Cavite Mountain Climbing

Uphill Battle - A Guide to Surviving Your First Mountain Climb

Monday, January 30, 2012Ryan Mach

Miley Cyrus was wrong. It's not just about the climb. There are a few other things that are just as essential as the climb itself. Here's a few tips from a first-timer, who still has lots to learn when it comes to hiking and trekking.

1. Clear your stomach. Unless you want to drop your babies in the mountain, you better make sure your tummy is happy before the ascent. You don't really want to cause delay should your stomach act up along the way.
You don't wanna 'drop your babies' here.

2. Bring trail water and food. You can't compromise these two. Any seasoned mountaineer will tell you that it's important that you keep a good stock for your own and peer consumption. Boys must take 4 liters of water; and 3 for girls.

I only had 3 liters because I didn't think I could carry 4. It's my first mountain trek anyway so I guess I was exempted. Anyway, my share was enough for the trek. I was able to 'donate' 1 liter for the 'community' (a term used by mountaineers to refer to the group) and I still had enough for the trek down.

Food can come in various forms. Jelly ace is a good trail food and three packs are still a lightweight. Chocolates can cure hunger, which is inevitable even if you had big meal prior to the trek. Bananas are good source of potassium, mineral needed to sustain energy. Remember that there are no convenience stores atop the mountain.
Base camp. (Photo credit: Mark Gonzales)
There's a base camp, which is a good 1.5 hour hike from the jump-off point, where you can refill your water supply.

3. Do some endurance exercise. You don't just climb a mountain without proper physical preparation. Run. Walk. Exercise. There's a mandatory stretching done at the jump-off point but that's just not enough for the 4-hour trek. But if you're fit as a bull, no need to worry about endurance.

The only exercise I had prior to the climb was the Casaroro trek I did in Dumaguete a week ago. It wasn't enough but I believe it went a long way.

4. Join the front runners (self-devised term to describe the hikers who lead the pack) or at least stay behind them so you can get enough legroom (to rest). There were 23 of us in the group, almost half were experienced mountaineers, and the rest were beginners. We decided to join the guys who led the way. It wasn't a strategic move, but later on, we realized that we were in the best spot (order) simply because we got to have enough time to rest while we waited for the others. The second group took time to keep pace with us so came rest time, we enjoyed an extra 5-10 minutes.

5. Pack smartly. The bag you carry during the trek can either make or break you, so it's very important that you pack your stuff efficiently. To reiterate, you can't compromise food and water, which take half of your bag space. But clothes and other things, you can actually live without. A pair of trek or swim shorts, and two-three pieces of tops (preferably rashguard) will do. Every weight counts, so leave those things that you don't really need.

Carrying things other than your bag is advised against. You should keep both hands free. Any item that won't fit inside your bag can be hung on your back instead.
6. Bring tent. Or make sure you know someone in the group who has a tent and is willing to adopt you inside their camp.

I didn't have a tent but my good friend, Jhyng, had one - a really big one - but it still didn't save me the hassle of carrying one. You want to share a camp, share the burden of carrying too.

7. Don't forget your windbreaker or jacket. It's chilling cold up there, with coldness that seeps its way inside the tent, so if you don't want to freeze your ass off, bring a piece of clothing (sarong or malong) that will shield you against the cold.
8. Be a responsible mountaineer. Keep your own trash. Don't litter.

9. Other essential things to bring: a.) wet wipes (for your face and ass); b.) medicine kit (meds for headache, band-aid, and betadine in case you cut yourself); c.) camera (for documentation); d.) off-lotion (optional); e.) cooking equipment (more often than not, you can pass the buck to the mountaineering guys).

10. Wear comfortable footwear. Rubber shoes are good hike shoes as well as sturdy sandals (Sandugo types). Flip flops will do as long as they have spikes.

I was the only one who wore flip flops because I couldn't find sandals, but I still survived the climb. I brought an extra pair though, just in case.

11. Have fun. Another essential part of the trek is having fun. Enjoy your company, share stories, laugh, enjoy the trees and the view atop. I realized that a good conversation with friends can actually make you forget the weight you're carrying on your back, literally. Music can keep you going too. Miley Cyrus' song can be a source of inspiration, you'll see.

Special thanks to Ascend for making this trek possible.

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