The proverbial question that often plague mountaineers. When people around us ask, sometimes we grope for an answer. Then we repeat the question silently to ourselves Bakit nga ba ako umaakyat ng bundok?
Maybe some of us doesn’t really know the reason. We just climb because it’s an ‘in’ thing or we just like the kind of ‘high’ that we experience. The epiphany of why we climb had not yet hit us even after scaling a lot of mountains.
Or during the first years of climbing, the passion burns to the point that it consumes our whole being. Later on, the fire starts to die. All that is left are just embers as the reasons no longer holds true. What went wrong?
It’s not a lost cause for as long as the spark is still there, sooner it will come to life again. It takes only a piece of kindling to have the fire roaring. Like love, the passion will burn stronger than ever.
But some of us are lucky, those who had already reconciled within themselves the reasons why.
“I started climbing as a kid just for pure adventure but I stopped. It was 10-12 yrs ago that I realized I missed hiking so I started again.
It gives me fullfillment. Through it, I learned discipline. I re-discovered my love for nature. The mountains became a sanctuary, giving me peace”
Gil L. Masiglat, veteran mountaineer
If Gil can be considered a veteran, Arnel started only 3 years ago and yet his motivation goes beyond the future.
“I want to tell my children and grandchildren how beautiful Mother Nature is. Being born in the city there is much pollution. I, too, will bring them along in my climbs so they can explore and discover the beauty of nature”
Arnel Romillo Lotino, Technical Assistant | Manila
For Alan, it’s more of re-discovering the inner child which had taken a backseat within us.
“Mountain climbing brings out the inner “child” in me. The child who loves to discover, always curious about anything. The child who wants to try new experiences and learn from it and laugh freely. Its not about being childish but being child-like, to feel that genuine happiness”
Alan Galang, Polytechnic University of the Philippines Mountaineering (PUPM)
Earlier this year, I chanced upon Pinoy OutdoorGears, a Father and Son tandem. POG, as he is known, is already exposing his young son to the difficulties of the mountain trails, letting him learn the rules of the mountains. And along the way, inculcating in the child the tough discipline every mountaineer has to practice. That young man will grow up to become a disciplined professional, a model to fellow mountaineers.
And for a professional who is furthering his studies in Oceanography Engineering at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), his reason for scaling mountains is simple.
“I like relaxing and socializing with friends. I enjoy the physical challenge”
Francis Felizardo, Civil Engineer
I know that a lot of mountaineers can relate to his reason, physical challenge goes hand in hand with physical pain and when we get used to it, we start missing it. Going further to describing it as “masakit na masarap”, just like a massochist but in a different context. Just to be clear folks, I’m reffering to the muscle and joint pains after every climb.
It may seem to others as torture but for mountaineers, reaching the summit, seeing that vast landscape and sea of clouds are more than enough as a reward.
“Parang pagbubuntis at panganganak, ang haba ng pagtitiis pero after giving birth and holding your baby for the first time, that ecstatic state makes all the pain… worth it”
Carla Cruz, Architect / Green Building Consultant
It is the same to a 54 year old mother, wife and careerwoman. She does not let age and physical pain hinder her to pursue her passion. When we met, her youngest daughter just graduated college.
“It’s not about the mountain that I conquer but myself. It’s not the peak or the summit but the excitement of reaching it. An achievement of pushing yourself to it’s limit. In Cebuano, katkat mantras makatkat pa”
Fe Lealbeth Manalili, Mother
Fe would have been climbing with her husband if he doesn’t have a major medical concern and they would have looked beautiful together. Despite not sharing the experience, he supports her every climb.
I could not supress my smile whenever I see couples climbing together. Even if they fight, they end up holding each other’s hand when the trail gets tough. And for me, that gesture is both practical and romantic. They are indeed blessed to be sharing the passion of mountain climbing and the rigors that comes with it.
“We climb to enjoy nature and it is also a good excercise. Ung hawak-kamay kayo sa bundok, ang sarap ng feeling”
Mark and Jenny Ingcad, Makati City
Does he really have to make me envious? Yeah, I am. And I am sure a lot of mountaineers who are single out there are envious too. I saw a post on a social media page about mountaineers who are single. It was downright funny and silly but the author was able to touch a lot of hearts, andaming naka-relate. Why do we climb? Maybe to heal a broken heart or find that elusive partner God has intended for us.
