Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tirad Peak (1,388+) in Gregorio del Pilar, Ilocos Sur

Gregorio del Pilar, Ilocos Sur
Major jumpoff: Poblacion, Gregorio del Pilar
LLA: 1388 MASL
Days required / hours to summit: 2 days / 6-8 hours
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 5/9, Trail class 1-4, Historical trail

An exciting new destination in the Ilocos Region is Tirad Peak, which towers above the historical trail of Tirad Pass. Virtually unknown to mountaineers and deemed unreachable by locals, coordinated with the Tourism Board of Gregorio del Pilar town (GDP) in a series of explorations that ultimately led to the first major climb up the summit on occasion of the 2nd PinoyMountaineer Annual Charity Climb in February 7-8, 2010. With the trails now established, it is possible to visit Tirad Pass and Tirad Peak in one trip - combining a scenic, historical trail with a challenging and very rewarding peak to conquer.

This trek starts from the Poblacion of GDP, or you can also ask your jeepney to take you closer to the traihead of the Tirad Pass trail. It was called 'Old Spanish Trail' because it was used during Spanish times as a major gateway to the Cordilleras. It was sufficiently wide for horses to pass; hence the "Battle Above the Clouds" could be fought there. Along the way, references to the historic battle could be found. You can rest at the cave where del Pilar slept the night before he was slain in the battle. Closer to the Tirad Pass Shrine, which also serves as the campsite, there is a "Lonely Trail" that leads to the "Sniper's Knoll" which was allegedly the spot where the American sniper that shot del Pilar to death was stationed.

The campsite itself is scenic. Facing west one can behold the plains of Ilocos Sur and South China Sea beyond; the breezes are cool and wide campsite can accommodate a large group. The Shrine which features the valiant 'Boy General' mounted on a horse, makes for nice photo-ops.

The next day, an early morning assault up the summit is recommended. It takes 4-5 hours to reach Tirad Peak on light packs. This time, you will follow the Americans in the trail took to catch up with the escaping Philippine Army, according to history books guided by the traitor Januario Galut. The woodlands are at times winding, for most part unremarkable, but once you begin to see a towering Tirad Peak ahead of you, the excitement begins.

At the foot of Tirad Peak, the trail begins to be very steep. The trail is rocky, and some bouldering is required to reach the peak. Tirad Peak calls to mind Pico de Loro in terms of the peak's contours; whereas it is also reminiscent of Batulao in terms of the grassy terrain, and the steep, 150-meter assault. The sweeping views culminate at the pinnacle, which enables you to view sections of Ilocos Sur, Abra, and Benguet. The vast panorama is breathtaking. Truly, Tirad Peak is another good reason to climb in the North!


Day 1: GDP -> Tirad Shrine campsite
0300 From Pasay or Cubao, take bus to Candon, Ilocos Sur
1030 ETA Candon. Lunch, purchase supplies
1300 Take jeep to Gregorio del Pilar (P75)
1500 ETA GDP; courtesy call, register
1530 Start ascent via Tirad Pass
1730 Arrival at Gregorio del Pilar Shrine; set up camp
1800 Sunset viewing
1900 Dinner / socials

Day 2: Tirad Peak assault
0400 Breakfast /prepration
0430 Take Lonely Trail to Tirad Peak
0830 Arrival at Tirad Peak
0900 Start descent
1200 Back to campsite
1300 Start descent
1500 Back at GDP; take rented jeep back to Candon
1800 ETA Candon / Dinner
1900 Head back to Manila


This map is presented to have a geographic correlation of Tirad Peak with respect to the Tirad Pass Traverse trail.

Transportation. It is possible to rent a jeepney from Candon to GDP or vice versa, but the rental cost is quite expensive (P1800/way). The much cheaper alternative, especially for small groups, is to adjust the itinerary according to the regular jeepney trips. Jeepneys leave Candon to GDP at around 1300H daily, and they return to GDP at 0700H, daily as well (P75 either way).

Importantly, it is possible to merge a Tirad Peak assault with a Tirad Pass traverse to Sagada. One can interrupt the traverse at Quirino town (the end of Tirad Pass trail proper). From Quirino, there are trips to San Fernando, La Union; Candon; and nearby towns: they likewise leave early in the morning.

Logistics. It is best to coordinate your trip first with the tourism officer of GDP, Mr. Macario Burgos. He may be contacted at +639265331076. There is a registration fee of P25/person for the park. U

Cellphone signal is present in most parts of the trail.

Jeepneys are the only mode of transportation to Gregorio del Pilar. Take note of the sharp rise of Tirad Peak at the background.

Near the Tirad Pass campsite, the Lonely Trail commences, ultimately leading to the trail to Tirad Peak.

Hikers prepare to assault the formidable Tirad Peak.

