This month we sit down with Mikhail Gorra, "Mik Mik" to many climbers. He heads up Guru Climbing Gym in Cagayan De Oro City. Let's listen to what he has to say about owning a gym, bouldering, and climbing in general in their hometown.
Mikmik at the finals of the National Bouldering Comps, 2nd Leg, Dumaguete. Photo by: PhilPrins Photography
Hello Mik! Let's start with who you are and what you do in and out of climbing
I'm Mikhail Gorra. I spend my days riding horses and managing my climbing gym. I live a simple life. I have a strong passion for climbing and I made that my life by putting up my own gym and making it a business that sustains me.
So, how'd you get into climbing?
I first experienced climbing in Vancouver, Canada. I wanted to take up skateboarding but there were no lessons for it. My aunt suggested climbing, so I took lessons in Cliffhanger Rock Climbing Center. That was where my climbing life began. The people there told me I was strong, but, I think they just said those things to keep me climbing.
After taking lessons I started working in the gym as a belayer. I stayed in Canada for a year and climbed in that gym for 10 months.
Any major climbing milestone so far?
I can't exactly remember all the boulders I've done and all the routes I've climbed. I wasn't alone when we discovered climbing sites. I never climb alone outdoors.
Climbing is for everyone
How is the climbing scene in your hometown?
Climbing in CDO [Cagayan De Oro] is fun. It makes a simple person like me feel adventurous. There are so many boulders that have yet to be discovered. The routes are difficult and challenging. There are varied types of boulders present here, as well - granite, limestone, etc. There are easy routes and then there are very hard routes that have not been graded yet.
Let’s talk about outdoor climbing in your area. CDO has been garnering a bit of attention with your bouldering areas. How do you feel being so near these beautiful boulders?
I feel grateful to have these bouldering spots 20-30min away from me. They are very accessible. When we feel like going outdoors we just go. Not all the boulders here have been cleaned and climbed. There are so many of them. Even beginners and experts can climb in the same area and find routes that suit their level. Outdoor bouldering is still being developed here, but the location, the accessibility, the convenience and most of all the variety of boulders are all present.
What’s one (or two) routes/lines that you will not forget in CDO’s nearby crags?
There are so many boulders [here] that are difficult to climb. I have projects I finished and projects that I haven't finished. Each boulder has a different approach. Some are very crimpy, some very slippery, some are a mix of crimp, mono finger pockets, and slopers.
The climbers of Cagayan De Oro. Photo By: Repapipz Etabis
Any tips for our local and foreign climbers who plan to visit your area? What should they expect, eat, drink, and experience?
For those who want to visit CDO it's not that difficult to get around. It is a developed city. But to get to the bouldering sites you have to talk to the local climbers. All the climbers here are welcoming and approachable so just go to Guru or other gyms and they will gladly join you.
CDO is known as the city of golden friendship, there are nice people here. Food is not expensive. Accommodations like hotels and inns are available. People come here to find adventure and they leave with awesome pictures of their fun experiences.
Regarding owning a climbing gym, how difficult is it to manage a gym in general? What are the ups and downs of having your own?
Like a regular business, it is not easy. A lot of unforeseen factors affect how we run the gym. Factors such as weather and resources. People think that climbing is for the fit. That's why not a lot try it. Slowly we are trying to change this type of thinking in our city. Climbing is for everyone. We have our good days and bad days when it comes to business.
Photo by: Repapipz Etabis
For the benefit of our readers and those, what are the gym rates and business hours of your gym?
GURU Rock Climbing Gym opens from 4pm-9pm. We open anytime during the day if there are 4 or more clients willing to climb. Our rates are very affordable, walk-in rate is P80/person for an unlimited climb. Our monthly rate is P300/person.
GURU began out of passion which became my life.
The second leg of the CDO Bouldering Comps recently concluded. When is the next leg and what shall we expect from the third leg?
The second leg was a success! There were over 40 participants who supported it. The competition is hosted by the Mora siblings. The champion of the 4 legs will be sponsored to join the National Bouldering Competition.
These series of competitions in our city aims to motivate climbers to train, so that one day they can represent our city in the Nationals. The competition also aims to find the best of the best and give them the opportunity to join the Nationals despite several constraints.
The third leg will be on August 16, 2015. It will be held in Guru Rock Climbing Gym.
If you don’t mind, what are the future plans for Guru?
Guru is still young and growing. There is plenty of room for improvement. The climbing community is also growing here in CDO. GURU hopes that great climbers may train here and represent it in the future. We will continue to host and support competitions here and anywhere else.
What’s in your climbing calendar within the coming months? Climbing trips, events you plan to visit
On august the third leg of our CDO BOULDERING COMPETITION will be held in GURU. A tentative schedule for the Nationals might be on September in CDO.
Once again, thank you Mik for this opportunity. Any closing remarks you want to say?
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share with you info about my gym, the climbing community here in CDO, and the outdoor adventures, climbers can experience when they come here.
Big thanks as well to GURU ROCK CLIMBING GYM, Portside Trucking Services, Swift Travel and Tours, VIAJERO, Alwana Sports Avenue, LIME. These sponsors have always supported the climbing community in CDO.
Check out Guru Rock Climbing Gym in Facebook for updates and contact information