After we have our Mount Ulap climb in which it gave us a warmed up and wonderful views, our next climb was the beautiful and highest peak in Luzon, MOUNT PULAG.
Mount Pulag is the highest peak in Luzon (2,922+ MASL) and rated as top 3 highest mountains in the Philippines. This mountain is considered to be one of the most beautiful with a very majestic ocean of clouds (I didn’t used the word “sea of clouds” because it’s too mainstream haha!) and possibly the most breathtaking scenery among all mountains here in the Philippines. There are at least 3 most common trails in which climbers can have: Ambangeg, Akiki and Tawangan Trail. Ambangeg Trail was the easiest among them. Akiki and Tawangan Trail have different type of difficulty and specs but based on ratings, they are both 7/9 trail difficulty.
This is how we spend our holy week, I mean advanced holy week. Actually at the time when I was not offered to have this opportunity by Clyde, My top pick at those moment was Mount Apo which was more convenient and accessible to climb (coz it’s near to our place). When the time I was offered to have this trip, at first I was reluctant to joined because I might not be granted a 1-week leave on my work (work it is! haha), but due to my eagerness and itchy feet to climb and wander, I did my best to secure a leave and then grabbed this opportunity. Luckily, all is well and goes according to my plan. Yahooo! 🙂
Our departure time from Davao was March 18, 2016 at 8:45 AM. I was in rushed at that time because I was came from my night shift duty, and immediately go to airport and thank God, I arrived just on time (what a relief, phew!).
We arrived at 12:10 PM. The sun and heat were unbearable. This is not my first time here in Manila so good thing that I knew the route and what to ride going to our destination. To lessen our travel expenses, we go to Baclaran LRT station and ride a train going to Tayuman Station where our friend, Sir Jondie Fuerte (Owner of Camp Anahaw Travel and Tours) nearly resides. Sir Jondie and her wife, Mam Anne accommodated us and let us stay overnight on their house while waiting for the arrival of Bebot, Ms. Em, Jhaii and Patie.
After our climb at Mount Ulap (refer to my previous blog for more information), Sir Jondie provided us a place where we can stay overnight and prepare for this climb. Guess what? our stay at that time was free. Yes! Sir Jondie had a friend in Baguio City that can provide a free accommodation for us to stay overnight (we’re so lucky haha!).
We departed at Baguio City as early as 4:00 AM so that we can arrived before 8:00 AM at Mount Pulag National Park Visitor’s Center to register. While we’re traveling to Kabayan, Benguet (3-4 hours from Baguio City), we caught a glimpse of some parts of Cordillera mountains. The cool and ambiant weather gave us calming and relaxing state to ease our worries and stress. Also, it shows us delightful scenery in which it signifies how beautiful and fortunate our country in terms of having a blessed natural resources.
Hikers are required to register at Mount Pulag National Park Visitor’s Center before proceeding to Ranger Station (Jump-off of Ambangeg Trail). The Visitors’ Center outside walls are filled with different banners brought by previous mountaineering teams with pictures of Mount Pulag’s famous sea of clouds and it’s grassland in which it brightens and gave us more excitement and feel energized. Inside Visitor’s Center, there are pictures of climbers being pasted on the wall which serves as their memories on the said mountain. Also, they’re selling shirts, souvenir items and certificates for those who wants to avail and have a remembrance of their adventure.
Hikers are also required to attend a 30-minute pre-climb briefing in which it entails the do’s and don’ts during the duration of climb, history, safety guidelines and more data about Mount Pulag. Make sure to save or note the contact number provided on the center just in case of emergency, response can be immediately provided.
When we are at the registration area, our plan supposedly was Akiki-Ambangeg Trail but Akiki Trail was closed at that moment due to ongoing forest fire investigation (on my part, that was a relief haha!). One thing that got me nervous and uneasy when we go through Akiki Trail was the 9-11 hours assault in which I think, i’m not ready physically and emotionally but deep inside, my mind always telling me to try it! haha! But when we heard that the said trail was temporarily closed, it somehow lessens my worries and nervousness. We have no choice but to take the Ambangeg-Ambangeg Trail. some of the mountaineers labelled it as “The VIP trail” maybe for the reason that, it has an established trails and very good for a first timer who wished to have a major climb but in terms of technicality, can be considered as minor climb.
After the pre-climb briefing, we boarded our van and headed to Babadak Ranger Station (Jump-off of Ambangeg Trail) which encompasses a 1 hour travel time. At Ranger Station, trekkers may hire a porter and local guide and at the same time register/log-in. As we arrived at the Ranger Station, we immediately packed necessary things to bring and hire a local guide.
Here it is! We start our trek at around 9:30 AM. The weather condition was calm with a breathtaking scenery. As we continue to trek, a lot of crops, vegetation and as well as rice terraces welcomes us in which it bolster our excitement to proceed and continue our venture. 🙂
The highlighted part of which I pointed was the grassland and summit of Mount Pulag. As I watched it, I wondered and questioned myself on why am I doing this well in fact there are a lot of ways on how to be productive. Sigh!
