Thursday, December 10, 2015

Keeping the Joy in Climbing

Exhibit of my usual gears during the event launch - Joy Will Take You Further (2015)

I’ve been asked “What’s next” since the day I had finished my 7 Summits quest.  Others would proclaim – “Are there more? But you’ve done enough?!”   
The joy of past adventures will propel one to move forward.  The good memories, the profound experiences – help one to do more.
So my own adventure life really doesn’t end and there are hundred things that can be the ‘next’.  The question is always time or money or opportunity.

The one thing that I want to see immediately though, is seeing more Filipinos doing big mountain climbs, or doing ‘serious stuff’ outside the comforts of our tropical paradise.  I want to help the next generation of adventurers and climbers experience the joy of adventure, of travel, of climbing.  And hopefully, we – collectively accomplish a bigger goal.

The other, more difficult mountaineering feat that Philippines has yet to accomplish is topping out all 14 big mountains- all above 8000m.  I’ve done 2, which is the Philippine record today – so we need to climb more! I don’t think I can complete all in my lifetime, but there are plans to hopefully tick off a few.  My wish is to see fellow climbers climb some of these so we can collectively ‘complete the 14’.  The one BIG barrier in accomplishing this is topping out the most difficult – K2  or Godwin-Austen peak.  It’s the 2nd highest, but more difficult that Everest (with only 200m altitude difference).  
Ama Dablam behind the entire climb and trek team.

Ama Dablam Climb
My recent trip in Nepal included a climb in Ama Dablam (6800m), unfortunately my team of 3 lacked time and luck and we aborted our climb.  We reached as far as Camp2 (6100m) which for now would be enough to at least attract other climbers to attempt the same type of challenge.   My side-goal was to inspire or lure other Filipino climbers into a more technical climb similar to Ama Dablam - i.e. mountains with dangerous vertical sections and lots of rock or ice-climbing.  This will be a good training and preparation for a future K2 climb.
K2 or Godwin-Austen behind me, the 2nd and probably the most dangerous of the 14 8000m peaks!  Here at Concordia on the way to K2 base camp (2001)

Part of the trip is to document it, share photos and videos.  The story-video was in fact shown on TV (GMA7’s Born to be Wild).  So hopefully, others will follow suit.
Of course, the more experienced adventurers we build – the more adventure possibilities in the future.  I’ve been wishing to assemble an all-Pinoy South Pole expedition team but this can only happen if we have enough ‘happy-crazy’ and mountain-hardened adventurers. ;)
Ama Dablam offers the technical and high-altitude challenge that one will experience in big mountains like K2 or Nanga Parbat.  In this picture of Camp2, it will be a serious vertical challenge to go all the way to the top.

The Joy of Sharing
If in the past, I shared stories by writing about them (like the book that I’ve published), or show them on TV – in the recent trip, it was actually being there with the ‘audience’.  

The trip was designed to be suited for beginners, intermediate or advanced with varying duration.  Individuals from different walks of life joined us for the long trek and I was glad they experienced the magic that Himalaya offered.  
 I, too, was once a stranger-in-a-strange-place when I first visited Nepal back in 1998.  In this recent trip in Nepal – my 6th, my personal perspective had changed – I felt more satisfaction seeing people actually having a great time for their visit in Nepal, or summit-ing their first alpine mountain.  A joy shared, is a joy multiplied.  Not even finish in our trip yet, I heard people already talking about a follow-up trip. :)
The happy team in one of the many tea-houses where we stayed during the trek.
The Joy of Giving
Typical of my past big climbs, I found it more meaningful to integrate the climb with ‘a cause’.  Recognizing that the immediate need of the destination (Nepal) was a post-Earthquake rehabilitation, it was an easy decision to reach out to a local school for their reconstruction needs.  Gladly, my entire team helped in a big way to make this happen.  We campaigned for donations, and the entire trek and climb team participated in a day activity to repaint portions of the school.  
The beneficiary school in Monjo, our little effort to help in the post-earthquake rehabilitation.  We kind'a felt guilty seeing this school kids in their uniforms during a holiday - to welcome us! ;)
The team planning how to go about the distribution of limited supplies.  The white/creme cloth we wore is a Kada, offered to guests either for welcome or send-off (pic c/o Adrian Portugal)
We’re all happy with the results, and the school teachers and kids were glad that someone from somewhere gave a little attention to their needs.  Personally, I always find the trip more meaningful, and more life-enriching because of that, which somehow silently affirms that I was walking the ‘happy path’.
The team along side the faculty and Sherpa climbers helped paint the school. 

A Joyful Path
I may not have stood atop Ama Dablam, but the overall experience was great.  If there was no happy team with me, if there was no school to help, if I were just my old self climbing on my own – the experience would be different. 

It would still be good and dandy as always, mingling with strangers-at-first, enjoying the great outdoors and getting fulfillment from conquering oneself with all the challenges.
Now my path had slightly changed – may not be always, but having new people ready to experience something new, and ready helping hands to reach out -  my path seems to shine brighter, the views around seem to look better, and I could just smell the scent of a better, more exciting adventure-filled future ahead!

Keep walking that joyful path…

Have you seen the shorter video ad?
Related Post
Joy Will Take You Further 
An ad displayed on the wall during the launch event

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