Thursday, April 11, 2013

I CLIMB ALONE BECAUSE...

taken by Jona last year at the labyrinthine Lanaya-saag

In my last post I started off with a haughty line from the Dhammapada—Travel only with thy equals or thy betters; if there are none, travel alone. In this three-part post I will give the reasons why I adhere to this maxim in most of my climbs.

The first reason is that SAFETY IS MY PRIMARY CONCERN when climbing. 

While it is a common belief that a buddy system is the ideal way to trek, I prefer to climb alone. I only get a buddy if he is my better or my equal.
the almost always misty Mt Lanaya
Last Saturday I climbed solo again at Mt Lanaya in Alegria, Cebu. That was my fourth time there. And I am aware of the risks that the mountain poses. And they’re the following:
     1.       Labyrinthine trails near the summit and on the northern side
     2.       Loose rocks and cliffs on the southern trails
     3.       No water source
     4.       Bees
     5.       Snakes

Consider all these risk factors and imagine climbing with an inept climb buddy.
When you reach the labyrinthine part, you, as the expedition leader, have to find the right trail. You wouldn’t want to exhaust your buddy so you tell him to stay put while you explore the area. Your first problem is to find your way back to your buddy as soon as you have found the right trail. It is difficult to establish a home base on a flat ground with barely a distinct landmark to set as base. But this problem is eliminated when you have a GPS device. The second challenge though is your buddy himself if you happened to climb with a BODY climber. A body climber listens to his body. If the body is thirsty he drinks as much water as his body says, oblivious of whether there is water source in the vicinity or in the next hour. A body climber will go to a shady area if his body feels hot even if you have told him not to go anywhere. When this happens you’ll find an empty home base! And you’ll be wasting time looking for that buddy! This hide-and-seek scenario poses danger to both you and your buddy!

my GPS and three ascents couldn't guarantee smooth passage in the labyrinthine Lanaya-saag last March
A clumsy buddy might not be able to negotiate well with loose rocks and precarious cliffy trails. Assisting him makes him rely on you. You’d have to be extra-skilled to take care of yourself and your buddy. If he falls off, that’s danger fulfilled… and another danger for you if you try to retrieve him. Accidents happen to anybody, whether solo or in a group. If you’re climbing alone and you slipped and fell to a hundred meters, you die. If you’re in a group and you fell a hundred meters down, you die too. A buddy cannot undo a mishap. I don’t bring buddies with me in a dangerous journey because I am not extra-skilled. I am only skilled enough to secure myself.
The tricky rocky trail of the south face of Mt Lanaya
With snakes and other poisonous and stinging animals, the more climbers the more chances of one of you getting bitten or stung. If you’re trekking alone, once you’re past the area where there is a snake basking in the sun, nobody behind you would get bitten. I don’t want to risk my friends’ lives. That’s why I don’t want to bring them to Mt Lanaya. Companions could be a liability in a dangerous expedition. Last Saturday, two separate snakes crossed my path. Last year, I came across a one-meter-long snake with a flower in its mouth in Mt Lanaya.


It was in this spot where I encountered the snake with a flower
And when there is scant or no water in the area, make sure your buddy knows water discipline. If not then your safety and comfort would be compromised.  ‘If I run out of water’ is just a conditional clause for me because I never run out of water. 

The hydration I carry with me is only enough for myself. I am not that tough to carry more for a buddy.
The buddy system is only advantageous to individuals who have to rely on others for survival. But for a self-sufficient and self-reliant trekker, there is really no need for a buddy. But for trekkers who lack skill, proper training or experience, CLIMBING SOLO IS NOT ADVISABLE. 

As a closing note, I would like to advise everybody not to overreact in case something bad happens to me or to most other solo climbers while doing a solo climb. Most solo climbers are prepared to die. You don’t need to mourn or put the blame on anyone because the adventurer died a happy death.

As I said in my old blog ‘There are only two things you can do with your body: you can either destroy it yourself or have it destroyed by something or someone else’.
I prefer to destroy it myself than have it destroyed by cancer.

50 comments:

  1. Agree, mahirap din kasi minsan pag may kasama ka, iintindihin mo din siya/sila.. Unlike pag mag isa ka lang, wala kang ibang iisipin kundi sarili mo.. BTW, di pala kami pwede umakyat ng Lanaya kasi kasama namin si baby sa Cebu.. Meet ka na lang namin sa City.. :)

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  2. idol pwd ba ako sumama dyan sa susunod? hehehe

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  3. idol pwd ba ako sumama sayo na umakyat sa mt.Lanaya pag napasyal ako dyan? kaso mahina lang po ako.. :)

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  4. we personally haven't climbed solo but there was one occasion when we (husband and I) climbed Maculot on a new year's day and the mountain was all ours (as in no other hikers/campers)... we experienced the un-bearing fright... since then, aside from our dayhikes, we climb with groups. :)

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    1. baka kau po ung nakasalubong namin. pababa napo kmi, kau po ata ung paakyat sa bundok. yes, its kinda weird in that mountain. nauna kasi ako sa mga kasama ko, and its really weird na feeling ko may sumusunod sken.

