Romeo Balboa

Sunday December 1, 2019

Trekking, or for the most part hiking, has always been one of my lifelong passionS. What really draws me to the mountain is beyond me. Is it because “IT’S THERE!? I am not going to give any psychological reasons as to why but let me just tell you humbly that it’s because NOW!!! I HAVE THE RESOURCES! And that it includes one’s HEALT H!,and, a very supportive wife who is herself is an avid mountaineer. All that aside, let’s get back to the mountain. To be specific it’s Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest (19,341ft) freestanding mountain in the world located in West Africa. Mt Everest may be higher but it belongs to a range of Himalayan mountains in Nepal and India. Mt. Kilimanjaro is all by itself, alI because of volcanic activity. In 2014 I was invited by a generous, dear friend from Oregon to join him and his group to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro and I did not disappoint him. The journey began with a 21 hour flight from Los Angeles to Amsterdam and to Tanzania in West Africa where it sat waiting.

(Backtrack a bit to Los Angeles where 2 months before my journey to Africa I had to acclimate and condition my body to extreme elevations and weather temperatures. I even spent the whole night at Mt Baldy (10,064 ft or 3,068 m).

The final objective destination was Uhuru Point, the summit. The trek started at a base camp taking the “Lemoso” route, promising spectacular vistas. It is at the base camp where we get all our gears together and our assigned porters and guide.

(Fast forward, 7 spectacular eventful days later at the main summit. I raised the Filipino flag all the while shivering cold, but relieved and felt so happy and blessed. For a brief hour at the summit I savored and captured the sheer panoramic vista that lay beneath my boots.)

What a personal accomplishment! I am aware though that I was not the first one to scale such a grand mountain and I couldn’t care less if anyone would belittle it. What really matters is I did it not just for myself but for all my friends and Filipinos. The feeling is difficult to even describe it but it was SO GOOD! Out of initially 9 trekkers, only 8 of us made it to the top. No fatalities, only pure exhaustion made one back out. The descent back to the base camp only took us 2 days not as remarkable as the ascent but it still was fulfilling.

In April 2018 I joined another expedition. It was for Mt. Everest. But there was no attempt for the summit this time (maybe next) . We only went as far as the base camp, a 9 day hike and was it crowded. I found out that it would take an average trekker another 7 days to reach the summit from where we were standing. Anyway, that might be for another day (hopefully, God willing).

October 2019 was my latest escapade to the mountain and believe it or not, I landed on the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, it was snowing then, I wore my Barong (Filipino Traditional Costume) and waved our flag. Much prouder indeed for my heritage and much sweeter this time for being able to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro twice. Which only probably a few have done. Nowadays I walk six miles to work then another 6 miles going back home. I spend some weekends climbing Mt. Baldy and other mountains around the States. And for as long as my health and body allows I intend to give inspiration to everyone who has a dream – to be relentless in its pursuit. MABUHAY!

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