As mentioned in a prior article, rock climbing in the Philippines is quite a new, almost unknown sport. There are other factors that inhibit the growth of the sport—the high cost of rock climbing equipment, the insufficient supply of both traditional and sport climbing equipment, the lack of bolted crags, the difficulty of bolting a crag, the difficulty of asking permission from property owners to bolt a crag, the inherent danger of climbing high cliffs, etc.
It is completely understandable, therefore, why there are only a mere handful of rock climbers in the entire country, probably less than 500. Due to that small number, these guys and gals, even if they are islands apart, are quite a tightly knit group.
But each year, there is a great opportunity for these local and national climbers to meet up, have fun, work their skills, and encourage each other to reach the top. That opportunity to interact with others of similar interest happens each year at last week of October and first week of November. That opportunity is called Lust for Lime.
Lust for Lime is an annual event typically hosted by SCAPI (Sport Climbing Association of the Philippines, Inc.), the primary rock climbing organization in the Philippines. Usually, Lust for Lime is held at our very own crag in Cantabaco, and it is now in its ninth year. Often, the event attracts a number of sponsors such as Habagat, Vertigo, 8a Performance, Lagalag, and other companies. More than just a rock climbing event, Lust for Lime is a party, a workshop, a collective date, and a meet-up of climbers all rolled into a span of a week or two. If you are interested in getting serious with rock climbing, meeting up with climbers, learn climbing techniques and skills, make business transactions with climbers, or simply enjoy good vibes, then we highly recommend experiencing Lust for Lime.
Sweetie and I have been rock climbing for a few years, but Lust for Lime IX was our first time to witness and cover this special event. In the previous Lust for Lime events, we failed to join due to our hectic work schedule. This time, fortunately, our schedule fell into place.
Knowing that the crag will be teeming with climbers in a few days (and subsequently, the routes will be crowded), we started out October 27, the Sunday before the actual Lust for Lime week when there are still few climbers. Sir Jessie, one of our closest climbing buddies, went with us at Area 5 to restart a joint project: climbing the 5.11b graded route Itchy Flutterby. The highest grade I was able to redpoint (i.e. having practiced the route several times) is 5.11a. Good thing our dependable local guide and good friend Sir Willard was there to set up the route.
Once Itchy Flutterby was set up for top rope, we had a quick lunch of roasted chicken and hanging rice.
After lunch, it was time to climb. To avoid embarrassment, let’s just say, I didn’t make it. Hahaha! I was just too damned tired after climbing the entire morning on the easier routes. Sir Jessie, on the other hand, was able to send the route.
Lust for Lime is not just about climbing fun; it’s also a venue for learning. Pioneering professional climbers and route setters like Sir Mackie Makinano hold workshops where they teach others about climbing safety and techniques. Here, Sir Mackie taught climbers how to set up a rappel anchor. (Photo by Willard Elemino)
During the week, climbers from all over the Philippines poured in, trying out the routes in the crag. On Saturday night, October 28, it was time for the climbers to have fun. An important part of Lust for Lime is the party that happens on the night before the “official” last day of the event. Climbers do get tired of crimping around and would appreciate a night of games, dances, and laughter. The party is usually held at Ma’am Glenda’s place, a bed-and-breakfast specifically for climbers.
Sheila and I weren’t in the party due to prior commitments. However, we were able to grab some party photos from our friend, Toots of TropikAdventure.
It’s never too young to climb. These kids are either climbers or have parents that are rock climbers. That’s just pretty great, considering that parents usually try to move heaven and earth to encourage their children to engage in sports. Just imagine, these are parents and kids as climbing partners. (Photo by Toots of TropikAdventure)
Climbers pitch in for food and drinks. And indeed, we have sumptuous fiesta food on the table for everyone. (Photo by Toots of TropikAdventure)
The Lust for Lime party is a perfect chance for climbers to know each other, reminisce good times, share climbing techniques, buy and sell equipment, discuss climbing and travel plans, or simply have a bout of laughter. (Photo by Toots of TropikAdventure)
What is a party without some booze, right? Sweetie and I don’t drink, so if we were at the party, we’d settle for soft drinks. Climbers do drink alcohol. However, they drink moderately; most are aware that they need to be in top shape to climb that limestone rock face just across the street. (Photo by Toots of TropikAdventure)
Ma’am Glenda’s place has a large terrace which, during Lust for Lime, is converted in to a dance floor. (Photo by Toots of TropikAdventure)
Just like most other parties, organizers formulate an agenda. And part of that agenda is a costume contest. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are in Cantabaco! (Photo by Toots of TropikAdventure)
Hey, guys! Who are you supposed to be? (Photo by Toots of TropikAdventure)
Of course, everyone gets to participate in fun party games. (Photo by Toots of TropikAdventure)
The next day, Sunday, Sweetie and I decided to climb early. At peak time during Lust for Lime, there are so many climbers that you’ll have to wait for awhile for your turn to climb up a route.
Sweetie reviewed one of her favorite routes Wild Boys. Wild Boys is also the first pitch of Cantabaco’s 3-pitch route, which we will write about in a later article.
