Basic Mountaineering Course: An Aspirant’s Experience

IMG_1372I always get myself passionate about anything that brings beauty, essence and empowerment to every individual. Aside from becoming a psychologist someday, I also want to see myself becoming a writer, a model, an artist, a beauty queen, an investigator, martial artist, fitness instructor, an athlete, a volunteer and most recently, to become an ecology traveler and mountaineer. I have done some of these things in the past but for now, I can see myself doing one thing. That is mountaineering.

Why do I choose it? That question suddenly pops out of my mind just like any other people who shared the same passion with me.

Here’s how it all started:

Long before I was given the chance to be one of them, I was once their loyal hiking guest. My first encounter of a majestic mountain, Mt. Talomo, left me with an ironic feeling. I find myself cursing while walking on a dense forest, wishing I could have just stayed at home but when it’s done I knew I was already missing every bit of it. I missed the people, the wake-up call, the place where we gonna wait for others, the long-hour drive, the trail going to the peak and the peak itself, the weather, the food and most importantly, the aftermath (cramps and fatigue all over your body). It’s kind of addicting.

Once another invitation was given, I couldn’t resist myself from joining anymore. I finally got myself into it and wanted to challenge myself more and more.

However, all of these things aren’t enough to understand mountaineering. There’s so much more in this passion that I won’t understand if I stay being their guest. That is why when I got the chance, I grabbed it as if it’s a blessing from up above. I want to start anew, be with new people and know them in a different way through a different environment.

It was last July 19th when I first joined the Basic Mountaineering Course, more than a week after coming back to Davao. More than the activity itself, I was more excited to meet my fellow aspirants though I had already met some of them during jogging session every Wednesday. As for the members, I was already expecting to be treated differently. After all, I am their aspirant. Being one means I need to follow the organization’s rules and regulations aside from joining important climbs for a year before becoming a fully-pledged member. It’s pretty intense and challenging, right?

The day started on waiting for others at about 7 am in front of the NCCC Mall. The 7am call time became 8 am when others became late. We departed almost 9 am and went to Brgy. Matina Pangi. Once we were there, we trekked for a few minutes until we found the right place to start to entire course.

The topics were all about the do’s and don’ts of mountaineering, the importance of itinerary, different type of climbs, giving us the knots and among any others.

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Photo Credit: Ace de Guzman

Aside from those interesting topics, I also observed some of the members changing their personality into someone authoritative but not entirely intimidating. I guess it’s needed not just to catch our attention but to make us realize that we weren’t in a game.

We then proceeded to the river where the lesson about trekking or river crossing would be discussed. Unlike from the previous discussion, the lecturer allowed us to apply immediately what had been discussed during the lecture. Before engaging into the proper ways to safely cross the river, he showed us first how to do each of methods provided us assistance. This way, the lesson became more efficient.

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After successfully crossing the river using the different safety methods, we continued to trek and came across a river once more. Few meters from the river, we found a shelter where the discussions for the tent fixing and appropriate area for camping would be held. It was also the place where we had our lunch.

That was one crucial part because I had never fixed a tent by myself before. It also happened that during the assigning of pairs, I was all left alone since there were nine of us and there could only be four pairs. Luckily, I was assisted by one member so fixing tent wasn’t really bad.

Photo Credit: Ace de Guzman

Photo Credit: Ace de Guzman

During the discussion, the lecture managed to maintain his image and made us laugh for some other time. It’s as if he was still the person you used to know though that didn’t compromise his way of delivering or doing his part. We were taught how to fold our clothes so that it wouldn’t consume much of our bag’s space and made us familiarize some essential and space-wise hiking materials.

We were also tasked to look for the ideal place where could put up a tent. For our group, we only got an average grade because we chose a place near the tree and the water source where it should be, if possible, almost ten meters away from the water source and not near the tree. On the other hand, we also had some points for choosing an area near the house where we could easily asked for help and visible from afar.

The tasks were done at almost 1 pm so we had our lunch thereafter. We then hiked up a little bit and continued to discuss about fire making. Although, making a fire was prohibited, but the lecturer said it was for survival purposes. As if it was easy enough, I thought we could just make fire immediately but the he proceeded lecturing about the kinds of fire burning materials (twigs, leaves, wood), even separating them into three groups. Again, that was another Aha!!!

As expected, we were divided into three groups and those who couldn’t make it would have to render an intermission number. Woah, luckily, e got the fire burning and wouldn’t have to endure some embarrassment. Hehehe

Right then, I thought the next topic would be discussed in a nearby place. I never thought we had to trek for more than an hour just to reach the place. Thanked God, the trail led us to beautiful scenery. As always, we never forget to stop by and made a pose.

We trekked all the way from Brgy Matina Pangi to Langub, Maa through some connecting trails. It was pretty unconventional.

The last topic was all about backpacking. We were taught the right way to pack things up, which one should be placed at the bottom and which one should be on top. The topic was clear.

Just like the other topics, we were tasked to have our application immediately. Each one of us had to backpacking using the things inside the bag.

That’s how we ended up the basic Mountaineering Course. We then prepared ourselves to trek from Langub, Maa to Buhangin that served as our exit point. Weew!

While on the way, we witnessed motor racing.

There could be a whole lot more experience that this. I thanked God I made myself in into this group.

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