ODMG’s Climb Advisory on Mt. Sicapoo

by Aggie Pinzon, ODMG
Between 2009-2010, the One Degree Mountaineering Group documented and shared its exploratory attempts and subsequent successful ascents of Mt. Sicapoo through pictures and blogs in our site and write up features in Pinoymountaineer.com. These have contributed to the growing interest in the highest peak of the Ilocos Region at 2354 masl.
After ODMG successfully summitted Mt. Sicapoo in December 2009 with AMCI members Lester Susi and Cecil Morella as guests, other groups have followed suit, some have been successful, some not so. PinoyMountaineer blogger Dr. Gideon Lasco and the Iron Lady, Jo Steven successfully climbed Mt. Sicapoo last February 2011 (See Hiking Matters #129, 130, 131).
They agree with the rest who have climbed Mt. Sicapoo, even those who were unsuccessful in reaching the peak, in rating the mountain as a very challenging 9/9 on the PinoyMountaineer Difficulty Scale. This is so primarily because Mt. Sicapoo sits very deep in the Solsona ranges and several peaks have to be scaled before reaching it. When doing a dry land entry seven peaks lie before Sicapoo: Mt. Simagaysay (1341 masl), Mt. Timarid (1527 masl), Mt. Saulay (1286 masl), Mt. Bubuos (1400+ masl), Mt. Balbalite (1500+ masl), Mt. Pakpako (1620 masl) and Mt. Matalidong.
To enter through the river on the other hand, would entail more than a dozen river crossings across, depending on the month, deep and raging waters. Either way, the ascents are steep and the trails unestablished, dotted with knife-edge deer paths and perilous ledge walks. The trek itself is long, spanning approximately 49 kilometers from start to end using what we’ve dubbed as the “rosary trail” – entry through Gasgas river and exit through Mt. Simmagaysay and the plateau.
Aside from the challenge of a very difficult mountain, however, what is perhaps attracting the attention and curiosity of different groups and individual trekkers to this mountain is its pristine and well-preserved beauty and natural environment. The climb to Mt. Sicapoo features trekking through different terrain – boulders and crossings in the river and tributary streams, tropical forests, pine forests, open grasslands, mossy forests, and undulating ridges. The trails are rarely used especially in the deeper part of the range beyond Mt. Simmagaysay and Mt. Timarid where only trappers and hunters venture. Signs of habitation like houses, cattle and farms are inexistent after the plateau. The whole expanse is so rarely trodden that sightings of deer, wild boar, hornbills and other large birds of prey, river eels and other wild animals have been frequent. Indeed, we’ve seen some of the most breathtakingly spectacular views trekking up Mt. Sicapoo and the peaks surrounding it!
To protect and safeguard Mt. Sicapoo’s unspoiled environment and to ensure the safety and quality of experience of hikers who will trek up its slopes and subsidiary peaks, ODMG, worked with the local barangay communities to come up with the following guidelines that would serve as a hike advisory to all who would want to come and experience the beauty and majesty of Mt. Sicapoo:
1. Climb parties should notify us of their tentative climb date and number of hikers in advance to make sure that guides and transportation are arranged accordingly and the barangay/LGU is informed
2. We will not be able to provide assistance to those parties who will not make arrangements with us
3. To maximize the experience, enjoy the beauty of the surroundings and prevent injuries or any untoward incident, we recommend that climbing Mt. Sicapoo shouldn’t be anyone’s first climb experience
4. A 4 to 5 day itinerary is suggested (see the Mt. Sicapoo article in PinoyMountaineer)
5. The best months to climb Mt. Sicapoo are from November to March. During the summer months of April and May, water sources have been known to dry up while trekking during the typhoon season will make the river and gully crossings very dangerous.
6. Climb parties will be limited to a maximum of 12 people
7. Only 1 climb party at a time is advised to ensure availability of guides
8. A river entry or exit will only be allowed on the advice of the guide
9. 1 guide is required for every 4 hikers
10. Porters are not counted as guides
11. Climb parties will provide food for their guides
12.Guide fee is set at P500/day/guide; Porter fee is set at P500/day/porter
14. A single porter will only carry a maximum of 15 kilos
15. Registration, green and other local government fees will be determined and collected upon registration with the Solsona PNP

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9 Comments on "ODMG’s Climb Advisory on Mt. Sicapoo"

8 years 11 months ago

hi, good day! we would like to inquire more about mt. sicapoo.. how do we get connected with ODMG. my email is pjqptae@yahoo.com.. we would love to here from you soon. thank you!

13 years 3 months ago

i strongly disagree with their means of livelihood. we as mountaineers should be the one to educate locals regarding hunting practices.we should not tolerate them. these are endangered species that contributes alot in balancing our ecosystem.i understand that they have to feed their families. thats why we are giving them alternative income. and we should be strict with our motto:

take nothing but PICTURES,
leave nothing but FOOTPRINTS,
KILL nothing but TIME.

as this majestic mountain is the highest in Ilocos region, i suggest that we should ask DENR to regulate every aspect of their jurisdiction.

concerned mountaineer.

