After joining the first exploration in Solsona, Ilocos Norte June 2009 with the ONE Degree Mountaineering Group, which led to the first traverse of Mts. Simagaysay and Timarid, I was thrilled to be back in Ilocos Norte, this time to finally climb the most fabulous prize of all, Mt. Sicapoo, at 2354 MASL the highest mountain in the entire Ilocos Region, with a difficulty rating of 9/9. This time I was joined by Iron Lady Jo Steven.
Due to time constraints, we had no choice to compress the climb into a three-day trip, albeit still adhering to the classic sequence of Gasgas-Saulay-Sicapoo-Saulay-Timarid-Simagaysay-Pleateau. We started trekking at 0730H on February 8, 2011. The first obstacle to hurdle is the Gasgas River, which has to be crossed more than a dozen times. Considering that I was nearly swept by this river in 2009, I was extra careful.
Yet, my feelings of caution were quickly drowned by the beauty of the river. Because of a rare combination of a cold February weather, and a recent downpour, the slopes around the river turned into an orange, autumn hue!
It took us almost four hours to negotiate the river trail. Finally, we had lunch at the end of it, in what Tata Emilio, twice my guide, calls the Saulay area. Beyond this, we followed a tributary of the river for a while, reaching the bamboo groves where we e-camped in 2009 on the second night of the first Simagaysay-Timarid traverse (the ONE Degree guys refer to this as Sim-Tim).
It kept raining as we ascended the steep trail up the Junction – which is, as it name implies, a three-way intersection: an East, upward trail towards Sicapoo and Apayao; a west, downward trail leads to Gasgas River, and a southward trail leading to Timarid and Simagaysay. By 1530H we had reached the Junction, and taking the upward trail we reached Bubuos Campsite by 1620H, and there, we decided to set up camp. It will still be a long way before we could complete the climb.
PinoyMountaineer is ever grateful to Aggie and Archie Pinzon, Louie and the rest of the ONE Degree Mountaineering Group of Laoag, Ilocos Norte, for helping us in organizing and planning this trip. Hope to see you guys again soon!
ADVENTURES IN THE SICAPOO DOMAIN