Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Kalatungan One-day Climb

Related Posts:  Kitanglad and Dulang-Dulang One-day Traverse
 Five Peaks in Five Days - a Summary

Note: Before 2011, the 5th highest was Mt Tabayoc in Benguet. Mt Kalatungan is now officially the 5th highest peak in the Philippines.
UPM team at the jump-off. L-R: Romi, Dennis, Kenneth, Jaja. We were (wrongly) in shorts and short sleeves not knowing the itchy-scratchy-ouchy challenge ahead.

I started my 5-peaks-5-days project last 2011 and had climbed Pulag, Apo and the 'now-demoted' Tabayoc (6th highest). Time didn't permit me to complete it in 1 year, and owing to the postponement of my Nepal trip (Oct2014), I finally decided to go south and complete my unfinished business.
Few colleagues from UP Mountaineers joined in, wondering what kind of pain and suffering the series of climbs has to offer.
Dennis Lopez, the guy who was tasked to plan the trip - suggested we start with Kalatungan - the most difficult of the 5 highest in terms of walking distance.  I didn't even think and just said 'good to go'!
Looking back, the other option of starting with Kitanglad and Dulang-Dulang traverse didn't seem to be an easy start either - so there was no 'lesser evil' in this case.  Kalatungan was further from CDO so we thought, the last set of climbs should be fairly close to our exit point.

Here below are some story-pictures of this day-climb:

From CDO (early morning flight arrival), we traveled to Malaybalay, to Valencia, all the way to Pangantukan.  We arrived in the evening (*sigh) and stayed in DENR's 'dormitory'. Day climbs allowed us to carry minimal gears hence the not-so-cluttered room look typical of pre/post climb gear chaos. Yun lang, malamok ('bothered' by mosquitos)

at 4am, we rode habal-habal (motorcycles with extended seats) 2 on each bike to barangay Mendis, arriving before 5am i think.  Somehow, the bgy captain and the assigned guide were missing (all pre-arranged by PAWB).  Pic: almost at first light, the outline of Kalatungan range is clearly seen here.
We lost more than 1 hour until we got a new (reliable) guide named Rodell.  Pic: The summit can be seen from this vantage point (middle-right).

the first hour was very easy, almost flat, wide road.  First time for us all to climb this mountain (except the guide who had done this more than 20x).
nice landscape, although majority of the lower section is agricultural

sunflowers!  nice trail with big yellow flowers all around.
precarious and slippery bamboo bridge. saves the shoes from being wet, for the time-being at least. Notice these locals bathing or playing by the river...
'masaya pa'.  still early to get tired.

the ridge section, once started (on it) didn't seem to end. these grasses, along with bonzai (dwarf) trees lacerated our sheens, arms, hands or whatever exposed skin parts.

looking back... we initially thought of a traverse, but decided later on to do a 'back trail', here checking how far we've trekked.  Far, but we were just starting!
sometime soon, we had lunch.  we bought cooked fried (and unhealthy) chicken parts, augmenting my never-ending peanut trail food.  I initially avoided chicken skin and its batter and kept them as trash.  Much later, I'd be munching this 'trash' ala-survival mode.

ridge walk on grass, uneven-unseen trail with occasional black rocks - not very nice. The view was spectacular, although occasionally shrouded by the clouds.
some flora along the ridge.  a good enough distraction for me to forget the growing misery.

off-ridge and into the forest.  better trail for my aching knees (both knees started to be 'uncooperative' on the 4th hour, of a 13h ordeal). my Meranti walking stick (and my arms/cardio) doing a lot of work.
smartphone background pix.  forest floor #1. One needs to find beauty, inspiration or at least distraction to fight pain and misery. When tired, I tend to look down so I did appreciate the forest floor

another forest floor 'design' with minute 'pine' sprouts...

yet another leaf-and-flower-littered forest floor, camouflaging my shoes
long and winding ridge...

a rest-stop meant, photo shoot.  here, doing an unintended photobombing :)   or maybe, the photographer was blind not to see me in the frame!
not all parts were clear and easy, there were many crawls, a bit of climb and few curses

Alas! near the summit.  I was just trying to keep up with the team, here about to do my signature grand entrance. Kenneth(?) waving from a distance, or perhaps merely posing for a good pic.
team photo. 'five' to mean '5th highest'.  took me ~6.5h to summit, climbers with better condition can do this in 5 hour so. Compared to the top1-4 (in Philippines), this was the hardest, longest to climb given easiest/shortest route available.

what's a summit without a wacky pose -  Sayonachi with stick.

with a little rain, we set up tarp to rest and eat.
going down was supposed to be easy.  with bad knees and painful skin scratches - it was miserable!  At least the view was still mostly nice.  Here, clouds started to 'eat' the entire lower ridge section.
at the 11th hour or so, finally seeing the end of the journey.   then it RAINED.  HARD.

I chanced upon the same locals playing by the river!  ano bah!  They were just about to go home.  Here, Rodell happily posing with them (well, I forced him).  the snow-looking droplets were rain drops.  Rodell and I decided to go ahead while the guys busy themselves extracting/ donning rain gear and torch.

somehow, the dudes managed to get 'lost' (they backtracked but were on the right trail).  40min or more was spent playing hide and seek, habulan sa dilim (Rodell running to find them sans torch), and me, retracing my steps up (pagod na nga e) fearing some might have gotten lost.  before this, somehow I also managed to accidentally changed the camera setting to 'magic' (duh) which produced this image. I never understood its use.
a happy last shot at the jump-off, after 13hours!  Yehey - we can now eat and shower and sleep. in whatever order!  (of course, the habal-habal ride back was cold and numbing)
"Uulit ka pa?" (Will you do this again?) I asked myself.  So far, the misery is still fresh in my mind so I'd decline if somebody asked me to join this same climb.  Then again, there are other objectives waiting to be accomplished...  at least, that's my alibi.. he-he ;)

Thanks to The North Face (Primer Group of Companies) for supporting this endeavor.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The flora, forest floors and rain drops were all so beautiful :)