Rock-Climbing in the Philippines

Gian and Sheila, both hailing from Lapu-Lapu City of sunny Cebu are a fun-loving couple, avid travelers, adventurers, and owners of the adventure travel blog Adrenaline Romance. They met in 2012 during a rock climbing session in Cantabaco, Toledo and naturally clicked when they discovered that they have the same fiery passion in outdoor adventures. One thing led to another and the next thing they knew, they kicked it off in a relationship that was founded on a common desire: to live a life of fun, excitement, and adventure.

When did you both discover your passion for climbing?

We are actually mountaineers and trekkers long before we were rock climbers. As we ascended and explored mountains, we became aware of the importance of knowing proper climbing techniques and rope works for safety and emergencies. What if the only way to civilization is climbing down a cliff? What if we need to rescue an injured mountaineer hanging precariously on a rock face? What if we need to ascend a cliff to retrieve a backpack?

Thus, we began to venture into the world of rock climbing. Little did we know that we would be totally hooked to the sport.

What are the ups and downs (if any) of sharing this passion in rock-climbing as a couple?

One of the most awesome things about rock climbing as a couple is that we always have someone who will give encouragement on or off the crag. It’s always a great booster to hear “Go, go, you can do this!” or “You’re almost there, keep going!” or “That’s a cool move!” from your sweetheart.

But the best thing of all is that it’s actually an honor to rock-climb together. You see, a climbing team consists of a climber and a belayer. The belayer is the person who catches you in case you fall. That is the reason we have a very strong bond. When we climb, we entrust each other’s lives in each other’s hands. Literally!

How do you manage to balance work and leisure?

We are full-time employees, and most our weekdays are dedicated to work. So we make sure that our weekends are devoted to travel and adventure. As much as possible, we don’t plan out any work-related activities or appointments other than leisure on weekends.

For longer trips and adventures, we strategically plan out our leaves. Fortunately, our kind employers are travelers and outdoors fanatics themselves. In fact, sometimes, they even travel or engage in adventures with us! Thus, they support us in our endeavors, including giving us ample time to enjoy our passion.

How often do you go rock-climbing?

Unless if we have other trips, activities, or adventures, we go rock climbing on at least two weekends every month.

How big is this sport in the Philippines and would you say that rock-climbers have the convenience for it in our country?

Rock climbing in the Philippines is a considerably young sport. However, it has rapidly gained popularity over the years. Our elite local and national climbers have participated and won in various climbing competitions. Pioneers of the sport have bolted more and more amazing limestone cliffs in the most exotic destinations in our country. Climbing gyms manned by professional staff have started to sprout in many locations. Climbing workshops are aplenty, and pocket communities of climbers have flourished.

In addition, many foreign climbers have started to take notice of our climbing destinations, and many have only praises for our humble crags.

Because rock climbing is still a young sport, obtaining the necessary gear is a bit of a challenge. And gear that is designed to keep you alive is definitely not on the cheap side. But fortunately, there are now independent providers

who are selling top-quality climbing equipment.

We wouldn’t be surprised if a few years from now, we will have considerable numbers of young, internationally-known rock climbing athletes, innovative climbing gyms, exquisitely bolted limestone cliffs, and stores that offer the best climbing gears.

What time of the year do you consider is most favorable for this activity?

Summer is the best time to go climbing outdoors. During rainy season, crags become more difficult to ascend. Some may not be climbable at all.

But bad weather shouldn’t be an excuse not to climb. Climbers can always opt to have hours of fun in the gym even if it’s raining cats and dogs outside.

What are some challenges faced by enthusiasts of this sport in our country?

There are several factors. For instance, the relatively small number of easy-to-do climbing routes in the Philippines contributes to the lack of continuing interest for new climbers. Interest of the sport usually soars after a first successful ascent on a route, so it’s important to have routes that can easily be climbed to sustain that interest. As the climber improves, he or she can then try on more difficult ones.

There are beautiful crags in the Philippines, but there are too few of them. One has to travel to reach these crags. That is quite difficult considering the archipelagic geography of our country.

Finally, we need to promote rock climbing as it still lacks a great deal of promotion to truly make Filipinos aware that the sport exists. Many of those who are aware think that it is a dangerous activity that people need to stay clear of. Well, it is, but the perceived danger is actually greater than the actual danger. Rock climbing is relatively safe if you have the right equipment, if you know the right techniques, and if you are in the hands of responsible climb-buddies.

Tell us about your experiences in some of the best rock-climbing spots in the Philippines.

With over 60 different routes of varying difficulties on a pure limestone cliff, Cantabaco in Toledo City, Cebu is touted to be the best rock climbing crag in the Philippines. Its accessibility to stores, beds and breakfasts, and other conveniences as well as its rural, relaxing atmosphere contribute to its title as the country’s premier crag.

(More information here: https://adrenalineromance.com/2012/12/21/cantabaco-a-rock-climbers-mecca/)

A few kilometers away is Poog Crag, which is Cantabaco’s sister crag. Thanks to the generous contribution of Italian climber Ascanio Combria, Australian climber Matthew Brooks, and the efforts of local climbing guide Enie Yonson, we now have a crag more conducive to novice and amateur climbers. There are over 30 routes in Poog.

(More information here: https://adrenalineromance.com/2015/04/18/poog-crag-a-brand-new-rock-climbing-destination-in-a-tropical-paradise/)

There is also  a newly developed crag in

Quezon, Bukidnon, right at the heart of Kiokong Eco Tourism Park. Operated by local outfitter Adventure Technology Outfitters, it’s a great place for Mindanao-based climbers. After a hard day’s climb, they can just go down to the river below

where they can refresh themselves with cool water of a blue pool.

(More information here: https://adrenalineromance.com/2015/06/27/kiokong-crag-a-great-rock-climbing-destination-in-the-land-of-promise/)

There are also amazing crags in Iloilo, Rizal and Quirino. However, we have yet to visit them.

Additional message and/or advice for all the readers.

Rock climbing is a must-try sport. Every climbing session is a complete body workout, a confidence booster, a stress reliever, a way to appreciate the wonders of Mother Nature, and an opportunity to meet new friends.

Don’t be intimidated by other professional climbers; they too started somewhere. Don’t be scared by the cliffs; they are there to challenge you that you can go beyond your fears and limitations.

(More reasons here: https://adrenalineromance.com/2016/02/02/why-you-should-go-rock-

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