Off my Bucket List, On my Brag List: The highest, The Farthest, The Most Difficult and The Most Beautiful Mountains

December 26, 2010 Mountain Climbing

With all the mountains on my bucket list accomplished, I am ending the first decade of the new millennium with a bang. 

Here is a roundup of my years 2000 - 2010 adventure with the highest, the farthest, the most difficult, the most eventful. 

The Highest List

Mt. Apo (Kapatagan-Kidapawan traverse)

The highest mountain here in the country has a lot to boast of. What I really like about Mt. Apo is the variety of terrain, with the boulders as my most favorite despite the overwhelming stench of sulphur wafting in the air. 

The first sighting of the boulders from the mossy forest is actually dramatic. I also like the wilderness feel of Goody goody camp, the swampland leading to Venado, the Boracay lunch camp in the middle of the boulders, and of course river crossing at Agco River. 

What I didn't like? Well, the guides. You have to constantly remind them to leave no trace. Goody Goody campsite is filled with empty bottles.

Mt. Kinabalu

Mt. Kinabalu, the 20th tallest in the world, is the highest I've climbed so far and my only attempt outside the country. 

It took us the whole day to climb from the Tipohon gate to the Laban Rata rest house (3,270 m). It was actually interesting meeting porters along the way who carried supplies and equipment to Laban Rata, even a toilet seat. 

Dinner buffet was served at the Laban Rata rest house. We didn't know. We had to carry our supplies. 

We reached the summit just after sunlight on the 2nd day. The summit plateau afforded us magnificent views. We could actually spend hours there but it was freezing cold. Plus, there were other climbers waiting for their turn to have their photo taken at the summit. 

It was another 6 hours plus going down from the summit back to the jump-off on those high steps, which gave us aching muscles after, but it was worth it.

Mt. Kanlaon

Kanlaon, my most recent conquest, is the highest in the Visayas. This mountain is actually special for me since this is like a home mountain for me. My mom is from the next city called San Carlos where I spent a few vacations staring at this mountain. 

Mt. Kanlaon is an active volcano with an elevation of 2,435 meters high. Our three day hike along Mapot - Mananawin Trail is highlighted by an e-camp at Makawiwili Peak, freezing camp at the shoulder, and countless slides down Mananawin Trail.

Mt. Pulag

Mt. Pulag, at 2,292 meters, is the highest in Luzon and I think is the most picturesque. This mountain is very popular even for those not engaged in this mountaineering hobby. Everybody knows about the sea of clouds, the dwarf bamboo and mossy forest. 

I have several successful attempts here in this mountain, all of them at the executive trail or the Ambangeg-Ambangeg trail, and I am awed every time I climb this mountain. The mountain never fails to inspire me.

The Farthest

Mt. Iraya

The first time I visited Batanes I promised myself I would come back for Mt. Iraya, and I did. The summit of Mt. Iraya (1009+) afforded us magnificent, sweeping views of Batan and the nearby islands. 

We were lucky we had clearing, which is a good reward after that very steep ascent on Mt. Iraya's dense forest, especially the last 30-45 minutes.

The most difficult

Mt. Halcon

There is a reason why they say you are not a pinoy mountaineer until you climb Halcon. It is my most deserved "congratulations" and welcome hug. Aw, I still remember how we stirred the mountaineering community with this climb and how much affection I got from my mountaineer friends. 

Halcon is definitely challenging but it makes up for its numerous surprises. Its diverse landscapes, lush forest, numerous waterfalls, majestic river and overwhelming views are what makes Halcon luring for mountaineers. 

Halcon is also a lot of firsts for me -- my first limatic, my first moonrise, my first poop in the mountains. Haha!

The Most Beautiful List

Mt. Talinis

Mt. Talinis otherworldly sights are almost unreal. The sulfur forest evokes unearthly feels. The twin crater lakes of Balinsasayao: Lake Nailig and Lake Yagumyum are magical. 

The trails, with Mt. Talinis' very diverse flora and fauna are fascinating, sometimes surreal. Mt. Talinis is also known as Cuernos de Negros or horns of Negros and is the second highest in the Visayas at 1,903 meters.

Mt. Ugo

I like the smell and look of pine trees here in Mt. Ugo, there are a lot of pine trees. It sometimes felt like a master gardener painstakingly laid out all those pine trees to come up with an amazing landscape. 

Mt. Ugu is a major destination in the Cordillera region and it is actually close to my heart as Trails to Empower Kids or TREK traces its roots up this mountain. 

At the summit, where it is very cold, major Cordillera mountains can be seen. Mt. Ugu traverse takes two to three days of sometimes challenging trail passing through Indupit, Domolpos and Lusod Village. Oh! and you might get a chance to meet Clarabelle :-)

Mt. Kabunian

The mountain is as majestic as its namesake, and uber beautiful. Mt. Kabunian is the most popular among the Bacun trio, and it is named after the highest deity in the mythology of the Kankaney, Kabunian. 

Near its summit are wooden coffins clinging on the side of the summit's walls. The view from the trail is expansive and the mountain breeze is so cool.

My Most Memorable
Mt. Bulusan

I had a chance to camp at Mt. Bulusan before its recent eruption. We started our ascent quite late, after an almost 24 hours land travel from Manila to the jump-off. Good thing the trail was not that difficult. 

There were a few tents pitched already when we arrived at the massive camp site, which gave us a good view of the summit the morning after. The weather was cool, it rained a bit and I had a really good night's sleep.

My most difficult minor climb
Mt. Kalisungan

My Mt. Kalisungan climb, my most recent with Guys4Mountain, was a major, major minor climb. But despite having difficulty ascending, just like all my climbs with Guys4Mountains, it was fun. 

Our Expedition Leader, Edwin, made sure we started early because the campsite is quite small. We arrived early so we had the best site for our camp, exactly where the cross is. We reached the summit just before sunset and we got to view the seven lakes of San Pablo, flanked by Mt. Cristobal and Mt. Banahaw . 

The descent was slippery but the view was superb. Oh, there were a lot of insects on the trail also. I was totally disturbed by my itchy skin.

Other Good Travels