From now on, we’ll be posting a column-like blog entry every week– a sort of informal source of latest information for mountaineers, as well as the blogger’s own experiences in the past week.
(MANILA- 3/16/08) At last the sun is up, and PAGASA is pretty confident that it will remain that way until April. Is the sudden heat the reason why the grassy summit of Mt. Kalisungan burned out?! Anyway, ready your sunblocks. Don’t be fooled by the SPF 50s and SPF 40s…according to our Dermatology prof, SPF 15 is enough to prevent sunburn. The benefits of a higher SPF are marginal, says she.
Palawan: the last frontier
I’ve just arrived from Palawan and realized that the island is practically an entire new continent of mountaineering! And we’re talking here not of dayhikes, but of real expeditions. I summitted Mantalingajan (the island’s highest) after three days of trekking (plus one whole day of travelling!) That’s how extreme things can get in Palawan. It took another two days to get back. “Easier” climbs include Cleopatra’s Needle, Mt. Thumbpeak, Mt. Victoria (but all of these require 4-5 days!). The entire central axis of Palawan is lined up with mountains, some of which are still unnamed and unexplored! Surprisingly, “mountaineering is not in vogue in Palawan”– according to my classmate from Puerto Princesa. Foreigners comprise the bulk of the hiking population, and they go there also for the tribal/cultural encounters. On the way down from Mt. Mantalingajan, I met three Slovakian guys trekking to the Singapan Caves of Tau’t Bato. Lacking time and energy, I only mustered enough strength to do the Underground River trip, taking us beneath Mt. St. Paul. God willing, I’ll definitely come back to Palawan for the mountains!
Other places in Mimaropa (Region IV-B) are opening up. I was told that the municipality of Baco, Oriental Mindoro is contemplating on reopening Mt. Halcon, at long last! If they decide to reopen, I’m sure people will flock there! Hopefully an organized guide/trek system will be in place. A whole generation of hikers (myself included) have yet to experience the limatik-infested and über-challenging adventure which is Halcon. Meanwhile, the two other members of the Mimaropa Quartet (Halcon, Malindig, Guiting-Guiting, Mantalingajan) are also up for grabs. Malindig + the Moriones festival will be a nice Holy Week trip. Meanwhile, Guiting-Guiting is already fully booked for the Holy Week!
News from Kitanglad range explorers
Sirs Johann Jangulan and Mijan Pizarro, explorers both of the Mt. Kitanglad range, have told us of their successful ascents of almost all the major peaks of the range; and they have given us more accurate information about the elevations of the different peaks. This is great! Hopefully we can showcase the mountains they have explored (some are first ascents) soon in PinoyMountaineer. We’re also trying to expand our coverage of Visayas and Mindanao mountains.
Closer to home, I talked with Kuya Jojo, forest ranger of Makiling. We discussed the emerging popularity of the Maktrav (Makiling Traverse). According to him, even the Sto. Tomas side of Makiling is under the jurisdiction of the Mt. Makiling Forest Reserve of UP, so it is technically closed also to the public. He acknowledges, however, that their coordination with the barangays there are less than ideal and they can’t really stop climbers from going up. For safety and security, however, he advises mountaineering groups to write to UP College of Forestry to secure permission to climb the mountain on whichever trail. Anyway, we’ll see what will happen. That’s the problem with these “closed” mountains; it is really hard to enforce them and it’s always a gray area among mountaineers. The case of Banahaw is a perfect example. PinoyMountaineer.com has always taken a conservative stance on these issues, but in the Banahaw feature in the website, people would boast about climbing Banahaw! It’s up to each hiker whether or not to climb ‘closed’ mountains, but I hope people will be discreet about these acts as they may influence others who may not have the savvy to deal with delicate situations such as security matters. I’ve personally seen NPA in the Banahaw area, and I heard that just a few weeks ago, the brgy. officials of Kinabuhayan blocked the attempted climb of a party due to “security reasons”. Still, I’m sure a lot of devotees will flock to Banahaw this week.
The 29th Fed climb
The Aurora mountains being featured in this year’s MFPI Congress and Climb are truly mouth-watering treats. Sir Niko Geronimo and other UP mountaineers write about no less than FIVE mountains in Aurora: Mt.Maaling-aling, Mt. Pamaza-pasam, Mt. Udok, Mt. Pinondohan, and Mt. Danayag. Thanks to the pioneering work of the UPM and Maria Aurora Outdoor Club (MAOC), we will hear and see more of these mountains in the future. MFPI members and guests can check out the 29th Federation Congress and Climb website for more details.
So there — a lot of frontiers to whet your appetite this summer!