Thursday, April 25, 2013

The complete idiot guide for Mt Tabayoc with Mt timbak sidetrip 2013

Mt Tabayoc with Mt Timbak via Kabayan Barrio

Benguet and Ifugao
Major jump-off: Brgy. Ballay, Kabayan, Benguet
LLA: 16.7000° N; 120.88333° E; 2842 MASL (#5)
Days required / Hours to summit: 2-3 days /4-6 hours
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 6/9, Trail class 2-4

Atok, Benguet
Major jumpoff: KM. 55, Atok, Benguet
Elevation: 2717 MASL (#9)
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 1.5-2.5 hours
Specs (Backtrail): Minor climb, Difficulty 2/9, Trail class 2
Features: Village life, mummies, views of major Cordillera peaks


Its been a while since Im been in touched with Ranger Arlan of Mt Tabayoc. The original plan was  doing the Luzon 312-timbak,pulag to tabayoc. However, The budget have hinder our plan once again.So instead of giving up the plan just yet, and since I already set foot on top of Mt pulag twice, The logical choice was to set foot on the mountain I was not able to reached the top yet , and thats Mt Tabayoc.

Mt Tabayoc
Mt Tabayoc was the 2nd highest peak in Luzon, and the six highest peak in the entire Phillipines. If my Dec climb materialized, meaning I will be able to reached the 9 out of 10 highest peak in our country less Mt Ragang.

My hiking buddy and I met at victory liner cubao terminal only to find out that the next available bus to baguio was scheduled at 4am. The TNF trail run surely attracts a lot from runners to spectators. Of course we cannot wait until 4am, so we moved to Dagupan terminal.

We arrived at Baguio city at 7:30am,walked all the way to Good taste at Dangwa terminal. At 9am, we are already in Slaughter house terminal to catch the first trip to Ballay. At exactly 10 am the A-liner bus depart from the terminal to Ballay.

We arrived in Ballay at 15 mins past 3pm. It was raining! Our original plan was to camp in lake tabeo,however since its raining and it will be very cold soon- we just decided to spend the night in abandon lodge near the barangay.

An abandon house
We started our trek up to Mt tabayoc summit at 7:30am and at 9:40am we are on the view deck. We started our descend at 10:30am and reached lake tabeo at 12:00pm.

Lake Tabeo

The mossy forest of Mt Tabayoc

Mt Tabayoc Summit and View Deck
There was also a lot of exciting plan about Mt tabayoc and Mt al-al. First the possibility of opening a trail of traversing Mt Tabayoc to Jr pulag. The improvement and rehabilitation of the view deck at the summit of Mt tabayoc. The possibity of establishing a campsite at Peak 1. Moreover the thrill of connecting Mt al-al to Mt pulag. Imagined you can hit four peaks in one go. Mt tabayoc, Mt al-al , Mt panotoan and Mt pulag.

Mt Al-Al
Because of the rain, fog and cold , we gave up or plan to visit other lakes. We decide at least to set foot on the famous lake of the four. The lake Ambulalakao.

Lake Ambulalakao
Then we decides to traverse Mt Timbak from Kabayan Bario. The trail was continuous uphill on the long and sometimes rough road. It was very challenging and tiring as well. We did not look for any shortcut, we just want to feel the trail as it is and at the same time enjoy the view and the cold weather. We are having fun and at the same time getting tired for the long and continuous ascent.

Kabayan Barrio Jump off
Finally after 7 hours of hiking up, We reached Mongoto Elementary School at 3pm. Rested for a few minutes then walked all the way up to Mt timbak summit.

Sign to Tinongchol Cave

The scenic trail to Mt timbak via Kabayan Barrio

The crosses at the summit of Mt Timbak
The thrill, challenges and excitement about the mountains of Benguet is very promising and endless.

Soon there will be a trail connection Benguet to Ifugao to other mountains.. For now we should enjoy the trail that we already have.

The morning clouds and fogs at the summit of Mt Timbak

Here are the expenses

Manila to Baguio               : P445
Baguio to Ballay                : P155

Reg Fee                              : P200

Guide fee (Mt tabayoc)      : P1000
Guide fee (   4 lakes      )    : P500

Ballay to Kabayan Barrio  : P10
Km 55 to Baguio               : P120
Baguio to Manila               : P 445

Travel Time

Manila to Baguio : 5-6 hours with 2 stop over.
Baguio to Ballay  : 5-6 hours with 2 stop over. First stop over is at Bokod after an hour. Then another stop over  at bili bokod after 2 hours.