After a 1 and 1/2 hour trek, we reached the Camp 1 station of Ambangeg Trail. We rested for a while and wait for the others to arrived. There is this elevated spot in Camp 1 wherein a lot of beautiful and exotic plants are planted. We immediately go and took pictures on it. Beautiful scenery with matching exotic trees and bloomed flowers serves as a background on our picture. haha!
We continue to trek and our guide name Jessica informed us that another 2-3 hours trekking time is needed to reached the Camp 2 where we decided to set our camp. During our trek, we passed by a mossy forest in which it adds up on giving a much cooler and cloudy weather condition and also my first time to witnessed it. It feels like you’re in a “Lord of the Rings” settings. haha! Also, water sources are available, so we stopped over to refill our container. 🙂
After a 2-3 hours trekking at Camp 1, we finally reached Camp 2. Yes! We took a rest after a breathless and tiresome trek and find a place to pitched our tents so that we can have our stay and gathering (in mountaineers, they called it as “socials”). 🙂
Me, Clyde and the rest are busy pitching the tents (As if I was helping them to pitched those tents. haha kidding!). After setting the tents, we started to feel the foggy, calm and cool environment in which it makes us feel quiescent and lethargic. haha!
The weather starts to get cooler as the sky became more gloomy and dark. Before we prepare our dinner, we used to strolled around the Camp 2 and took pictures. As you can see, Clyde managed to got naked while us are fully equipped to resist the cold weather. phew! On Camp 2, beautiful grasslands as well as exotic plants and trees allured us and makes us feel the nature. The weather was refreshing and relaxing but as the sky gets darker, the cool weather starts to penetrate our body to the point that we must need to have multiple layers of shirts and jackets. To support our body due to coldness brought by the weather, we had our mini-socials after our dinner, featuring our very own, rhum and whiskey. Luckily we’re able to hide two bottles of liquors despite the implementation of liquor ban due to recent incident happened a week before this climb. According to our local guide, there was these group of climbers who were very drunk and making scandalous scene and babbling around the campsite to the point that other campers were reacting on their doings. So the tourism and DENR decided to banned any liquors upon climbing.
We slept early after our socials so that we can woke up early for tomorrow’s activity; To the summit – the most awaiting and exciting part in every climb! Hooray!
We woke up around 3:30 AM for us to arrived on time in the summit and witnessed the sunrise as well as the sea of clouds. Very cold air surrounds the mountain that if you are not ready and prepared, it will become a great burden because the temperature have been recorded to reached at zero or even negative degree Celsius especially if it is between November to February, imagine that! A 1 to 2 hour trekking time is needed to reached the peak. As we night trek, we encountered a lot of climbers heading to the summit. Some of them are from Camp 2, some are coming from Camp 1 and Ranger Station.
Around 5:30 AM, we finally conquered the summit of Mount Pulag. Yahoo! As the sun goes up, the feeling of hope, new beginning and fulfillment keeps you from striving hard to live your life to the fullest and forget all the sacrifices we made to got through up in this mountain.
This first major climb, though in terms of technicality, not considered to be a major climb as compared to other mountains with an elevation of 2,000+ and up MASL (i’m not underestimating the trail or difficulty on Ambangeg trail here) was one of the most unforgettable and another milestone in my life. Such a privilege and somehow boost my pride on conquering the highest mountain in Luzon and top 3 all over the Philippines and witnessed one of the most scenic and ravishing view i have ever witness in my life and again, I can proudly say that, “I did it”. Not all people are privileged and fortunate enough to reached and see what i and other mountaineers who’ve conquered this mountain witnessed this kind of place, and it that sense, it makes me amazed and feel blessed that God revealed and brought me into this kind of place.
As the sun continuously rising up, sea of clouds are visibly seen and that keeps me more astonished by how God created this world. I was being reminded of how He sends his only begotten son, Jesus Christ to gave us the gift of salvation and life. I am very thankful for this rare opportunity to celebrate holy week at this mountain. This advanced holy week climb was really a worthwhile one! One of the best moments of my life. 🙂
Before we descend, we cherished every minute we had on the summit. We took a lot of solo pictures and even group pictures (in the name of profile pictures haha). We are thankful for having a good weather and clearing. Sea of clouds were very visible and welcoming us to have some pictures with them. hahaha!
On our way to Camp 2, we saw a good spot for us to have some pictures and here’s the result. Wonderful sunrise plus sea of clouds. Thanks to Clyde for taking these beautiful pictures (feel sorry for him for he wasn’t able to joined the group picture haha).
As we finally went down, we noticed a lot of multiple trails which was once a narrow one-person trail. On that trails, we noticed and concluded that, massive number of trekkers visit this mountain and some of them don’t stick to the original trail thus leading to widening and creating multiple trails. 😦
This signpost was one of the indications that you’re near on Camp 2, and also directs trekkers to where they want to go. Usually if you’re on this location, most of the time the trekkers will go to Camp 2.
