Top of the world

According to Art Valdez of Team Everest, Leo Oracion became the first Filipino to summit the world’s tallest mountain. The feat was achieved at about 5:30 pm today, Philippine time (around 3:30 pm in Nepal). This is still uncomfortably too close to nighttime, which I gather is dangerous for descents, but apparently the clutch of climbers Oracion worked with had no choice; they were slowed down by other climbers ahead of them.

Oracion had a Neil Armstrong-like quote (again, as relayed by Valdez, who is at the Everest base camp): "The Philippine eagle has landed on the world’s highest mountain." (The ABS-CBN story has a slightly different phrasing.) Turns out Leo’s real name is Heracleo; fitting, isn’t it, for him to succeed at this modern labor of Hercules?

More good news: Oracion’s teammate Erwin "Pastour" Emata is mounting his assault on the summit sometime tonight. And rival Romi Garduce, whose decision to scale Everest this year probably prompted the First Philippine Everest Expedition to speed up its schedule by a full year, should begin his own assault in a couple of days. If they all make it, what a terrific treat: three Filipinos at the top of the world.

PS. In a somewhat bizarre twist, the wife of climber Dale Abenojar told ABS-CBN her husband may actually have been the first Filipino to reach the top of Everest, a feat he achieved several days ago using the North Face route. He’ll bring proof when he comes home, she said. Shades of Amundsen and Scott!

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Top of the world

  1. Jeg

    Not meaning to belittle the efforts of our kababayans, but I’d like to put things in perspective. Previous conquerors of Chomolungma included a totally blind man, a guy who went solo, another guy who went solo without oxygen, and most recently, a double amputee–along with several little old ladies from all over the world. The rival networks are milking the efforts of their proxy warriors for whatever theyre worth, but still the Everest expeditions pale in comparison to Manny Pacquiao’s conquering of both Barrera and Morales. ABS-CBN has a leg up on the competition by snagging the rights to Pacquiao’s fights and promotions and as is their wont, are happily transforming Pacquiao from gifted athlete to Celebrity. I just hope Pacquiao can handle it.

    Congratulations to the Pinoys. Well done. No congratulations to the networks. These are people’s lives theyre playing with for ratings. I mean pushing the schedule a full year ahead just because a rival network’s team is going ahead? The sad thing about this is if, Heaven forbid, something bad happens (the descent is still dangerous), it’ll boost their ratings even more. Win-win. We should all be so lucky.

  2. exie

    “The feat was achieved at about 5:30 pm today, Philippine time (around 3:30 pm in Nepal). This is still uncomfortably too close to nighttime, which I gather is dangerous for descents …”

    From what I remember of Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, yes, that’s a dangerous time to be at the summit.

  3. alcuin

    Despite the fact that Everest has been conquered by a double amputee, blind man, etc., let’s not forget that the feat is a difficult one. Any mountaineer will tell you that climbing ANY mountain, be it Everest or even Banahaw, is a test of not only your physical strength, but your will as well. Don’t get me wrong, i’m not a big fan of what the networks have done to all of this, which is basically to convert this into one big spectacle.

    from what i gathered, the ideal cutoff time for Everest summiteers is around 3 p.m. by this time, you should be heading back because it starts to get cold even late in the afternoon.

    Dale has not had the best reputation in the mountaineering and off-road community. let’s remember that this guy has not had any experience climbing a mountain in an alpine environment. harry kikstra’s expedition did not include him because he did not climb any prerequisite mountains. earlier, i heard a theory that he would claim to have climbed Everest despite the lack of any credible evidence. manggugulo at magpapapansin lang. and this is exactly what is happening. the people who told me this theory really know the guy inside out.

  4. khobs

    what I thought is that there is no rivalry as between the climbers of the Mt. Everest’s Summit but what we heard and read in the newspapers they were disgusting the claim to the question as to who really the first to reach the summit of the Mt. Everest without waiting for the proper investigation to settle out the case, as in the case of Abenojar. they should respond the qualms with fair and dignity.

  5. cobilla

    Conquerors to the summit of Mt. Everest is not the REAL score of proving the bravest and toughest mountaineering efforts that one could claim. It is the humblest way of telling that you made it because there are someones who got your feet at the summit. Do not boast to your colleague in mountaining expedition that you’ve gained much applause just because you had the pioneering steps for the race of Filipino at the roof of the world, instead, inspire people to make way for their dreams especially those who are in the same field of choice.

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