Wednesday, January 26, 2011


The famous 'Sea of Clouds' of Mt Pulag (April 2008 )

FEB 4 – 7, 2011

Mt Pulag (a.k.a. Mt Pulog) is Luzon’s highest peak at 2922 masl (third in the Philippines after Mt Apo and Mt Dulang-Dulang). It is a territory shared by the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizacaya. Four trails lead to the summit of Mt Pulag. Three of them are in Benguet: Ambangeg (the easiest); Akiki (the steepest) and Tawangan (probably the lushest; with the most limatiks) and the fourth (probably the longest one) is the Ambaguio trail in Nueva Vizcaya. It has one of the country’s richest biodiversity including species of plants and animals believed to be endemic to the area, the most popular of which are the dwarf bamboo and the four species of the cloud rat. The highlights of the climb include the stunning mountain scenery of the Akiki trail which is dominated by Benguet pines. The mossy forest and the grassland also add to the enchantment. But the thing that most climbers anticipate is the sea of clouds at sunrise.
The park superintendent is stern in implementing rules and regulations in the protected area that’s why it is mandatory for first time visitors to undergo orientation at the Visitors’ Center.
Smoking is strongly discouraged in the National park and is prohibited at the Grassland as this has caused wildfires in the past.
The Akiki trail is known for its steep arduous terrain. Temperatures could also get really low near the summit. The Ambangeg trail, on the other hand, is a smooth rolling terrain.


DAY 1 (Feb 4; Friday)
Assembly @ Victory Liner Bus Terminal (Pasay City)
ETD for Baguio

DAY 2 (Feb 5; Saturday)
ETA Baguio (breakfast to-go and buy packed lunch)
Board the chartered jeepney. ETD for Mt Pulag National Park Visitors’ Center and Protected Area Office (Ambangeg, Bokod); dusty and bumpy ride; (prepare something to cover your face with; you may also want to cover your TNF bakcpacks)
ETA Visitors’ Center (PAO); Orientation; payment of fees
Board the same chartered jeepney for Akiki trail jump-off
ETA Akiki trail jump-off; short orientation; payment of fees; meet the guide and porter; change costume; stretch
Start trek (I was gonna say minimize taking pictures but I remembered my first time in Mt Pulag. I was trigger-happy then. So, OK, you have all the time in the world to capture moments
ETA Eddet River; lunch (bathing and releasing toxic chemicals into the river or any body of water in the National Park is strictly prohibited)
Resume trek (refill trail water bottles)
ETA Cow Country
ETA Helipad (water source). Pitch tents. Petix
Prepare dinner
Dinner; Socials (Smoking is strongly discouraged)
Lights Out

DAY 3 (Feb 6; Sunday)
Wake-up call; prepare breakfast; break camp
Petix; picture picture
Pack up
Start trek
ETA entrance to Mossy forest (last water source); prepare lunch
Lunch; Fill up H2O bottles
Resume trek (through mossy forest)
ETA Saddle Campsite; pitch tents; petix; picture picture
Sunset pictures
Prepare dinner
Dinner; socials (No Smoking at the Saddle Campsite); there’s an outhouse in this campsite
Lights out (or whoever can stand the cold may linger outside)

DAY 4 (Feb 7; Monday)
Wake-up call; coffee; prepare for summit assault (headlamps may be necessary)
Summit assault (only cams and some H2O may be carried)
ETA Summit (wait for the sunrise); picture picture
Trek down
Prepare breakfast; break-camp
Start descent; passing by the summit once more (picture picture); proceed to Grassland
ETA Camp 2 (Ambangeg); 3-minute water break
ETA Camp 1
ETA Ranger Station; board the Chartered jeepney to the Visitors’ Center
Visitors Center; log out; lunch sa Carinderia
ETD for Baguio (same jeepney) (this is gonna be a dusty ride or the road may have probably been paved)
ETA Baguio (change clothes at the Victory Liner terminal restrooms)
ETD for Manila
ETA Manila

Entrance fee
Camping fee
Green fee
Guide fee
[P1800/7pax or below] or [+ P100/ excess head] (Akiki-Ambangeg entire trek)
P8500 (max cap 16pax)
Porter fee
P1500 (carrying capacity 20-30kg)
Mla-Baguio v.v.

