MANILA, Philippines -- Five down, two to go.
The country?s most accomplished mountaineer Romi Garduce has just knocked off another mountain on the list of Seven Summits that he wised to scale in his lifetime. This time, Garduce conquered Mt. McKinley, otherwise known as Denali, the highest peak in North America.
The Seven Summits are the highest peaks in each of the world?s seven continents.
Roel Chan of Garduce?s outfitter, The North Face, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer Wednesday night that Garduce reached the summit of Denali in Alaska last June 6. He has been scheduled to arrive back to the country on Friday, Chan said.
He added that only three out of their nine-man team made it to the Denali summit. Garduce climbed with a team from the American Alpine Institute (AAI).
According to a text message sent by Garduce to Chan, the weather at Denali was bad and that the team encountered a 30-mile-per-hour windstorm and snow. ?Two minutes of wind iced our faces. (Our) goggles iced inside, you couldn?t see,? Garduce said in a message to Chan.
He told Chan he was ?hand navigating? by feeling his way through the storm with his arms outstretched in front of him as visibility was limited to around two feet because of the snow.
Garduce also told of a close call when a member of the team fell off a ridge. The rope that was attached to all the team members saved the climber, but Garduce said he was ?yanked out."
?Miserable. On the way down, we had to somehow semi-rescue that member because (he was) very exhausted and kept sliding and falling,? said Garduce in the text.
A dispatch from a team member posted on the AAI website said the climbers set out in ?pretty reasonable weather.? But as they neared the summit, the team was ?hammered by high winds and snow.?
In May 2006, Garduce summitted Mt. Everest, the highest summit in the world, after Leo Oracion and Pastour Emata, making the first Filipinos to do so. Oracion and Emata, however, have not climbed any of the other Seven Summits.
In August 2007, Garduce, a 38-year-old information technology professional from Balanga, Bataan, conquered Mt. Elbrus in Russia on his second try.
Mt. Elbrus in Russia is the highest peak in Europe at 5,642 meters or 18,510 feet.
The other summits included in the Seven Summits are Mt. Kilimanjaro (5,895 meters or 19,341 feet), the highest peak of Africa; Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina (6,962 meters or 22,841 feet), the highest peak in South America; Mt. McKinley or Denali (6,194 meters or 20,320 feet), the highest in North America; the Carstensz Pyramid (4,884 meters or 16,024 feet) in the Australian continent; the Vinzon Massif in Antartica (4,892 meters or 16,050 feet). Mt. Everest in Asia is 8,848 meters or 29,029 feet, the highest mountain in the world.
Besides Elbrus and Denali, Garduce has already scaled Kilimanjaro in September 2002, the first Filipino to set foot on the top of any of the Seven Summits. He climbed Aconcagua in January 2005 and reached the peak of Everest in May 2006. All that?s left for Garduce are the Vinzons Mastiff on Antartica and the Carstensz Pyramid in the Australian continent.
Besides climbing Everest, scaling all Seven Summits is considered the greatest mountaineering feat for any climber. Among Filipino mountaineers, Garduce has tucked in the most number of Seven Summits peaks in his belt. If he conquers the last two of the Seven Summits, he would join an elite club of mountaineers worldwide, which includes legends like Rob Hall and Reinhold Messner.
Garduce has also climbed Cho-Oyu (8,201 meters or 26,906 feet) in the Himalayan range and the sixth highest mountain in the world; and Annapurna (8,091 meters or 26,545 feet) also in the Himalayan range.
Filipino women mountaineers Regie Pablo, Noelle Wenceslao and Carina Dayondon scaled Denali in June 2006. In May 2007, they along with Janet Belarmino made it to the top of Everest.