Wednesday, March 15, 2006
RP Everest team aims for ‘unity climb’
Two climbers of the First Philippine Mount Everest Expedition are all set to ascend the world’s highest peak this May on a “reconnaissance climb” that aims to prepare the rest of the team for a “unity climb” or an attempt to reach the summit next year.
The expedition members also insisted Tuesday they would scale Everest as a team—regardless of whether they get beaten to the top by another Filipino mountaineer who chose to go ahead of them on a “commercial climb” alongside non-Filipino adventurers.
Leo Oracion and Erwin “Pastor” Emata, the RP Everest team’s most formidable climbers, have been in Nepal since February to train and acclimatize to the cold weather conditions in the Himalayas, expedition leader Art Valdez said in a press conference.
“We know it is a big challenge to climb Mount Everest. It is inherently dangerous,” said Valdez, a former transportation undersecretary. “This is why we’re taking precautions by sending Leo and Pastor first this summer.”
“This reconnaissance climb will give them enough experience to help lead the whole team in 2007,” he added, reiterating that the team’s summit bid is still on for 2007.
On Monday, reports said that mountaineer Romy Garduce left for Nepal on March 3 in a bid to be the first Filipino atop Everest, at 8,844 meters (29,015 feet) the highest in the world—apparently as a challenge to the RP Everest team, which had announced its attempt to reach the summit in 2004 after several tune-up climbs ending next year.
Garduce, an information technology expert, recently scaled Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, the highest peak in the western Hemisphere. He is believed to reach Everest by paying to be included in a three- to five-member climbing team escorted by sherpas and other veteran climbers.
But the squad, supported by Philippine Airlines, ABS-CBN, Stratworks, MedCentral, Coleman, National Sports Grill, Fitness First, PowerUp, the Rudy Project, FedEx, Kodak, and the Philippine Accident Manager’s Insurance, said team spirit mattered more to them.
“This year’s reconnaissance expedition and the 2007 Unity climb are a chance for the [expedition] to bring glory to the Philippines. We will also be proud to have the first Asean women to reach the summit of Mt. Everest next year,” said Valdez.
“We hope to lift the spirit of Filipinos and bring hope to our nation by showing that all things are possible as long as we are united in one cause.”
Emata and Oracion are two of the country’s most respected, prize-winning adventure athletes. Both climbers proved their mettle when they led the RP expedition’s successful assault on the highly-technical and demanding slopes of Mount Muztagh-Ata at the Chinese-Pakistani border last year.
“They are in peak physical condition and they proved their technical climbing skills, stamina, determination and teamwork on Muztagh-Ata. We are very confident that they will be ready for Everest,” Valdez said of the two.
Valdez will be leading a support team that will leave this month to rendezvous with Oracion and Emata at the Everest base camp during the first week of April. By then, the two climbers will have acclimatized to the thin air and cold weather and will be ready to begin their ascent when the Nepali government opens the path to the mount’s peak.
“For now, the government of Nepal is not allowing mountaineers to climb Everest since the terrain is still considered unsafe,” said team leader Regie Pablo.
THE FIRST Philippine Mt. Everest Expedition gets a big financial and morale boost as television giant ABS-CBN signs on as the exclusive network sponsor of the three-year quest of a team of Philippine climbers to conquer the highest and coldest peak in the world.
The contract signing with ABS-CBN is viewed by team members as the possible catalyst that will encourage more Philippine and international companies to become part of the Philippine team to conquer the 29,035-foot Mount Everest and make it a truly historic national effort.
Thirty-five veteran climbers from all over the country will undergo a rigid two-year preparation for the 60-day climb set for May 2007.
The Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines headed by Transportation Undersecretary Arturo Valdez, Regie Pablo, Butch Sebastian and Fred Jamili are in the forefront of this once-in-a-lifetime adventure which may not break any records but will be a matter of national pride that will showcase the Filipino�s "can do" spirit.
For its part, ABS-CBN from 2005 to 2007 will come up with a massive media campaign to promote the expedition by showcasing the mission-vision of the expedition leaders, lives of the climbers as well as the rigid preparation and training.
It will also feature the different alpine climbs of the team in other countries, as part of their training and preparation for the Mount Everest summit, and the team�s local climbs in other countries as well as when they scale new heights in the local mountain scene. The coverage will take the viewers all the way to the final selection process of the 15-man member team who will do the actual ascent and a live coverage feed of the actual climb.
ABS-CBN�s support will truly create the much-needed awareness as the expedition group raises funds to see the climb to fruition. Alongside the network�s support is Mary Lindbert International � the official marketing and events Management Company for the First Philippine Mt. Everest Expedition.
The expedition was formally launched last March 23 and the first part of the preparatory leg began last July with a 45-day training in the Himalayan Mountaineering School in India for basic and advanced courses.