When we arrived at Camp 2, we immediately took our breakfast and fixed our tents so we can arrived at Ranger Station before midday. On our way down, we say goodbye to these beautiful wildflowers and as well as the grasslands of Mount Pulag. Gonna miss this adventure. Sigh!
After 3 hours of long but smooth descend, we finally arrived at Ranger Station. Yepeee! While waiting for our van to arrived, we accidentally met Empoy together with famous online outdoor seller, Sadeck Miguel. Such an opportunity to met them.
We dropped by on Visitor’s Center for a while to get our certificates and bought some souvenir items. On the wall with pictures that I’ve said a while ago, I putted my own picture as a sign and living testimony that I climbed and conquered the highest peak in Luzon.
This was a great adventure to be remembered. Such a wonderful and fun-filled opportunity to climbed this mountain together with your friends. Another achievement unlocked and valuable lesson learned. Just like what I have said on my previous blog, never underestimate every mountain whether it is rated as easy climb for we do not know what will happen. The weather condition, possible danger that we might encounter and a lot more awaits us in every climb. I was very blessed to have this opportunity and never regret that I joined and accept the invitation of Clyde. These memories will forever be cherished and treasured. By this, i was more determined to challenged myself to more difficult and more technical mountains. The feeling of climbing the mountain makes you see the world, not so the world can see you. Hoping for more adventure like this – by God’s will. 🙂
I would like to thank my climbing buddy, Clyde for inviting me in this adventure and for giving me advises and tips on what to do and on being a mountaineer (isa kang alamat, haha!). To Ms.Em, Bebot, Jhaii and Patie for the company. To Sir Jondie Fuerte and to his wife Mam Anne for providing us the service and for the hospitality that you gave to us. Lastly, to God for the protection and guidance throughout the adventure. 🙂
HOW TO GET THERE:
If you’re coming from Manila:
1. Ride a bus at Cubao or Pasay bus terminal going to Baguio City. If you are at Victory Liner Bus Terminal, the trip starts from 1:00 AM with a five hours interval until 12:00 MN for a first class trip with a fare of 750.00 Php. For regular aircon, the trip is 24 hours with one hour interval with a fare of 460.00 Php.
TRAVEL TIME: 4-6 HOURS
2. Rent a chartered jeepney from Baguio City going to Ranger Station. [Php 8,000 good for 18 persons].
TRAVEL TIME: 3-4 HOURS
3. Mandatory registration and orientation at DENR Visitor’s Center which cost Php 225.00/head.
(1) Secure a medical certificate for it is required upon registration.
(2) Due to it’s popular demand, there have been reports that the mountain are “fully booked”. Much better if you will inquire at their office by contacting DENR-PASU (09196315402) so that you can secure a slot. I advise to avoid securing a slot during weekends or peak season (during holy week). By the way, I got the contact information at http://www.pinoymountaineer.com.
4. Secure a guide at Babadak Ranger Station. Fee is Php 500.00/1-5 persons.
TREKKING TIME: Ranger Station to Camp 1 [1-3 HOURS]; Camp 1 to Camp 2 [2-3 HOURS]; Camp 2 to Summit [1-2 HOURS]
NOTE: Just like what I have wrote on my previous blog, we have our private service on this trip. The above expenses and instructions is based on what I know on how to get there. I asked several individuals and as well as personnel on Visitor’s Center and Ranger Station on the expenses and fees so that I can justify the information I’ve gathered.
BREAKDOWN OF EXPENSES:
Php 460.00 [x2] – Bus Fare (Manila-Baguio-Manila)
Php 8000.00 – Chartered Jeepney good for 18 persons (Baguio-Ranger Station-Baguio)
Php 225.00 – Registration fee at DENR Visitor’s Center
Php 40.00 – Certificate (optional)
Php 500.00 – Guide fee good for 1-5 persons
*In the above expenses, food and other related fees (souvenirs, tips, etc) are not included for it may depend on you itineraries, preferences and other miscellaneous expenses. Also, if you wish to know the itinerary of this trip, feel free to comment below. Thank you. 🙂
NOTE: THE ABOVE EXPENSES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT PRIOR NOTICE. BETTER TO KEEP UPDATED AND RESEARCH AHEAD OF TIME TO AVOID ANY PROBLEM. 🙂
For those who wants to have a less hassle climb at Mount Pulag, just contact our friend, Sir Jondie Fuerte, owner of Camp Anahaw Travel and Tours at 0917-376-6445 or visit their facebook page, Anahaw Tour Services. They also offer trips such as Ilocos, Sagada, Calaguas Island and also day hike and major climb such as Mt. Pinatubo, Mt. Ulap, Mt. Pulag and many more. Our March 18-24, 2016 trip would not be possible without their help. Very accommodating and generous indeed.