The Great Teacher

Some things may change in a moment.

Guest photographer: Chris Datan

Adventures, hikers, trekkers and climbers can all connect with this. As our escapades carefully unfold we become fully aware of the truth that we occupy a tiny part of this beautiful universe.

We accept the fact that our might is nothing compared to the force of the universe and our mother nature.

When I set foot on that grandfather of Philippine mountains, I thought to myself that how little am I compared to the might of this grand volcano. I almost backed out as fear crippled my mind and spirit. How I, a “newbie” climber would be able to reach the top of this mountain. I packed with me my sleeping bag, head lamp, foods and water, including all my necessary things with every bit of trust, faith, dreams and strength I could get in. I learned to unpacked doubt and fear little by little. We were to go there in a pack of nine. So the best part was we didnt succumbed alone, it didnt matter who went first or last. What matters most is that we ALL assaulted and summited IN TIME.

I long understood the terms we used in mountaineering. Including the languages of pacing, leading, middle packing, and sweeping.

We each have a different pace, in our lives and in each of our journey. Since we do have varying experiences, lessons learned, talents and abilities. One may take five minutes to cross a river while the other one may take double of the previous time. So we need to respect each and every ones pace or maybe we have to learn to meet half way as much as we can.

In the language of mountaineering we also have a term and we call it, the lead pack. This refers to the team members who guide or lead and goes ahead of the others.

The lead pack sets the pace of the whole team, they give direction, strength and courage to the succeeding members. The lead pack is important in that without proper leading, the whole team may get lost along the way. They also give and leave trail signs along the path.

Followed by the lead pack is the middle pack. The middle pack sees to it that everything went well between the other two packs (the one that leads and the one behind). This pack has a way of knowing that the whole team is carrying on and is still intact.

Now, the last pack or the last member of the team is the sweeper. His role is like a marshal of the whole team. He is the last or the ‘tail’ of the team. He must be well knowledgeable of the area and responsible enough to keep watch that the whole members are safe and sound. Among all else, the sweeper is the mightiest since he sacrifices his own pacing and he consider and prioritizes the safety of everyone else. Indeed, it is the role of each and everyone to watch out for each others safety during the climb.

I was able to appreciate this set-up in that I saw in it something I have never seen before. I never knew that I could learn a lot of lessons from mountaineering. One thing that really struck and awed me the most is understanding that I am not alone in this journey. You set foot on the jump-off point together, and you will finish it together. That is certainty as long as you respect each others pacing, you are good!

I appreciated that we helped and pulled each other to the top, and that is the best feeling there is. Knowing that somebody got your back no matter what happens. Knowing that all your efforts and trainings, hardships will never go in vain. I am happy that I had this madness- to climb mountains. I am happy because in a world where we tend to pull each other down, we devour each other of successes and triumphs (and that is saddening, isn’t it?), still there is a world that exist to teach us life’s most important lessons. Why cant politics be like climbing a mountain, you help each other up? Why do some professionals slander each other. Why do we love talking behind each others back. There is no breaking to this crab mentality chain. I understood that maybe this is all just part of nature that we are all in a living reality jungle and that we struggle with each other for survival. But we couldn’t last like this forever. We didn’t belong to the lower class of animals. We were placed in the highest of classifications. And even all part of the animal kingdom understood that we all belong to one ecosystem only. We all exist so that each and everyone learns how to value each other. We wouldn’t survive without each other.

And again, this is just a wishful thinking. After all, isn’t it lonely standing alone at the top?

Mount Apo summit

Anyone who reached their summit will always live with this words. “It is never about reaching the top but how you have journeyed.”

This is not a race nor a contest. In the end it wouldn’t matter how many summits you have reached but how it made other people feel. How you respected each and everyone along the way. How you paved the way to discover and make new paths. How you see your purpose. Now, that, is TRUE CONQUER.


Published by Czarie Scarlet

Join me in my journey. This is your journey also. Three decades around the sun I have been compelled to write and share our stories from hiking, mountaineering, trekking, and traveling. I met a lot of people and most of them turned out to be my truest friends. I have come to realize the brutality of traveling and how in every day our life can turn around. I hope to share my adventures and misadventures and live this to tell to my future children and grandchildren. Thank you for joining me.

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