Garduce: Everest ascent matter of time
- Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran () - May 11, 2006 - 12:00am
Weather permitting, UP mountaineer Romeo "Romi" Garduce said he will finally launch his daring assault of the Mt. Everest summit in the next few days, hoping to complete the job in about a week and thus become the first Filipino to do the feat.

In a video satellite interview with local sportswriters at GMA Center yesterday, Garduce said he’s done with the acclimatization climbs and he’s now waiting for good weather to begin the final phase of his historic climb of the highest mountain in the world.

"There’s no definite date yet when I’ll start the assault because the trail from Camp 4 to the summit is still closed. But once the trail is opened, my assault begins," said Garduce.

The 37-year-old seasoned climber from Balanga, Bataan said he’s feeling upbeat despite difficulty in breathing and the adjustment in food intake.

"So far, I’ve suffered only mild illnesses. It’s a good sign that I’ve acclimatized with the altitude weather," said Garduce.

The intrepid Filipino adventurer is back at the Base Camp after recently making it to Camp 2, which is 21,300 feet above sea level. He’s with the GMA-7 Everest Team which is documenting history in progress.

The GMA-7 five-man team led by reporter Jiggy Manicad isn’t scaling the summit but its task is no less daunting - capture history in the making and beam it live to Filipino households.

Manicad and company will stay at Base Camp and use high-tech equipment to cover every step Garduce makes in his ascent to the roof of the world.

Also with Garduce and the GMA-7 team at the Base Camp at present is Henry Nakpil, president of the UP Mountaineers group where Garduce’s interest in mountaineering started in 1991.

Nakpil brought Filipino food from UPM members, including bagoong, chicharon, herbal green tea, fries and pandesal. Nakpil also brought lamp shades made from sea shells which Garduce would give as souvenirs to his Sherpa guides.

On the controversy that the Everest climb has become a race between him and a team of senior Filipino mountaineers backed by ABS-CBN, Garduce simply shrugged it off, saying he doesn’t regularly receive news from the Base Camp.

As far as GMA-7 is concerned, GMA-7 vice president for news Jessica Soho stressed they’re just documenting history in progress. "Romy sets the schedule and the pace of his climb," Soho said.

"Covering the news, especially events that shape the nation’s history, is part of GMA News’ commitment. There is no doubt that the prospect of a Filipino climber ‘summiting’ Mt. Everest is such a big news, newsworthy event, thus, GMA’s decision to cover Romi Garduce’s summit attempt," said GMA supervising producer Michelle Seva.

"Expedition gear manufacturer The North Face, which represents Garduce, approached us late last year. He was at that time the only Filipino climber who was scheduled to attempt to summit in 2006," Seva added.

Garduce, meanwhile, said he’s taking no short cuts to ensure safety and precision in accomplishing his goal of reaching the Mt. Everest summit.

The first Filipino to climb an 8000m peak in Cho Oyu, Garduce said trekking the South Pole, the Sahara and the Amazons are among his other ultimate dreams.

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