I am not a mountaineer but I love nature and I promised to travel more this year and the years ahead. I am turning 25 soon and I promised myself that I will set aside my weekends in 2016 doing something other that work or visiting places I’ve never been. Since the first working day of 2016, I have been doing otherwise – shutting my door out to people and spending the whole weekends trying to finish some work. It sucks and I was already burnt out catching some deadlines. Until one day, a colleague asked me if I want to climb Mt. Pulag – the 3rd highest mountain in the Philippines located in Benguet Province at 2,922 meters above sea level (masl). I haven’t really climbed any mountain (by foot) before and I want to do rigorous activities like this so I did not have to think very hard about it. Yes, I was so excited but with a little worry because of my surgery two (2) months ago but I went to my doctor and she told me that I am fit to travel!
That was not my biggest problem though… I don’t have the appropriate equipment to climb. I only have one pair of running shoes but the trail might be very slippery because of the cold and wet weather in Benguet so I need a pair of trekking shoes. I don’t have a trekking bag and any thermal clothes too. Fortunately, we still had one (1) month to plan and buy the things that we will be needing.
My colleague organized everything. She coordinated with Basekamp, Alimall, Cubao – a local mountaineering shop that also organizes trekking tours. They offer a Mt. Pulag tour package for PhP2,700.00 for two (2) days with the following inclusions:
- Roundtrip bus fare from Quezon City-Baguio-Quezon City via Victory Liner
- Chartered jeepney/van from the Victory Liner Terminal in Baguio City to the Ranger Station/Camping site in Benguet (2 hours away from Baguio City)
- Meals: Day 1 dinner; Day 2 breakfast and lunch
- Guide fee
- Certificate for climbing
- Basekamp Drifit t-shirt with “I survived Mt.Pulag” print
In our case however, we did not avail of the fare from Baguio to Quezon City because we stayed in Baguio for another night and so we purchased out own fare back to QC. Thus, we only spent Php2,200.00.
Basekamp will also require climbers to attend a pre-climb briefing at their shop. Time is flexible depending on when climbers are available. During the pre-climb briefing, they will discuss the itinerary and the things needed to be brought such as:
- Three (3) thermal/fleece jackets
- Two (2) thermal blankets
- Three (3) socks
- A pair of thermal gloves
- Sleeping bag
- Tupperware and utensils
- Garbage bag
- Trail food (i.e. jellyace, chocolate, biscuits, etc)
- 2L of water
- A smaller trekking bag
- Raincoat or Poncho
- And other necessities
Basekamp also offers rent of tents for PhP300.00 which is good for two (2) pax or you may bring your own tent. Climbers are also required to secure a medical clearance. No medical clearance, no climb. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will not allow anyone to climb without a medical clearance indicating that the climber is fit to climb and does not have asthma or any heart diseases. There were cases before where two (2) climbers had an heart attack and did not make it to the hospital.
In preparation for the climb, I bought a pair of new trekking shoes and bag because that’s what professional mountaineers say we should invest in. Besides, I can also use my trekking bag if I travel and my shoes for my next climb! For my clothes, I’ve decided to use my dad’s thermal jacket instead of buying new ones. I didn’t have a sleeping bag though, I just slept on my fleece blanket but it’s advisable for campers to bring a sleeping bag or pad for a more comfortable sleep.
Out itinerary is as follows:
Day 0, 06 February 2016
1030H- Meet up at the Victory Liner Terminal in Quezon City
Day 1, 07 February 2016
0530H – Arrived at the Victory Liner Terminal in Baguio City
0630H – ETD from the terminal to DENR Station; breakfast along the way;
0900H – ETA at the DENR Station – DENR personnel will brief the climbers; we waited for more than two hours for our turn because of the overwhelming number of climbers during that time (600 people!)
1330H – ETD from DENR Station to the Camping site
*I was not able to track the time we arrived at the camping site but we immediately went inside our tents to rest and freshen up.
1600H – We had our lunch at one of the locals’ house and went straight to sleep after. The organizers also provided dinner but we decided to sleep instead.
Day 2, 08 February 2016
0130H – Call time for breakfast
0300H – Started trekking to Pulag via Ambangeg Trail – the shortest trail.
0530H – We reached the tower/balcony. Unfortunately there was no clearing. We did not see the sunrise and all we had was fog.
0700H- From tower we went to the summit. It was a challenge because the trail to the summit is beside a cliff.
IF – We started trekking our way back to the camp site after an hour at the Summit.
1130H – We were almost at the camp site but our knees were already giving up so we took the Habal-Habal waiting at the end of the trail. They knew that there will be people who will give up (like us LOL). One ride costs PhP100.00. It was a good choice because it would’ve been another 30mins. of walking.
We reached the camp site; freshened up; and ate the lunch provided by the organizers.
1400H/1500H – We left the camp site for Baguio City. We spent another night in Baguio while the other campers left for Manila.
Day 3, 08 February 2016
1130H – ETD from Baguio to Manila
The organizers were really friendly and they took good care of us. It took us 8-9 hours to climb up and down the mountain. We did not see the famous sea of clouds and sunrise so I’m definitely going back! But the Pulag DENR Administration is already limiting the number of climbers due to “over-climbing” and might close the mountain for rehabilitation soon.
…pictures or it never happened!