Not Your Average Joe

High Altitude Adventurer

On my About Page, I’ve mentioned people who influenced me when it comes to traveling. Writing these is an homage to them. This is Drew, my mountaineering guru’s story.

“Some say it’s dangerous, I say it’s just another day at the office.”

– Drew

Andrew Gene Mendiola, or Drew is the perennial and certified outdoors man who started his backpacking adventures on his backyard – literally. He and his siblings grew up in an environment that was off the beaten track. They had a forty-eight hectare, mountainous and hilly farm where they grew mangoes and citrus crops. When they were kids, his dad allowed them to roam the land as much as they could – sometimes going home way past supper time navigating through the vast darkness of the orchard. Having this access to outdoors and nature drew him towards camping and backpacking. Mainly, he travels because there is so much of the world to see, a lot of new places to discover, and as a mountaineer, every climb to reach the summit is a conquest.

Mt Isarog National Park Deer Farm, Camarines Sur, Philippines
Cagbalingad, Caramoan, Philippines
Rancho Palos Verdes, Torrance, CA
Baguilin, La Union, Philippines

So far, his climb to Mount Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia is one of the most memorable destinations he has ever been to knowing that it is the highest mountain in Southeast Asia. He said, once you’ve climbed Mount Kinabalu with other foreign climbers, you get the feeling of belonging to a top-notch and world-class fraternity of mountaineers that has the penchant for high altitude adventures.

Now, he might not have climbed the Everest yet, but he already climbed most of the major mountains in the Philippines including and most especially the three highest peaks: Mount Apo in Davao province (2954 meters above sea level or MASL), Mount Dulang-Dulang or D2 in Bukidnon province (2938 MASL) and Mount Pulag at the Cordillera province (2922 MASL). In fact, his group’s climb in Mount Apo became the catalyst that later borne an outdoors activities club christened as Boulder Monsters Club.


Mount Apo Summit, Davao Province, Philippines
Mount Pulag Summit, Kabayan, Banguet, Philippines

Drew’s Steps in Preparing for a Safe Backpacking Trip

Backpacking may seem thrilling and adventurous but you still have to make sure of your safety. After all, as any backpacker would attest, you are at the mercy of nature.

  1. Determine your logistics. Research extensively on the area and pack accordingly.
  2. First aid kit is a must.
  3. Plan an itinerary.
  4. Determine how long the trip is and it’s accessibility to public transportation. Make sure to find out when is the first and last trip of major public transportations especially in very remote areas.
  5. Check the nearest accessibility to food, water source and other provisions.
  6. Note the nearest police station or local authority. Register if you have to. It’s important to let the locality know that you are in the area.
  7. Know who you are travelling with and set up a group structure and assign them individual responsibilities and roles.


John Muir Wilderness, Lakeshore, CA
Mt Thielsen, Southern Oregon Cascades

Conquering the Ultimate

Akiki Trail to Mount Pulag

It’s no wonder that Drew considers reaching the summit of Mt. Everest at Sagarmatha Zone, Nepal, the roof of the world, as his ultimate dream destination. Like many mountaineers, he considers it the holy grail of mountaineering being that it is obviously the highest of them all. For him, there is this unstoppable addiction to reach the roof of the world despite the many risks involved.



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