Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pre-climb: Mt Pulag

Bokod, Benguet
Major jump-off: Ambangeg Ranger Stn, Bokod, Benguet
LLA: 16°34'58"N 120°53'15"E, 2922 MASL (#3)
Hours to summit / Days required: 4-5 hours / 2 days
Specs: Major Climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-2

It is the highest peak in Luzon, and third highest peak in the country, and we didn’t just wake up one morning and decided to climb  this mountain. We had at least half a year preparation for this much awaited climb. We started climbing last April in Mt Maculot, to test our physical and mental minds about this arduos hobby.

Though the last climb we had in Mt Pico de Loro was a bit disappointing, it didn’t stop us to push through our first major climb of the year.

Aside from physical and mental preparations, it is also a must to prepare the essential gears and materials for the climb. Again, we’re but a mere amateur mountaineers, don’t expect us to be spending all our hard earned money to some thousand-worth gloves of North Face. For the past climbs, we see to it to spend just at least 500 pesos for each hike, and this trip is so far, is the most expensive one – 2,500, exclusive of the things we need to buy before the climb.

And just when I thought I got all things covered and ready for Mt. Pulag, hindi pa rin pala.

Tent – J and I have our own our tent. We bought it on sale, two years ago, at Ace Hardware in SM Megamall. The tent can accommodate three persons. 

Sleeping bag – uhmm, this one is new.  Bought at Ace hardware (ang suking tindahan) for 499.00. This can be handy but this is optional, you can just bring your thickest blanket at home in exchange for the sleeping bag, but it will eat most of the space in your bags. (note: you can add an earth pad with you sleeping bag.)

Bag – I used J’s North Face Surge bag, the one I bought in Vietnam. It’s not ideal as it cannot accommodate all my things, but just enough as I cannot carry a very big bag. J suggested that I use his fake TNF – bought in Divisoria, but I vehemently declined. I just used its rain cover (neon green) instead.

Shoes – it’s the oldest rubber shoes I have (I only have two..haha). Again, it’s not the ideal shoes. According to experts, the shoes is one of the most important element in mountain climbing so better invest a good, reliable and comfortable one. Well, Dolly and Rai managed to buy new Merrel shoes for this climb.. Congrats.. I have included this one in my must-buy list next year. Haha.

Cook set – our group bought a new one for 600. We need to warm our stomachs, at least.

Jackets – must bring at least two. I bought my fleece jacket at my friendly neighborhood ukay-ukay store for only 180.  You need not to buy a new one, unless you have extra money. You can just visit the nearest ukay-ukay in your area, and you’ll definitely see one or two fleece (winter) jackets. Just make sure to check the quality of the jacket. I planned to bring one extra jacket (the one with white lining in the photo) for casual wear, something to wear while in the bus, or while strolling Baguio – but again, just when I thought I was all set and ready, I realized I forgot to bring this one. Tsk tsk. (Just how lucky JV was, when he was able to buy an original TNF jackets for only 200 pesos, where else do you think?)

Bonnet – to keep your head and ears warm. Bought mine from Surplus Shop in Megamall for 99 pesos.

Gloves – you’re hands will be useless when you reach the top of the mountain.  I canvassed some gloves in Greenhills, but the cheapest one I saw was for 200 pesos. I was hesitant buying as it looks to me like a normal gloves. Good thing, our organizer, Mommy Earl suggested that we just buy our gloves in Baguio or near the jump off area of Mt Pulag. Indeed, we bought it  for only 40 pesos. Just don’t expect too much with the quality, but it did kept us warm overnight.

Extra long sleeves – if you happen to forget one of your jackets, these long sleeves shirts will help you survive the freezing night in Mt Pulag, or at least, it did, to me.  I bought two extra long sleeves for layering purposes. I wasn’t able to use my white fleece jacket in my sleep as it got wet during the trek. I’d recommend you bring one with turtle neck to help keep you neck warm.

Leggings – to keep your legs warm, choose the thicker kind of leggings. I bought one from Edsa Central  for 150. I used it during the trek, as a layer to my trekking pants because it was raining. As a result, it also got wet, and became useless at night.

Trekking pants – I brought two. One for the ascent, and one for the sleeping-assault to summit-descent.  Both trek pants are courtesy of my friendly neighborhood ukay ukay store. The second one I just bought for 100 pesos and had it altered for 60 pesos.

Arm and leg warmers -  it was J who insisted that I should bring my arm warmers, it’s the black, silk piece of cloth that can fit your arms. Along with my long sleeves, the arm warmers did help me survive the bone-chilling temperature in the mountains. I saw leg warmers in Surplus Shop stores in SM, I think it ranges from 280-300 pesos.

Scarf – hah! This one saved my neck. Since my fleece jacket became useless while we were in the mountain, I have to rely to my scarf to prevent the air to get into my skin. Thus, turtle neck type long sleeves will be a better help. I bought my scarf in Surplus Shop, last March for our Sagada trip.

Socks – I brought three thick socks. One, I used during the trek up, it was soaking wet when we reached the camping grounds. Second, the one I used when we descent. And the third one was a  winter socks (pink) which I bought from Japan Home in Edsa Central for 88 pesos. I used it overnight and it was very effective.

Headlights – it is advised that you keep your hands free from everything and anything  when you assault the summit, especially when you trek in the dark.  J first suggested to buy one that’s battery  operated, as there will be no electric in the mountain, there’s no chance for me to charge the lights if we buy the re-chargeable ones. But upon some research, I discovered that  cold weather drains batteries, so might as well settle for the rechargeable ones, and have an extra flashlight for extra activities. So, I bought one at Ace hardware for 220 pesos.

Raincoat – one of the most essential gears in our recent climb because it has been raining all day, all throughout the trek. Bought for 79.75 pesos (Ace Hardware.)  The cheaper one costs 30 pesos, it’s yellow and it’s manipis. As J told me, I needed the thicker ones dahil lampa raw ako, baka madaling mapunit kapag yung tig-trenta ang gamitin ko. Hmp.

Toiletries –  I think this is SOP. There is a restroom in the mountains, where you can answer the call of nature. There is water supply too, but most of the time, you'll settle for wet tissue and alcohol when you're up there.

First aid kit - band aid, alcohol, kantinko (na hindi nagamit), medicine (alaxan FR)

Garbage bag – need to explain? For some insensitive souls, yes, you need to observe cleanliness wherever you are, especially in a sacred place such as Mt Pulag. Trash in, trash out.

Food – my trail foods composed of ding dong, chocolate polvoron, tiger biscuits. I also brought three cup noodles and two canned goods (corned beef and meat loaf) for dinner and breakfast, along with four pieces of 3-in-1 coffee.

Water - if you're travelling with strangers, bring at least 2 liters. But when you're with your friends, you can bring one liter and when you ran out, you can ask some from your friends. Besides, there are refilling stations in the trail, it's free, it's fresh, and it's delicious.

Uhmm.. what else do you need to bring when climbing Mt. Pulag?

Positive mind
Enough strength and energy
Humor and sense of adventure

These are things you need not to buy anywhere else, you just have to bring it yourself. Mountain climbing isn’t a cheap hobby, not even a luxurious one. But we will keep it cheap and adventurous, nonetheless. 

Happy Birthday Kuya!