Top rocks: 7 expert tips for beginner rock climbing in the Philippines 

Climb Philippines co-founder and experienced climber Miel Pahati shares his crash course for newbies in the cragging circuit. Photo by @mehdikhams

By Celia Nachura

What is rock climbing or cragging? Both are one and the same. A crag is simply how enthusiasts of the sport refer to a rock face or a cliff that can be climbed. Thus, climbing has been referred to as “cragging” and the phrase caught on. 

How to start? "The best way to start is to go to a gym nearest you and try to learn the basics," Pahati said. "Basically, just climb." It's best to learn from more experienced athletes and gyms teach beginners the fundamentals, techniques and different holds that climbers will eventually encounter in the sport. 

Types of climbing. Top roping has the climber attached to a rope anchored at the top of the route and held by a belayer on the ground. Lead climbing involves a belayer, but instead of the rope being locked at the top, the climber has to keep clipping himself in fixed bolts or protection along the line. Bouldering uses no rope at all.

Gear. For those who are serious in pursuing the sport – or even just enjoying it on a regular basis – it’s best to invest in the necessary equipment. Most of the necessary equipment is now available at stores like R.O.X., Sandugo and even some gyms. You'll need specialized shoes made of rubber and one that's a little snug for more traction; harness and ropes; and chalk bag to prevent slipping and minimize moisture when sweating.

Climb Central Manila at The Portal in Greenfield District

Where to climb? There's really no "right way" to get into climbing. Although Pahati began rock climbing indoors, he said climbers in other countries tend to start out outdoors. In the Philippines and particularly Metro Manila, it's easier to start with indoor climbing because of the number of facilities available for the sport. 

Where to start indoor climbing. Climb Central Manila is the latest indoor climbing gym in the city with facilities Pahati described as “world-class”. It has a good variety of walls and great service. Day rate for adults is P400 ($8.58). Multi and monthly passes are available as well as rentals of all the necessary equipment.

Outdoors. For beginners Pahati recommends Wawa in Montalban, Rizal, which is a popular site for rock climbing with a number of different lines of varying levels of difficulty. Only a 30- to 40-minute drive away from Manila, Wawa offers limestone cliffs and crags that rise up to a hundred feet.

Further south, Cebu is a well-known destination for rock climbing. The pristine limestone crags of Cantabaco in Toledo City, Cebu, is quite manageable for beginners and a great place to start.

Visit Climb Philippines for a comprehensive list of rock climbing sites around the country with useful details on what to expect from the different crags and how to get there.

About our insider
Miel Pahati is a co-founder of Climb Philippines. He's also behind the annual Young, Wild & Free Compatition Series for junior and novice climbers.

Cover photo is a screengrab from @mehdikhams on Instagram.

Published September 2016