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Rock Climbing in Wawa, Montalban

Rock Climbing in Wawa Montalban

A route with a view. Photo courtesy of Dennis Pagayon

Wawa in Montalban/Rodriguez, Rizal is a well known destination for mountain bikers in Metro Manila. But this little rural village on the foothills of the Sierra Madre is also a mecca for another tribe of outdoor sports enthusiasts. Rock climbers flock to Wawa Montalban because of its limestone cliffs which offer some of the finest and most challenging climbing in the Philippines.

In my ten year on-and-off love affair with climbing, Wawa has always occupied a special spot. The first time I went there, I gazed stupefied at its cliffs. I did not know that there were walls like that so near to Manila. I’ve gone there two more times since my first visit, and it has never been boring. Just looking at the cliffs can make you dizzy with both dread and anticipation. With some crags shooting up more than a hundred feet, you need to be a real badass to try to scale them.

Rock Climbing in Wawa Montalban

Scaling a 50-foot cliff can be fun

Last Sunday, I got to visit and climb Wawa again thanks to the “Love on the Rocks” fun climb organized by the Power Up crew. Fun trivia: Every now and then, Power Up organizes fun climbs like these to acquaint gym rats with the real thing. When it’s done in December, the fun climb is called “Jingle Bell Rocks.” When it’s in February, it’s Love on the Rocks for reasons that will not be belabored here.

Rock climbing, for those who are not familiar with the sport, involves scaling a sheer rock face using nothing but your hands and feet. Climbers wear harnesses which are tied to ropes to help protect them in case of a
fall. For more info on the basics of rock climbing, check out these excellent articles on Adrenaline Romance.

Rock Climbing in Wawa Montalban

Gax “The Legend” Ilanan makes it look easy

Rock Climbing in Wawa Montalban

You have to line up for your turn

Rock Climbing in Wawa Montalban

Thanks to Travel Up for this great photo

Rock Climbing in Wawa Montalban

There’s a kind of rush when you reach the top of the world :p

Rock Climbing in Wawa Montalban

Veteran rock dude Gax sets up a route on Veranda

The spot we climbed was called Veranda, because well, it had a pretty good view of the surroundings. Four routes were prepared by the Power Up crew led by veteran rock dude Gax.

The easiest of the routes was around 40 to 50 feet high with plenty of hand holds. The only crux (challenging part) of the route was a slight overhang which gym-trained people could easily overcome.

A more challenging route (for perpetual noobs like me) was the one which required you to move sideways after climbing 15-20 feet high. If you don’t read the route correctly, you could end up several feet over the traverse point. This would require you to climb down, which is more difficult than climbing up.

And finally there was the route on the left-most side of the cliff which was the most difficult climb on Veranda.

Rock Climbing in Wawa Montalban

One goin up, and one goin down

Rock Climbing in Wawa Montalban

Vertigo is not an option

A lot of people have the mistaken notion that climbing is very dangerous. While falling from a cliff is not exactly conducive to one’s health, this rarely ever happens. Climbing equipment like ropes, harnesses, quickdraws and belaying devices are generally bullet proof when used correctly.

Climbing, however, isn’t easy. You need to put in lots of time to get strong and become skilled. It’s also one of the most anaerobic activities you can do. Even just a few minutes of climbing can get you wasted, and make you feel like you just ran a marathon. Climbing ability also fades away fast when you stop climbing even for just a week.

I was mildly surprised that I wasn’t feeling wasted after doing two routes. I was actually expecting to fail since I had done only one hour of climbing this year, and that was five weeks ago. Thankfully, I still had some grip despite this.

I would have loved to climb some more, but I had to be back at work by 1pm. Yeah, it sucks when you’re having so much fun, but then you have to bail because you need to work even if it’s a Sunday.

Anyway, it felt very good to be back on the crags. The climb was even more special because proceeds from the fees would be donated to Aling Norma. Who is Aling Norma? If mountain bikers in San Mateo have Aling Tina, climbers and bikers in Montalban have Aling Norma, who runs this store in Wawa, which through the years has become the de facto watering hole for climbers and bikers who frequent Montalban’s crags.

Aling Norma's eatery

Love on the Rocks was organized to help Aling Norma who had an accident

Aling Norma had an accident which required an operation, and the climbing community was doing its share to pitch in. We all hope she gets better soon.

When you think about it, climbers in Metro Manila are quite fortunate to have a spot like Wawa, which is just an hour and a half away from the Power Up gym in Tandang Sora. This is almost like having a surf spot right in your own backyard.

For those interested in sampling rock climbing in Montalban, check out this excellent post in Climb Philippines. That website is definitely the best resource for people who are interested in sampling what climbing is all about.

