Thursday, May 31, 2012

Gear Review : The north face venture jacket

The North Face Venture Jacket.
The North Face Venture Jacket was recipient of the Green Award of Backpacker Magazine Last 2011. And I experienced it firsthand why the jacket was award winning at the recent Amuyao traverse Climbed. I bought the jacket last year, and only this month I put it on the test and passed with flying colors. I breaked in the jacket last October when typhoon Peping hits the country. I walked for an hour on the street playing like a kid wearing the Venture Jacket, and I was dry inside. I never had a chance to use the jacket in a hard rain on the mountain, so testing it at more than 2thousand feet will be a real chance for TNF Venture to prove its worth, and it did exceeding my expectations.
                                                     Venture Jacket in Mt Ugu..
Before we the ascend in Mt Amuyao, last May 19. It started to rain, and that rain last till evening. That means we need to trek through the rain and wind on high altitude. The TNF venture Jacket keep me dry inside until I reached the bunker at the summit of Mt Amuyao. The hyvent waterproofing technology really works. The double taped seams never let any rain to sip in. And since it was from The north face, it does it job perfectly. Its waterproof and windproof technology makes ascending Mt Amuyao much easier. I did not worry about getting cold and shiver because I know that the venture jacket can protect me from the elements.
The catch is this jacket is expensive, it cost P6590. So always watch out for TNF sale, they might discounted it for 30% and up to 50%. If your on a budget, you can use poncho, umbrella and raincoat or the black trash bag, it will not be as comfy ,however it might do the trick as well.

The end of something simple, and the beginning of everything else

The Mt Ugu Traverse

Mt Ugu Traverse
I have tried to arranged this climb as early as last year, but something always happened for the climb to be aborted at the last minute. So the Mt Ugu traverse never materialize until early this year. I originally scheduled this climb last January,however fate once again intervened , it needs yet again to be rescheduled.
Last February , I was fortunate to had climbed with the best people I could find. I have never met all of them before but trough facebook and the love for the great outdoors our path met. And they have all been my closest friend and climbing buddy since then.
I believe that the success and failure of the climb always depends on the people your climbing with. They can either make or break you.They can make you appear strong or weak,smart or a fool. In this regards, one should always be careful in choosing his companion.  I was really blessed that the group who joined me, was a real adventurer, sports, and a real gentlemen of the outdoors.

                                       The group at the kayapa market,before trekking

The trail of mt ugu is comparable to the trail of Mt Pulag using akiki trail. It was a cold morning when we started our assault, and it was a long walk, up and down on the scenery terrain. We were blessed with a nice weather and a reliable Guide. (Tatay Alex) . It took us 8 hours of walking to reach the summit of Mt Ugu. There a lots of water sources along the way,(ask your guide) so you need only to bring trail water. Until you reach domolpos the last water source before going to summit
                                                     Early part of the trail.

 From here you need to fill out all your water bladder, trail water and camp water,and make sure you have enough water for all your cooking and socials at the summit. The next water source will be available after 1 to2 hours on your way down. Thus it will be a good climbing strategy to schedule your lunch at the water source. Going down, you can also take your lunch in Lusod where there are water source and 2 toilets . Thus you will not need to worry about de loading your shit once your stomach is full.
                                         Trail going to Domolpos, notice the fog..
With the beautiful surroundings everywhere, you rarely get tired. And with great companies to have a laugh with on the trail is a great joy. The trail has a lot of forks, so our guide make sure that we crossed out the wrong way to make sure that the tail group can follow. Every now and then we re-group, re-charge and share some stories we had on the trail. The bond and friendship we had on this climb is one of the best thing that happened to me this year.
                                            Come on guys, the summit is just there.
                                                  The north face venture jacket
                                                  Pitching the huge tent. , really
                                              Early morning at the summit of Mt Ugu
                                            The beautiful landscape of Mt Ugu trail. 
Mt Ugu Traverse I can say is a relaxing climb.. Or should I say It always depends on whom your climbing with. So better choose the group you will be climbing with.Talk to the team leader about which group you belong to and stay with that group.  It doesnt really matter if there are hardcore, always up to setting new records, can carry 50liters of backpack with ease, As long as they care about the other person and take good care of one another on the trail and can laugh on the small things.Then the climb will be all worthwhile. After a long and hard journey , we will always come home together.
                              This bridge is the sign that you already finished the traverse. 
Additional info :
Every year the municipality of itogon organize the Mt Ugu summer climb.
Before mountaineers used to assemble in Bambang where they are picked up by their rented jeep. Now the assembly place is at the Aritao bus stop of Victory liner.
For a small group option there are buses /van bound to kayapa or buses going to baguio that pass by kayapa. Or if you dont have time constraint, you can start your traverse in reverse .The entry point will be in itogon and exit will be in Kayapa . From baguio there are passenger jeepneys going to tinongdan.
For guides and logistic contact
Lisa Diase Tourism officer of itogon :09105482678
Jerda (brgy itogon sec )       : 09184876097
Alex Basilang (guide )          : 09219840254
Van rental(olive )                : 09193604421
How to go to kayapa  :
Ride Victory liner in Kamuning. Any trip will do. Just tell the conductor to drop you off at Aritao ( P324)
Then From Aritao, Your rented jeep can pick you up and drive you to kayapa . You can buy your supply in Kayapa market.
From itogon.
From itogon, You can arrange jeepney that can pick you up at itogon and take you to Baguio.
You can ask Mam Lisa to arrange that for you in advance.
For complete information and i.t