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  5. In a way, this is correct and I believe you sir. Your detailed explanation says it all. But I also believe in what they call case-to-case basis.
    ~DQXTC

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    1. asus nana puy nag pakilala...blogger man cguro ni dli mani climber..climbing 101 sir..kun mapaakan ka didto sir og snake or matagak ka kinsa may ma problema sir?dba mountaineering community og local government ky pangitaon man ka..muana ka nga SAFETY IS MY PRIMARY CONCERN..wala ma ni safety sir..binolok mani...

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    2. What safety are you talking about? You can simply lie down to sleep and have a stray bullet piercing your skull. What everyone of us must realize is that every action has its attendant risk and, despite of our vast reservoir of experience and knowledge, we simply have no way of determining all elements to come up with a 100 % safe action. We can calculate risks, yes. We can increase our margin of safety, yes. To say that solo climbing is foolish, wrong. There are inherently high-risk endeavors, yes. Reinhold Messner was the first to solo Everest. Together with Peter Habeler, he set the record as the first mountaineer to scale an 8,000-meter peak without supplemental oxygen. He did other high-risks endeavors and has survived them all. What level of risk can you afford to take?

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    3. Mismo Sir Dennis! nasa tao yan kung aling level ng risk ang kaya niyang i-manage. To go to a risk level higher than one can handle is probably what's wrong. Not the act of taking risks itself.

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  6. i have nothing againts solo climbing. akala ko may laman ang article na to. This only shows this guy is so full in himself.

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    1. Yep...and I really have no idea how to capitalize more the letter 'I' in in the title just to make sure the reader doesn't misconstrue this as a universal statement on solo-climbing. If you were looking for topics on solo-climbing as it is, go look for topics that don't have 'I' in the title. But trust me, they would still be writing based on their own personal experience and still would be talking about themselves. What were you expecting to read by the way? Climb alone and be praise Jesus?!

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    2. *in the title
      * Climb alone and praise Jesus

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  7. I agree with case to case basis, you have a point for why you do solo climbing. For me and my hubby we haven't climb with just ourselves we usually do groups.

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  8. one good reason and advantage of having a buddy in a climb is..you can have a good shot of your self instead of taking your own pics.:D

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    1. I totally agree with you, Jeff, about hot having a good photo of one's self if you solo climb. When I solo climbed (which I did only once), all I got was a picture of my foot beside my burner inside my tent.
      On a serious note, Jeff, solo climbing, believe me, is not a bad idea. It is one aspect of mountaineering that every serious mountaineer must consider for his development. The Negros Mountaineering Club used to issue a "Solo Trekker" patch for its members who have completed the required program and underwent actual practice of going in the mountain alone. Of course, this patch/badge issuance is not a unique practice. For one, the Boy Scout is fond of this.
      I may say that solo climbing is a gauge of the level of experience and skills a mountaineer has reached. It is the measure of his self-sufficiency and independence.
      Lagataw dwelt on the aspect of risk in his blog about solo climbing. I went to the mountain once (3 days and 2 nights) and I must admit that mine was more on confronting my fears. Solo climbing for me is about the Psychological Challenge.

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  9. i still prefer of having a buddy with me, number advantages : i don't need to take my own pics..;D

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  10. Lesson learned: Mince your words Adonis.
    Pasensya na sa mga nakabasa nito at mejo nayabangan sa tono. After reading it as a second person a couple of times ramdam ko ang kayabangan sa tono. Pero sa mga nakakakilala sa akin, alam ko you can read beyond one's insufficient tact. Ang pagsusulat ay hindi madaling gawain, madaming mga bagay ang kelangang isa-alang-alang maliban sa basics ng vocabulary at grammar. While it is true that your writing should be authoritative to be believable, authoritativeness should also be hemmed in by tact. Minsan kasi may mga nasasaktan. And in your effort not to presumptuously represent the entire universe in your opinion-laden statements, you use the first person pronoun 'I' so that you don't misrepresent others. But in doing so (in using 'I'), you actually also talk about others. When you say 'I am A that's why I am B' you somehow mean Those who are not A cannot be B. So as much as possible don't make your 'A' predicates too limiting so that you don't get regarded as 'full of yourself'.
    But then again, we can never please everybody. So I am not editing the article.
    And when you do get haters and critics, just appeal to Plato's immortal words 'Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools because they have to say something'