But if we don’t meet the love of our life along the trail, we find friends and mentors. Lots of it. I’ve met a lot of people while climbing and the shared experience often is a fertile ground that fosters lifetime friendships.
Fostering friendship would not be hard, sharing that picturisque landscape with a friend would surely create a deeper bond.
We are indeed blessed to have numerous mountains. We can choose where to see sunrises and sunsets and based on the mountains I’ve had the opportunity to climb, they all offered beautiful sceneries everytime.
“When I first climbed Mt. Maculot, namangha ako sa ganda ng view sa rockies. Iba talaga ang bundok natin sa Pilipinas, may sari-sarili silang katangian. Isa pa, maganda sa health ang pag-akyat. During socials, nakakatuwa ang kwentuhan at asaran”
Romel Paladan, Electrical Engineer
It seems that among the younger generation of mountaineers, pushing their bodies to the limit stands out as a reason.
“It becomes an escape from the stressful city life while it is also an alternative way to get fit and healthy. I want to push and know my limit and most of all I also get to know more people and friends. I am curious about their stories”
Diomar dela Peña, Software Quality Assurance Officer
Most of us will concur that mountain climbing is healthy and for an IT specialist who has his share of climbs and loves to travel on a shoestring budget, his reasons are more on mental health.
“Mountains let me meditate. I need to rest my brain from the steady stream of demands of society, a calm that is hard to find in the modernized world. I love the stillness and calmness of an empty trail”
Adrian Caballero, Travel Factor
Adrian is right, the calmness of the trails makes us sort out our thoughts. With each step, we leave behind the unimportant emotional baggages we carry around.
Positive interactions and conversations are also precious threads that adds meaning to life.
At camp sites, nothing can beat a good conversation while the moon hangs in the sky with a coffee on one hand.
Then someone tells a ghost story and another would try to painstakingly change the subject. It’s seriously hilarious to discover that some men tremble at the word multo. Them, with their manly faces and bulging muscles. Of course, it does not make them less the men that they are.
Laughter is what I always cherish during climbs. The jokes of Miguel Mapalad of Yabag Mountaineering can be classified as funny, dry or downright ridiculous but everyone always ends up laughing hard. Among his numerous talents, that long-haired chap has his own comedic style.
Thus, we can unanimously agree that climbing is fun and could also be a reason to why we climb but for some they take it a little further and climbing takes a more profound meaning.
“I climb mountains to feel alive, to be with nature. Climbing is also a form of therapy for me. When there is so much pain inside, ascending heals the pain; descending brings out inner strength. Once you’re done with the climb, you are a brand new person, ready to take on the world. Fully energized with a new perspective and a free soul”
Yuri, Drifting Mentor | Thailand
When I climbed Mt. Apo last year, a veteran mountaineer said that the mountain thought him to cling to hope. He takes his reason from his soul.
“Seeing the world in a different vantage point is seeing and understanding the very reason of my existence. Up there, I find myself once more”
Tony Gutierrez Jr., Architect and Professor
Indeed, mountains are teachers too if we care to pause for a moment, not to take selfies, but to graciously accept the lessons it wants to impart.
Kindness is a tough lesson the mountain and a fellow mountaineer taught me. That special person showed me that selfless kindness is still possible in a world that somehow forgot to give without ulterior motives or the need to reciprocate.
Now I climb in anticipation of the lessons that the mountains and my fellow mountaineers are willing to impart. I climb to understand for me to be understood. I climb for sunsets, for sunrises and everything in between.
Sadly, some of us climb mountains to feed their egos, pang yabang lang or for social media – boosting the narcisstic person inside each and everyone of us. The greatest challenge, more challenging than G2’s boulders, is to go beyond those shallow motivations and find more meaningful reasons.
Those reasons would assure us of a lifetime of climbs, until our limbs could no longer take the physical torture. In return, we have a fulfilled heart and lots of happy memories.
Because memories are what we are made of, take that away and we are mere ghost of our self, an empty shell.
At old age, no one can take away the beautiful scenes, of the numerous sea of clouds, sunrises and sunsets that we have witnessed.#
I used the term mountaineer instead of climber or hiker regardless of the terminology differences since this is the term widely used in the Philippines. I’ll leave it to the minds of the academicians to debate on the correctness of the terminology.