Wednesday, December 14, 2011

First Step in Mt. Pulag: Astonished!

Mt. Pulag via Ambangeg (January 27-28, 2011)
Location: Kabayan, Benguet
Jump-off Point: Kabayan, Benguet
2922 Meters Above Sea Level
Difficulty: Minor Climb, 3/9

During this time, my desire to climb and embrace the beauty of nature intensified. I seemed to be so electrified to scale more mountains. I knew that the year 2011 would be a climbing blast for me. I planned to join more climbing events. January 2011 was a crucial period at work as it was a year end financial reporting and at the same time, regulatory audit period. And yet I was so hopeful and excited for the much awaited first Pulag climb of BUSOG mountaineers. Though we learned that we would be taking the easiest trail, that was Ambangeg in Kabayan, Benguet… the fact was still we’ll be conquering the Luzon’s highest.

We prepared so much for this as we knew that we should be ready for and be serious on the kind of cold temperature in Benguet. January is one of the months of the year when cold weather is literally and seriously chilling.

Taking the Victory Liner on such ordinary yet exciting Friday night with most of us exhaustedly came from our respective offices and work, we arrived in Baguio at around 4am the next day. That was Saturday. We hired a jeep going to the DENR (where we attended an orientation conducted by the DENR people) and to the Ranger Station.

Writing this up and recalling our entire Pulag climb give me so much joy as during this time the bond among BUSOG mountaineers gets deeper. I could say that this is one of the most memorable climbs of us, particularly that majority of the active members joined.

We started the trek at 9:30am. In the middle of Ambangeg trail was assault but after reaching the Camp 1, one could enjoy the rolling mossy trail. It was the first Benguet mountain that I scaled and I was really amazed by its beauty—orchids… rich mossy trees, I all love them! There was also a water source along the trail. 

Afterwards, we started to land in Camp 2 where plenty of grass bamboos comprise the mountain. There we set our camp. I was one of the few who arrived there first. I so love it--- little grassy islet-like mountains!

Time passed by, it started to get colder and colder. I normally experience cold weather but this was my first time to feel a different "chilling moment" and wow, the fact is that I was enclosed by mountain! The coldness is different compared to just an ordinary cold places I’ve been. We could not easily tolerate the temperature, and because of so much coldness, we had a very early dinner and already inside the tent by 6pm. My tentmates were Jera and Ate Elaine on a Columbia tent owned by  Aris Ruan. Thumbs up for such a great tent! However, during the night, I only prayed for survival and for me to endure the cold inconvenience. .Until now, I could still vividly recall the "shivering moment" I have experienced inside the tent and the fact that I wore a 4 layered-outfit with 2 jackets included. I was lying down and it felt like I was standing in a block of ice. It felt so cold given that I was wearing thick gloves and socks.

We were so early the following  morning like 2am to prepare for the summit and to witness the sunrise. ‘Really funny how our noodles for breakfast gets cold in just a matter of a few minutes.

After filling our stomach up, we started the one-hour trek to the summit of Mt. Pulag. It was so foggy and raining. We waited for the sunrise but nothing came up. We were just there hugging each other. There was even no clearing. It was a total fog that we witnessed. On our way down, our guide told me that just the day before, there was a sea of clouds. How unlucky! But reaching its summit for the first time at 2922 meters above sea level was already a great accomplishment. At least, there’s still a reason for me to go back.

 We drove back to Baguio with our hired jeep. Tired and happy for the companionship of everyone in the group and for joy in climbing not only one of the highest mountains in the Philippines but also one of the most popular ones.


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