Thursday, April 3, 2008

Exploring Heights - Part 2 (16-18-May-08)

Mt. Pulag -  Ambangeg (2,922+masl) annual fun climb ( (16-18-May-08))


Major jump-off: Ambangeg, Kabayan, Benguet

Majestic Mt. Pulag is highest peak in Luzon and the dream destination of every Filipino outdoorsman. Its fabled views, of winding slopes of dwarf bamboo, and

distant peaks surging like islets in the ocean of lofty clouds, comprise perhaps

the most beautiful photo-op in Philippine mountaineering. The native tribes say that Mt. Pulag is the "playground of the gods". In Luzon, it is literally the closest to heaven that mountaineers can get!

The enchantment of Pulag, however, is much greater than just the clouds and dwarf bamboo. The entire experience is a great treat that makes the long travel time (10 hours from Manila to Baguio then Baguio to the jump-off) worth it. Whichever trail you choose - the easy Ambangeg, the challenging Akiki, the arduous Vizcaya trail, o

r the various traverse climbs - Pulag is a great adventure. Of course, many would opt to do different trails in one climb, the most common of which is the Akiki-Ambangeg combination.

When you climb Mt. Pulag, you would already start off on a high altitude. The cool weather is refreshing; if you are not prepared the weather will become a great burden because temperature have been recorded at -2 C. But with proper preparation, the cold weather is quite an experience. Pine trees are everywhere, and you will encounter villages of the Kankanai and Ibaloi tribe. Their children are very cute, and bear a

resemblance to the high altitude peoples of the world, such as the Eskimos. Their main livelihood is agriculture; you will pass through sloped plots of cabbages, lettuce, potatoes, and other crops that ultimately find their way in Baguio's famed markets. Bear in mind that the region is the 'Salad Bowl' of the Philippines.

It is very convenient to make arrangements for jeepneys from Baguio to take you directly to the Badabak Ranger Station. This significantly cuts climbing time, and it makes possible a 2-day Pulag climb. If you arrive early in the morning in Baguio, you can take the jeep and be at the Ranger Station by lunchtime.

From the Ranger Station to the summit is around 8 kms. First you will pass by wide trails, surrounded by pine trees and picturesque landscape. After awhile, you will enter the montane forest, with its grand spectrum of flora - from the pink flowers known locally as ayusep (and various mosses to the archaic, bonsai-shaped trees. The next landmark in the middle of the mossy forest is Camp 1, marked by a hut.

In the entirety of the trek to the grassland, there's only one moderately steep part, taking just a few hundred steps. Actually the trail is very relaxing and enjoyable, with the cool weather and the encounter of various faces of the mountain (pine trees, montane forest, grassland). At the montane forest, you will catch the first glimpse of the Pulag summit, which has a hue of golden brown.

There are a few campsites to choose from: Camp 1 is still within the mossy forest area; in Camp 2 the grassland is just beginning (2600+ MASL). There is also another campsite which goes beyond the summit, on the way to the Akiki trail. This is the saddle campsite and is preferred by those who want close proximity to the summit. Camp 2 is the most advisable campsite, with a close water source, latrines (work in progress), nice views, and more manageable weather conditions. However, the saddle campsite, being very the near the summit, takes you as close to the sky as possible. Either way, brace yourself! Temperatures can really plummet to near-freezing levels.

Ranger Station to Campsite 2 takes aro
und 3 hours. From this camp, the summit assault is typically done either late afternoon (for the sunset) and very early morning (for the sunrise). The trail beyond this point is offers unparalleled grassland landscapes, with the grand array of the Cordillera mountains as backdrop. The dwarf bamboo grass that envelope the slopes is a wondrous presence. After an hour of trekking, you will finally reach the summit, that is, the highest point in Luzon.

The summit views of Pulag are fabled and legendary. On a blessed time, seas of clouds form beneath, covering everything but the highest points in the Cordilleras. One has to go to Pulag in order to find out.


Day 0 (16-May-08)

2300 Take Victory Liner trip to Baguio (Reserve tickets ahead to be sure)

Day 1 (17-May-08)
0500 ETA Baguio City. Breakfast then proceed to jeepney terminal/chartered jeep.
0700 Take chartered jeepney to Ambangeg.
1100 At Ambangeg, register at Protected Area Office - DENR (P150). Orientation.
1200 ETD DENR (eat / buy lunch on the way carinderia)
1300 ETA Ranger station - lunch

1400 ETD for Camp 2 – start trek
1630 ETA Camp 2. Set up camp; (optional summit assault)
1800 Dinner at campsite; socials

Day 2 (18-May-08)
0430 Optional early morning trek to summit for sunrise
0545 Arrival at summit just in time for sunrise
0800 Start descent from summit
0900 Back at Camp 2; breakfast
1030 Decamp; start descent to Ranger Station
1200 ETA Ranger Station; Settle guide fees; jeepney descent
1300 At DENR-PAO; tidy up / lunch / log out
1430 Head back to Baguio City
1800 ETA Baguio City / Buy return tickets /  Dinner
1900 Head back to Manila

**this will be my 2nd pulag climb (same trail xemps) climb again... month of may again...same persons as last year... but with newbies... and i hope to see 'sea of clouds' this time para di na ko aasarin ni sir billy! =)**


fun climb

Start:     May 16, '08 10:00p
End:     May 18, '08
2nd annual (daw) - pulag climb

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

fun dive (day dive)

Start:     Apr 30, '08 05:00a
our follow-up dive as requirement prior to the release of our license...

i wonder where will sir ron take us this time....hhmm?? kirby's rock was ok.. but im looking forward for the 'catheral' to do fish feeding.. lots of nemo and dory again! yey!! =)

i hope he could take good photosthis time!!...i didnt have an underwater photo/video during our graduation dive... sir ron, im wearing a blue mask... dont fail to take picture huh! (pang friendster po un!) hehehe =)