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  11. The Truth of about Climbing Cebu's Southern Part Mountain Range: If your are climbing solo or with a group on this mountain range it is not really a big deal. It is not worth posting a Blog. If you been to Osmena Peak, a common mountain peak destination by some weekend warriors is a connecting mountain range where this blogger came from. There are Loose Rocks and bit dangerous if you step on it but It is not worth it posting and claiming "I Conquered this Mountain in SOLO CLIMB". The difficulty of the Trail is not Challenging to be honest especially if your a season mountaineer already, it is like trekking Mt. Pulag on Ambangeg-Ambangeg Trail minus some Loose Rocks along the Trail. A piece of Advice Sir Lagataw, Try do a Solo Climb at Romblon Mountain Range and make a blog after that solo climb, it is worth posting and it would be a Impressive Blog to READ. matsalams

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    1. Thanks.
      1. for the word Sir in 'Sir Lagataw'...that's the coolest culture of Pinoy mountaineering.
      2. for the advice
      3. for reading and for the comment. Based on your comment, I reckon that you are an experienced mountaineer. It is an honor for the blogger to have someone like you read one of his posts.
      That is a really good piece of advice. Actually there are more adventures...hardcore ones...probably more than that Romblon range...that I would want to embark on and write about. The problem is, my target audience might just leave my blog awed! It was never my intention to awe my readers.

      My target audience are the average Joe's like me. It is my goal that they be able to embark on simple journeys such as a Lanaya traverse and not to write about things that can be done by a select few. When I, or other hike bloggers, write about my trips, I don't write about places that are hard to access or activities that are nearly impossible to accomplish. Cuz if that's the case, nothing should be written about Cebu's outdoors, ain't it! Or we can probably suggest the scrapping of pinoymountaineer.com if 'worthwhile' blogging should mean writing about 'only-for-the-hardcores trip'.

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    2. With all due respect, this blog entry is entitled "I CLIMB ALONE BECAUSE...". It is not about 'conquering' a certain mountain. Moreover, the author never mentioned the word "conquer" at all. As overt as it can be, this article is about the personal thoughts of the blogger solo climbing per se.
      I say this a well-written piece. Kudos sir Lagataw!

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    3. Yep...cuz it's really tacky to say 'I conquered a mountain'...di naman nakipagsagupaan yung bundok sayo...but let's just consider his/her comment a message. It was prolly not directed towards me...it was prolly a message directed towards those who love to say 'I conquered ____' who might happen to read this post.

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    4. Anonymous,

      This is a personal blog. The posts here are meant to be full of the blogger's self. That's the essence of blogging. Sharing your self to others.

      And for saying that climbing the "minorest" of all mountains is not worth blogging? So wrong. There are climbers, there are bloggers, and there are climb-bloggers. We shouldn't be restricted in sharing climb stories just because they are not as blog-worthy as solo climbing Romblon mountains.

      Adonis, just blog the same way you blog as before. Sorry delayed reaction, now lang nakabloghop. :D

      /BPS

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    5. dear mr anonymous,

      in general, everyone has the right to be proud of his/her achievements no matter how small they are. i find happiness in someone giving me a piece of candy in the office -- these things we even post as a status message in facebook. and to think that you are reading it from someone's blog, technically someone's own tiangge in a large maketplace we call the internet, this page is still his own so he can post anything. blogging is blogging about ourselves: our experiences, our achievements, our lowlights. we only thank those who read. at least, our voices are heard.

      second, belittling minor climbs is wrong. someone just died because of a minor climb and i bet, you were reading because of the solo-climb trend in relation to viki's death. if safety is your concern, you should know this. if you're an experienced mountaineer, you should know better.

      as far as, "reading worthwhile" is concerned, i don't know about the "romblon range" you are referring to, but i have done it. on a technically perspective, i did it solo but on the literal sense, i was not alone because i was sent a guide to look after me. the pasu won't let a lady go solo in the mountains despite 6 months of negotiations.

      dear adonis,

      when will we stop sending flying f***s :D just post what you want. we can only understand too many opinions but only a few we can accept.

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  12. "The buddy system is only advantageous to individuals who have to rely on others for survival." (AGREE.) And for someone who is too scared of snakes (like me ^_^)"CLIMBING SOLO IS NOT ADVISABLE." Keep climbing and keep writing sir :)

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  13. It's either doing the things alone or with someone of your equal or someone better to lessen the hassle and danger. I must say yes! If we will look at this article for our very own existence, this is helpful. May sound selfish (as we are not considering what the people around us feel of our idea of preparedness to die), but helpful nevertheless.