P455/pax (per Victory Liner rate...for cheaper fares, take Dagupan Transit or Genesis)

I have been to Mt Pulag twice (Akiki-Ambangeg). I have had the best shots of the mountain. I am just trying to share this wonderful experience to you guys. My request is that the group should shoulder all my necessary expenses during the trip (transportation and fees).

I may also have to make you sign a waiver stipulating that I won’t be held responsible for any climb-related accident that may befall any member of the team. Rest assured, I will do my best to protect the welfare of each participant. I just hope that you all will do your part as responsible, disciplined and peace-loving climbers.

I have started conducting training climbs. Everyone who wishes to take part in this journey will have to undergo at least one of these weekendly training climbs. There are two more training climbs left (15-16 Mt Marami; 22-23 Mt batulao). NO TRAINING CLIMB; NO CLIMB

The pre-climb meetings will be on January 29 at 10pm at the rooftop of the building between SM Dasma and Robinson’s (Dasma) and another on January 30 at 3 pm at either Metropolis or Festival Supermall (depending on the majority wish of the participants near the area). I will be conducting an unofficial ‘BMC’ during the pre-climb in Dasma. Confirmation fee will be collected during the pre-climb. This confirmation fee will be your contribution for the guide fee and chartered monster jeepney. The confirmation fee works two ways. It discourages the participants from backing out. Second, it allows for minimal disruption in the budget and planning in case one backs out.
I have decided to limit the climb size to 16pax. Right now only ten slots have been taken. If we don't reach the 16pax quota, the expenses will be higher. So invite other friends. I can still cancel the climb. It's your call!
Assuming that the climb size is 16pax (including me), the confirmation fee should be P3800 (guide fee) + P8500 (chartered jeepney) + P1080 (my transportation expenses and camping fees) ÷ 15pax (excluding me) = P892. Let’s make that P900.00
Remind me to discuss what should be done to the excess amount during the pre-climb. I am appointing Ryme Bristol as the collections officer or another person if Ryme refuses!

We’ll also have to book our bus tickets in advance. The person tasked with buying the tickets will be decided during the pre-climb on January 30.

Text me re: your desired pre-climb venue and your availability during those dates so we can decide on the time. 09202522176

Confirmed Participants
1.       Adonis Lloren (M: Mandaluyong)
2.       Ryme Bristol (M: Cavite)
3.       Eric John Colipano (M: Alabang)
4.       Butch Digao (M: Cavite)
5.       Cherry Carranza (F: Cavite)
6.       Takahiko Matsuda (M: Japan)
7.       Mari Karakawa (F: Japan)
8.       Lino Renomeron (M: Quezon City)
9.       Duane ________ (F: Quezon City)
10.    Jonathan Morales (M: Cavite)

1. Chuck Miralles
2. Chuck's girlfriend
3. Eric's French boss
4. Herson Penaflor

Gadget Checklist
Thermal jacket (clothes)
Socks (bring an extra pair in case one pair gets wet)
Muffler and earmuffs (optional)
Sleeping bag (optional if there are a lot of heat sources in the tent)
Camp food good for two dinners; two breakfasts and one lunch (breakfast1, lunch1 and lunch3 are either packed or at carinderias. They are not included in the ‘camp food’ category)
Trekking pants (could also be sleeping pants for minimalists)
First aid kit
Kikay kit (wet tissue recommended)
Water bottles (1.5L for each climber) plus trail water bottles.
Trail food

Be as lightweight as possible.
Set your number of clothes to the minimum. The mountain is very cold! You won’t feel like changing when you’re at the freezing campsite so you don’t need to bring a lot of change of clothes.
Dri-fit shirts are recommended for trekking, they’re light and easy-dry.
Don’t bring your Jumbo Colgate and Giant Safeguard.
A good stove-climber ratio is one stove for every four climbers (same with cookset-climber)
As for the butane, for a 3-day-2-night-long journey, one canister of butane for every three climbers is safe.
Distribute your load (among the subgroup you belong to) proportionately not equally.
For the Akiki terrain, heavy stuff should be packed in the middle and as close to the back as possible. For the Ambangeg descent, it is ideal to put heavy stuff in the upper part of your pack.
Avoid loose stuff. As much as possible, everything you’re carrying should be INSIDE your backpack. Hand-carried materials disrupt your balance and they are often forgotten and left at terminals, taxis and jeepneys.
The most important things should not be buried underneath rarely used articles (unless your backpack has a zipper at the bottom).
Waterproof everything. Pack each set of clothes in plastic bags. When properly packed, they also make good pillows.

