Rock climbing in the Philippines is still a young, niche sport. But over the years, it has rapidly gained popularity thanks to young adventure seekers who want more than just trekking. Filipino rock climbers have bolted an increasing number of pure, white, unaltered limestone cliffs in beautiful locations. Indoor climbing gyms have flourished in several cities. Climbing workshops and competitions are being held frequently.
Additionally, through blogs, forums, and other online resources, foreign climbers have started to take interest in our crags. Needless to say, after their experience in rock climbing here, they have nothing but high praises and promises to return.
Rock climbing in the Philippines should one of your must-do activities. Here’s why:
1. You can travel to exotic places.
Due to the archipelagic geography of our country, you need to travel to our rock climbing sites. But rather than a hassle, consider that as a bonus. That’s because our crags are located in stunning locations. The Cantabaco Crag in Cebu, for example, is located in a cool and quiet jungle. Bukindon’s Kiokong Crag is right beside a powerful rushing river. And the crag of Rizal is in the middle of a scenery reminiscent of the settings in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
2. Our crags are situated in fairly accessible locations.
The word “exotic” usually brings to mind places that are almost difficult to reach. However, our sites are quite accessible. Most only take a few bus or jeepney rides and, at most, a few minutes walk from the jump-off point. Take for example Poog Crag in Toledo, Cebu. To reach it, you only need to endure a comfortable one-hour bus ride from the city, a 5-minute motorcycle ride, and a 5-minute walk. Now that’s accessibility!
3. Modern conveniences are nearby.
Most of our crags are located within walking distances from towns and villages. Thus, you never need to go far if you need modern conveniences such as full meals, snacks, drinks, and more. In fact, in many of our crags, there’s no need to pitch tents because there are B&Bs and rooms for rent in town. That means a lot of weight shaved off from your pack. Internet and cellphone signals are also strong and reliable in many areas.
4. Our local guides are friendly, professional, and reliable.
They may be shy and humble. However, our guides are as skilled as their Western counterparts. They make your safety and fun their personal responsibility. They will even teach you techniques on how to become a better climber. Don’t have any gear? Looking for a reliable climbing partner? Want a local guide who can show you around the place? Our rock climbing guides can definitely do that and more!
5. You help the local economy.
Your presence in the site does not just help the guides. You can provide income for the house owner who provides you accommodation, the barbecue vendor whom you buy your lunch from, the motorcycle driver who takes you to the crag, and more. Everybody wins!
6. You make new friends.
Rock climbers come from all walks of life — students, athletes, business executives, nurses, call center agents, EMTs, and more. Some are shy, some are outgoing, some are serious fellows, some are jokesters. Obviously, they are fun to be with. In fact, Sheila and I started our romantic relationship at the crag!
But more than these, rock climbing helps you improve spiritually, mentally, and physically. Here’s how:
7. Your childlike wonder of Mother Nature is reawakened.
Our sophisticated urban lifestyle, stressful jobs, and reliance on everything man-made has diluted our bond with Mother Nature. But climbing our crags helps you revitalize those natural ties. Your sense of amazement returns as you see the majestic vista right below you as you top off a long route in the crags of Igbaras, Iloilo. You begin to admire a bird’s courage as you see her nest right beside your route. Your body re-energizes itself as you breathe the fresh mountain air at the crag in Sagada’s Echo Valley. You appreciate the lullabies of Mother Nature as birds sing to you as you ascend the cliff in Dingle, Iloilo.
8. It increases your self confidence.
Rock climbing is a great remedy for those who need a boost of self-esteem and confidence. Climbing a tall vertical wall of rock is not an easy feat. However, as you move up, you feel something awaken in you — beastly and primal. With each foot upwards, you being to realize that you are stronger, more flexible, more powerful, and more determined than you have ever thought possible.
9. You will harness your creativity.
Climbing a cliff is a mental exercise. You twist your limbs, position your body this way, put your hand here, or put your foot there to navigate through the route. If it doesn’t work, well, there’s always another way. There’s no right or wrong way to climb; if your technique works for you, then it’s probably the best way to succeed.
10. Climbing helps you manage your fear.
Falling off a cliff is one the most frightening moments of a climber’s life. But that fear is actually irrational; with proper equipment and a trustworthy belayer, any fall can be stopped safely. Usually, after your first fall, you will realize that you’re okay after all. Thus, climbing helps you battle out what you fear in life. It helps you set fear aside and focus on achieving your goal. And it lets you see that what you actually fear usually won’t happen at all.
11. It’s alright to fail.
In rock climbing, we always say, “If you ain’t falling, you ain’t trying.” In challenging routes, there is a huge chance of falling. But that is perfectly okay; your equipment and belayer can catch your fall. After a short break, you’ll be motivated to try the route again. Remember that failure always accompanies success.
12. You will learn to trust people.
When you climb, you put your life — literally — in the hands of your belayer, a climbing partner who catches your fall. You may have bad moments; but when you climb, your belayer is your lifeline. Your trust in each other helps you realize that people do care for you. In addition, the audience below you yell encouraging words and beta (information about the climbing route); essentially, everything you need so that you will succeed.
13. You give your body a full workout.
Needless to say, rock climbing is a very physical activity. When you climb, you get stronger, your muscles get toned, you lose fats, and you burn calories. You increase your flexibility and lengthen your stamina. Finally, you allow your mind and body to work together in perfect harmony.
As you can see, you get a lot of satisfaction and benefits when you rock climb in the Philippines. The activity teaches you a lot of lessons in life, helps you gain new friends, and lets you realize that the Philippines is a country for adventure seekers.