Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mt. Iraya (1,009 +)


MT. IRAYA (1,009 +)
Basco, Batanes
Major Jumpoff: Sitio Banaraw near Basco Airport
LLA: 20°27'58"N 122°0'35"E, 1009 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 3-4 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 1-3

BACKGROUND
The northerly mountain of the Philippines, standing majestically in the enchanting islands of Batanes, the "mountain of winds". Its position at the northern part of Batan island gives its summit a commanding view of the northernmost parts of the country, and the ocean. This view, however, is made elusive by the perpetual cloud cover that only gives way to a full view of the mountain on rare occasions.

Mt. Iraya is a very important landmark for the Ivatans, and is steeped in legend. Elder Ivatan folk say that whenever someone dear to the people departs, a ring of clouds forms around the mountain. Also, the elders speak of old eruption of Iraya, and points to the holes near the summit as the crater from which lava and steam spewed out. Culture aside, its geographic presence is imposing; it is seen throughout the whole island of Batan and elsewhere in the northern seas. Its rise of 1009 MASL, directly from the sea, is explained in terms of volcanism. According to geologists, Iraya is one of the 22 active volcanos in the Philippines, with its last eruption occuring in 1454.

The trail to Mt. Iraya is forested and at times steep. From the jumpoff just beyond the Basco airport, there is an early, 30-minute assault, followed by a 1.5 hour trek through a dense forest, which is replete with flora and fauna, especially birds. Snakes are also said to inhabit these areas, but they are not poisonous. Beyond this forest is the "Shoulder Campsite' - an excellent viewdeck and a possible campsite. Here, trees give way to giant reeds (Miscanthus sinensis) locally known as vyawo. The final leg is the steep assault of the summit, lasting 30-45 minutes. Hold on to the reeds as you climb. At the summit, which is a ridge directing north, you will definitely feel the refreshing touch of the wind.

According to the Ivatans, if the wind is coming from the north, most likely the view is obstructed with clouds, but the east wind is good and clears up the sky. Also, they add that the best time to climb Iraya is during the 'mini-summer' in September -- the only time when Mt. Iraya is devoid of clouds. In this blessed event, views would include that 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. But at whatever time of the year, a climb to Mt. Iraya is memorable and as enchanting as the beautiful province in which it stands.

ITINERARY
0600 Proceed to jumpoff just beyond the airport
0630 ETA jumpoff; start steep trek
0700 Rest station; enter forest
0830 Arrival at 'shoulder campsite
0900 Commence summit assault
0945 ETA summit. Enjoy the views (or winds!)
1030 Start descent
1230 Back at jumpoff; head back to your hotel

SPECIAL CONCERNS
For guides to Mt. Iraya, contact Mang Romy at +639169026712. You can also arrange guides at your hotel. Prices play around P1000/tour which includes guide and transporation from your hotel. Technically, a permit is required from the DENR but since you pay the same fee anyway when going to Batanes, it is no longer enforced.

Due to the perpetual cloud cover, moisture in the upper reaches of Iraya is high and the trails can get muddy, so prepare accordingly. Cellphone signal is present at the summit and most parts of the trail. If on an extended stay in Batanes, you may want to consult with your guide when's the best day to climb, to maximize the experience and see the fabled but elusive views of Mt. Iraya.

Other trekking possibilities in Batan Island include Mt. Matarem and a traverse of the southern towns of Mahatao, Ivana, and Uyugan.

TRIVIA
This article was written in Basco, Batanes, on the day the blogger climbed Mt. Iraya: April 23, 2008.

15 comments:

backpackingsheet said...

Sir,

Is mt. Iraya Traverse possible? Thanks.

gideon said...

traverse? hmmm... the north face of iraya descends directly to the ocean -- i don't think there's even much of a coast but it is theoretically possible though logistically difficult.

Anonymous said...

nice one!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hello,

I am not really a climber and have only climbed Mt Pinatubo several times, and Mt Pulag (Abangeg) once. Last weekend I climbed Mt Iraya. It had rained the night before and the trail was so slippery. It was at least 3 times more difficult than Mt Pulag, specially coming down from the summit. Hard to believe it is only 1 level of difficulty more than Mt Pulag. Btw, what makes a climb minor or major ?

Thanks!

edge said...

Gid,

Can't contact Mang Romy anymore on his mobile.Do u have anyone contact there.We will have a mission/bible cause in Ivaya,we're including to climb this Iraya in our IT's somewhere this month.

tia ^_^

gideon said...

of course, trail conditions really vary and obviously, a hard rain in iraya will be harder than a sunny day in pulag.

iraya being a dayhike lessens makes it much easier than pulag: if you get wet you can have access to the town easily, whereas in pulag, getting wet may mean an entire night -- and at high elevation, there is risk of hypothermia.

so the difficulty system is meant only as a guide and assumes same, sunny conditions.

@edge: don't worry its easy to get a guide once you're there. rainy season though so expect a wet and windy hike.

edge said...

thanks for the message Gid.

We'll preparing for the activity,leaves on 26th.

More climbs Gid! ^_^

Carl said...

hello guys,

we just climb Mount Iraya last Friday (February 26) when we visited Batanes. Most of the trail are not visible. hehe. And All clouds up there..

We also met with some of the Batanes Mountaineers, Sir William and Elmer.

Too bad we are short of one day for their Climbpalooza event.

:-)

Harry A. Balais said...

I climbed Mt. Iraya last January 14. Started to hike at around 10AM. Good thing it didn't rain days before my climb so it took me 3 hours, including 40 minutes from the Shoulder Pass to reach the summit. on my way back, it was only 1.5 hours.

my guide is the brother in law of the first guide of mount iraya. he used to guide PALMC in their regular climbs at Mt. Iraya.

btw, here's my photo at the summit: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=3943636&l=71980d90fe&id=585921850

Anonymous said...

may iwatani butane gas ba sa batanes?

BCTA tour facilitators said...

want hiking in BATANES...BCTA is ready to serve you, contact us, 029984303 or visit our website - www.batanestravel.com

Anonymous said...

mga sir/maam..

im certified ivatan poh.
last.last.last year dun pu ako nag bday sa MT.IRAYA..
ndi nman po tlgah totally lgeng naulan dun ..

alexi vioLa ..

Anonymous said...

Batanes Mountaineering Society Open climbs for 4 days 3 nights will start on feb 10,2011.
Please e-mail us at wtsbatanes@yahoo.com or batanes_mountaineer@yahoo.com. at 2mountain climb and optional tours budget friendly package.

Chris Dizon said...

Hi, we have hiked the peak of Iraya today. It was cold, windy and full of clouds but very fulfilling. You may contact Mang Romy at his new celphone no. 09089272358. He is an excellent guide and a very kind man. Highly recommended.

Anonymous said...

Naakyat ko na rin ito sa wakas last August 25, 2014. Nakakapagod din, pero over all madali lang siya. ako lang mag isa, but with guide doon, 1,500 ung binayad ko. we started 7am, nakarating kami at 11am. den, baba uli kami at 12pm-2:00pm.

jp
jpdp5737@gmail.com

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