Hiking matters #7: Mt. Iraya, the mountain of winds

BASCO, BATANES – It’s good there’s internet access here. Today I dayhiked Mt. Iraya here in Batan Island. With winds from all four directions coming its way, the clouds have found a home in this mountain, and in the three days that I’m here in Batanes I’ve never seen the mountain unobstructed by clouds, even though it is blazing hot in the rest of the island. Even so, I wanted to climb this mountain. It’s a rare privilege to visit these islands and now that I’m here, as a mountaineer it seems unthinkable to miss my chance to climb Mt. Iraya.
And so I woke up very early today; Mang Romy the tour guide (who was referred to me by Ma’am Valerie — thanks!) fetched me from my loding place, Shanedel’s Inn, and took me the jumpoff. Literally, it’s at the edge of the Basco airport runway! My guide, Mang Pinong, and I began trekking immediately. The first part of the trail was a jumpstart – a very steep ascent of more than 150m gain. Then we entered the forest; with beautiful forest trees and a symphony of birdcalls! I’m sure birdwatchers will love it in Iraya; from time to time I’d think a heavy object was falling from the sky, only to discover a large bird commencing its flight. After 1.5 hours, we finally reached the shoulder. This major rest station offers beautiful views and can serve as the campsite.From this point the trees give way to reeds, and the trail becomes very steep (65-75 degrees). Hold on to these reeds! (called ‘vyawo’ in Ivatan). The summit, after 40 minutes, is, as expected, very windy — as if a storm is brewing up there. Ridge-like and adorned with ferns, the summit is the northernmost high point in the country, and it offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean (E), Itbayat Island and hill-like Dinem Island (NW), South China Sea (W), the entirety of Batan Island with Mt. Matarem the most prominent point (SW), and beyond it, Sabtang Island. Unfortunately, only for a few seconds did the clouds give way and I caught a glimpse of these fabled views. “The best time to climb Iraya is during our mini-summer in September,” my guide said.Once done with the steep descent back to the shoulder (again, hold on to the reeds!), going down was a breeze. Mang Pinong got me fresh buco juice from his backyard coconut trees as a postclimb treat. The Everest ladies (Noelle Wenceslao, Karina Dayondon and Janet Belarmino), after climbing Iraya late February of this year, were said to have quipped that Iraya “is more difficult than Everest”, perhaps referring to the muddy and steep trails that characterize Iraya. It is indeed one challenging daytrip – but whatever awaits you at the top – be it winds or views – it is a rewarding experience. Sulit!

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5 Comments on "Hiking matters #7: Mt. Iraya, the mountain of winds"


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10 years 10 months ago

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10 years 10 months ago

valerie, thanks. i met mang romy and he was the one who got a guide for me at a discounted rate! cheers likewise!

Guest
10 years 10 months ago

hi kerwin — i've been in most of the places posted in the website, with certain exceptions such as mt. patukan in kalinga, alto peak in leyte, and mt. lumot in bukidnon. information on these destinations have been given us for the benefit of other mountaineers.im now in batanes — and yeah i guess i should also mention how to get here. i took asian spirit which flies MWF to basco. seaiar also flies 2x weekly, tues/sat. and then there's the chemtrad from tuguegarao which also flies MWF i think. from manila fares play around 5-6k one-way. as for loding, its quite cheap, from 200-500/day in basco and even cheaper elsewhere.

Guest
10 years 10 months ago

seems it's really a good place to add on my place to be.. but sir just a question about the fees, how to go there i mean batanes and the accommodations. sir, curious lang lahat ba ng naka post dito sa pinoymountaineer napuntahan nyo na?? its makes me wonder and be amazed..thnks!!!

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Anonymous
10 years 11 months ago

hi! congrats pinoymountaineer! besides the climb to mount iraya, i bet you had a really good time in batanes. batanes is an entirely different experience. anyway, the next time i go there, i'm gonna conquer that beauty! thanks for the info!cheers, valerie