Filipino mountain climber Romi Garduce recently made a heroic comeback from his trip to the Antarctic Region after making it as the first and only Filipino to banner the Philippine flag atop the world's highest peaks. His most recent conquest was the Vinson Massif or Mt. Vinson - the 16,067-foot mountain lying in the Sentinel Range of the Ellsworth Mountains.
The Vinson Expedition concludes his 10-year quest to conquer the Seven Summits - the collective reference to the world's highest mountains located in the seven continents. The climb makes Romi the 15th Asian to complete the prestigious mountaineering record.
Romi recalls that he transformed into a tough warrior during this decade-old expedition. Journeying to the South Pole, his team was on-board a Russian cargo air craft which landed on a runway made of blue ice. Romi felt the rush running through his spine upon being greeted with hot coffee amid a cold -32 degree Celsius.
With his backpack weighing close to 100 pounds, Romi was challenged to reach Camp 1 and 2 of the massif, respectively standing at 9,600 feet and 10,000 feet above sea level.
With the comforts of festive food not readily available to welcome the New Year, his team feasted on a simple pizza. "Iba pa rin yung ikaw ang nagluluto at nagdadala ng sarili mong pagkain," he remarked over GMA late night newscast Saksi.
And even if the region was powered with 24-hour sunlight, the decrease in temperature was almost always felt.
From Camp 2, Romi's team made the trek to the "High Camp" - with an elevation of more than 12,000 feet. From there, Romi was a mere 3,600 feet close to both the peak of the massif and the culmination of his 10-year quest.
He officially summited Vinson Massif on January 5 at 6:45 p.m., Antarctica time (January 6, 5:45 a.m., Philippine time).
Fellow Filipino mountaineer Levi Nayahangan who accompanied Romi in this expedition, was not so fortunate, failing to reach the summit due to a respiratory infection.
Being the official media partner of Romi in his expedition, broadcast giant GMA Network (GMA) is proud to produce another Filipino champion and has prepared a hero's welcome for the venerable mountaineer.
GMA is set to air the most comprehensive coverage of Romi's successful summits in the special Pito Para sa Pilipino: The Seven Summits Expedition this February 2012. (GMA)