Since my friends Fung and Teri posted photos of their recent Mt. Pulag climbs, this got me a bit envious because I’ve always planned on making a return climb to that mountain and once again conquering its summit. It’s one of the most exhilarating experiences one can have that’s quite doable and accessible even for non-mountaineers. Here are photos of my climb last May 22-23, 2010.
For this trip, I joined Travel Factor in one of their package tours. Just the weekend before, I also joined them in their Pahiyas trip in Quezon. That summer in 2010 was my most travel-packed in living memory and I felt that I could go anywhere I wanted, even if it meant climbing up the highest peak in Luzon.
I had to attend an orientation prior to the climb that would set our expectations as well as give us the dos and don’ts for this particular trip. If you remember, my work colleague Danna was supposed to join me, but she had to beg off because of her accident during our Taal Volcano trek. It’s a good thing that my friend Fung, whom I met in TF’s Marinduque Holy Week trip, also joined so I at least had a familiar face to talk to at the start.
Despite the fact that the Ambangeg trail is one of the easiest by any mountaineering standard, what was quite unexpected was the extreme cold and altitude sickness that I encountered at the start of the climb. The moment I realized I was possibly in over my head was when I already began to pant when I was just in the act of wearing my backpack.
Later on, i had to stop and rest barely 5 minutes into the hike. It was quite humiliating, and I guess that’s why porters are a big thing in Mt. Pulag. Unfortunately, I only realized I needed a porter when we have already begun. Fortunately, I somehow found the strength to continue and even got ahead of the tail-enders in certain stretches of the climb. It was half-desperation/half-pride that propelled me to make it to our campsite.
(By the way, one of the good things about being at the tail-end of a climbing party is that once you finally arrive, all the tents have already been set up. Hehe.)
Even though for the most part the experience was all sorts of discomfort, on a deeper level, I was happy with the fact that I was doing something new: I was exploring and I was pushing my limits. The summit assault the next morning was really great. I’ve never experienced a night trek before and I was surprised that it wasn’t as scary as I imagined, even at times when the person ahead of me and the person behind me were both already too far to see in the predawn darkness. The trail leading to the summit is mostly safe and easy and one would not encounter any accident if one just stays on the path.
Overall, a Mt. Pulag climb ranks high in the trips I’d recommend to my friends. If you are physically fit and without any serious heart condition, it’s a must even for non-mountaineers (like me.)