It was still early, around 7AM, but the sun was already up and bright. I quickly climbed the routes that I want, including one of my favorite dynamic 5.11a route Djouls. October is definitely an excellent time to climb.
At around 9AM, climbers started to trickle in, refreshed from the party the night before.
In less than an hour, Area 3 was teeming with climbers. In no time at all, routes were filled with quickdraws, ropes, and adrenaline-pumped people.
Climbing teams set up, discussed routes and climbing techniques, and readied themselves to climb.
Climbing equipment by the dozens! Feast your eyes on hundreds of different high-quality ropes, climbing shoes, quickdraws, duffel bags, rope bags, chalk bags, helmets, and other climbing equipment. If our outdoor shops have these items in their inventories, we’re sure that the Philippine rock climbing scene will improve in popularity.
Here’s a climbing team in action, ascending the 5.9 starter and warm-up route Vulva. This is also one of Sweetie’s favorite routes.
By 10AM, most of the routes in Area 3 were already set up with top-rope systems. Simply choose a route that is vacant and ask someone to belay you if you don’t have a belayer. Don’t be shy; most of the folks here are friendly and a good lot, and they’ll be glad to be your partner.
Lust for Lime doesn’t just attract local and national climbers. Foreign climbers also head out to Cantabaco to try out our beautiful limestone crag. The lady, by the way, is Frances Fierst, a moderator for Mountain Project climbing forum. Mountain Project an international online community of backpackers, mountaineers, and rock climbers sharing ideas, experiences, photos, videos, and tips.
Lust for Lime IX was literally a climbing festival in Cantabaco as climbers scale the 60-plus routes available on the crag. Everywhere, you can here grunts of exertions, squeals of fear, screams of triumph, varieties of commands, and words of encouragement.
While waiting for their turn, some climbers used the downtime as an opportunity to catch up on reading.
And some climbers preferred to catch up on some sleep during the downtime.
Since Area 3, the main climbing area was full, some climbers opted to go to Area 4. Area 4 is the least visited area in the Cantabaco crag due to the steeply inclined belay area, the awkward placement of hangers on some of the routes, and the potential danger of hitting tuffas if a climbers falls while leading. But personally, we love the texture of the rock here.
Frances and her partner tried out Djoules. Many foreign climbers whom we talked to remarked that Cantabaco is a relatively small but excellent, high-quality crag. For such a small crag, we have a relatively high number of varied routes. And everything, from accommodations to eateries, is just a stone’s throw away.
Some fellows, seeing that we went to a less crowded, less climbed place, followed us and set up their climbs at Area 4. Look at those looks of intense concentration.
In one climbing session, many people may attempt to send one route, especially if the route is a classic or a popular one. For instance, as shown in the photo below, several different climbers attempted Oh Baby, a 5.11a route that I lead climbed earlier.
On such popular routes, you may have to line up and wait for your turn before you can ascend. In the photo below, those two guys sitting on the ground were waiting for their turn to climb Oh Baby.
Sir Jessie provided beta (i.e., climbing information) to his climbing partner for a route called Pork Barrel, just beside Oh Baby. Climbers are often generous in providing helpful tips and advice to others who want to accomplish certain routes.
Climbing is generally thought to be a male-dominated sport, but that doesn’t mean that women can’t climb as hard as men. In fact, these ladies can crank up routes as skillfully as men. Thanks to their smaller, lighter, lither stature, some ladies can even successfully send routes that men have a hard time climbing. In the sport of climbing, there is no sex discrimination; everyone is equal.
Cuts and bruises are normal in any climb. While some people may express concern about these minor injuries, climbers often proudly display them as souvenirs of an attempt to conquer a route. Don’t worry, the wounds were cleaned and treated.
As more and more climbers came in, the queues for many routes became longer. Sweetie and I decided to while the time by eating our lunch.
The true hardcore climbers who want to test their limits congregate at Area 5 where the hardest routes are. The easiest routes here are graded 5.11 while the most difficult ones go as high as 5.14. These are the best world-class hardcore routes that Cantabaco can offer.
Kids join the adults in rock climbing. Some kind donors donated shoes and harnesses to these kids to introduce them to the world of climbing. With proper encouragement and coaching, we’re sure that these children will become professional climbers. And we all know why sports gives children so many benefits, right?
Oh, a climbing race? Actually, these are two climbers on two different routes in Area 5. Do you notice the extremely smooth rock face? Sweetie and I still couldn’t climb these. But don’t worry, completing some of the routes in Area 5 are our targets next year.
Climbers who are not from Cebu or who rarely visit Cebu come to the Lust for Lime to work on projects. A project is an attempt to climb a route that the climber has never successfully finished before. Usually, the designated grade of a project route is higher than what the climber can normally accomplish. Accomplishing a project can take anywhere from a few hours to a few years.
As the climber makes more attempts, he learns the tricks of the routes until he can send it flawlessly, efficiently and gracefully.
Lust for Lime IX was a huge success! See you next year for an even bigger, grander, and more fun Lust for Lime.