Rock Climbing in Wawa Montalban

Comfy slippers like Mojos are a must because your feet will hurt like hell when they’re in those rock shoes

Rock Climbing in Wawa Montalban

Rock climbing chisels you like few other sports can

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  • Nice rock climbing spot! We definitely hope to visit Wawa, Montalban as this is one of the birthplaces of rock climbing in this country.

    We see no hangers on the cliffs. Can the routes be lead climbed or just top rope?

    • hi, there are plenty of spots in wawa. the spot we picked (which is for newbs :p) is mostly top rope. there’s another spot accessible by 30 minute hike which is all lead climbing, it’s called uling wall. actually, madami pang iba πŸ™‚ thanks for dropping by

  • is wawa the closest from Manila for outdoor rock climbing?

  • Hi! Im planning to go rock climbing din sa wawa pero mag-isa lang ako. Paano sumali sa mga groups at may schedule ba sila for climbing? Thanks

    • outsideslacker

      May 29, 2014 at 11:30 am

      hi rin, you can drop by powerup ts to inquire. they sometimes schedule trips to wawa and other climbing destinations. you can also hire one of the instructors as a guide pero medyo expensive pag mag-isa ka lang. good luck sa trip πŸ™‚

  • HI, thanks for this post. I’m new to climbing and I really want to go outside and do some rock climbing. My only option place is wawa dam and I’m planning to go there. I’m waiting for some Power UP event for wawa dam rock climbing to join because I don’t have any equipment to setup the route and I don’t how to do that :P… anyway thanks again for this post. And just some questions, do you know where I can buy some rock climbing hardware gear like carabiners or quickdraws here in metro manila? And do you know ROX sell that kind of stuff? I looked at their FB page and I don’t see any post about rock climbing hardware πŸ™‚

    • hi kitkat, yup ROX sells carabiners and quickdraws. if you want to join a power up event, just drop by any of their gyms and ask around. climbers there sometimes just get together and climb on weekends without announcing an event or invite on their fb page, but they’ll welcome anyone who wants to join πŸ™‚

      • Hi, thanks for the info. I just inquired to ROX about BD quickdraws but unfortunately draws are out of stock. I saw someone selling mad rock quickdraws in FB locally. But I’m hestitating to get that because I read some poor reviews, like its easilty to break. πŸ™

        Yes I’ll definitely go to Power UP gym and ask if I can join their group for rock climbing πŸ™‚

  • NIce article po. Balak ko pong umakyat sa wawa dam pero di pa ako nakakapunta run.. gaano po ba katataas ang mga route sa wawa dam para makapag prepare po ng tamang haba ng rope.. ?

    • hi bro. i’ve never heard of climbers going to wawa with anything less than the standard length (60m). may short routes and long routes so best carry a full length kahit di mo gagamitin yung buong haba. the best info on wawa can be found on climbphilippines.com kung gusto mo magpasama o humiram ng gear, contact the guys at power up. they sometimes organize climbs there that are open to the public

  • Hi po. Salamat po sa article nyo. Saan po sa wawa dam ung mga crags? Balak ko kasing pumunta run at kumpleto naman gears ko. Salamat bro!!

    • hi bro, 2 popular areas to climb in wawa are “veranda” and “uling.” veranda is just a 10 minute walk from aling norma’s. may footpath na papunta dun na daraan sa ilang kabahayan, tanung-tanong ka na lang sa mga locals dun. uling is a bit farther, mga 30 minute hike. i always refer those who want to try climbing in wawa, esp. uling to the people at Power Up Climbing Gym. mas kabisado kasi nila ang lugar dun at ang level of difficulty ng mga ruta. mabait naman yung mga tao dun and they’re always ready to help a fellow climber. hope this helps πŸ™‚

  • Hello po.. magkano po climbing fee sa wawa dam? balita ko po wala na si Aling Norma. Saan na po ako kukuha ng climbing permit? salamat po!

    • hi tsampy, sorry for late reply. last time i was there 20 pesos lang bayad sa barangay, environmental fee yata tawag nila dun. yup, last year pa pumanaw si aling norma πŸ™

      ps. if you want to join a group climb, try contacting peops at power up. madalas sila dun ngayon

  • Hi!! I am looking for climbing partners and interested to check out Wawa Dam in the coming weekends of October. Would you know anyone who’d be interested? πŸ™‚

    • Hi odyssa, check out the facebook page of powerup climbing gym. they may have something lined up for october, which is the start of the climbing season πŸ™‚ last month they organized a bouldering trip to daraitan in tanay

  • Does anyone know if there is a guidebook available for Wawa crag?

    Many thanks

  • Hey, nice page! Myself and three friends are thinking about visiting here for a climb but we are on holiday so don’t have full equipment (only shoes, harness and belay plate). Do you know of anywhere which offers guides and equipment hire please? Thanks.

    • Hey, you can try the guys at Power Up Tandang Sora. They organize trips there πŸ™‚ try their fb page or drop by the gym