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mountaineering

Climbing Mt. TapulaoAugust 13/14, 2005 Saturday/Sunday

Climbing Mt. Tapulao (Zambales)

As part of my on-going application to UPM, 15 of us applicants and an almost equal number of members climbed the highest peak of the Zambales mountain range, Mt. Tapulao. It's the nativesí word for pine tree, which is abundant at higher elevations.

Getting There
The climb looked dreary at the outset. It has been raining non-stop for days in Manila and the rest of Luzon. I prepared myself for the worst - imagining the 8 hour trek soaked in rain and mud.

We met at the Victory Bus station in Caloocan and boarded the Iba-bound bus for the 11:30pm trip. Enroute, the rain started pouring. It was an accurate omen of things to come. The chartered jeepney that took us from the bus depot to the mountain foot was spewing its exhaust inside, nearly choking us all with its carbon monoxide. I talked to the driver later, but I wasn't clear if he understood what I said about road-worthiness.

The Trek
At the crack of dawn, we started our trek into the rain. What normally is a fire road became torrential streams as rain water came gushing down the mountain. Within minutes, our feet were soaked. I feared what my feet would look like after 8 hours in this condition. The whole ordeal was characterized by unrelenting rain. We lunched, setup camp, cooked and had dinner in the rain. While we slept, the rain never stopped. Some unfortunates had their tents leak. Ever slept with a wet blanket, wet pillow and wet earth pad? Well, some slept sitting down...if you call that sleeping.

Morning After
It wasn't only wet when we woke up. It was freezing as well. Everything had to be done double time - quick breakfast followed by camp dismantling. We then gathered around, shivering, as the senior members took turns teaching us the fine art of fire-building. Every training climb includes a basic mountaineering course (BMC).

Climbing Down
The rain was reduced to drizzles but we still had to wade through ankle-deep water. Once again, our feet were soaked. At that point, the body was weak from the cold, from the 2 days of strenuous trekking, and for lack of decent sleep. Body issues started showing up...painful toes from the graded descent, limatic bites, feet soreness from navigating the rock surfaces, etc. It was cause for joy to reach the lowland.

An orienteering exercise awaited us at the meeting point. After getting lost in the forest of Canada during a harsh winter, I can't emphasize enough how important this exercise is.

Ending Thoughts
As rough and as tough as the climb was, confidence was high about the able leadership provided by the members. They had the experience and the know-how. The way they pushed the boundaries were measured and calculated. The cracking of the whip (with the word...MUSH!) was equalled by their random acts of kindness (e.g. - a male member going topless in the freezing cold to lend his jacket to a shivering applicant). By no means was it a fun climb, but it wasn't supposed to be a fun climb to begin with. This ordeal is the stuff that builds character. It toughens you...physically and more importantly, mentally. The mind usually starts complaining before the body does. I don't know about the rest, but when we reached the lowland, we all felt a heightened esteem about ourselves. That's "K" (karapatan) and we all earned it.

--- TheLoneRider

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Reader Comments:

Rachel Atienza
(20 Sep 2005) Hi! i'm also an applicant in a mountaineering org. and we're going to climb tapulao as well. we haven't had our preclimb yet but i want to prepare my budget as early as now. i just wanted to ask how much the bus fare cost and how many liters of water were asked to be brought.

pajkins
(Wed, 17 Aug 2005) ayos sa site! mahilig ka pala magsulat.. ;)

G
(Wed, 17 Aug 2005) 'langyah ka bat mo post pic ko sa site mo..mukha akong kinatay dun ah! grrrrrr!!!hahahahaha

Charlie Pontejos
(Wed, 17 Aug 2005) Hi, G. I remember that pose of yours. It looked so gooood on cam. I couldn't help but let out a big laugh! hahahahaha. By the way I was also the one who took that pic of TheLoneRider showing off his big butt. hehehehe




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