It was February last year when I had my first taste of mountaineering. Before then, climbing a mountain was only something I had always wanted to do but not actually try, let alone carry out. Let’s just say that there are a lot of things that should have kept me from climbing mountains. (There are doctors for example. :P) However, when I found out that most of my friends from work were joining a climb, I really wanted in. (Not one to be left behind, ain’t I?)
I trained for days to get ready for my first attempt at mountain climbing. It would turn out that all my efforts, although probably helpful, wasn’t enough. As I now know and believe: the best training for mountain climbing is mountain climbing.
February 9 came and I found myself, along with some friends, traveling to Batangas. We were to climb Mt. Gulugod Baboy. I would later find out that from then on, GulugodBaboy would be my “mother mountain.” Simply put, it’s what some people call the first mountain they ever climbed.
Before the actual climb, we had to register and pay some local fees to people who claim that they are the ones in charge of taking care of the mountain (i.e., its trails). It was only then that I found out that such a thing is common not only in the Philippine mountaineering scene, but also in some other countries where mountaineering is considered either a form of recreation or sport. It Made sense. It Still does. Still, I remember sincerely hoping that all the money being collected were properly appropriated. I still do. After registering, We did a quick warm up and said a prayer. We then went ahead with the climb.
The climb was nothing like I expected. Having trained well enough (imho), I did not expect it to be extremely difficult. Believe you me, it was! I found out that going up a steep cemented road is hard and after a while, extremely painful. I found out that trekking on rough road is slightly more bearable but still difficult. I also found out that hiking on a trail (even a barely forested one) is somewhat easier. During this climb, it was really hot. The heat took its toll on us. It made the already arduous climb an even more difficult one.
Reaching the summit of a mountain is a life changing experience. This is especially true if you reached that said summit by doing a real hike (as some summits can easily be accessed in different ways). Right from my first mountain, I knew I had found my passion. As I always say, mountaineering is one of the things I am very passionate about. I even think it is, in fact, the thing that I am most passionate about. Like I said in a previous post, mountaineering is a way of life, an expression of self, a practice of devotion and faith.
So what was to be learned on my first mountain? Maybe that one can do anything if he gives it his all. Maybe that reaping rewards is always more meaningful if they came from hard work. It may also be that climbing a mountain is something that can make you proud but humbled at the same time. All I know is that no matter what a mountain teaches me, I will keep on climbing and I will keep on learning.