The summit of Tirad Peak is barely enough for five persons. The views are spectacular.

View of the Ilocos Sur mountains that border Abra and Benguet. See how the rolling slopes of Tirad Peak call to mind Mt. Batulao.

Tirad Peak and Tirad Pass served as the venue for the 2nd PinoyMountaineer Annual Charity Climb on February 6-7, 2010. A medical mission was held prior to the climb. The theme color was green and the climb comprised of 62 participants, including delegates from ONE Degree Mountaineering Group (ODMG) from Laoag, Ilocos Norte who provided us with invaluable assistance.

An account of the Tirad Peak climb is recored in Hiking Matters #79.



Anonymous said...

Hi Sir Gideon!

Our group also climbed Tirad Peak last September 2010, the views were great at the peak.


Anonymous said...

Tirad Peak Assault Oct.31st 2010

I cant believe that i remember the trails going back especially when darkness looms in the horizon. Not to mention that everyone was not equipped to be in the trails that time especially given the historical background the mountain has. Remembering piled bodies, thanks to Abi's creative way of story telling about how she saw the actual pictures of slain soldiers and the young Gen. Gregorio del Pilar aka Romnick Sarmenta. What i did is focus, remembering tidbits of details of the trail, like for example, fallen logs, streams where we rested and trails were we talked to the wasted faces of the hikers going back to camp from an early morning assault.

The trail was the longest assault i have ever done without a pack! The summit was breathtaking not to mention life-threatening! i even dropped my drybag containing my money and ID and the picture of the Our Lady of Manaoag. But i managed to get it back, thanks to the grass covering that part of the summit, i was too freakin' scared to catch it as it rolled down the trail, too scared....

We, knew that we have little time to head back to camp, knowing that we are not equipped to be in the dark. We are also in the impression that if we are not back in time, the local forest guards or guides guarding the shrine would fetch us, only to find that there was no warm bodies at camp or to fetch us in that matter.

We are all alone in that trail...

There is a couple of trails which are covered by dense bamboo trees, foliage that is so dense that the setting sun is no enough to shed light on it. This is the times in the trail when from light to dark are to be experienced. Adrenalin is already at an all time high, i even bump my knee (again) on a rock, it hurt like shit but after a couple of seconds the pain is gone again. Focused on the trail ahead. Seeing the setting sun, i reckoned it will give me 1-2hrs ample light until i reach camp... then after a few stops and glances on the sun, the clouds are also blocking it not to mention i am on a downward trail. Now i guess, i have 1 to 1 1/2 hrs max of sunlight. Must go faster.

I am already asking myself what provisions i have even the probability that when night falls, the guides/forest guards will be there to fetch us. But i knew that what is more important is that i don't have a flashlight! then, i remember telling Abi that i only have one penlight, one led bulb that is attached to my uber small swissknife. That would give me ample light but i also know that the battery life is not dependable, i even considered using the flash of my slr as light source if i have no more choice.

I reached a stream that is pretty much exposed to the setting sun, given the feel and look of the surroundings, its between 545-6pm already. I readied my light and drank some water, i even consider replenishing my hydro bag just in case but i know that i can make it back in camp in time for all my stored energy to be spent. I ate some mixed trail nuts, gulped on it actually hehehe.

Then, i remembered my cellphone! and it has a torchlight on it!!! thank God!

Now, bring it out, putting it in a ziplock and bring out also my mini Rosary, putting it in the same ziplock, thinking (and hoping) that it would bless the light and pave the way to the right path (it did actually!). Now i am moving in the darkness...

A couple of darker than dark bamboo trails, one trail (im kinda scared now... as in writing this!) was different... it gave me the goose bumps, the hair in the back of my hair is suddenly acting up.. the stories of Abi again popping back...hehe

I could not catch up with Sir Pete and company no matter how fast i am, i later learned that Sir Pete and Abi has no available lightsource at their disposal, so they really need to buckle and run along the trail. They arrived around 6pm in the campsite with no one there.


Anonymous said...


The only instance i got lost is then i was just 1-2 minutes away from the "kubo" that marks the start of the Tirad Peak assault and the fact that i heard someone talking. I shouted "tao po!!" a couple of times and the man on the kubo answered back, "kayo ba yung guide??" that then i recognized his voice, it was DocLest!

Back tracking for about 2-3meters i saw the cogon covered trail.

Then atlast, i reached the kubo where DocLest was, talking with someone in his cp. i rested a bit, after 15mins or so, we decided to resume the trek (its already so near the campsite that one can reached it less than 5mins walking). I remembered the doppelgänger and was scared that DocLest was one of them (peace tayo Lester pero naalala mo na imbes sa lupa naka tutok yung trekking pole ko eh parang espada hawak ko, ready to swing..hehehe). I was getting this cold feeling, because after a couple of minutes resting in the Kubo, the wind started to howl its cold strong current again to the mountain....


