Thursday, July 26, 2012

 MT Pulag : Akiki-Ambangeg traverse

It’s been a year since I set foot on top of Mt Pulag,and now with a different and better team, and some experience under my belt . I decided to climb again the famed MT Pulag . This time the trail will be the akiki-ambangeg trail.
The akiki trail was labeled by old school mountaineers as killer trail, I wonder why. Is there someone literally drop dead on this trail ? or did they just used it to look tough and strong themselves ? Well for me , I’d like to call it as a difficult ; pure ascend route. Mt Batulao new trail can be labeled as the killer one , for the obvious reason that a climber really died on the trail..
                           The standard rates for climbing Mt Pulag akiki trail

I was invited by team injury to join them in doing Akiki-Ambangeg for 2 days.The normal i.t was 3 days. So basically we are compressing the 3 days i.t to an action packed 2 days climbed. I am continuously coordinating with Mam Mering ( park superintendent ) about our I.t weeks before the climbed. She advised that it’s possible provided that everyone in the team was doing it for the 2nd time, meaning they have climbed Mt Pulag before using the ambangeg trail and we should get a porter to help us carry our gear.She was concerned about the safety of each climber,she also mentioned the a week ago, a group of climbers need to be rescued because one person in the group cannot continue anymore.This gave us an idea that we need to be physically ready to climb using the akiki trail , so lightweight backpacking is the key.
                                    Akiki ranger station with ranger Heron

Moreover, I also got in touch with ranger Heron of akiki. I arranged beforehand the guides and porters that we need and the monster jeep was arranged by team injury. While every thing was in place and properly coordinated , We just need to wait excitedly for the actual date of the climb.

As expected, we all met at Victory liner terminal in Cubao.Due to conflict of schedule, I depart one hour early from the team schedule. We assembled in Victory terminal in Baguio, board the rented jeep and proceed to Akiki-jump off. I got acquanted with ranger Heron.  We register, changed clothes, and then ate our packed breakfast. At 8am we are all ready to trek the hills of Akiki trail . The ranger station have restroom and water source, so better take your packed breakfast there.
                                                   Eddet river

 The weather that time in Akiki was humid. Compared to Mt ugu, you will not believe that you are actually in Benguet. It was hot. After an  hour of walking we reached the Eddet River. Took a short break, then we trekked uphill to Helipad. This part of the trail is the most difficult of all. Carrying the weight of your backpack, trekking under the scorching heat of the sun, and at times you wonder whether your really ready for this.That mountaineering is really your cup of tea.
                                                 Up to Hellipad

Hiking in that altitude the air is thinner so our body was not yet acclimatized, thus getting air into our lungs becomes uneasy and troublesome. My legs can hike all the way to the summit, however I’m running out of breathe. I used the strategy of walk-rest-walk to adjust my body and lungs from the altitude and thin air. After 4 hours of ascend, it’s now lunch time. We took our lunch in Marlboro country where there are water source and rest there within an hour. After so much rest, it’s now time to wander in the forest of akiki.After 2 hours of walking inside the forest, the grassland will now appear before your eyes. Grassland is the sign that you’re near the summit and campsite. After an hour the first group reached the saddle campsite, pitch tent , wait for the other group then enjoy the afternoon sunset and atmosphere around. The summit of Mt pulag is just 15 mins away.
                                              Saddle Campsite

Climbing Mt pulag has become some sort of fashioned . Here you will see some of the imported brand of tents, jackets, shoes and other gears. Of course, local brand have its present as well but not as visible. You will see north face tents, bags and jackets. Authentic or not, they are everywhere. You will also see a lot of people have their dslr hanging on their neck taking pictures here,there and everywhere.
                                            One big family reunion..

The sunrise at the summit of Mt Pulag is one of the famous and popular scenes in Philippines mountaineering. It was made famous by the cold weather, sea of clouds , grassland that was being illuminated by the morning sun. Nothing can be better than that. Being on top of Luzon's highest peak will give this Goosebumps and chills that you are actually made it. For once , you accomplished something great. Your now belong in the mountaineering community. You have it made. You smiled to every people you meet on the trail. Greeting everyone including the locals. It’s like a big family reunion, it’s like you know all know each other, its a party up there.  And you wished that moment never ends. You are in your happiest moment as you greet the morning sun as it shines above giving light to everything and everyone across. It’s magic. Being at the summit of Mt Pulag and experienced all that was magnificent.. With good friends and the great outdoors,nothing could even be better .
                  Columbia Master of Faster setting foot at the summit of Mt Pulag
The famous sea of clouds

                                                     Group Pic

After all the glory on top, it’s now time to descend.

It took me 2 hours and 10 mins from saddle campsite to ranger station in Ambangeg. We are actually fast walking , to beat the other group on their way down. We know from experienced that If we are last to descend , there will be no more place for us in the ranger station . And going to the bathroom to pee or to release your bomb will be a hassle. That is another strategy you might use. Descend early . We also board the monster jeep and the first one to leave the Ranger station . We know that all climbers, hikers, and wanna be are itching to take a bath and ate lunch. The strategy works, in Jangjang restaurant we are the first one to arrived. So the 2 restrooms are just for us to enjoy.
After more than an hour, another group just arrived and we are all finished taking a bath, have lunched and ready to go to Baguio.

We arrived at Baguio at 8pm . Secured tickets back home and buy pasalubong in Baguio market.

At 10pm we just finished another great traverse in Luzon. We are all in the bus, re-living in our minds the great Pulag akiki-ambangeg traverse as well all fall asleep..

Another adventure ends,, And another one will just begun..


Cubao to Baguio : P450 via victory liner
From Baguio to jump off and vice versa : Monster jeep ,price ranges between 8.5k to 9k
Guide fee : P1800 / 7 people
Porter fee : P1000
Reg fee/green fee : P200 /person

Contacts :
Mam Emerita Albas     : 09196315402
Ranger Heron(akiki)       : 09087578319
Gina epe(monster jeep) : 09188169234

For complete information visit

Monday, July 2, 2012

Gear review : Sea to Summit ultrasil daypack

I recently purchased and enjoyed the sea to summit ultrasil daypack, its lightweight, waterproof and durable.
The daypack only weighs about 68 grams its much lighter that my pair of socks. And the good thing about this it can be rolled down into a small pocket size bag. Its ideal to carry some extras in your trip, the gear you cannot part with even when your having snores before and after the climb.And it is also doubled as your summit pack,when you camp out and ascend for the summit the next day this pack can carry your food,water,fleece jacket,headlamp and rain gear with ease.
                                            At the summit of Pat yay with sea to summit daypack
                                                     At the cambulo rice terraces 
I have the privilege to try the pack in Mt Amuyao traverse. I load my jacket,food and other gear inside and the pack handle it with total comfort, and with its siliconized Cordura fabric,It repels the rain and keep the gear dry inside. When your holding the pack,you wonder how this small pack can hold so much. At first, Im worried how long this pack will last with the weight Iam carrying and the trail Im walking in, to my amazement it was still in one piece even after the grueling amuyao traverse to batad trail.
                                           At at the batad rice terraces
Having another small pack aside from your regular backpack is a good thing, especially If you want to carry a jacket and a bottle of water inside the bus ,while your big pack stays at the luggage part of the bus.
                                               Relaxing at batad
Bummer : This pack is not available here, even at Rox. I ordered it from