The First LAGATAW Invitational Climb has just been concluded. I organized twelve people (9 Filipinos and 3 Japanese) and climbed with them up the Akiki trail and down the Ambangeg trail in Mt Pulag last Feb 5-7, (2011). The invitational climb was graced by the presence of Sir Melo Sanchez, another experienced climber who has been popularizing The Luzon 3-2-1 three-peak expedition. My third time in the Akiki-Ambangeg trail was a climb of many firsts for me. It was my first time to organize a major climb. It was the first time I climbed with my Facebook buddies Migs Castillo and Melo Sanchez. It was the first time I climbed with my younger brother. It was also the first time I met my multiply.com buddies Emman David and Ivan Basio of High Conquerors, Billy Morales of Katuga Mountaineers, and Andrew Amolar of OLAY mountaineers.
I have always preferred to climb with a few companions if I’m not alone. It makes the journey faster and the itinerary very flexible. But this year, I have become more open to group climbs. Most of my climbs now are revisits to the mountains I’d climbed with few people before. Revisits are not for adventures and testing limits. They’re basically for fun purposes and fun is intensified with more people involved. As an organizer, it is also a test on how well you can keep a group united and safe and how you can manage to make strangers find new friends or special someone (in Mig's case). In these aspects I think I fared well.
It is not easy to organize a major climb. You have to adjust the time of the climb just to accommodate the most number of participants and at the same time trim down the climb size in order to minimize the impact on Mother Nature. In addition, when you fail to collect confirmation fees, you’ll have to make a lot of adjustments as participants back out at the last minute. Above all, you have to set the budget low in order not to be counted among those unscrupulous organizers who only care about profiting from the newbies and the less-informed. Indeed, it’s not easy to organize a climb but it is FUN and FULFILLING knowing that you have shared!