Thursday, December 1, 2011

First Timer in Mt. Batulao

Location: Nasugbu, Batangas
Jump-off Point: Evercrest Golf Course, Nasugbu
811 Meters Above Sea Level
Difficulty: Minor Climb, 4/9

 November 6-7, 2010

Mt. Batulao was my first “serious” climb. Funny, but I called it as such, not because the mountain is very difficult to climb, it’s actually a minor one, but this was my first time to join a real climb---- with group of climbers, with itinerary and with climbing gears. I had already some hiking experiences way way back including Mt.Pinatubo in April 2010 but it wasn’t like this. In addition, since Batulao climb, I have started to rekindle my passion to climb. Joining a number of climbing events followed after this, particularly in the mid 2011. Before, I thought getting myself with a single climbing adventure would cost me so much but I have realized that it is absolutely not, particularly if you join a group. What may cost a lot is investing in climbing and camping gears but it still depends on your gear/brand preferences. And of course, if you opt a frequent climbing getaway, that would apparently cost you more.

I’d like to tell what convinced me to join a climb for the first time. Back in September 2010, a friend and dorm mate of mine named Jera, kept on inviting me to join their group in a climb. I always declined since I would have a conflict of schedule then; I had a weekend commitment, an activity of Lingkod Community (a charismatic community I belong). Come November, the series of that activity was about to finish and I got a chance to join in this Batulao event especially when I learned that Ate Elaine, one of our dorm mates was also joining. That was November 2010. I met BUSOG mountaineers, most of them are from HP just like Jera. It was really fun. 

Jera, Lauren and me when we started the trek from Evercrest Golf Course

Taking the bus near MRT Taft going to Nasugbu, three hours of trip and we were dropped off at the jump off point, Evercrest Golf Course. It was already late afternoon when we started the trek, we took the new trail which they said is easier than the old one. I enjoyed the first part of the trail, picture-taking as we hike and then we went ascending and descending on a series of up-down, up-down slopes. Because I was a first-timer, everytime it was an ascent, I was so regretful that I joined the climb and in every descent or any slope that is going down, I rejoiced, enjoyed the trail and thankful that I joined, hehe. 

The sun was already down and darkness already covered the mountain when we reached the campsite. We were like babies, maybe because we’re guests. Tents were pitched for us and somebody (I think Rose Garbi) volunteered to cook including others who helped. As for us, we just stayed lying inside the tent. It rained a bit on that night. We’re so thankful that it did not continue to pour more. We were just called when it was time for dinner and socials. After the delicious chopsuey dinner, we’re up for socials. It was a fun kwentuhan. We, the guests, first introduced ourselves and stated the reasons why we joined the climb. New friends in the air! Yeah! I met Lauren Ramos, Rose Garbi, Rizchell Sarmiento, Riz Ruan, Leween Agriflor, Charlie delos Santos, Arnel Madrid and the rest of the gang. I shared to the group a quote on my airtime—“don’t settle for the slope, go for the summit!” I heard it from one of the talks I attended. I just found it appropriate and timely to share with others.

We woke up early the next day for the sunrise at the summit. It’s around 20-minute trek from the campsite (on my pacing). And wow! upon reaching the summit, I felt so fulfilled and proud. It was my first summit! I was in awe at the 360 degree-views. Slope-full structure of Batulao was really amazing. We had fun-filled group pics and jump shots.

Group pic at the summit of Mt. Batulao

Now I can completely understand why it is right to start the trek in the afternoon. Batulao is an open mountain, uncovered with trees. One can really be burned with too much direct exposure on sun’s heat.. Night trek is also great in scaling this mountain.

View of Mt. Batulao’s slopes.. Taken from the summit, from there, we could view our tents where we camped

We went back to the campsite for breakfast, had our respective “tent downs” and went back to the jump-off via  new trail again. I sooo like the buko juice idea where we stopped and take rest on a small nipa hut where buko juice is being sold. Refreshingly good!

I must also add that on these particular dates, there were many groups who climbed. That’s the first time I knew that in the mountaineering world, climbers call each other by “Ma’am & Sir”.. and every time they met along the trail, they greet as if they know each other. Nice one! And of course, we learned the basic of mountaineering, the LNT rule (Leave No Trace).

This event was originally a combo climb, Batulao-Talamitam  but due to time constraints, when we reached the jump off point of Talamitam, we decided not to push through, we just stayed at the river there as our sidetrip. We had a lot of kwentuhan and piktyuran. The group really gave us a warm welcome even we were only newbies.

A rewarding meal awaited us at Mahogany in Tagaytay City, an hour drive from Nasugbu. Batulao or Talamitam climb would never be complete without a bulalo reward after the climb. But as for me who is not a fan of beef, Charlie, the IT guy of Busog mountaineers, recommended the Tawilis, small fish found only in Taal Lake, it comes as either grilled or fried and then dipped in soy sauce and calamansi.. i liked it! it was really good.

Tired yet full of good memories as we head back to our respective places in Manila.

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