You can camp at Lake Tabeyoc or in Barangay Lodge or near the houses at Ballay extension

Buses to Ballay are located in slaughter house terminal
Going to Ballay : 
First trip is at 10am,
Second trip is at 12pm. (you still need to ride motorcycle for this trip as it never goes directly to bus stop in Ballay)

From Ballay to Baguio
First trip is at 7am
2nd and last trip is at 10am

If you miss the 2nd trip-  you can rent a motorcycle to kabayan central. And from kabayan central there are van terminal going to baguio until 5pm

If you decide to hike Mt Timbak- Get off at Kabayan bario- only 30 mins away from Ballay. Then just follow the long road. Walking time depends on your speed and frequency of rest.

From km 55 there are van and buses to Baguio fare is at P120 as of the time of this writing.

For other useful information and narration :
Please visit : and

Monday, April 22, 2013

A simple Guide for newbie before A Major Climb

I always consider myself as a newbie climber, although I reached some of our countries highest peak, I know that theres always something to learn. Hiking in the Phillipines has never been on this height before, with continuos improvement on the technology when it comes to gadget, gears and ways to hike, many people are now jumping to the bandwagon. Some are weekend warriors, wanna-be, some might go and will continue to hike, some will give up if they experience some difficulty on the trail.

In that situation and your consideration I will share something that Im doing before a major climb. If you have 4 weeks before the major event, you might want to consider to do a little extra effort before the climb, other wise you might be a burden to the team and might not enjoy the hike because of injury, cramps, fatigue and tired body.

Dayhikes before the major climb is a good training
Four weeks before the event : If your able to climb some minor peaks we have in batangas and cavite, you just need to do a little conditioning and training.  You might want to try to do some body squat and lunges for at least 30 times for 3 sets. You should at least try to run for 30 mins on your first week of training for at least 2-3 times a week. Moreover, You might want to add walking in your neighboorhood for at least 30 mins to an hour. This training will strengthen your legs and condition your knees for the torture it might encounter on the major climb. This is also the time you need to find out more about the mountain you will be climbing so that you can prepare properly. You can check the trail, water sources, length of time going to the campsite, the weather pattern etc.

3 weeks before the event   : You might do some little inventory of the gear and supplies that you might need. However, since this will be your first time to do a major climb, you might not have yet a tent, cookset and stove. Those equipment should be part of your investment soon, at this point what you can try was to complete your first line of defense against the environment- your clothes. Most people die on the trail by exposure. You should have at least a warm jacket and at least a poncho if you dont have a waterproof jacket yet, a beanie or bonnet, a good hiking shoes and a reliable backpack. And in this period you should also find the group where you can share the tent, cookset and stove.

2 weeks before the event  : Since you already have checked your supplies, its time to test your back if its strong enough to carry your pack. You should load all your equipment with at least 2-3 liters of water (  you can use 1.5 liters of plastic bottle) then walk for at least an hour or two if you still can. This will give you the feeling of walking with all your supplies on. Then if you find your pack to heavy, check again your gears if there is something that you can leave behind without compromising  your comfort , to save weight.

1 week before the event  : This time your legs are somewhat ready for the long hike, what you can do at this point is this - Monday : 30mins easy run, Tuesday - an hour of slow walk, Wed - You can start carbo loading, Thursday and Friday - electrolyte loading. Since most of the major climb will start at friday night as the travel time to your destination, You can take with you a sport drink to hydrate you all   troughout your travel, then just before you hike, hydrate properly with water.

Your first major climb will determined all the other major climb you might want to do in the future. Its either you enjoy it or it might serve as your first and last. As they said, never ever underestimate the mountain.

Good luck and see you on the trail..

My very first Major Climb. Pulag Via ambangeg trail

Set foot on top of Mt Apo via Mt Talomo

Friday, April 12, 2013

Wish there was a shade..

Mt Sicapoo traverse to Mt Simagaysay Day 3

We woke up once again at 4am, this will be our last day in the mountains. We still need to cross Mt timarid and Mt simagaysay under the intense heat with no trail cover and limited water supply 

Hot And Dry, Yet a Beauty

It was a continuous up and down journey until we reached a small forested part of the trail only to emerge again into the open hot trail. Most of the time we are walking on a steep edges with just a little slip you will find yourself deep below the edges, if your lucky you will still be alive. 

See that? We just came trough that peak

The trail on the 3rd day. Pics courtesy or Rus de guzman.

