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Anticipating an Atimonan rock climbing adventure
Source: Manila Bulletin
Date: 2006-05-11
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The ascent

My adventure started when I tried top rope climbing in several routes in the two main walls: Windy and the North Wall. About half of the 30 novice and advanced climbers were assigned to either of the walls.

We started to climb the North Wall in the afternoon. With about 40 meters of vertical mass of limestone either pockmarked with holes of different sizes and features, flakes and marblesmooth features. Each of us cued on each route eager to face the challenge in doing either lead or top rope climbing. Every route has a particular problem for the climber. One would need more arm power to move yourself up or balance for tricky positions. Almost all of us succeeded with our chosen routes. The view from the top is the endless stretch coconut plantations and a verdant rice field. The harder routes where we must have fallen (with a rope, of course) will have to be left alone until we get back stronger and more skilled.

On the second day, we tried the Windy Wall. It wasnít windy as it was named though. Perhaps because of the scant vegetation around the area, wind can pass through. Also with that, sunlight beamed directly at us. Notwithstanding the heat, we explored the interesting features of the wall. There are a lot of huge pockets which seemed like a landscape from another planet. But such pockets are deceiving because some are shallow, only permitting the fingers to hold your balance, if not weight. It is not as high as the North Wall, probably about 10-20 meters high, but it was, in a way, as difficult.

The most memorable is the 120 ft. high wall called "Veronicaís Arete" (spine, in Italian). It was my first time to do trad climbing in two pitches. With Pastor Noel doing the lead, Nonoy belaying and I tied to the end of the rope as the anchor, we have scaled this wall in two retrievals of the ropes. Nonoy followed the lead while I climbed while I was belayed at the ledge. We gather at a ledge to collect the length of the rope and start climbing to a higher level. We did this twice, hence the two pitches.

Those who went ahead to the top of the rock wall canít help but scream; their voices piercing through the crisp morning air. It is indeed a unique experience of "working your way to the top." The way down is through rappelling. It is also a memorable and somewhat painful experience. Some of my hair was caught in between the entwined ropes and left me without a choice but to "let them go" so I could go down.

The texture of the rocks are varied. Some are almost sharp as a flint. It would be advisable if your hands are taped for protection. Exploring the "holds" is one of the most exciting aspects of outdoor climbing. You should know how to make "diskarte" or how you search the varied surfaces of the wall and get a good grip and foothold. Sometimes you get surprised upon learning a new technique by yourself such as hand jamming (sticking your fist into relatively large cracks to hold your weight), stemming (scaling the wall through pushing your hands and feet on either side of the wall at the side of your body Ė similar to the position of Da Vinciís Renaissance Man), using your fingernails on a small crack to pull yourself sideways, etc. The possibilities are endless!

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