August 16/17, 2008
with the UP Mountaineers (UPM)
Location: Bagac, Bataan
Elevation: 1388 meters
Pantingan Peak is one of the 3 established peaks on the Mariveles Mountain Range. The other 2 are Tarak Ridge and Mariveles Ridge. The rest remain largely unexplored.
As a historical footnote, it was the crossing on Pantingan River during World War II that Sector D of the American forces attempted to reunite with 45th Infantry to break the Japanese hold on Trail Junction 6-8.
Past Training Climbs
Despite a few major climbs on my belt (with non-UPM), I haven't really joined any UPM climb since my '05 induction. With this climb, I am reunited with 2 of my batchmates (PJ and JR) and get a chance to know the '08 applicants a little more for their level 2 climb.
This being a UPM climb, I couldn't shake off the discomforting trepidation built up over my training climbs as an applicant 3 years ago. If there's one thing to describe the climbs, it was difficult...but doable. My first training climb (Level 1) was Tarak Ridge where I didn't know any better on how much to bring. I was constantly towing the edge as I dragged one foot in front of the other all the way to the top and back down. My 2nd climb was Tapulao in full assault of a brewing typhoon. We were soaked at the outset, slept inside a wet tent and just as soaked on the way back. On the outdoor skill training in Manalmon, my misplaced arrogance nearly caused me to be swept away by what seemed like a placid river. My induction climb at Mt. Pulag bordered on mild hypothermia. Yes, I can completely understand why I feel this trepidation doing another UPM climb.
Old Woman of the Mountain
I was told there was an 'old man of the mountain'...that he has special bonds with the place and its inhabitants...the surreal kind. I was intrigued. I talked to him hoping he'll reveal some of the mountain's precious secrets. However, due to time constraints, I couldn't go beyond the courtesy small talk. Much later on, I was told it was the woman who was the 'old woman of the mountain'...not the man. Oh well, it was just as good meeting the old man.
Slip Sliding Away
Altogether, we were 39 - 6 GroupX members, team and group leaders and applicants forging ahead on steep muddy trails as the rain poured. Trekking poles were essential. Mud-shedding properties of hiking boots were put to shame as we slipped and slid on our butts.
Due to remaining daylight concerns, exhaustion and injuries, it was decided to camp out at Danny's Gate instead of pushing ahead to the summit. It was a good judgement call otherwise we would have ended up in the dark. The applicants assaulted the summit the following day with daypacks. Nonetheless, it took them nearly 7 hours to get back. The trail was single-track, brushy, steep, muddy, slippery and limatics made breakfast of them all. They returned to camp exhausted, hungry, dirty and bloodied, but proud knowing they kicked butt.
Pick Up Point
It was nearly nightfall when the last of the applicants arrived at the bus pick-up point. Some got lost along the way, the ones with no headlamps had to struggle in the dark. Otherwise, all went well. Pick-up was scheduled at 3:30, but it was already around 7 by the time we left with the bus...the driver was patient.
The specter of a difficult UPM training climb did not disappoint. The applicants came out of it positive and accomplished. As I told one of them, given the benefit of hindsight, it was nothing less than ideal for them. Very few things will hurt after that. It was challenging in that it pushed both body and mind without going overboard. In the martial arts parlance, all the crying is done in the dojo...all the laughing is done in the battle field. Congrats to the applicants for making it this far. Nice one, Pantingan!
(Aug 20, 2008) you forgot, "PAK YOU TOPEEEEEEE!!!". nice write-up, by the way. INDUCTION NAMAN!!!!!!
(Aug 21, 2008) nice one, pantingan! magkasabay pala tayo sa lahat ng climbs nung app season natin - tarak, tapulao at manalmon.
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