Going Up! A Few Reasons Why I Climb

It’s 3:30 in the morning and I’m writing this as quickly as I can. When I’m done with this, I’ll be preparing my packed lunch, and will stuff my bag with all my trail food, water, extra shirt, and other necessities. Yup, I’ll be climbing again today! 😀 So why do I do it?

1. Because of the Rush — the planning stage allows me to get excited about something and actually looking forward to something at the end of the week gives me a certain kind of rush similar to that feeling of looking forward to a surprise gift my BF told me he will be giving.

2. When there’s a climb, I suddenly feel like everything makes sense — having a job, all the exercise to stay fit, and the effort to be in shape.

3. ME-time — I don’t need to get to the summit to be able to have my me-moment. Walking through the trail allows me to think about anything and everything that’s going on in my life at the moment and this time to be able to be alone (with other people) is helpful for me.

4. The food! Seriously, ANYTHING as simple as hotdog and rice or canned anything with rice is sooooooo good when eaten in the mountains (who agrees with me???). 🙂

5. That bittersweet feeling when you have to go back to reality, while reassuring yourself that you’ll have to just keep coming back to the mountains. Even before it’s time to go, I’ll be planning my next climb already.

These are just a few of the million reasons why I climb and I’ll have to start getting ready now for my Manabu climb. Watch out for my post-climb article! Thanks for reading and I hope you have an awesome day ahead!

SLTB

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Never Underestimate the Mountains

With another news about a mountaineering accident that happened just a week ago, we are again reminded not to underestimate mountains. According to Rappler, a QC resident (58 y.o.) passed away last Monday due to a heart attack while resting at Camp 1. Although the temperature then was 4 degrees, the town doctor did not confirm that the death was due to hypothermia.

One thing I realized with my first Pulag climb is that the Ambangeg-Ambangeg trail is difficult not because of the trail itself, but because the high elevation and the temperature can be quite shocking (check out my blog in three parts: 1, 2, & 3). It was my first time to climb at such elevation that I had to take several stops because of shortness of breath and chest pains. My lungs took a while to adjust to the air which is thinner compared to what I’m used to in Manila. And the temperature? Because of the rain, we slept in the Rangers’ Station. I had to wear 2 shirts, my jeans, and my trekking pants outside my jeans (couldn’t wear my jacket because it was soaking wet). I slept with the emergency blanket inside the sleeping bag but I was still shivering with cold.

Climbing a mountain is difficult — any mountain. This is why everyone is encouraged to do thorough research and preparation for each climb. No two mountains are similar and it is important to keep in mind that nature can be very unpredictable. Even though packing light is a must for every mountaineer, do take all precautions that might be needed in that particular mountain you are aiming to climb, and make sure you are mentally and physically prepared for anything.

Be safe everyone!

SLTB

P.S. Deep condolences to the family.

Erratum: According to a family member of the deceased, he passed away not at the foot of the mountain nor at camp 1 but at camp 2, after 4-5 hours of trekking. He had a heart condition but insisted to pursue the climb. The cause of death was cardiac arrest due to hypothermia.

Mt. Pulag: Amba-Amba (Graduation Climb part 3)

“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.”
Ed Viesturs, No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks

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October 19, 2014 — I Could’ve…

The plan was to climb back up the summit really early in the morning to be able to catch the sunrise and see the sea of clouds. BF and I, however, decided that it’s 20141019_071505best to stay at the station and not risk having hypothermia because of the chills earlier in the night (we would later on find out that there were campers who had to be rescued because of hypothermia while at the campsite). Although I regret this decision because those who did pursue the summit were rewarded with clear skies and a magnificent view of the sea of clouds, I’ve come to peace with myself with the thought that I will not stop climbing mountains and that I’ll definitely come back to Pulag.

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Ranger Station

We had lunch courtesy of the rangers… Le Chef and Mr. Ranger were able to buy huge chickens that would satisfy twenty-something stomachs. The rangers were the ones to cook them into two dishes — pinikpikan (tinola, but bitter), and dinuguang manok. It was one unique experience for all of us to be able to watch the whole process — from the preparations, to the actual cooking. I don’t really eat dinuguan, but BF (and everyone else) said it’s the best dinuguan he’s (they’ve) ever tried. It’s probably the slices of smoked meat (probably etag?) that the ranger added… 🙂

looking into the future
looking into the future

 

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I was not able to reach the summit, yet  I would consider Mt. Pulag as my favorite mountain. It is where I made new friendships, pushed my self beyond what I thought was my limit, and allowed my self to step back and put safety before anything else. It is my greatest challenge so far, and I will keep trying again and again if I have to, until I get to the point wherein I can reach the summit through all trails.

