Monday, 20 February 2012

Wet, windy and cold in Mt. Pulag

with first time climbers Gai, Eveline, Victor and Marge
There's a saying that goes "Heavy rains remind you of challenges in life. Never ask for lighter rain, just a bigger umbrella." Well, for last  weekend's climb to Mt. Pulag we needed a gigantic umbrella.

Mind you, we heeded all warnings before the climb. First, from our organizer Jay who repeatedly reminded us that it was going to be extremely cold. He was up two weeks ago when the weather dipped minus two degrees Celsius. And another from Tessa, who was in Nueva Vizcaya the day before filming, advised that it was going to be wet. In fact, she said "non-stop rain like mega putik (mud) and very cold at night. Bring raincoat and boots."

The telltale sign was the road condition from the DENR office to the Ranger Station. The jeepney had difficulty negotiating the muddy and slippery road and stopped several times. In fact, at one point, it was towed by another jeepney.
Spectacular view of Ambuklao River (photo c/o Gai)

Jay (second from the left) at one of the stops.

Muddy road to the Ranger Station 

Despite all the preparations for the cold and wet weather, the five of us - Gai, Marge, Victor, Eveline and I- were not ready to face the damp camp conditions and the winds. We arrived at the campsite early at past four in the afternoon and refused to leave our tent for fear of either getting blown away or soaking wet.  Jay was kind enough to deliver hot sinigang to our tent.  The wind also made the flysheet stick to the sides of the tent and thus, rain seeped through creating little pools of water inside. Yes, it was challenging to sleep.
The Ranger Station

Fortunately  due to strong winds and heavy rains, the assault to the summit at 3:30 am to view the phenomenal 'sea of clouds' was canceled.

Mt. Pulag is the highest mountain in Luzon at 2,922 meters above sea level which is a few meters less than Mt. Apo, the highest peak in the Phlippines at 2,954 meters. (To benchmark, Mt. Everest is 8,848 meters high).

The climb was supposed to be a walk in the park considering we opted to take the easy Ambangeg trail and Jay's crew did everything from setting up camp, pitching tents and cooking plus we hired  porters to carry our personal belongings.

Taking a break at Camp Ground 1 from left Joshua, me, Gai, Eveline and Carlo
After all that we've been through, we're planning our next attempt to reach the summit this coming March when it's sunny and warmer! To first timers, I strongly recommend to waterproof all your stuff with garbage bags and separate clothes with ziplocks. And to those with queasy tummies, pack your own breakfast and lunch!
Here's our itinerary:

Day 0
21:30 Assembly Victory Liner Cubao
2200  ETD Manila to Baguio City

Day 1
04:30  ETA Baugio City

05:30  ETD to DENR Station  (Breakfast, own account at eatery)
08:30  ETA DENR Station (for briefing and to secure permits and guides)

PAWB superintendent Mering who advised us to Respect Pulag and no kissing, etc.
10:30  ETD to Ranger Station
12:30  ETA Ranger Station for lunch and hire porters
13:30  Start trek
15:30  ETA Camping Ground 1 (rest in waiting shed)
16:00  Resume trek
1800   ETA Camp Ground 2* to set up camp/dinner/socials
   *we got to camp at 16:00, total climb was only 3 hours.

Day 2**
03:30  Wake up call
04:00  Summit assault and sunset viewing
06:00  ETA Summit/exploration/picture taking
08:00  Start descend to Camp 2
09:30  ETA Camp 2 / brunck/ break camp
11:00  Start descent to Ranger station
14:00  ETA Ranger Station to wash up
16:00  ETD to DENR to log out
18:00  ETD to Baguio City
23:00  ETD to Manila (to arrive in Manila at 5:30am)
   ** since the assault was canceled, we arrived in Baguio much earlier and thus in Manila at midnight.

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