Onin and I woke early on the 28th of November to prepare for the Mt. Malindang North Peak climb proper. I mentioned previously, I am not prepared coming to this climb, grabbing only my most basic climbing apparels, tent and a day pack then threw myself on the road to Oroquieta City. So we head early to the market and bought food supplies for the entire climb duration. We ate our breakfast in one carenderia and packed food for our lunch. We then repacked our stuff inside our backpacks and head to the ABC gym for the climb rendezvous area.
The place is already teaming with raucous mountaineers waiting for the send off ceremonies and transport vehicle. Reminded me of a star trek starfleet by the way. At the gym, I found many more of our old friends and climbing buddies. Joan Jatulan was there already busy chatting with her friends. Tatay Haron, Vince and the south cotabato group is also packing up their climbing gears. Emong and the Bukidnon guys, Mijan Pizzaro, Donnie are also busy socializing with friends. Joan introduced Candy S. who asked some advised regarding her fitness to climb post fracture. There were other guys I met whose name I couldn’t remember but probably met them somewhere in the mountains. I went to the registration table and then exchanged pleasantries with Mar Mira and Ria– core organizers for this event. Judging from the number of boisterous individuals inside this gym, Mar and Ria seem to be pretty toxic preparing for the ceremonies.
I chanced upon the slick Tani Wenceslao of PALMC- Davao with his booming voice. I has had several email debates with this genius before regarding Mindanao Mountaineers but I never met the imposing guy in person. Now I did and all I can say is, he can talk extensively and is teaming with mountaineering ideas and memories. Tani introduced me to John Fortes (PALMC) a living legend of Philippine mountaineering. John Fortes is the founding president of MFPI, and of PALMC, a pioneering mountaineering club in the Philippines. I envy the memories of these guys when they talk. It’s like taking the adventures yourself! I wish I could say the same of travels and climbs when I get to their age. (More of what we discussed in these meeting in my next post).
After the official opening program, we are to climb into the trendy official transport vehicles of mountaineers nowadays- dump trucks! At least, it’s not a back hoe. Everyone knew how dangerous this vehicle can be for passengers, but relative rough roads uphill and the lack of willing transport sponsors, organizers have no choice but to use the best available resources. So I climbed in as yet again with no qualms whatsoever. I have done so in the past, and I think given the propensity of its usage during climb send offs, I might get use to it too soon than expected.
The ride took us close to two hours to the jump off, Brgy Mansawan. The trucks couldn’t pass through a rough, narrow road uphill,so we alighted some 2-3 kilometers short of the brgy proper. Then the open trail walk began. We reached Brgy Mansawan around 1pm in the afternoon. We stopped there for our lunch inside one make ship carenderia. It’s good there is cold coke and water in there despite the absence of electricity. It is here that we met our future camp buddies also- Shiela, Joan’s long lost friend, Mijan Pizzaro, Pau and Mac-mac– friends of Onin, Jo and Shiela from previous climbs, Aileth and Mayette– whom I’ve been with in several climbs. Then we got introduced to MESAU mountaineer Wino Nava and Spanish American Mario Camara, guest climbers for this forum. Little did I know that this gang would soon coalesce to produce one of the most fun filled climb I had so far.
It’s mostly open trail from here on to the base camp, Brgy. Lake Duminagat. We’re just thankful the clouds showed some mercy on our skins as it intermittently hovered above us as we climbed up to the hills. En route, the guys have plentiful of jokes to share and nosebleeds from the English speaking Mario. I ran out of English, Bisaya and Tagalog words! The rolling hills of Brgy Lake Duminagat is almost devoid of trees and sprinkled with vegetable sayote garden. In the cold valleys near the last up hill push to the base camp, a secondary forest is trying to survive. The cemented path uphill baffled us all. After 2 hours of trekking, we reached a huge clearing, a dry crater actually, just on the foot of Malindang Peaks. A community is present there complete with a school house,a center and a solar panel. I actually never saw that solar panel working. The large base camp can hold a thousand mountaineers probably, but we choose to camp a bit uphill separate from the main camp. This is closer to the school and to the water source. Then it rained.
I hurriedly pitched tent and then settled our stuff inside. I can feel the cold breeze chilling my bones, forcing me to don sweaters and jackets. Its already getting dark so we cooked our meals already after settling in the camp. The guys I mentioned earlier, coalesce with us and camped near us. Shiela and Joan choose to camp in the schoolhouse doorsteps. Pau and Mac as well as Mayette and Aileth pitched near our tents. Onin made a makeship tarp/tent for our camp lounge/kitchen/socials area. This “socials area” witnessed a thousand and one memories of fun, jokes, laughters, cajoles, stories and of drunkards, gamblers, bystanders, fence sitters, and maybe even apparel pickers!
I think I ate more during dinner than anyone else, despite the chilling cold. I couldn’t even remember the viand no offense to Joan and Onin. I still get the kicks of eating up there in the mountains! When the shot rounds came, the raucous intensified. You’ll die out laughing or fart your heart out for the jokes and stories pouring in. The one thing very peculiar among us Filipinos and probably among mountaineers, is that we take pride in making fun of ourselves. We do all just for the laugh of it. Well, that night the Ampatuans stole the center stage of our jokes. Not that we like them, but maybe perhaps many of us felt its the best way to shrug of the bestiality of such heinous deed. Even the backhoe operator is hideous. That’s not Mac Mac by the way. Or he claimed no relation to the gasoline boy that filled the fuel tank of that back hoe. Come on!!
I went straight into the tent and passed out right after everyone adjourned the fun night. Who wouldn’t? It’s chilling cold outside and I’m scaling a peak tomorrow.I’m going to need a good restful sleep.
Next: An uphill climb to Malindang’s North Peak