I will be recounting our Mt. Kalatungan-Wiji Traverse Photo climb in a four part mini series. This is the first part of that series.
Mount Kalatungan- the Philippines’ sixth highest peak at +2,880 MASL, is located in Mt. Kalatungan Range and National Park (MKRNP), Pangantucan, Bukidnon. With a trail difficulty grade of 9/10, it is considered to be a “major” climb (level III) and is one of the more difficult peaks to climb in the Philippines. I’ve been eyeing to climb this mountain since 2007 and included it in my bucket list of Mindanao’s tough peaks to hike.
Goal: Team DaClavBuDiCoTrong’s main goal this climb is to trek Mt. Kalatungan entering Brgy. Mendis all the way to Mt. Kalatungan’s peak, traverse to the adjacent Mt. Wiji, and exit safely via another trail in Brgy Mendis Panagantucan Bukidnon.
Itineraries: So far I’ve come across two itineraries for Mt. Kalatungan’s infamous trails. The Talakag-Pangantucan traverse itinerary is a grueling 5 day trek starting from Brgy. Mirayon in Talakag Bukidnon, trekking along a scanty water sources trail, going up the peak of Mt. Kalatungan, traversing to Mt. Wiji, going down the “Dead Nails Trail” and exiting in Brgy Mendis in Pangantucan, Bukidnon. Christopher Diaz (Tupe the Trekero, DTI Bukidnon , Pangantucan’s Tourism Council) provided me with a shortened itinerary – a 2-3 day trek entering and exiting in Brgy. Mendis along different trails. This itinerary provide the best views for photo shoots and areas of water sources along the way so you we won’t dry up in the chilly peak of Mt. Kalatungan.
Physical Preparations Needless to say, this photo-climb is not an easy one. Without mental and physical preparations, you are preparing to fail. I needed to increase cardio pulmonary stamina and went back to eating more carbo a day before the actual climb to pack up calories for the trek. I also had to “firm up” my hamstrings and gastrocs- those two muscle groups in your thigh and the back of your legs that support knees and ankles. The “Dead Nails Trail” is a grueling 4-6 hours of downhill trek from Mt. Wiji’s peak. These muscle groups work continuously to carry your body weight and stabilizes your ankles and knees while going down an inclined. You sure will get delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in these two muscle groups if it wasn’t “prepped” properly.
Photo Gears My photo gears preparations for this climb is almost similar to the preparations I made when I photo climbed Mt. Apo. I packed less lens (an UWA and medium telephoto) and camera body this climb to ease up on my load. I brought along my LowePro Camera belt bag where I stash all my camera stuff for easier pull out. Extra batteries are a must as well as a lightweight, all weather camera gear protector– the garbage bag.
Climb Gears I always climb ” self contained”, bringing my tent, cook set, burner and personal climbing equipments. For emergencies, I brought my emergency kit, phone with GPS, and headlamp. Mt. Kalatungan is known to be extremely cold even in summer and especially during monsoon rains, so I made sure I got all my “anti-cold” gears packed in. Waterproofing is a must, if you wanna save yourself and your gears from the drenching rains. Trekking lightweight is the key to Mt. Kalatungan’s killer trails.
[lhighlight]Food Plan[/highlight] I recommend preparing a food/meal plan rich in carbohydrates that is easier to pack. Noodles soup or coffee should help to warm up your stomach every morning and during cold rest stations. Carbo trail food and hydration is also important. If you think you can’t stomach the tea colored water from water sources along the trail, you might as well bring along your own water or cleansing tablets.
Transportation Brgy Mendis is located fifteen minutes away by motorcycle (habal-habal) from Pangantucan town proper. Pangantucan is an hour and a half away from Maramag Bukidnon riding up a public utility jeepney up to 6PM daily. There are buses from Davao City or Cagayan De Oro passing through Maramag daily. I suggest though that you spend a full day in going to Pangantucan town proper, settle or camp in the town hall and just start your trek the next day.
Permits and Tourism Concerns Contacting the helpful staff at the Tourism Office of Pangantucan is very easy and is probably the best step I did I later found out. I admire the help extended by the office of Mr. Renato Sabado, Rodel, and Christopher Diaz, who were very accommodating and extended a lot of help to us just so our climb will be enjoyable and fulfilling. We had our courtesy call there, were oriented about Mt. Kalatungan, asked and got answers about our concerns regarding the climb. It is also prudent to ask for a trained guide and porters ahead of time, since these people will either make or break your enjoyable climb in Mt. Kalatungan. You can contact the tourism office via these numbers- Mr. Renato Sabado (Tourism Officer) – 0917-707-7805
Ground Point Person One last thing I wanted to emphasize is the need for a contact person outside of your climb team. He or she will serve as your contact on site and will coordinate with tourism officials any unexpected events during the climb. You should get this persons contact number, constantly update him/her, whenever possible as to your team status and whereabouts throughout the entire duration of your climb. Believe me when I say it is a must, as getting lost in the forest of Mt. Kalatungan is very easy. Locating you however, is not.
So, now are you ready to climb Mt. Kalatungan? Read on to the next part of this mini series.