Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I Feel so A-Lime: Cantabaco, Toledo

My regular experience with lime involves gin, but last Sunday it’s rock-hard, million-year-old lime that I had. Flor invited me to the place, with a very empathic disclaimer: I wouldn’t have invited you but I’m very desperate for company. Okay, point taken. Friday, our sms conversation went something like this.

Flor: you wanna do rock climb?
Me: sure, when?
Flor: Sunday
Me: which Sunday? There are at least 48 Sundays a year
Flor: This Sunday

I told my Boss that I’m going to win the company’s fun run and I need a full day’s off if I am to do that. I did finish first in that 5k run but I clocked in 24.07mins., something I’m not too proud of because I was looking for a sub-20 finish. That's why I din't post about it on FB, because I'm surrounded by real athletes. Better run next time, I guess.

I got the Sunday off, alright. It has been centuries since I had a Sunday off, it felt weird. You know, not being at work and seeing how normal people go about on a weekend.

Anyway, the climb is in Cantabaco, Toledo. It’s about an hour away from my beloved, totally endeared Cebu City. We took the van-for-hire at CitiLink Terminal, which departs every two hours. Fare is at 70pesos, subject to gas price and wiles of the owner. There are also mini-buses that go to Lutopan and from there, it’s a ten-minute motorbike ride to the rock wall.

I prefer taking the v-hire because it passes thru Manipis, a narrow mountain pass which offers an occasional glimpse at some gnarly-deep ravine. Also, I find van drivers less reckless than mini-bus drivers. I hate to dichotomize but that’s what I see all the time. Plus, the minibus to Lutopan routes thru Naga, which is an even longer drive.

My first order of business when we arrived in Lutopan was to check on my right knee. It’s been loose for the past few weeks and I really should see a doctor. I mean, see doctors on tv or the net at times, but I need to do some consultation soon.

We were met by our guide Willard at the bus/van stop in Lutopan. I knew he was our guide because he was wearing a black Under Armor shirt. He’s a really cool guy and I’m gonna blog about him and his friends later, because I think I’m going to be a regular there.
The rock wall did not look impressive at all from afar. But when we got to the foot of it, that’s when it revealed its awesomeness. I have never set hands on that kind of lime. The wall is overhung, so no matter how much it rains it stays dry. That allowed itself to stay solid, barely worn out by the changing weather. The holds, pockets, and horns are so well-placed, it seemed like it was deliberately built by some professional rock climber.

But Cantabaco is 100% natural—it’s the handwork of thousands of years of rain and sunshine, built by the invisible hands of nature. There’s just so much beauty in Cantabaco’s serendipity. Gazing at it in its wholeness, it felt like the walls hold a universe somewhere inside.

We did three routes that day. The last one ripped every muscle in my body. They call it Vina Kulafu. They said it was named after a great climber, Vina, who drank lots of Kulafu before doing the climb the following morning. She’s a legend in the rock climb scene. It took me ten minutes for remove my harness after I did Vina Kulafu. My forearms felt non-existent at that time.

Flor did a really great job herself, having conquered two routes and making the first portion of Vina Kulafu despite being sleep-deprived. She had to work night shifts at times, being a pharmacist. I guess two hours of sleep is only good for two routes. She took most of the pictures because my camera went dead. I mean, I did charge the batteries but I guess double a’s are really no good. She had to upload the stuff too so I can get them so kudos to her for the photos.

Willard spider-ing down the wall
Willard's son doing the lead climb. He's a nursing student when he's not here.
Yours truly, struggling and shying away from the camera.
Flor, smiling before the suffering stages.
Enie the great, giving instructions from downtown.
My friend says I'm more photogenic as I go further away from the cam.

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