It’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves
-Sir Edmund Hillary
Enough sleep, they say, is needed before a climb. You need the energy. I just realized a few minutes into the “fun” climb that I should have forced myself to sleep the night before, but how could I, the overflowing excitement in every inch of my body wouldn’t allow such sweet sleep.
I’ve been planning on conquering a mountain since my brother bought his first tent (that has been ages ago). I was intrigued by his dirty climbing shoes, his long hair and the unmistakable stench of his laundry (dried sweat and dirt embedded in every thread) when he would come home after a climb. My sisters and I dubbed his look the “ermitanyo” look, with a giant mountain pack at his back, a walking stick, his fatigue style clothing and his long unruly hair. I wanted to be a physically active person too, to do some things that my small built and weak knees would allow. I started small by trying out simple physical activities like mini-olympics and swimming classes, then went on to try wall climbing, rappelling and knee boarding. It has been all fun! But these are all simple activities. Nothing that would take long. So when I saw a teaser for the next climb of the mountaineering club, I had to join! I was the only one from the SPi support group who braved the climb. Thought they say that the activity was just a “fun” climb, I didn’t care less.
Buntot Palos doesn’t seem like such a high climb from the bottom of our path. That is just from the bottom of the path but the path is winding and the hard reality struck me a few meters up. Climbing is not an easy thing. I’ve sweat more in the few minutes of climbing then I have ever had in my entire life. I should not have worn jeans and new shoes. I should have brought only the bare necessities and left my extra shirts. I should have brought more water. I could rant on and on but at the end of the day, all the bruises were well worth it!
It was the breathtaking sight of the fields down below that made me forget about my cramping legs and the hot sweat coming out of my pores. The trek up then down to the hidden waterfalls, watching the log-bearing Horses and Carabaos and eating those sumptuous meals are the things that I will never forget. It’s amazing how things so beautiful can be kept alive by nature. If pictures could keep the hidden water falls in pristine condition, I would have filled my phone with photos of the rainbow across the falls, the surrounding walls of trees and the other wonderful sights. There are so many things that I would gladly have done again. Among them are sitting far from the ledge onto a raging river, falling into the water (when I made a promise never to get my shirt wet), swimming across a small lake and taking a bath under a falls, walking through a half-foot wide path with a canal at one side and the deep falls on the other (that took some time and self persuasion to achieve). The many pictures that we took of the place will forever be stored in my phone and in my heart.
I do not know what makes people want to climb mountains but for me, it’s not just the thrill of facing danger on uneven and dangerously angled paths or learning how to do butt-breaks and relying on a walking stick to keep balance. The terrain might be hard and unforgiving for a beginner like me, but every step of the way is an experience worth cherishing and reliving. One day I will be able to compare mountains and paths and elevations and one day I will be able to really say that I am a mountaineer.
Buntot Palos is my first climb. It will forever be etched in my heart and mind as the first time I conquered a height. I have a list of things to do before I become too old to do anything and now one of them is climbing more mountains, the higher and more mysterious the better. I have not just conquered a mountain but I am now slowly overcoming my fear of heights. With that, I’m now dreaming of the next summit I can conquer.