Admit it itchy mountaineers! That thousands of Filipino mountain pilgrims are already checking their backpacks for the summer climb they’ve been dreaming, me included. Grabbing the opportune moment away from school or the long vacation from work, the Lenten season is definitely pilgrimage days when climbing fanatics troop back to the mountains. The newbie mountaineer almost always want a climb of a lifetime, the seasoned mountain goats, a lifetime of climbs. Don’t know where to go? Check my top 5 climbing destinations this summer.
1. Mt. Apo National Park: The Philippines’ highest peak (2,956 MASL), located in the mountainous regions of North Cotabato and Davao, is the mecca for mountaineers during holy week. Who said height doesn’t really matter? Conquering the tallest peak is always a thrill to newbies and seasoned mountaineers alike. The sprawling and almost dried up Lake Venado host to a hundred tents or more during this season. The lakeside area is bustling with traffic and tent party goers you really can’t see the difference between your market and that of Lake Venado. The trek up the peak is busy with climbers (not to mention the porters, guides, businessmen etc) passing to and fro with all funny climbing get ups you can imagine (like a black suit or a priest’s garb) . There are multitude of trails up to the peak, I tried both the New Israel -Makalangit and the Kidapawan-Mainit Trails. If you’re going up Mt. Apo’s peak, be prepared to carry ample supply of potable water . The dried lake gives a tea colored water for drinking!
( Aguilar, 2007)
2. Mt. Dulang-Dulang and Mt. Kitanglad: The twin towers of Mt. Kitanglad Range and National Park, are the second and fourth highest peaks in the Philippines. Probably one of the cleanest and most diverse tropical rain forest I’ve been to, these two mountains boast of diverse flora, including sightings of Philippine eagle and endemic bird species. Although I’ve been to both peaks on separate occasions, I have yet to try the traverse trek from D2 to Kitanglad, reportedly one of the top 5 hardest mountain treks in the Philippines. Home to many tribal gods, Dulang or D2, is considered a sacred place to the natives and every climber is required to offer rituals to the mountain gods. Never climb this mountain without a lady in your team, or forget about partying or making loud noises while trekking or in campsites. D2 is spooked according to the natives and our climbing buddies there.
Mt. Pulag’s peak capture by Gideon Lasco and Ivan Henares of Pinoy Mountaineer
3. Mt. Pulag Range and National Park: Philippines’ second highest and Luzon’s towering peak with one of the coldest environs atop, is another favorite of the Northern Boondockers. You can never be called a true Pinoy Mountaineer if you haven’t scaled this peak yet. To the Luzon climbers, this peak is a quick climbing getaway, judging from the so many climbers on board jeeps trooping to the jump off sites. The trail is well established. Again, ample of water supply is the concern, especially under the summer heat, up the trail.
4. Mt. Halcon: Philippine’s 3rd highest and the most dangerous peak to climb, Halcon mocks every Pinoy Mountaineers ego. Claiming handful of climbers already, an exciting Halcon trek can turn into a nightmare in a blink of an eye. The bright sunny weather at the jump off can suddenly turn into a ravaging storm up in the peak, harassing all of the strong willed climbing fanatics who dared setting foot on its peak. To date, this peak remains a challenge to majority of us.
5. Mt. Napuluan: Situated in Ifugao Province, the climb towards Mt. Napuluan is perhaps the most challenging trek according to Pinoy Mountaineer. Home to culturally rich tribes of Ifugao and just beside the rice terraces to heaven, this place once “housed” the Japanese General Yamashita. Unknown to so many other climbers outside cordilleras, this climbing destination has yet to establish a climbers trail, but it offers a diverse scenery of landscapes, rivers and falls all in one. So if you’re daring and is gazing at the famous Ifugao Rice Terraces, maybe you can drop by and try this trek!
There goes my top five! Of course this is a work in progress and may change my preferences over a period of 2 months. For now, this is where I wanna climb this summer. You can add your prefer peaks and make suggestions too!
Up next! My Top 5 Beaches (not bitches) to visit this Summer!