We're happy to share with everyone the latest crag the Climb Philippines team has been working on. Monkey Wall, like the rest of the walls we're currently enjoying in Wawa, was first developed in the early to mid-90's. Its sustained section features beautiful gray and white streaks, which was what caught our eye during a hike to the peak. Upon closer inspection, we found that it had already been established. Ahhh....so THIS is the Monkey Wall!
For that (and so much more), we would like to give credit to the 'Talban bible and its creators, the first guidebook Rockclimbing in Montalban (published 2000), a collaborative effort of Roel Tan-Torres, Simon Sandoval, Ruben Flores, Iva Ybanez, Jong Narciso, and Carlos "Kuya Mackie" Makinano.
We've devoted a few weekends to scout the routes, add some anchors, and replace some iffy bolts. Still a work in a progress, with more space for further development. But in the meantime, willing climbers are welcome to try the lines out. Just always remember to CLIMB SAFE, and do be mindful of the reminders outlined below.
We welcome any sort of feedback to the mini-guide that we made. Please give us a shout out at firstname.lastname@example.org for that, or leave a comment below. Climb on!
We all go through different phases of development in the different areas of life, from work, to recreation and sports. Many times, the learning curve is too steep that we just give up and move on, and try to find something that is more appealing or more in vogue.
But no matter what we choose, we still end up going through the beginner, advanced and mastery phases. There is so much joy and pain that go hand in hand in that whole journey towards personal growth.
For a number of years I was centered on looking to improve just myself, always looking for the hardest lines, and the areas with the most concentration of routes to ensure maximum use of my time and effort. Through this whole process I ended up in isolation and was in a mental paradox of finding the path to get past that plateau.
I learned that this is the same for a lot of climbers.
Climbers love to travel! The experience of getting to that dream crag can be as exciting as the climbs themselves. Prior to any trip a climber would do research on the areas he or she is traveling to. It could be as simple as Googling photos to check out the scene. Some are more “strategic” and plan out the best season to go, crag access, and the exact routes to attack.
Often the best routes are the ones personally recommended by climbers who know the area very well. Versus a guide book rating, climbers can describe a route’s compelling features, which is likewise very relative to a climber’s climbing style and preference. Sometimes, the story behind how a route or crag was established also adds to its quality. So for those who are looking into rock climbing around the Philippines, here’s a primer on what we have so far.
There are close to 300 sport routes across the whole country, divided amongst four main climbing locations or provinces (Rizal, Quezon, Iloilo, and Cebu). This may be a small number compared to other countries that offer over 300 routes in a single area, but this only means there is a huge potential for growth across the country’s many islands.
Wawa, Rizal was the center of development for outdoor climbing in the late 90’s, and is the area with the highest concentration of routes. As this was the beginnings of rock climbing in the country, majority of the routes are graded 5.10 and below, with a couple of 5.12 routes established in the late 90’s to early 2000. This makes Wawa an ideal area for first-timers or beginners to the sport.
Atimonan, Quezon – with its approximately 20 routes – has also been developed to the same level, but with more 5.10’s than the lower grades.
If you are targeting to become a 5.12 climber, these two areas would provide you with the best tick list to ensure you have enough endurance, technique and experience from climbing more than a hundred routes in the 5.10 and 5.11 range -- a solid foundation before you start looking at 5.12 routes.
In 2003 a drive to develop new areas in the Visayas region started, starting with Dingle in Iloilo and Cantabaco in Cebu. With a new generation of climbers craving for more challenges, the new areas had longer, steeper and generally more demanding routes than the previous two areas.
Naturally there were more 5.12 routes, and possibly even harder. So if you already have a good base of 5.12’s under your belt, Iloilo and Cebu will offer you the next set of routes to get you to the 5.13 level.
Below is the current spread of the sport routes by grade and by number of routes. It’s simply a visual representation of what we talked about above.
So what if you've already managed to tick all of these routes? We suggest you make it your next project to develop the hardest lines in the country. Finally, you can make your momma proud that you're keeping your grades up!
It’s been a pretty busy first quarter for Philippines outdoor climbing. January to March provides some of the “best” conditions for outdoor climbing in the country. To put it in perspective, if you’re from Europe, our “best” might already be a hot day of climbing for you. But for Pinoys, it was just the right schedule to start the year.
In January, we resumed the regular trips to Baguio for some bouldering action. “Friction” is a word that has been thrown around if you want to do some really hard boulder problems, especially slopey holds. But what is good friction? I suggest you try the boulders in Montalban and Manalmon to get a comparison of just how good (or bad) friction can be.
Even within the different areas in Baguio, the friction can easily vary depending on the type of rock. For example, if you drive 20 minutes down the bouldering area in Capitol there is another area where the rock is softer and breaks much easily than the boulders at the top of the rivers. With the variety of rock and friction there has been a number of new problems established or extensions that have been completed. It’s also amazing how having a new climber to the group and something you once perceived to be difficult gets unlocked. Something new I learned was, before trying problems make sure you properly clean it before you climb it. Plus, it’s always good to share your projects or established areas to new eyes. Who knows the next best boulder was just around the corner or just underneath it. Creativity and keeping an open mind is your best friend.
Speaking of new projects, the Cebu Boys have also developed a new area in Cebu, the Mansorela Project! It’s a huge wall with at least 3 pitches that are overhanging. We’d like to thank Geordi Yip and Xtian Gurerror for their support in this initiative! If you would like to bolt, donate or support please check out the Cebu Rock Climbing Community (CRCC) Facebook group for details.
Then there was the deep water soloing trip to Palawan between February and March. Disclaimer: Deep water soloing will not make you a strong climber. It will take away all the rough skin on your fingers but it’s something I will suggest everyone to experience at least once. You may not climb very hard or go very high but the awareness/perspective that the experience gives you as a climber improves movement and decision making. It’s as close to soloing you can get without risking your life. Plus, the experience of letting go and landing is just scary, exciting and relaxing all at once.
A friendly reminder before going into DWS is you read up on safety practices or better yet have an experienced climber along to guide you. Suggest bringing the following: 1. Loose chalk 2. Quick dry chalk bag 3. First aid kit with waterproof bandages 4. Dry bags. There are more than 5 areas for DWS in El nido and there is so much more potential. You can have short bouldery routes, long jug haul routes or event stalactite routes. Best thing about DWS is the experience of unlocking a route since you always have to climb ground up and no ropes or chalk to indicate the holds. One professional climber said about El Nido DWS, “It can’t get any better than that.” If you want the real deal check out El Nido.
March has been the start of the warm weather. After the cold weather of Baguio and the numerous beaches in Palawan, it was time for me to journey back into lead climbing after a 2-year hiatus. We decided to go to Atimonan to scout new areas and check if details on this website are still accurate. Unfortunately like any trip, our supposedly 4-hour drive turned to a 7-hour drive due to numerous road works. Suggest you leave early in the morning to maximize a shorter travel time. It was only my second time in Atimonan and still the area provides a variety of styles of climbing for those wanting to try outdoor climbing.
To end the quarter we returned to Montalban for some bouldering and sport climbing. It was also a time to say goodbye to Aling Norma, the beloved mother of our “second home” which is the crags of Montalban. Aling Norma has taken care of more than three generations of Montalban climbers, as well as bikers, cavers and mountaineers! We thank her for all her contributions and will surely miss her cooking. Especially the fried chicken, for me. Thank you Aling Norms!
What’s in store for the rest of the year? Get psyched for the upcoming rock trips, bolting development and climbing competitions.