Mountains as playgrounds for young mountaineers

Apr. 29, 2015

By Rawi June A. Morandante

Children, just like adults, await summer break with high eagerness and anticipation. Typically, they spend their time at home hooked on their gadgets, being into summer classes of any sort; bask in beaches, and all other summer vacation activities a family could afford. But rarely could you find them out in the wild, exploring the real and raw, watching the sunset and sunrise, and feeling peak experiences in mountaineering. Unlike some adults, who oftentimes go out to seek for ego boost and hopeful to soul-search through the cardinal points in the compass in the middle of vast forest and long hikes, children simply think outdoor mountaineering as an adventure and play.

A group of mountaineer kids, all for their first time experience, conquered Mt. Apo, the highest peak in the Philippines. The kids, aged 9 to 15 years old, have endured the 4-day hike to the summit through the boulders’ track of the mountain via Sta. Cruz Sibulan Trail during the Duaw kay Apo Clean-up Drive last April 23-26, spearheaded by WoWok Mountaineers and Andico Outdoors.

One of the kids, Adrienne M. Robledo, a 12-year old mountaineer has already climbed Mt. Hibok-hibok in Camiguin Island.

“I love challenges, and I was challenged and influenced to climb mountains by my stepfather who is also a mountaineer,” Robledo said.

He added that more than making friends, he also enjoys every moment of the hiking journey as he learns a lot from it, especially in overcoming his shyness. Robledo said he finds joy and fulfillment out of it as he learns to appreciate simple things from the mountain life.

Robledo said he understands that danger could be anywhere and his fears include getting lost in the forest.

As might be thought, mountaineering is not just exclusive for men nowadays. Women have taken the big leap to become as equally courageous and determined as their male counterparts.

A 9-year old girl, Naeumi Nicolea A. Montuya, started mountaineering since she was 6-year old. She had conquered eight (8) mountain summits, including Mt. Sicao, Talomo, Dulang-dulang traverse Mt. Kitanglad, Matutum, Hibok-hibok, Lake Holon, and finally Mt. Apo. Both of her parents and other relatives as well are mountaineers and so she has gotten used to climbing mountains. She said she finds it very fulfilling as much as she gets equal fun and excitement in the whole course.

“I feel like I am just playing. Mountain running and track adventure are so cool. I am always fond of the outdoors. This also serves as our family bonding time,” Montuya said.

According to her, mountaineering helped improve her self-confidence, self-reliance, and discovered many things about her strengths and weaknesses as a kid.

Her family climbs frequently, even during school days, so she’s always in the game as long as the climb schedule does not fall during school exams. Her parents have constantly reminded her to prioritize school over mountaineering.

“My parents have been very supportive of me both for my studies and mountaineering. And I learned a lot of things from mountaineering that I will not get to learn in school. So I love both equally.” she said.

She recalled that among all the mountains she has climbed, the climb to Mt. Dulang-dulang was the toughest because “you will have to rappel most of the time to trudge through,” she said.

“Climbing has always been a painstaking feat for some, but the reward you get is worth the pain, and it always leads to unexpected self-discovery,” she added.

She dreams to summit Mt. Pulag this year. Just like other mountaineers, she also looks forward to climb higher mountains outside of the country, and her ultimate dream is to reach Mt. Everest.

To parents who are in mountaineering and who are not: if you are wedged to decide between your children staying at home and giving them freedom to explore and see places, make certain to pick the right choice. Mountaineering should not be as hard as some parents irrationally thought of; this should help them realize that the pursuit of the outdoors will provide greater opportunities for their children to learn about life outside of their comfort zones, and enrich life experiences through the wisdom and brilliance of nature.

These kids are never too young to start seeing and exploring the world. They might just be right in the perfect time to find the passion their hearts would burn for in their lifetime. (

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