Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Trooping to the Highest of Them All...

RP forms first expedition team to scale Mt. Everest
By Rainier Allan Ronda
The Philippine Star 03/24/2004

A Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) executive will
be leading the first expeditionary attempt by Filipinos to put the
country's flag atop Mt. Everest, the world's highest peak.

DOTC Undersecretary for Land Transportation Arturo Valdez, an avid
mountaineer and sportsman, said that the attempt will be made in 2007 by
a 20-man Filipino team.

The members of the team, composed of three women and 17 men, were
presented yesterday at the Rock Climbing Complex of the Powerplant mall
in Rockwell, Makati City,

"There are three Igorots, one Muslim and a female lumad from Bukidnon in
the team," Valdez said. "The rest are from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
These are top athletes, mostly mountaineers and frequent participants in
local adventure races." He added that three personnel from the Armed
Forces of the Philippines may also join the team in the coming weeks.

Valdez said that the team members will have to train rigorously for two
years. Part of their preparations will be training at the Malayan
Mountaineering School in Manali, India in June and July and climbing the
high mountains of Kyrgyzstan in September.

"In Manali, India, we'll have basic and advanced courses including
crevasse rescue and many other things," Valdez said.

"Then in 2005, we will mostly be in Nepal and Tibet to expose ourselves
to high altitudes and frozen peaks," he added, explaining that Filipino
mountaineers may be physically fit in our tropical climate but may not
make it under extremely cold weather conditions. "We have to
acclimatize," Valdez said.

"In the next two years, we'll be climbing eight major mountains which
will culminate sometime in the last quarter of 2006 in the sixth highest
mountain in the world, Mt. Chooyo in the Himalayan range," Valdez added.

But prior to these foreign expeditions, Valdez said the team will first
climb the unexplored portion of Mt. Guiting-guiting on Sibuyan island in

Valdez, a pioneering adventure mountaineer and marathon runner,
organized the first successful climbs to the highest mountains in the
Philippines. In 1982, Valdez led a team that climbed four mountains -
Mounts Kanlaon, Mayon, Pulag and Apo - in one month. In 1992, he again
led a four-man Filipino expedition team from Bacolod, Negros Occidental,
that climbed the highest mountain in Southeast Asia - the 14,000-feet
Mt. Kinabalu in Malaysia.

Valdez stressed that the first Philippine Mt. Everest Expedition will
try to accomplish many firsts. "Maraming thrusts ito. Isa sa mga thrusts
nito (This has many thrusts. One of these) is to put the first ASEAN
woman at the top of Mt. Everest."

The first nationals from the Association of Southeast Asian nations that
climbed Mt. Everest were a group of Indonesian military men, which
reached its peak on April 27, 1997. Next came a team from Malaysia and
then Singapore.

"As a sportsman, you always aim for the top but it's also a way of
lifting up the Filipino and showing to the world that the Filipino can.
The subliminal message here is that if given the focus and if we put our
act together, we can triumph in the midst of extreme challenges," Valdez

This will be such a great feat for us Filipino! Go, RP, Go! Hehehe! =)

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