberto Puda

According to, mountaineering, also called mountain climbing is  the sport of attaining, or attempting to attain, high points in mountainous regions, mainly for the pleasure of the climb. PNU-Mountaineering Club defined mountaineering as physical and mental activity that requires skills, experience, common sense, and guts in ascending and descending mountains.

Mountaineering in the Philippines is one of the booming leisure, recreational and physical activity nowadays because during these days, hundreds of organized mountaineering groups were formed. According to, in our country, there are 48 school-based and 97 community-based (Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) actively participating in different organized climb such as the “Freedom Climb” held last June 12, 2011 in different mountain locations garnering points to be qualified in Guiness Book of Record in the category of climbing together and celebrating the independence day in various number in different mountain locations all over the country.

There are accounts in different website telling stories about the experiences in the mountain they have conquered. The fact that when we go to different malls, we can see outdoor shops side-by-side. It only means that it needs to feed the necessities of outdoorsmen especially on the basic equipment used in trekking and camping.

 The pleasures of mountaineering lie not only in the conquest of the peak but also in the physical and spiritual satisfactions brought about through intense personal effort, ever-increasing proficiency, and contact with natural grandeur. The greater rewards do not come without considerable risk and danger. The first great peak ascended in modern times was Mont Blanc, in 1786. Other Alpine peaks followed, capped by the ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. By the 1910s, most peaks of the Andes, the Rockies, and other Western Hemisphere ranges had been climbed, including Mount McKinley (1913). Beginning in the 1930s a series of successful ascents of mountains in the Himalayas occurred; the summits of many of the Himalayan Mountains were not reached until the 1950s, however. Of these climbs, the best known is the 1953 ascent of Mount Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. In the 1960s mountaineering became an increasingly technical sport, emphasizing the use of specialized anchoring, tethering, and grappling gear in the ascent of vertical rock or ice faces.
As with many life-changing decisions that people make, many people became full-fledged outdoor enthusiasts for many reasons. It only used to be a dream, so far-fetched they never imagined that someday they would be among the privileged few who, despite a chaotic schedule, would still find time to commune with nature, meet new friends, discover hidden wonders, and have the pleasure of writing about it.

Mountaineering has been in existence for years. In the Philippines, it met its glorious height in the early 1990s. Ascents to the country’s highest peak have become more frequent that throughout the years thousands have conquered and survived. The sport itself has lured thousands in its web of danger, challenges and risks.

Equipping members to know the basic knowledge about Basic Mountaineering Course which covers the trainings about the history of mountaineering in the Philippines, trail movements, camp management, equipment familiarization, and about learning the culture of a place were planned to go to. Group members were also empowered with the knowledge in first aiding, swimming, orienteering/map reading, rope-safety courses and various physical activities before setting out for a climb.

Mountaineering is not only a leisure activity but rather an avenue for promoting fitness and wellness and nature preservation, for developing leadership, and for reaching out to other communities.

As the Filipinos reached the highest peak of the world, Mt. Everest in 2008, it started the awareness of Mountaineering not just a physical or leisure activity but in a way that gives honor to the country. Many Filipinos on this time were motivated to try trekking different unknown and undocumented mountains and for some, to conquer fear of heights or even the darkness of during the stay in summit. As Rommy Garduce of UP-Mountaineer reached the highest summit of the seven continents, Filipinos were proud and amazed.

Many were lured into the sport itself. How could they not with mountaineer friends from all over the Philippines? These people would often tell stories about their climbs, their treks that many have become envious of them. They weren’t comfortable about it at first. They fought so hard but they couldn’t beat the desire to experience it myself so they joined.

And it was one of the greatest decisions they’ve made and they’re extremely glad they joined. It brought me so much pleasure that they would gladly go exploring some more despite the dangers and risks it poses and a chaotic schedule – especially now when most people do both day and night shifts at work.

Climbing nowadays viewed as an outlet of busy, stressful, and unaccommodating circumstances experienced during work. For some people trekking and climbing played a vital role for their fitness so many of them tried to climb mountain once a month and for some addict-outdoors men, during the weekends. If mountaineering would be imparted as an active recreational activity, concerns such as spiritual (God, nature and meditation), conquering fears, escape to busy and stressing work, travel (an avenue to see places), relationship which refers to improving social skills, growth and skills (first aid skills, cooking, backpacking, leadership, and time management), physical fitness, camping, cost-effective hobby and research education.

Mountain climbing is not just going to different places, conquering nature, and achieving goals, it is a lifestyle where in people should impart climbing as a part of weekly or monthly routine. Have you seen sun floating in the clouds during the break of dawn? Have you seen a rounded shape rainbow? Have you ever experience to feel the chill that ticks to the bone? Have you ever seen species that you do not knew its’ name? Have you ever asked yourself how great is our gods? I challenge you to see the wonders of nature, the beauty of nature that it is not only seeing through pictures but experiencing it. Come on! Believe me. You will find it refreshing and soul-gratifying. Have a passion for the outdoors. Be a nature lover for a change.