Friday, May 25, 2012

Blood,Sweat,Mud and Dust..The Amuyao traverse barlig to batad

If you mentioned Mt Amuyao traverse to every outdoor enthusiast , they will tell  you ,specially those who have climbed it, that this is a difficult climb.With difficulty rating of 8/9 Mt amuyao traverse is a real deal, and a real challenge to every mountaineer. Thus, this challenge what prompts me to try to push my limit on how much I can and cant do with this new found hobby . After climbing some of the great traverses of cordillera, Ugu,pulag and napulawan, now I believe its time to take the challenge to a new level by conquering one tough mountains of the north. The Amuyao traverse barlig to batad trail ..
                                                Welcome Sign

                The not so monster jeep. Getting ready from banaue going to barlig
                                               Arrival at barlig

Due to heavy traffic in Gapan and vehicle accident in bambang, Our itenary was delayed. We arrived in Banaue at 9:00am.We allow one hour for final buys, breakfast and bought packed lunch. At 10am we board our rented jeepney and start our journey to Barlig. At 1:00pm we arrived in Barlig, registered at the police station and tourism office.The other groups also ate their packed lunch before we start trekking. The tourism offices arranged our guide. But to the group dismay, it starts to rain when we are about to start walking. It rains all day during our ascent to the summit of Mt Amuyao. Thus we dont have much picture of the beautiful scenery on the barlig trail. The weather and the terrain made our ascent difficult, And we have to keep going because just a few minutes rest, the cold started to seep in to our tired body and that proves to be a warning sign of hypothermia. At 8:00pm the first group arrived at the bunker. Tired and battered, We still have enough energy to prepare our dinner and congratulate each other for a successful ascent on top of Mt amuyao. Little did we know that the day after, will be much more difficult and the terrain will be less forgiving..

                                               Inside the Bunker

We woke up at 4:00am and start prepare our breakfast and packed lunch. When the sun starts to shine to the wilderness, every one was excited to have a picture taken of the famed sea of clouds on top of Mt amuyao. Our energy was recharged, our spirit was still high, and our team work was re-united by that morning sun, as we all hope for a nice weather ahead..
                                            The forest of Mt Amuyao

                      Just another beautiful scenery in Mt Amuyao traverse trail

 We start our descend at 8:30am the first part of the descend trail was not that difficult, it was more like a trail of maktrav.However , the left side of the trail was a cliff, and you always need to be careful and focus on each one of your steps. One mi's steps you will slide down on the cliff and you will be just another mountain disaster. We reached the pat-yay river at 1:00pm.

                                          Fitrum model at pat-yay river

We fill our water supply and ate our packed lunch.We resume trekking at 1:30pm . We all thought that the trail will be just like that an easy descend, rolling terrain. Little did we know that we need to ascend another 400meters to reached the summit of pat-yay, We reached the summit of pat-yay at 5:00pm. Our guide ,porter and local that we met on the trail, gave us an estimated time of 4 hours from the pat-yay summit to cambulo village. The trail to cambulo from pat-yay is the most difficult part of the traverse. The trail was made slippery with the rain. And theres a lot of landslide , soft mud and cliff on the left part of the trail. And after 5 to 6 hours of descend, we reached a water irrigation of pat-yay, this time our porter became disoriented because of fatigue, lack of sleep, hungry and dead tired. He cannot remember where the right trail is, We regroup and decides it will be more dangerous if we pressed on to reach Cambulo, so the group decides to e-camp at the first ,flat area we encounter since we descend from the summit of pat-yay.

