Also Read : How I Made It To Mt PULAG for Free
|Dream fulfilled! The sea of clouds in all its splendor ;)|
Mt. Pulag is the highest mountain in Luzon, 3rd highest in the Philippines, with an elevation of 2,922 meters above sea level. How I made it successfully to the summit without much trouble, I owe it to the right attitude, having the appropriate tools, some physical preparation, and God’s provisions. There are four major trails up the summit, the Ambangeg, Akiki, Tawangan from Benguet and Ambaguio from Nueva Vizcaya. We did Ambangeg, the easiest trail suited for beginners.
Preparation / Tips
Ambangeg trail may be the easiest trail, but it’s not like any walk in the park as others put it. An uphill walk for more than a couple of hours to reach the base camp was no easy task. My friend almost gave up midway the climb, exhausted and was gasping for air most of the time. Obviously, he took my reminders lightly in preparation for this climb. First time climbers will benefit from the following pointers below before going to Mt. Pulag:
- If you can climb some flights of stairs without any difficulty then you can handle the Ambangeg trail to Mt Pulag. Just develop the endurance to do that activity for 3 to 4 hours.
- For beginners like us, joining an organized and experienced tour group made our Mt Pulag climb hassle free and stress free. We joined Travel Factor and their Conquer Mt Pulag tour package costs 4,100 pesos inclusive of transportation, food and tent accommodation.
- Wear the necessary climbing gears, bring the right tools and be sure to have the appropriate clothing to withstand extreme weather.
- Develop the attitude of gratitude, a happy disposition and a sense of adventure.
- Don’t underestimate the cold weather at the base camp and at the summit. You’ll be sorry if you did.
- Finally, remember this quote :
“Mountains have a way of dealing with overconfidence.” - Nemann Buhl
Getting to the Ranger stationThe ranger station is located at Kabayan, Benguet. We left Manila on a Friday night on board a Byaheng Victory exclusively assigned for Travel Factor participants bound for Baguio. We arrived Baguio at past 4am and transferred to our designated jeep with our assigned group leader. Our 1st stop was at the nearest restaurant to have breakfast. This meal is still on our account, the succeeding meals, however were handled by Travel Factor. Next stop is at the DENR office to register for the climb and to hear a short briefing about the DO’s and DON’T’s of climbing Mt. PULAG. We skipped the talk in hopes of arriving earlier at the ranger station to secure a better spot in preparation for the climb. After 3 hours of winding road travel and one more stop to buy water, we reached the Ranger Station.
At the ranger station, porters are lined up waiting for their names to be called, but given the ample number of climbers during that weekend, I bet everyone got hired. Cleaning up and changing to suitable outfit for the climb was first in the agenda while here. This is the last stop where we still have access to a basic bathroom and a running water. Porter service is not included in the package, but hiring one for 500 pesos made my Mt Pulag climb easier.
|Porter Fee is 500 pesos for every 15 kilos of load|
Trek to Camp 2
|with the Travel Factor tour leader, Ron|
Interestingly, the real adventure began when we entered the seemingly never ending mossy forest trail. "Aren't we there yet?", we quipped, each time our friend, Cooky would show signs of wearing down. But he carried on amidst the difficulty, step by step until we reached Camp 2. We were fortunate enough, it didn’t rain that day, otherwise a muddy and slippery trail would’ve taken us a couple more hours to reach our camp.
The scenic views and the cool weather made the hike bearable and engaging. Stopping numerous times to snap selfie moments, take a breather and then amuse ourselves with how laughable our condition was.
Under these favorable weather conditions, our leisurely pace took us 4 hours to reach Camp 2.
|our tent, 2nd one at the top in an inclined position|
|LATRINE - an outdoor toilet that has a hole dug in the ground|
After dinner was served, all I can think of was dozing off in preparation for the hike to the summit tomorrow before dawn, but that alone proved to be a challenge. Lying down steadily at our inclined tent made sleeping difficult and despite wearing several layers of clothing and a sleeping bag the cold still seeped through the skin. A throbbing headache and an acid reflux made the feeling worse. I only felt better after throwing up and afterwards managed to sleep for 2 hours until we heard the wake up call to be ready in 30 minutes.
Trek To The SUMMITArmed with headlights, trekking poles, bonnets, gloves, thermal wear and wind breakers, we headed to the trail, mindful of our every step. The weather was perfect, the moon guided our trail and the lights coming from every hiker helped lead our way to the summit.
|Mt Pulag Summit /2,922 meters above sea level|
|Grassland, Mt Pulag|
|after breaking camp and heading down|
"Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time."
|Finally back at the ranger station with our constant company, the guides/sweepers|
Set the settings to HD for better viewing. This is how we found our way to the clouds. Catch our journey to Mt Pulag in action here in this video.