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!