                                              Pat-yay rice terraces

 E-camp will give you and idea, if your group is matured enough to handle this kind of situation. All of us showed grace under pressure, never did I hear someone is blaming someone for the situation. All of us took this as part of our adventure and we need to evaluate the situation and decides what to do next once we regain our energy. Somehow , I am thankful that I have decided to have the team injury to bring 2 tents for their group, otherwise we will all left standing or sitting outside. The other groups dont have a tent ,but we have a groundsheet and a tarp that accommodate 11 of us.
Thus minutes after we set up our sleeping ground you can hear all the snore that came from our tired body, Thus day 2 is over and we have another day to trek to Cambulo and Batad. We all hope that we could reached the Batad saddle on time ..Our ticket back home was already secured..

The trail going to cambulocambulo. Our spirits was on top again, because now we know we are on the right trail

                                                 Cambulo Village

                                         Cambulo Elementary School

We just spent minutes in Cambulo,taking picture and get some water.After 2 hours of non stop walking we finally reached batad rice terraces. Everyone's tired body was uplifted by the view. We tried to take pictures to our hearts delight and enjoy the beauty that God gave us.
                                             Batad Rice terraces

                             The expedition leader planking in Batad

We decide that we must pressed to to reach the saddle by 4pm. So even though we dont want to, we continue our journey by another ascend to batad saddle. We take a break in Batad view point, here we ate our late lunch. After 30mins we resume to trek to saddle by 4:00pm , The group reached the saddle and after 30 mins the team dulo reached the saddle as well. At 5:00pm we board the rented jeepney back to banaue. At 6:00pm we reached banaue, we need to act fast, we need to eat dinner and take a bath in less that one hour so that we can board the bus bound to manila at 7pm.. The group was really organized, they know what to do , with time concern, they do it fast.. At 7pm we are all inside the bus and relieving our own story of the classic,epic and wild journey that we have.

Mt Amuyao traverse really lives up to its expectation . It will give you a challenge you can never forget. So if you want to try to do the traverse- Be prepared both physically and mentally . And make sure that the group you will climb with have a strong spirit and will to finished the whole journey. They say that doing the traverse is a retirement climb for a mountaineer . Now I understand why..In my case,this will be another challenge to make myself strong for another climb..

Additional useful info :

Since theres no signal in Barlig, you will need to coordinate in Banaue tourism council
You can rent a jeep from banaue to barlig, and have the same jeep picked you up in Batad saddle.
Going to banaue you can only bound the ohayami bus , since its the only bus that have a direct banaue trip
first trip is 9pm. followed by 9:30pm and last trip is 10pm . Travel time is 9 hours depends on the traffic in Gapan
For guide : Since you will start in Barlig, its mandatory to secured your guide there. Once you registered in Barlig tourism office, the tourism officer will be the one to arrange the guide for you, and also if you need a porter. Let the tourism officer knows how many porter or guides you need. The standard guide ratio is 1:5, meaning one guide for 5 people.

Theres only one water source on the trail of MT amuyao. Theres also water source in the bunker but its only good for washing . You will need to boil it in order for it to be drinkable.
On the way down, the only realiable water source is the river.
Theres a water source in Cambulo village and Batad village as well.

You need to have a trekking pole, arm sleeve, Gloves, poncho or water proof jacket, flashlight or headlamp and lots of trail food..

This video was made by my buddy , enjoy..

For complete information you can visit

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Napulauan Traverse : Hungduan to Hapao

Its been a month now since the last time I climb, and it was a 2 days mt pulag akiki-ambangeg trail . I have been quite busy with work so I have been resting for quite some time now. Then one day, an Idea came to me. To climb another great traverse in Cordillera. The Napulauan traverse hungduan to hapao. I spend most of my time gathering information on the internet.When all the facts and contacts had been arranged and budget was predicted. I assemble the best people I could find at the moment to join me in this climb. Im not really a fan of big group and mass climbing . So I limit my team to only 5. Brave, adventorous , funny and supportive 5 man team was assemble for this journey.
Of course the 5 man team that we have dont have an option to rent a jeep , so I find ways to climb Napuluan without renting a jeep. With help from a lot of people, We are able to manage the climb well rested, without renting a jeep and stay within the projected budget.

We assemble in Victory liner kamuning at 11pm to catch the last trip going to Solano.. To our surprise theres a lot of people in the station and there are no reserve tickets anymore.. Luck is still on our side when we found out that there are one last bus to solano . Bus depart at the station at 12:30am

We arrive in Solano at 7:30am , And we were told that the first jeep bound to banaue would be at 9am , and the one that goes directly to hungduan was at 11:30pm. So we have free time in our hand. We ate breakfast at Jollibee. You can do your shopping in Solano, because the supply in Banaue, hungduan might be limited. There are also Mcdonald,chowking, small store, atm machine in Solano.