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  14. Keep going. Nothing is wrong for preferring to be alone. :)

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  15. pwede mo ba kaming isama ni Sir alvin dyan Sir adonis hahaha!
    nice Blog by the way. lalim ng mga ibang terms kaya parang mayabang ang dating sa iba sir. pero sana madala mo kmi dyan hahaha ingat plagi! keep exploring!

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  16. This is the apathy of being not a having with good friends. You are in the unconscious feeling of being alone. Though I still respect you beliefs.

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    1. Sir. Lahat ng tao namamatay. Una-unahan lang. At sinisigurado ko sayo na kapag namatay ka, di mo kasama sa kabaong ang mga kaibigan mo. Kung tutuusin, takot pa nga silang mamatay at ayaw ka nilang samahan. Pustahan tayo na sa ilang mga kaibigan mo, ilan lang ang may lakas na loob na dumungaw sa kahon mo.

      Mabuhay ang mga soloistang di takot mamatay mag isa!

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  17. well written blog... i agree to the most part of the blog... sometimes a companion can be a liability.. nice reading...

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  18. agree to most of your blog.. nice reading Sir...

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  19. 1. It's your blog. May karapatan ka magyabang.
    2. Hindi labag sa batas ang pag-akyat ng mag-isa, lalo na kung ikaw ay isang responsableng mountaineer.

    Rock on!

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  20. just be safe! kase pag nawala kayo, for sure may maghahanap sa inyo... o kaya have a tracker with you... if ur not afraid to die then let ur loveones know that ur dead na kesa hanap ng hanap sila da va... ;)

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    1. tama ka boi!wag kasi puro sarili lang ang iniisip.

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    2. By climbing mountains even with groups, we are facing risks many times fold than that of those that preferred to stay at the lowlands and be safe.

      Realize that climbing mountains, with the risks, is "sarili lang ang iniisip" in itself. Having a companion will not ensure that you will not be bitten by a snake, or fall from a cliff.

      Common sense naman pag may time. Don't criticize solo climbing just because you hate the way the blog was written. Take it with Adonis, not with the article. Tsk.

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  21. Rock on Lagataw. I am a soloist myself and I enjoy it all the time. I don't post anonymously because I have a name and a face.

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  22. i support you on this, adonis! i travel alone too. and safety is definitely a a priority

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  23. Solo Climbing is an accepted risk. He (the blogger) even advised that Solo Climbing is not advisable, for those who are inexperienced. The blogger accepts the risk and the consequences of such an activity.

    He wrote this blog because he climbs solo, which he stated his reasons why.

    And I do not recall reading the blogger saying about "conquering a mountain", so those who say he (blogger) did, might as well re-read the article again and again and check if there is such a word stated by the blogger in the article.

    Solo climbing is selfish? I do not think so. Sa isang analogy, para mo na ring sinabing selfish ang pagiging sundalo. Why? Both Solo climbing and being a soldier is an accepted risk. Parehong affected ang families and SAR teams, if something happens to you and you've gone missing. So are call center agents, security guards, construction workers, OFWs, etc have accepted certain risks. Ginusto nila yan, alam nila ang ginagawa nila.


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    1. agree. i would even think people thinking of buddy system is safe is more selfish. why do you entrust your safety on other people? who do you need to depend your safety on other people? can't you be safe yourself? reflect.

      one self-reliant person is most likely to survive than two persons who can't even provide for themselves.

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  24. pwede man mag solo kung kaya mo at may kaukulang kaalaman sa outdoor survival. wag muna humusga kaagad.

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  25. "You don’t need to mourn or put the blame on anyone because the adventurer died a happy death. "

    oh yeah! rock on Lagataw! \m/

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  26. Pakiramdam ko nasa likod nyo lng ako habang binabasa ko itong "blog" nyo sir Lagataw.... Ayos!

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  27. haha.. ang galing naman. subukan mu kaya mag.solo climb dito minsan sa amin sa mindanao.. tapos mag.blog ka ulit hehe.. hintayin ko ha. :D

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    1. http://www.lagataw.com/2011/03/mindanao-1-2-3-2008.html

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  28. Hahahaha are u even joking?where's the meat?napakadetalye wala namang laman..never a good read.

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  29. Keep it up Lagataw! More solo adventures for you this 2014.

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  30. I like the whole reading experience because not only I learned about soloing, but I learned something about life as well. And for me, the mountains are just as dangerous as the streets. And when we educate or prepare ourselves to deal with them, then we pretty much learn how to do it, just like learning how to walk, stuff like that.

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