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The group went back to Baguio in the afternoon, stopping by the DENR Center along the way to log out. We had dinner at Good Taste Cafe & Restaurant (Buttered Chicken, FTW!) and looked for pasalubong. BF and I walked around the Night Market and bought some clothes before going back to Manila (via Victory Liner).

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Maybe I didn’t deserve that sea of clouds just yet, but I will work for it and make sure I’ll deserve it. I am not much of a goal-setter, and I have doubted my rationality once in a while because of mountaineering — Do I really wanna climb? Why am I doing this? What’s the point of going? Yet, despite all the questions, I went. And every time I go to a new place, I am reminded that there is more to life than the fast life in the city… and I look forward to the next adventure.

 SLTB

Mt. Pulag: Amba-Amba (Graduation Climb part 2)

“Climbing a mountain is a passion, not a competition”

October 18, 2014 – “I’m in Baguio!!”

Wet RoadThe trip from Baguio to Manila took about 5 hours. I couldn’t believe that I’m finally in Baguio! I was trying not to let my excitement show, but man, I gotta try that Strawberry Taho! (OMG, it was so good… and the regular-flavored one had a deeper flavor than the ones sold in Manila, so better get Taho when you’re in Baguio!)

Anyway, we left Baguio at 5 AM to go to Benguet. Although the cold was tolerable, it was drizzling and it seemed like the rain will not stop anytime soon. We had breakfast along the way and reached the DENR visitors’ center at 9 AM for our registration and orientation.

orientationSigning in at the DENR center is required for the regulation of the mountaineers going to Pulag. A 15-minute video will be shown before a short discussion. T-shirts and other souvenir items are sold at the center, while several other stores are available just across the street. We were able to buy some rain coats, gloves, and bonnets at one of those stores. These proved to be really helpful throughout the whole trip. Preparations for the climb were done after lunch before heading out for another 2 hours of drive to the jump-off site.

The Ranger Station is the main jump-off point for the Ambangeg-Ambangeg trail. Restrooms and bathing areas are available for use of the mountaineers.ranger station logo The weather and cold temperature was making us hesitant to pursue the climb. After several minutes, it was then decided that we will start our ascent by 3 PM. It was still raining so we had to protect ourselves from getting wet by either using raincoats or even garbage bags.

 

Hiking in Unpredictable Weather Conditions

We found out later on that the rain was due to an LPA. We pursued the trail until about a third of the way, when we met two people from the Akiki-Amba group going our way. They told us that all the campsites are flooded, and that the rest of the group were on their way to the Ranger Station as well. We were hesitant at first, but the team leader decided that it’s for the safety of everyone to just go back. Walking in the rain was tough. And the wind made things worse… I’m just thankful that I’m in good company — and that the guide was friendly. 🙂

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Our Guide: Ate Noemi
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Last minute pictures before heading back to the Jump-off site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We stayed at the sari-sari store in front of the Ranger Station to warm our tummies with coffee.

Simply holding the cup of hot coffee was heaven... actually drinking the coffee was bliss!
Simply holding this cup of hot coffee was heaven… actually drinking the coffee was bliss!

 

Ranger Station: Our Temporary Shelter

We were allowed to stay at the Ranger station after our team leader sought the help of the Rangers.temp They were very kind to us, and accommodating too. Dinner was Tinolang Manok, cooked by our own chef — Sir Aris. There’s nothing better to have in this weather. 🙂

The cold was soon becoming unbearable as the temperature reached 2 degrees on the scale…

Sleep is difficult to come by when you’re shivering/freezing. It’s much more difficult when you’re trying to get sleep on the cold, cold floor.

Watch out what happens next in the last of the 3-part blog series! 🙂

SLTB

Mt. Pulag: Amba-Amba (Graduation Climb part1)

Victory liner(Cubao) was the choice of transportation for the Manila-Baguio travel or this Pulag trip. To make sure we all have seats, the organizer of Turin Outdoor Group bought our bus tickets beforehand — a few days before the departure date.

Buses leave at a 15-minute interval. A long line of chance passengers await in the hopes of an available seat so I highly recommend getting a ticket at least a couple of days before your target departure date. Do make sure that you come on time, or else your seat will be given to another passenger.

The facilities at the terminal was better than other bus terminals I’ve been to. The restrooms are clean enough, and tissue can be acquired from the cleaning lady at the door. There’s a tv, a charging station, and a couple of stores selling food and drinks for your trip, too.

