Entry to Exit Point: Olango, San Fernando to Tampayan, Magdiwang
2,058 Meters Above Sea Level
Difficulty: Major Climb, 10/9 (As assessed by Remy Robiso, one of those who pioneered the traverse)
There's a perfect time for everything! Finally I had my fair share of Mt. Guiting-Guiting climb experience. Originally set April of this year but it was cancelled and so I set myself to target it again in June, which of course, is already rainy season and therefore it didn't materialize. I felt the urge though of still climbing it even if circumstances seemed not to allow me yet to go there. Came a time that I stopped planning to climb it but i'm too curious of what it feels like to conquer a mountain which they say is seriously tough. Actually, when my climb buddy, Dennis, climbed it for the first time in December last year, I requested him to pick up a stone for me so that I could have a reason to return it this 2012 (hey, we broke the Leave No trace Rule) I held on to that promise. (Side story: Buddy Dennis Hisanan, in his first time to climb G2 made it to finish the traverse in about 19-hour dayhike. Yes, a dayhike! ^_^ ).
So I set again a plan C setting the climb on the long weekend of November. Know what? I was hesitating but still said Yes. Unsure. Admittedly, I was climbing with an incomplete excitement, not so mentally prepared, unsure and with pressure. Never knew something very beautiful memories and experiences awaited me upon climbing this mountain.
Mt. Guiting-guiting, in my opinion, is a dream mountain for every climbing enthusiast because of its intimidating difficulty that one could take pride upon every succesful conquest. Popularly known as "G2" by the mountaineers, it is considered as one of the most difficult and technically challenging mountains in the Philippines. Located in the heart of Sibuyan Island, Romblon, the traverse we successfully made was via San Fernando to Magdiwang. As of this blog, there are only two routes that can be done in climbing this mountain: first is the traditional trail in Sitio Tampayan, Magdiwang (backtrail) and the second one is the traverse, an entry point in Sitio Olango, brgy Espana, San Fernando exiting Magdiwang. The traverse was opened only in 2009 according to the guide, Tatay Remy Robiso, a popular guide of the traverse and one of those who pioneered the Olango trail. According to him, it was such a great accomplishment then for him when he was still a park ranger and working for DENR.
Targeting G2 will not only require strength in climbing it, but also patience in hassle rides and at the same enjoyment in the long sailing thru ferry. And so a very long trip was faced by us in the quest of reaching the Sibuyan Island.
It was Wednesday then and the ship route to Romblon was only up to Odiongan (Tablas Island). We traveled to Batangas Port in the afternoon and it was almost 7pm when the ferry left the port). It was an irritating ride. We bought the Fiesta Class ticket (non-aircon) and I just have to say this without mentioning the name of the ferry—bed bugs are rampant. I could not sleep well. I even got my arms swollen because of the bites. I just thought we should have instead taken the aircon room even though it would cost us more bucks, at least it could have been a comfortable ride.
|In a hurry to ride a boat at Romblon Port|
|unplanned stop over and picture taking (on our way to Sitio Olango)|
We arrived at Tatay Remy’s house in Sitio Olango, Brgy Espana in San Fernando and then later had a meet-up and asked for the blessing of the town’s Mayor (actually we have been warned of the mountain’s difficulty). We spent the night at Tatay Remy’s house.
|view of Mt. Guiting-Guiting from the town of San Fernando|
|Just before leaving Camp 1|
|a very steep assault|
As we continue the trek, succeeding assault trails followed. It felt like it's a continuous Cardiac trail of Mt. Makiling. We reached Camp 1 after more than an hour. Surprisingly, the next trail was literally rocks, both cliffs at each side . Truly, buddy Dennis is right when he told me that everything about the trail is rock. It' a very long steep climb, multiple times as Melkas ridge of Mt. Makiling. Just like what the guide says, anyone who does the traverse should have strong arms. Each step is literally a climb and one would require to exert his/her great effort in order to sustain the trail. To think, we just took the new trail called Team Outdoor Pilipinas and it's already tough. According to Tatay Remy, the old trail is harder-- a side trail directly facing the cliff. Throughout the trek, we encountered a number of beautiful flora and fauna and big pitcher plants. Some of them are same size as my shoe. On the other hand, buddy Dennis was not feeling well then. From time to time he threw up and he looked fainted. He was wondering, considering he already traversed the mountain through a dayhike last year and he was behaving like that. Probably it was because of lack of sleep and he didn't eat before we get started. Tatay Remy was also already asking him if he could sustain the climb but he pushed through and he made it until Camp 3 where we ate our lunch and thankfully he has recharged himself. He’s back to life!
|flora and fauna|
From such point, we were already behind our itinerary yet still within the maximum time we can stay there. Delayed though, the target was, we should be leaving Camp 3 by 1pm and favorably, at 12:45pm we were able to resume. From that point, we could completely view the rocky structure of the peaks of Mt. Guiting-Guiting. Extra care must be the first concern as when you look around, cliffs seem to scare you. The next target after Camp 3 was to reach the Crash site by 3pm. An open trail followed. There was an area there that i would not forget--- a side trek with a first glimpse of "kiss the wall" followed by a high assault by stepping into separate knife edge - shaped rock making a deep hole between the wall rock and such separate rock. Tatay Remy was supporting my steps. I was shaking for the first time with the “127 hours” movie in my mind. It's my biggest fear—Rocks, where I could be hanging on the ere along the cliff (now you may question why I still climb even with such fears.. I don't know either. Perhaps, I just know I can overcome it).
|I was shaking here!|
|trekking up Remvaldely's Peak|
Nightfall came and we haven't reached the summit because apparently, our strength were gradually deteriorating owing to the fact that we're almost 14 hour- trekking as of that moment. We continued anyway until we were able to get to the top! It felt great to have come to that point.
To my surprise, we were able to spot the silhouette of Mt. Mayon which seemed to glance at us confidently with its perfect cone. That was the kind of clearing given to us on that faithful day! We were also able to see a part of Bicol region.
|the perfect cone|
|me--> at the 90-degree descent|
More rocky descents followed-- then reaching the Peak of Deception with Mayon appearing on the other side from time to time and then down to Mabel’s Spring where we took a 15-minute rest. The first few hours of our descent already consumed a great amount of my strength and it made me slow down. I was able to regain my strength after eating spaghetti and some biscuits.
|The four of us- Dennis, Matelle, Ced and Benedict with the background of saw-toothed peaks|
We reached the knife edged and I was back to life, our target was to reach Mayo’s Peak by 2pm. I enjoyed the trail though very dangerous, it challenged me! What was on my mind then was: should I get back here after all of these and take again all of these difficulties? I also realized how I value my life that I have to be very careful every step of the way,of course with the mindset of successfully finishing it. Just like our journey in life, I guess.
|Buddy pointing the trails we would be trekking at ahead including the knife-edged part|
|foggy trek on the rocky knife-edged trail in the pursuit of reaching Mayo's Peak|
Reaching Mayo's peak finally, we took enough rest and later prepared to descend again. After a few minute-walk was a spacious campsite. And there are no more rocks! I was telling to Tatay Remy that, that kind is the mountain I know. From Mayo’s Peak to Guiting-Guiting summit down to the other side, it’s was a peculiar thing to me ^_^ A mountain of rocks, a pile of rocks, that’s G2!
The following day was a fine sunny day and smooth two-ferry trip to Batangas Port.Thankful to God, we made it!
|bidding goodbye to the mountain who challenged me a lot yet taught me not to give up. Til my next visit. :)|
2 Day ITINERARY