Water Discipline
The route we’re taking is abundant with water. The first campsite is a water source itself. We need to carry only trail water up ‘till the entry to the mossy forest on Day 2. Camp water is not trail water. Never touch your camp water until you’ve reached the campsite.
Your trail food should not be 'hydrophilic'. Biscuits and cookies require plenty of fluid. Jellyace is a very popular trail food.
Foods that require a lot of water should be prepared where there is water source.
Tissue is a good substitute for dish-washing. In my case, I used to wrap my plate in vinyl so that no cleaning nor wiping is needed. But now, I use the cover of my cookset as plate so I do some wiping.
When you boil rice, it is not necessary to wash it. And at high altitude, water boils under 100˚C.
Don’t DRINK (as in laklak) on the trail. It makes you tired more easily. Just take sips. Don’t dehydrate yourself. You might get mouth sores!

Mt Pulag is at its coldest during the months of January and February.
Your extremities (fingers, toes and ears) are the ones you must keep dry. Rains could come unexpectedly so it is always wise to keep a dry pair of gloves and socks in your backpack.
For guys, when you can’t sleep because of the cold, let your hands rest (one on top of the other) above your ‘wiener’ as if covering it. It generates more heat than inserting your hands in your armpits.
It is good to be in a cramped tent. Last time I was in Pulag, three of us shared the two-man tent. So it didn’t feel like we were in Pulag.

Trek at your own speed. The early phase of the Akiki trail is a bit exhausting. Air is thin in Benguet so your body will have to adapt to the new climate first. But after about thirty minutes, you’ll get over the exhaustion and it’s just a walk in the park ‘till Eddet River. During this phase, you’ll know which subgroup you belong to (lead, mid or tail). It is ideal to trek at a relatively slow pace at the outset of the trek then gradually increase your speed until you determine your own trekking sub-group.
Don’t worry, for more than ten climbers, there will always be one guide at the lead and another at the tail pack. Never lose sight of the person in front and behind you, except when you’re the lead.
Don’t take breaks longer than five minutes. You’ll get more exhausted and sleepy. When doing take-five’s, don’t sit down or rest at once. Move about a little before you sit down. Never lie on your back when taking breaks. You’ll get even more tired.
During steep uphill treks, take short steps. For rolling terrain take long strides.
When going down a steep slope, maintain at least a safe five-meter distance between you and the hiker ahead of you. In case you trip, fall or slide down, this safe distance can give him ample time to turn around and stop you or just let you fall off the cliff (at least, only one of you falls.hehe)
Avoid clinging onto branches and vines when not necessary. First, you’re disturbing the natural order and balance of nature. Second, when those plants are not strong enough to support your weight, you may fall off a cliff or roll down the slope. Third, some of them could sting you.
Avoid making a lot of noise.
Never leave anything on the trail.
Three or four people may agree to avail of a porter’s service to lessen their load.

The LNT Principle (Leave No Trace)
We are mere intruders in our destination. Our objective is for our presence to be as unnoticeable as possible. Leave NO Trace. Whatever you carry up the mountain (biodegradable or non-biodegradable), you should also bring down.
1. Plan ahead and prepare
2. Walk and camp on durable surfaces (follow the main trail; don't make your own)
3. Dispose of waste properly
4. Leave what you find (but you may take along trash)
5. Minimize campfire impact (in our case, no campfires)
6. Respect wildlife
7. Be considerate of other visitors


P.S. I’m thinking of making a climb ID. I may have to spend the excess in the confirmation fee on this.


  1. addition to the list of participants

    1. Melo Sanchez (M, Laguna)
    2. Charmayne Derige (F, Makati)

  2. looking forward for the climb...


YOU deserve a holiday!
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