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THE LAST... continued

Trail safety is a concept most of us feel strongly about but rarely ever do anything at all in regard. It's a reality that is slowly creeping up on us from behind, and nobody seems to be looking! The local "outdoor adventure" population grows exponentially each year, and the absence of a universally accepted framework for safety preys upon the newly baptized, like hawks to a hare.

Recently, a climber was lost in the foothills of Madjaas mountain in Panay Island, and despite several weeks of search effort from numerous volunteer groups and individuals, that climber remains at large up to now. At 2,090 meters above sea level Madjaas is one of the highest points on the island and, like many other local mountains, had been identified as an insurgency-active area in the past. At press time, there have been no further updates on the status of the search despite the best efforts of the Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines, UP Mountaineers, Ilo-ilo Mountaineering Club, PAL Mountaineering Club, UP Visayas Mountaineers, CEBU and other clubs and individuals. Fred Jamili of IMC confirmed that the missing climber was last seen 2 hours away from the trailhead in barangay Flores, near Culasi. Rescuers have since meticulously searched the area near the place of the last sighting, extending the search effort for at least a month and a half.

In a similar incident, a few hundred kilometers to the north, on Mt. Maculot in Cuenca, Batangas, several climbers went missing during the Holy Week climbing season on that mountain. At about the same time, a rocky promontory adjacent to the "saddle campsite" suddenly erupted in flames. This conflagration prompted many of the campers to abandon the campsite and descend to safer areas on the lower slopes. As the excitement died down, three of the missing climbers found their way back to the "saddle" and immediately sought help from a number of climbers who were said to be milling about nervously, engrossed in conversation about the fire that suddenly engulfed part of the camp. Richard and Christopher Puso, brothers who looks after the "convenience store" at the campsite, remember clearly being in a state of helplessness as they tried to control the blaze without the help of any of the campers. The three climbers opted at that point to descend and eventually found themselves in the house of Captain Guillermo Lunar of barangay Pinagkaisahan.
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