“Congrats TL!”, “Galing ng TL!”. Words that we always hear right after a climbing event. Thus, commending the team leader is already a mainstream, why not put the spotlight this time to the often neglected role in a climbing event which I believe also plays a very vital role, the sweeper. I want to share how I appreciate sweepers the more the moment I experienced being one during our Mt. Pulag climb. But of course, I do also recognize the efforts of our gwapong gwapong Team Leader, Mau Romarate. 😉
Sweepers may come in a group or an individual, it depends on the team leader. As a sweeper, you are tasked to be at the tail-end. That also means you’d be the last to reach the campsite and the summit and you have to stay behind the others who are climbing.
Looking into it at first, you’d think that it is an easy job since your primary objective is just to have everyone be able to complete the climb. It has both its pros and cons. Even though you wanted to have your pace faster than the usual, you just can’t because you have to keep up with the slowest climber’s pace. It gives you the advantage to get more rest and less pressure as well! But in cases that there would be a “fallen” climber, you’re supposed to buffer their inadequacy in order for them to complete the climb. Thus, sweepers must be sacrificial, patient, and competent at the same time. You have to prepare yourself physically as well or you don’t want to sweep yourself, would you? That’s gonna be hard! He must also be self contained so that in cases that an emergency camp is needed, his group can survive. He has to ensure that there are no items left in the campsite, else he would have to take them with him.
I would like to take this opportunity to commend Ms. Ruwen Libato, who was at the sweeper group last Mt. Pulag climb. Her big heart glamored as she guided the slowest and newbie climbers. And how she used her background in the medical industry to assist others just totally amazed me. She would ask us if we’re feeling okay and she had her ready medical kit just in case you’re already feeling weary because of altitude sickness. I swear, I told her that if I have a brother, I would definitely wanted to be her sister-in-law. Best Sweeper award goes to her! Haha! 😀
I believe that as a sweeper, you don’t need to give those fiery look just to scare off people and have them climb faster. That’s not gonna be the case. Instead, you have to encourage them to push for more, that they can do it. Give them the utmost help that you can give. Offer them your trail foods or spare them your Gatorade to boost their energy. Talk to them, tell them your success stories. Allow them to pause for a while to catch their breath if they’re already panting. Take five! Inspire them instead to relieve their stress. I believe that more than the established system of do’s and dont’s of the itinerary, the welfare of the guests and members is still more important.
I’ve written this in my previous post, 10 Life Lessons I learned through Mountain Climbing, and I want to reiterate it again. The greatest fulfillment in life is not on climbing your own summit but on helping others achieve theirs. If you haven’t tried being a sweeper, volunteer to be one. It is one of the hardest and most rewarding role in a climb at the same time. If I’m the team leader, I would definitely reserve the best spot in the campsite for the sweeper. Kudos to all the sweepers and would be sweepers! Good job! 😀