Friday, April 1, 2011


cloud-capped Mt Al-al and Mt Pulag emerging from behind
as seen from the mossy forest of Mt Tabayoc
My expedition last weekend was a manifestation of how I push my limits and at the same time how I limit my push. I had initially planned to scale Mt Al-al—the mountain between Mt Pulag and Mt Tabayoc. I was suspecting that Mt Al-al could rival the loftiness of Mt Timbak for the third notch on the list of highest peaks in Luzon!
Misty Mt Al-al
My guide was all prepared for the trek but on our way to the jump-off, he mentioned that the park superintendent was against the idea of opening the mountain to climbers. I didn’t know that Mt Al-al was still covered by Ma’am Emerita Tamiray’s jurisdiction so I called her up and she vehemently opposed our plan to delve into the rainforest of Mt Al-al. This mountain and its neighboring peaks are within the NO CLIMB Zone of the Mt Pulag National Park. I didn’t want to set a bad example to others and I didn’t want to risk being banned in the national park so I just decided to call off the plan to climb Mt Al-al! Defeated as I was, I didn’t feel very bad! I can never feel bad when I’m in Benguet’s loving arms. But my guide could not hide his disappointment. He was even considering doing a backdoor trek. No one would know anyway according to him.  But I respect the rules and I know they don’t call it NO CLIMB Zone for no reason. I proposed instead a trek in Mt Tabayoc and through the four lakes of Kabayan (Tabeo, Incolos, Letep-Ngapos and Ambulalacao) and Junior Pulag. I had done that expedition twice before and I was just curious how Mt Tabayoc looked like three years after I climbed it for the first time in 2008.
sea of clouds of Mt Tabayoc
and Mt Pulag above the clouds
I was glad to know that Mt Tabayoc didn’t deteriorate despite the influx of climbers in the area. This is a testimony that really, we have to trust our local mountaineering community. We keep blaming ourselves for the trash in the mountains but actually, the non-mountaineers are the ones responsible for this. The four lakes were still as mystifying as when I saw them in 2006. This area is not frequented by non-mountaineers. That’s why it is still in its pristine condition.
Lake Letep-Ngapos
On my third day, I headed for Mt Timbak and I climbed it via the non-traditional Kabayan-KM55 route. The uphill climb from Kabayan Barrio is as steep as the Akiki trail. You start at 3500 fasl and end at a little below 9000 fasl. I spent the night at the house near the Timbak mummies! And when I did my summit assault the following day, I learned about the fees that the owner of the mini-Calvary recently decided to impose on visitors to the place. I made a stop at Sayangan, Atok and discuss the matter with the municipal council and the tourism and planning officer of the municipality of Atok, Benguet. I promised to work hand in hand with them to resolve the issue. I’ll tell the story in another post.
Mt Timbak @ 8950+ fasl


  1. Hi Sir.. inquire lang po sana.. Need po ng guide pag aakyat sa Mt. Timbak? I'm planning to do a solo climb next week. Safe pong umakyat mag-isa? And if need ng guide, magkano po bayad? Any advice from you would be greatly appreciated. Hingi din sana ko contact ng guide. Gusto ko yung pics mo ng sunset/sunrise sa Mt. Timbak but iniisip ko kung stay ako overnyt kasi mag-isa ko lang na aakyat.:).. Di ko lam kung safe mag stay overnyt. Thanks.


  2. Mt Timbak is place for travellers and not for tourists. I personally want you to travel there. DON"T get a guide but ask for guidance or directions from the locals you'll meet along the way. Don't pay please! Once somebody starts paying for any form of service, this travelers' spot will turn into a tourists' spot. KM 55 entry point is very safe for solo hikers. please check out my other articles on Mt Timbak for hiking details. KM 55 entry point is a road. You'll surely meet somebody along the way. There are also some houses at some point of the road. You can ask for water and directions. People are kind there. The owner of the vegetable garden at the summit of Mt Timbak has declared the area (garden) closed for visitors. This area covers small campsite. I have never camped in Mt Timbak. I always stay in one of the houses there near the summit or near the mummy caves. You can add me on facebook and I can give you my number there in case you need more information.

  3. sarap pala mag ascent sa mt timbak galing kabayan bario.. no shortcut to the top.. Mt al-al will be officially open sa April 28th. Sayang nga hindi namin naakyat, hindi kasi available yung nagbutas ng trail. Siya pa lang daw kasi ang nakakaalam. Sa 28 din i train yung ibang guide, kasama na si ranger Arlan..

  4. anyare? bat dati ayaw na ayaw ni PaSu na marinig ang pangalan na yan. Parang Voldemort sa pandinig niya ang Al-al. NO CLIMB Zone daw talaga yun. hmmm

  5. hi sir, just for info, unang na-scale/na-akyat ang Mt. Al-Al December 24, 2013. Pang-apat sa pinakamataas.(Pulag-Tabayoc, Timbac, Al-Al)Though kunti lang ang diff.nila ng mt. Timbac. But i can guarantee ang thick ng moss sa loob ng bundok na yan. They officially open to the public ng March 2014, and suddenly binalik isara after 2 months. In my opinion, hindi pang-group akyatin ang bundok na yon. One to three individual is much better. I hope you able to see it too. Cheers!


YOU deserve a holiday!
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