The sun keeps on tormenting us troughout that long walk. Will just a little shade along the way, we found ourselves wishing and hoping for the clouds to covered the sky.There are at least 2 or 3 trees that at least an hour apart from each other. When we get there , we rested and cool down our body. We know that we might be in danger of having a heat stroke. Some of us have said that they will just wait for the sun to set before hiking again, even though they walked at night, but this idea didnt materialize as every now and then, our guide keeps on motivating us to move forward.

Open trail.Pics courtesy of Guzman
With our tired body and dry mouth, we eventually reached the one degree plateu.This is the place where you can feast on duhat and recharge your body with water. I wish i have instilled in me the water disclipine they are talking about. And have trained more under the heat. However, I thank God for not giving me  a sore knees and weak spirits troughout the climb. Im tired but not wasted. We arrived at tatay emilios house at 4:30pm. For me , its alway an added bonus if you arrived in your target destination just before the darkness came in.

Hot and dry. Wish there was a cloud. Pics of Guzman
One degree Plateu.Just like africa. Pics of Guzman
Mt sicapoo is one of the hardest trek i have done so far, Second only to the real deal Talomo-Apo traverse. Ill be back soon to experience once again the long walk, as I found myself more intrigued and fascinated and motivated by long and hard trek. I might be slow, but i know eventually ill get to where I want to go..

Team Russell

With Melo, Tatay Emilio and Dan Pogi

The event itenaries

By PTN (Philippines Team Neverest), powered by Tingguian Tribe

1600 Meet up/assembly @ Partas Cubao Terminal
1730 ETD to Laoag via Partas liner

DAY 1 
0330 ETA Laoag City
0345 Assembly Jollibee Bacarra Road ; Breakfast; buy packed lunch
0430 ETD Solsona Poblacion
0500 ETA Solsona Poblacion, Register @ PNP station,
0515 ETA Tata Emilio Hauz @ Brgy. Manalpac, last preparation
0600 Start Trek
0700 ETA Gate
1100 ETA Parpar Creek Camp;Lunch
1200 ETD for Saulay Junction
1415 ETA Balbalitok Peak, coffee break
1700 ETA Mt. Saulay Junction, Pitch tent

Day 2 
0400 Wake up/ Breakfast
0630 Start Trek
0800 ETA Mt. balbalite peak
0900 ETA Mt.Pakpako Peak Camp Site
1100 Lunch Along the trail of Mt. Matalidong
1130 Resume Trek
1400 ETA Sicapoo Summit; Pictures
1415 Start descent
1600 ETA Matalidong “coffee break”
1715 ETA Mt.Pakpako Camsite
1800 ETA Campsite

Day 3 
0500 Wake up/ Breakfast, prepare for breakfast, packed lunch
0700 Start trek to Mt. Timarid traverse Mt.Simagaysay
0800 ETA Saulay junction
0945 ETA Nagdata Camp site
1000 Start ascent Mt. Timarid via 70 to 80 degree ascent
1200 ETA Mt. Timarid, lunch/emergency snack
1300 Descent/ascent Mt.Simagaysay
1415 ETA Mt. Simmagaysay, descent to one degree plateu/Picture along the trail/ridge.
1530 ETA ODMG Plateu
1600 ETA Solsona Dam
1630 ETA Tatay Emilio hauz, party party

Friday, April 5, 2013

The penguin Beak

Mt Sicapoo traverse Day 2

We woke up at 4am under the only cold nights we had in the campsite. Immediately we prepare our breakfast and packed lunch. At 6:30am we began our way to reachead the summit of Mt Sicapoo.
The trail was the continuation of the steep edges and non stop assault that we already experienced in Day 1. With light packs, we easily navigated trough the trail. But the trail was too long, so even with light packs, we are dead tired. After a few hours of walking on the open trail, We entered the short forest of Sicapoo.
First team
After almost 8 hours of hiking the first group arrived at the Peak, kiss the penguin beak and congratulate eachother for a job well done. After just a few minutes, the 2nd group arrived. We just spent a few minutes taking pictures and enjoy the surroundings, because we know that its a long way back to our campsite, and all of uagree that we dont want to hiked at night. Will less visibility and anticipated cold weather, we rushed our way back . Our guides informed us that most of the group arrived at night . Some arrived at 10pm the earliest would be 7pm. But to our surprise we arrived at the campsite just before 6pm , just in time before the darkness engulf the whole area. 

The Penguin's Beak
 As usual, We prepare our dinner and share our personal challenges of the trail onwards . 

Little did we know that the last day would be the toughest and most difficult part of the entire traverse..

A celebration of a job well done.Smile Guys.