We boarded the bus about 10-15 minutes before 11pm. We left the station at exactly 11 pm and it’s been 2 hours of travelling already. The trip is quite pleasant ride so far, and the choice of radio station is quite tasteful as well — 96.3 Easy Rock (I can hear some fellow passengers’ snores though, hehe).

Anyway, I gotta go get some shut eye. Please do keep checking this blog for updates. I’ll try to upload an update as much as I can. Good night guys!


SLTB
P.s. I can’t wait to get to Baguio!! (Finally)

Pulag… Soon!

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
― John Muir

I haven’t climbed in a while so I’m afraid to say I’m really not in shape — I will have to put in a lot of effort in the upcoming climb. I will be climbing Mt. Pulag (Ambangeg-Ambangeg trail) with BF and some friends this weekend, and I’m really excited about the trip!

I’m looking forward to the sea of clouds, going around Baguio (never been there yet!), and strawberries! Strawberry season starts around October, so I’m looking forward to some yummy strawberries… ❤

 Watch out for updates!

Ta-ta~!

SLTB

Falling in Love with Nature — Mt. Batulao (My Second Climb!! -late post)

After a good climb last December, I was very eager to climb again. Planning would get me excited, and it really is nice to have something to look forward to especially when your time is mostly eaten up by work/studies.

BF and I decided to organize another minor climb, this time at Mt. Batulao. Since I haven’t done much climbing yet, most of the organization, and other responsibilities were taken care of BF, while I simply invited people and kept the registrations, itinerary, and other documentations stuff .

Surprisingly, we were able to gather a bigger group of people for this climb. It was fortunate that the scheduled date (March 1 – 2) was convenient for everyone and was no last minute backing outs among those who confirmed.

Now, to get to Mt. Batulao, you would have to take one bus ride from the DLTB bus terminal along Buendia. After, more or less, a three-hour bus ride, you’ll have to get down at Evercrest Golf Course… and you’re on your way! Actually, some would prefer to take a tricycle ride going up to the jump off point, while some would simply start walking… We just walked. 🙂

One member of the group was late because the bus he rode broke down, so we started the climb by 8:30. Contrary to the previous climb (see here and here), this trail was more complicated, with lots of combination of assaults, ascending, descending, and straight narrow paths. Take a little time to pause and see if you have a clear sky, because the stars are simply AMAZING. It took us about two hours to finally reach peak seven, where we were able to find us enough space for the group to pitch camp.

Peak 7, packing up before descent

Including our group, we were about four groups at the location where we put up our base camp. Considering the number of people who stayed there that night, I would say that peak 7 was a good choice for a base camp.

The next day, we found out that just below the next peak (peak 8) is
also a good spot for a base camp. There is also a small store here, and a “restroom”.

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Peak 8

I found the descent to be more exhausting than the climb th previous night. The majestic sun didn’t shy away from showing off its power and we were thirsty about half the time. It was a good thing that along the trail, scattered are few stores run by locals selling fresh buko (coconut) juicehalo-halo, and Mountain Dew. By peak 4 or 5 (sorry, I forgot which), one can enjoy lugaw along the refreshments.

Buko, Halo-halo, and Mountain Dew
Buko, Halo-halo, and Mountain Dew

We only spent P222 per person for the transportation to and fro, plus a little over a hundred for the Arroz Caldo for breakfast of day 2 (at peak 8 yo!), drinks and halo-halo. After-climb bath cost P20 per person at the sari-sari store in front of Evercrest (where we got down fro the bus on day 1). After the climb, we all went our separate ways, and BF and I went to Tagaytay for lunch which cost us about an extra 500 (inclusive of the jeepney ride to Tagaytay and the lunch itself). Overall, BF and I have spent about P1100 for the climb and side trip. Not bad at all! 😀

Looking back, organizing a big group after a climb with only four people was tougher than I thought it would be. There were many challenges that go with keeping a bigger group organized, especially if many in the group initially haven’t met each other yet. And giving instructions do not indicate whether the participants would actually follow or not. Unluckily, there were a few “campingers” (click here for definition) in our group… Nonetheless, I would consider the climb a success as new friendships and memories were created alongside new plans of more climbs together in the future! 🙂

Click here for the itinerary for this climb.

Catching the sunlight
Catching the sunlight
A fine day for camping :)
A fine day for camping 🙂
View of Peaks 9 - 12
View of Peaks 9 – 12

 

Your little buddy.