If there was one sport that has put every bit of my strength to test, that would be rock climbing. I’m not much for a competitive type: a little trail running race from time to time to make up for missing the mountains, a little adventure race because it’s insanely fun, a little paddle racing for the love of sea salt. Yes, rock climbing could be competitive at some levels but for the most part, it’s only yourself that you compete with.
It’s not very convenient to train for rock climbing especially in a big city like Cebu, especially not for someone who lives in Mactan Island. Every once in a while I would make my way to the city and rekindle friendships with the people and the holds at Habagat’s Vertigo indoor climbing facility. Yes, I could definitely put up a pull up or a campus board at home but not until I’m sure about how strong the concretes of these “ready for occupancy” houses are. And then there’s the idea of putting up your own climbing wall. Arduous. Expensive. Risky.
But I know one couple who did just that.
Settling Down and Setting Up
It is not uncommon for one within the outdoor community to tone down his adventures once he has decided to settle down. It might have been the similar case to the climbing couple Tiki and Aileen when they decided to start a new family. But toning down wasn’t an option for them. Working around was.
I could still recall less than three years ago when I would notice their Facebook posts saying “the beginning of the Neolithic Age”. And then a bunch of hand-drawn designs which took a while before I figured out what those drafts were.
They were building a bouldering wall. More so, they were building a bouldering wall in their front yard.
It was in the year 2014 when Tiki knew he no longer had much opportunity to climb Cantabaco, Cebu’s most known natural rock climbing spot. In September of that year, he starting drafting out the design of his very own wall. In less than a month’s time, the construction began.
Utilizing a corner of their home’s garage, the expertise of a carpenter who by then must’ve been confused about this project he was building, and at least two different local holds manufacturer, the bouldering wall was ready for use by November of 2014.
Opening Doors to Adventure
Remember when Alexander Supertramp said, “Happiness is only real when shared”? That’s what exactly Tiki and Aileen did. They welcomed fellow climbers to their playing ground (or wall to be exact!). For the first time, I climbed their wall in November of 2015. It was convenient for me because it was within Mactan Island and was at the home of very good friends. Note that by then, the wall was already one year old. Early that year, a brief hiatus was caused by the loveliest reason: TX, their first son was born. (TX later becomes a name of one of the routes!)
It was in June of 2016 when “Payag Bouldering House” was declared the official name of the climbing wall. Last June 4, PBH’s first session began with Tiki, Aileen, Chokmoi, Neo, and me. We were later joined in by Tope, Igorot, and Jethro in the next sessions. Now, take note of these names because these are the PBH regulars and will be the guys who will be there to encourage, applaud, and spot you when you boulder at PBH.
Now down to our 18th bouldering session as of this writing, the wall has been on a roll on its first six months of operation. And as an important side note, although no hiatus happened, our team has been joined by a second child, a lovely baby girl named RX – who is now my godchild, and whose name is a T9 route which I have not yet solved so far!
Bouldering for Beginners
Payag Bouldering House is not your typical climbing wall. While we enjoy the occasional home-cooked food, artisanal coffee, shots of rum, and strumming on guitars and ukes every after bouldering session, we also continue to learn and train together. Truth be told, the regulars have very limited to zero experience when we started bouldering at PBH. We are none compare to many elite climbers in the country but that’s the thing about PBH, we welcome beginners and we all progress together.
The routes are graded using a modified Hueco and Font system where we currently rate them from T0 as the easiest and the, so far, toughest at T9. A + and – denotes grades in between wherein T4+ is easier than T5-. The numbers are ranked in the same way as those international formats and the T, of course, you should have figured out by now. Remember when I said we continue to learn and train together? That’s because we gradually elevate the level of difficulty of the routes to someday reach T20!
You DON’T Get Thrown to the Wolves
Everyone at PBH started at zero climbing experience and we know how treacherous these holds could get if you are not properly equipped with the right technique. That is why Tiki has designed a modular lecture on the basics of bouldering. You will start with knowing the physics of climbing (yes, that’s what happens when you let engineers climb) and learning about efficiency and analyzing routes. You will learn about the history of bouldering and the different type of holds and how to approach them. You don’t get thrown to the wolves (or the wall) right away, which by the way could cause you severe injuries or frustration (truth!).
New climbers will start at T0 routes with no pressure, just a bunch of happy climbers cheering you up and giving you advice as you climb. Solve at least three T0 routes and you will be awarded with an orange band. I mentioned that so far the toughest route is at T9. Solve at least two T8 or T9 routes and you get a black band.
What are you waiting for?
Interested enough? Here’s the deal, every bouldering session is announced at PBH’s facebook page and interested participants should book in advance. There is a maximum number of climbers per sessions to ensure that everyone gets enough chance on the wall. Schedules, although usually fall on Saturdays or Sundays, are also not fixed so make sure to follow the facebook page.
As this article suggests, PBH’s boulder wall is installed in a family home’s front yard located in a secured village and that is why it is important to keep the location confidential and is sent only in private message to booked participants.
Lastly, the charges are as follows:
Module Lecture – 25php (for first time climbers)
Rock Shoes Rental – 25php (optional but climbers are encouraged to wear rock shoes when bouldering)
Boulder Wall Maintenance – 75php (per session)
So what are you waiting for? As for me, I have my rock shoes ready (I have a couple of size 5.5 and sixes which you could rent), and my chalk bags filled. All revved up for 2017’s first bouldering session and hoping to solve RX route soon (and deliver my godchild, RX’s late Christmas present as well.)