We still have a lot of time, so we spend it by waiting on the sari sari store near the jeep terminal . And on the scorching heat of the sun, we are doing the socials to keep us company..

Then the driver of the jeep is calling at us , its time to board and begin our journey to hungduan. At first we thought we are only passenger to hungduan, so we rest and lay our tired and wasted body to every position comfortable to us, Only to be awaken on the later part of the journey with screaming native pig. We were awaken and theres a lot of people inside the Jeep. We have no Idea when and how did they get inside. The travel from solano to hungduan will take about 5 hours or more, because local passengers drop by at the front of their houses. We have a 15 mins stop over in Banaue before going to Hungduan. We use this time to secure our return ticket home. If we didnt do that we might end up staying in Banaue for another day, because the bus layout to return to Manila was almost full .

We arrived in hapao at 5:00pm and register in tourism office. Then proceed again to poblacion hungduan , We were met by Mam Jascel to accompany us to our lodge, where we would spend our first day in Hungduan ..

 The call time for the next day trek was 3am , we prepare our breakfast , and packed lunch in the lodge. We start trekking at 5:30am in the morning when the sun was not fully up. Its nice to walk around the village ,look around and you can see the majestic rice terraces, and feel the cold wind touching your face. We met the guide and start the trek with an assault.

 The hardest part of every hike is the first part,when your body is still trying to adapt to thin air and altitude and you still starting to find your pace and tempo. It was almost assault on this part of the trail , an hour or more we found a water source. The water was cold it was like it came from a chiller. The trail of mt napulauan is mossy and covered from the above..I love it, and I enjoy every moment of it. I love to be in a forested area that walking in an open shade. We have our lunch at the trail , took some pictures, have so much laughter,before proceeding to the summit. After 7 hours of walking in the grand forest of napuluan , We arrived at the summit at 1pm , when the sun was high in the sky.. We rest,took pictures ,and celebrate our safe and fun climb.

 The next day we start our descend at 7:45. It is still the same mossy forest that you will encounter on your way down. The trail was clear,there are no confusing fork, We are divided in to 2 groups. Lead and tail to walk in our own pace. There are parts of the trail that you need to go under the roots or logs of trees. And it was a long way down. The last part of the trail was the most difficult of all, it was open to the Sun's heat. There are tall and sharp talahib and it doesnt have any water source. After 6 hours of descending we are finally out in the rice terraces of hapao. We have lunch in the highway and once again celebrate and congratulate ourselves for a job well done.

Climbing Napuluan is not an easy task but with a lot of help from the right contacts and when your with the group of people you can trust and have a healthy laugh with.,,then I can say,,what the hell,Lets do it again..

                                                the start of the trek

                                       Assault to the forest of napuluan

                                               The mossy forest ..

                                           The summit of Mt napulauan

                                    Standing on the summit of Mt Napuluan..

Heres our real time i.t.

11:00 assembly time solano
12:27am etd kamuning to solano
bus fare : P333
02:12 : first stop over
6:17 aritao stop over
7:30 : Arrival in Solano
wait for the jeep bound to hungduan
eat breakfast,lunch , buy supply
there are atm machine, mcdonalds,chowking,greenwich , carinderia in solano

11:20 etd solano to hungduan
Jeep fare : P140
01:40 eta lagawe
02:30pm eta  banaue / rest stop
you can buy return ticket to manila in ohayami bus terminal
P450 ticket to manila

3:00 proceed to hungduan
5:15 eta hungduan poblacion register in tourism office , meet tourism officer proceed to lodge
reg : 10 / lodge fee : P100/head

day 2
3:00 wake up call / prepare breakfast //
05:30 start trek to jump off
08:00am water source
11:30 lunch in the trail
12:15pm proceed trek to summit
1:05 eta summit/ picture ops
relax, rest, enjoy life
pitch tent
5:00 dinner
6:00 socials
10:00 lights out

day 3
5:00 waker up call / prepare breakfast
6:00 break up camp
7:00 break camp
7:45 start descent
2:00 eta hapao / lunch on waiting shed
3:00 arrange tricycle to banaue
P 500 / tricycle
3:30 wash up station
4:00 proceed to banaue
5:00 eta banaue / dinner post up climb
7:00 etd banaue to manila
4:18am eta sampaloc terminal
4:36 bus to sm farview
5:14 eta olympus. home sweet home

How to go to hungduan

1. Ride ohayami bus to banaue
2. Rent jeep or tricycle to hungduan
1. Take victory liner bound to solano
2. From solano wait for jeep bound to banaue or hungduan