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!