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Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Philippines is not only popular for its sea wonders particularly popular diving spots, beaches and sand bars. But more becomingly, a lot of Filipinos nowadays pampering their adventure to mountain climbing. Hikers (local and foreign) tend to like Philippine mountains due to its innate beauty, breathtaking landscape and most astonishing sea of clouds.
Mt. Pulag in Bokod Benguet, Sea of Clouds
One major goal of a mountain climber is reaching the PEAK or SUMMIT. As one of them (though not considering myself as a PRO), I will share to you my experiences for the past climbs I’ve been through.

Philippines is considered as one of the best hiking spots for mountaineers, not only for Filipinos but for all adventurous hiker. Numerous number of mountains trails discovered recently and still proliferating due to the needs of locality. Before we start, here are some basic knowledge and terms I’d learned about mountain climbing:
  • Traverse Climbing – passing across to another mountain or trail without going back-trailing
  • Major Jump-offs – start of the trail (also called trailhead)
  • Minor Climb – a climb that can be done on one day or day-hike
  • Major Climb – a climb that requires an overnight stay or depends on difficulty level
  • Harkor – Colloquial term for Hardcore climber
  • Sea of Clouds – clouds resembling a sea when you’re at the peak
  • Trail Class / Difficult Level – measures how easy or difficult when you trail.
  • MASL - meters above sea level, is a standard metric measurement in meters of the altitude of the mountain in reference to a historic mean sea level
  • Wash-up Area – house/hotel/river/ditch for changing clothes in at the end of the trail
  • Sweeper – group or individual at the rear end of a climb
  • BMC – basic mountaineering course which is required for major hike
  • Basecamp – place where mountaineers set up camp and leave things for assaults
  • Assault – the steep rock formations / or challenge along the trek leading to the summit
  • Limatik – blood leeches (be careful, specially it may attack on your eye)
  • GPS – coined as (Gapang Para Safe)
Most of these terms are always marked on my mind when exchanging information w/ my fellow trekkers, so better used to it or so-called Climb-speak.

My first hike began last November 2015 which is my mother mountain – Mt. Pulag via Ambangeg Trail located in Bokod, Benguet. This is my first ever experience in hiking and not surprisingly we’re not prepared (joke).  Though due to its easy trail, still difficult for me because a lot of elevated trails, ridges and extreme temperature drop as we ascend. It is expected to bring your winter/cold jacket, gloves, thermal layer suites, thick socks and a bonnet. My experience is awful because I’d just brought a shirt, gloves and a jacket. My fellow trekkers has 5 layers of clothing. What? I just said good luck to me! Along the trail, you will notice white visible air when you speak and it entertains me! (hahaha).

Mt. Pulag Scenic Landscape
Mt. Pulag Trail w/ My Selfie
There are times especially on the month of February that Mt. Pulag is under frost alert for hikers. Not mentioning, Mt. Pulag is famous for its majestic sea of clouds. In a glimpse, I feel like rejuvenated as I watched the flowing of clouds. Being thankful for these wonderful creations of God!

Next on my list, is Mt. Ulap, in Itogon, Benguet (October 2016). Mt. Ulap as I described, it has beautiful trails but it takes 3-4 hours to reach the basecamp. Scenic views of the Cordilleras mountains, grasslands (you will encounter lots of cows along the mountain trail), pine trees and burial caves.  As we diverging the trail, my toes were already bothering me and I longed to rid my feet of my shoes, but then, my urge and spirit never stop me to conquer the summit. 

Mt. Ulap, Me to the summit
Gungal Rock, Me standing at the edge

One of the highlights of Mt. Ulap is the Gungal Rock which is breathtaking rock formations. I encouraged myself to have an epic shot to stand at the ridge of the Gungal rock. It was a YOLO experience for me. This is it, finally after a lengthy trail, my fatigue gone when my team finally reached the peak of Mt. Ulap. We continued again by descending through traverse climbing down to our end point.

One of my unforgettable climbs is in San Clemente, Tarlac - Mt. Damas (November 2016). My first major climb and it was insane for me (lol). Why? Because you will experience more assaults for 2-3 hours river trek, rappelling, 80-90% angle trail and high cogon grass lengthy trails. If you are adventurous enough, put it on your bucket list. I’m very exhausted when I reached the summit around 1pm and the sun’s rays are like hell (not joking!). Despite of its challenging route, a very scenic views at the peak waiting for you, magnificent indeed! 

Group Picture at the Peak of Mt. Damas 
Ubod Falls in Tarlac

Upon descend, another reward waiting is the experience to view and swim the enchanting Ubod Falls. You don’t need an ice bucket challenge, just put your entire body on the clear cold water in the falls, that’s it! Grrrrrr! Grrrrr! We also take our lunch and little TOMA sessions (Kampai!). We thank God for returning our team back safely.

Another major climb and year-end climb for 2016, is the Rizal Hexalogy climb (meaning 6 Mountains in Rizal). My mind puzzling me, what? Is that for real? I just said YOLO (You Only Live Once! laughing). These mountains are located in Rodriquez, Rizal. Hexalogy comprises of Mt. Pamintinan, Mt. Binacayan, Mt. Hapunang Banoi, Mt. Ayaas, Mt. Sipit Ulang and Mt. Oro. When my team arrived in our major jump-off, I was surprised because a lot of hikers waiting in the registration booth. Other group are only twin-hike and trilogy and few are brave-enough to go hexa-climb! (We’re one of us! yeah!) Most of these mountains are famous for its limestones sharp edges and ridges. Be careful! You only live One, once you die (joke!). The past 6 hours I’d had spent for the first three mountains, it felt like the longest I’ve ever been in a mountain.
Peak of Mt. Hapunang-Banoi in Rodriquez, Rizal
One of the climax of my climb is the famous Mt. Pamintinan Peak, w/ my near-death-pose on the side of the ridge. Other peaks was also great, overlooking the Metro Manila and nearby towns. As I seat on the edge of the cliff, I’m still thinking of my adventures and experience in life rather than my problems and bad moments I’d been through.

Mt. Pamintinan Ridge, Epic Pose
Each mountain in Rizal is extra-challenging because of its sharp rock assaults so I need to hold each rock firmly and GPS (Gapang Para Safe!). Every stop, I’m thinking should I give up? Or Go Back? (I said NO!). Even though I have blisters on my feet and I resemble like an old man begging for air and water, I’d still choose on track. You will also pass through streams so better watch the slippery big stones. Most of us didn’t finish the hexa-climb though still a worthy experience for them (and me also, lol). We descended around 8pm.
I still have a lot to blogged about my climbs. But it’s enough for now, I’m still by-far to other hikers and by far to other difficult to climb mountains such as Mt. Guiting-Guiting, Mt. Halcon, Mt. Sicapoo, etc. These mountains require BMC, medical certificate and 3-5 days hike. Just wait for me!

The more difficult, the more challenging, the more rewarding!
Your main GOAL is to conquer the summit! Break a Leg Hikers!
We MUST appreciate and protect the wonderful creations of GOD!

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