September 23, 2014

The Day Ely Fell

Tulong! Tulong!
Help! Help!

Cried a man from behind. I hurriedly turned around, and saw Ely fall.

Knife edge - part where Ely fell

I couldn’t believe my eyes. How could I? A man just fell from a height of almost 100 feet. The world stopped for a millisecond - even the strong wind became still. Suddenly, shouts can be heard from all parts of the mountain- above us, below us, everywhere.

Tulong! May nahulog!
Help! Someone fell!

Putang ina, wag kayo magbiro ng ganyan!
Fuck, stop making such jokes!

Tulong! Tulong!
Help! Help!

People running in controlled and uncontrolled panic crossed our path. I was dazed. 

A few minutes ago, I was just quietly listening to Ely’s loud remarks and jokes to his friends. I even took his photo just before the accident.

Why did that happen? I couldn’t accept it. Someone got seriously hurt (and potentially have died) doing something I love dearly. “Shit, I was the one who asked his mom to let him join this trip,” I heard Ely’s friend say.

My stomach curled. My initial reaction was to look behind me. There stood shakily, a little girl calling my name saying she’s scared. She was my newest recruit. I couldn’t let her out of my sight after that.

I got dizzy as I had flashbacks of people I invited before – people who had no experience and no physical inclination to handle trekking. I recalled how many times my friends used my name to ask permission from their parents, or how I personally talked to their mothers and asked permission for them.

I cleared my throat, “shit.”

Heaven forbid, but what if something bad happened to any of the people I invited. How will I deliver the news to their parents, to their mothers? What can I say to avoid breaking their hearts?

Nothing, of course.

I had been very irresponsible – asking anyone (everyone) to join climbs without even checking their ability to do so. My belief was that even if people cannot do it initially, they will be forced to do it once up there anyway. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Such activity is not to be underestimated.

“We have to go. It’s getting late."
"We don’t have enough headlights for a night trek,” reminded someone from our group.

And so, we continued the trip silently. No one talked. I stopped taking photos. From time to time we bumped into locals and mountaineers rushing to the site of accident to help the search and rescue team. I felt sick. I felt how incapable I am to extend help in times of emergency. The only thing I could do then was pass information.

The day Ely fell, I saw how reckless I have been. I saw how quickly conditions can change. And most of all, I  saw how dangerous hiking can be.

After all, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.


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