We saw Sir Pete and Abi, cooking dinner already... and the fact that they mentioned that no one is already present when they arrived. We were left by ourselves!

I remember Abi telling us, why of all mountains we trekked in a place where many people died and sa araw ng Undas... (it would be the night of the 31st, Hallow night it is....)

It is good that years of experience and good training has paid off... And new lessons learned *wink

Now, balik sa tanong....

"paano ko nakita ang mga tamang trail ng patakip-silip na???"

... and i answer,

Thank you Lord for the assistance.

- Mark "Maj" Anthony Villacorta Tirad Peak Oct.30-Nov.1, 2010
During UEMAI's '' Halloween Climb ''

pero mas oks kung bday climb or aniv climb na lang para menus tayuan ng balahido.

Anonymous said...

I am truly elated and proud that my hometown is continually getting popular through pix and posts from various people. Gregorio del Pilar used to be a lonely secluded place until mountain trekkers and the Bulakenos got interested in establishing friendship with us. Matago-tago tako abes am-in.

Anonymous said...

Hi po.. Sino po may contact number ni Sir Macario Burgos? yung updated po.. We tried to contact the number stated here in the article pero unattended na po. Maraming salamat po.

Cory- TFH

Anonymous said...

i'm very honored to be one of the natives of del pilar and who really knew the actual situation of the "battle of the clouds", which much of our natives before really witnessed the actual battle and who really helped our general del pilar in their daily activities, and who gave him a sacred burial, in honor of the great general. we're very sorry to tell you that Mr. Galut was not a native of our town, he came from the lowland as a businessman. He would always pass by tirad trail as his way to Quirino to sell his product...May the lesson of our past be our role model in our today's lives, that crab mentality, selfishness,fearfulness, etc. be eradicated and instead it will be over run by the great patrotism, honesty to serve our country,loyalty and dedication as what our great hero G. del Pilar had manifested. Matago-tago tako am-in ay IdelPilar ken daisu am in ay Filipinos. Gawis ay panagcelebrar so tatta ay kag aw din Kinatured din Apo ay si Gregorio!!!(Long live del pilarians and all Filipinos and Happy fiesta to everyone, may we enjoy the true spirit of patrotism of our great hero Gregorio del Pilar)!!!!

joniphilippines said...

@ Cory- TFH

I & my wife attempted to climb it last August, kaso the team leader of the group I asked to join decided to postponed the climb because of typhoon Mina, it was a great decision though kasi talagang even after a week eh continuous yung downpour, safety first (anyway may best friend po ako sa Candon, dun na kami nagbakasyon)

in-love ako sa mountain na yun ever since ma-feature sa 2nd PinoyMountaineer Charity Climb so I research for contact numbers

GDP Municipal Hall 09062786718
sir Macarion Burgos 09275207215
Forrest guard sir Ryan 09272486813

sana maakyat namin ni misis next year (or maybe email me your schedule baka makasabit po kung papayagan -

God bless po and enjoy the outdoors!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sir Joni. Thank you so much sa info. I already gathered some from our fellow mountaineers from Ilocos. Kelan po target sked nyo next year? Probably po February ako habang hindi pa maulan..:) po kita..:)


joniphilippines said...

Let's see Cory, ok please email me :)

Anonymous said...

we just climbed Tirad this dec.28
there is a water source in the trail going to the shrine(campsite),(2km from jumpoff) and another unlimited water source in the shrine...take note of the transpo.
once a day lang silang bumiyahe back to candon city P80 each person...morning po sila bumibyahe around 7am-8am. kasi if mag-rerent talaga kyo ng jeep aabutin ang fare ng P1500-P1800.ganun din po pabalik P80 pesos each..

butch said...

i have lived in GDP for the past 17 years and for me it is best to trek the mountain from September to January as the she is still fresh green: the leaves are new and the climate, cool.

R R Graycochea Jr said...

My target date for climbing this mountain will be Feb 2014. It will be my first climb into one of the most iconic mountains in the Philippines. I will be going alone and it will be a fulfillment for me if I succeeded. 5/9 difficulty is new to me. It may be even deadly. Reading the experienced climbers here like sir Mark "Maj" Anthony Villacorta, it will guide me enough.

So, bringing enough and sufficient supplies and equipment, I will try to climb it no matter what before the hot summer begins.

Please contact me if you care to go along with me or if you have plans.

r r graycochea jr said...

I successfully climb Tirad Peak on March 01, 2014. The trek to the peak took me for almost three hours from the Marker to the Peak.

Related Posts Plugin

Recent Comments

Powered by Blogger Widgets