13 years 3 months ago

@ Gideon, Maj, Dennis and Jay, thank you for your endorsement and support of our trek advisory for Mt. Sicapoo! To Melo and all who have recently climbed, congratulations and we thank you for abiding by the guidelines we've suggested. You are an example to the rest of the community.
@ Patatas, when climbers venture up a mountain and request assistance from the local community in the form of guides, they actually disrupt a lot of things including these guides' means of livelihood and ability to provide for their families for the days when they will have to accompany trekkers. The barangay is also mainly a hunting and farming community and when trekkers tramp through the ranges, the natural habitat is disturbed and the game that they hunt are driven away. The amount was pegged as a small compensation for the bother and disruption we impose on them. For you to insinuate that the guides here are already looking at this as a lucrative source of living and might be leaning towards abuse is irresponsible and without basis. I hope one day you meet Tata Emilio personally just as the others above have. 🙂

Anyway, the trekker to guide ratio was set to insure the climb party's safety. The climb as described in this advisory, in the comments that followed and in previous write-ups is challenging and difficult and having a small trekker-to-guide ratio means SAFETY, bottom-line. Having undergone BMC or not is irrelevant and does not make the climb any easier. I would also have to vehemently agree with Gid that we shouldn't discriminate climbers based on climb experience. The advisory was released not to discriminate but to advise would be trekkers to Sicapoo to plan and prepare very well.

Truth be told, ODMG has already rescued and brought down a group from Sicapoo last year. We sought the help of the local community to do this successfully and without further injury. This is another reason for this advisory, we don't want any climb-related injuries and (God-forbid) casualties in Mt. Sicapoo from hereon. So we're merely asking for everyone's help and cooperation. It's an advisory, nothing more. You can either follow it and be responsible or you can choose not to and be otherwise.

/Aggie for ODMG

Jay Z Jorge...
13 years 3 months ago

I Consider Mt. Sicapoo as one of my toughest climbs I agree with sir gideon that a guide fee of P500 is fair & definitely reasonable for a 10-14 hour trek… about the ratio of guides as to climbers I also agree with sir gideon… Sicapoo is a tough mountain and you will definitely need all the help to maintain the safety of the climbing team.

My suggestion to future Sicapoo climbers is to "train"… due to its extreme difficulty. ang akin pong paniniwala "beautiful open spaces of the world are not for a chosen few… they are for everyone." however I do not suggest a sicapoo climb sa mga hindi pa naghahanda sa ganitong uri ng akyat… crossing 15-20 rivers & scaling 8 peaks in 3-4 days in exploratory trails is not an easy task… they require a certain amount of "training climbs" as well as "climbing experience" to prepare any individual aspiring to complete the sicapoo challenge.

I definitely agree that Sicapoo is acknowledged as "The ultimate mountaineering challenge of the far north" napakahirap ngunit napakaganda! words are not enough to describe its difficulty & its beauty.

Maraming salamat sa kabutihang loob ng One Degree Mountaineering Group (ODMG) kung hindi sa kanila hindi natin makikilala ang kagandahan ng Mt. Sicapoo at kay tatay emilio benito ang aming gabay at kina Sir melo sanchez & sir koi grey ang organizer ng aming Sicapoo climb at sa lahat ng Mt. Sicapoo summit climbers
(Dennis Hisanan,Ronnie Laureta,Marvin Evasco,Eduardo Bedural,Ronald Binagatan,Kharmey Hidalgo,Mari Franz Monastrial, Cris Mantes).

"What is hard to endure is inspiring to remember"

Dennis Hisanan
13 years 3 months ago

What can i say about Mt.Sicapoo… uhmmm… SUPER REMARKABLE ang BEAUTY ng MT. SICAPOO. We climb Mt. Sicapoo last week (MARCH 18-20, 2011) with Philippine Team Neverest, Pangkat Lumad and Castle Mountaineer (Melo Sanchez,Koi Grey,Dennis Hisanan,Ronnie Laureta,Jay Z Jorge,Marvin Evasco,Eduardo Bedural,Ronald Binagatan,Kharmey Hidalgo,Mari Franz Monastrial, Cris Mantes). We can say that this is an EPIC CLIMB (Combination of all major trails like STEEP trails in AKIKI of Pulag, Long walk like APO Trav, Mossy Forest like Mt. Tabayoc, G2 like trails, Knife Edges, Bouldering and Scrambling , River Crossing like in Mt. Halcon or Mt.Apo).

At tama po si sir Gid, sa totoo lang, napakahirap po kasi akyatin ng Mt.Sicapoo and kailangan po talaga ng matinding training climbs bago subukin to akyatin kundi mawawalan lang ng saysay ang pagpunta nyo. At isa pa, napakabait po ni Tatay Emilio, lahat po ng bagay na magndang magagawa ninyo sa mga guides eh maisasalin po nila sa mga iba pang climbers na aakyat dun. Ang magandang pakikitungo sa mga guides eh ang balik nun eh sa ikagaganda rin ng imahe ng inyong grupo sa huli.

Sulit na Sulit po yung 500/day na bayad sa guide. Sa hirap ba naman akyatin nun, naku po.. kaya nga nabansagan namin yun na.. MT.NAKUPOO.. hehe.. mapapaNAKUPOO kayo sa haba at hirap ng trail..

When it comes to its beauty, ang ganda ng SEA OF CLOUDS don kaya nga natagalan kami ng mga kasama namin sa kakakuha ng mga pictures. Kahit na mahirap, super worth it po talaga. We recommend to all climbers na subukan ninyong akyatin ang Mt. Sicapoo.. hinding-hindi kayo magsisisi dahil sa ganda nito, mapapa-WOW po tlga kayo at masasabi niyo na.. ETO ANG GANDA NG PILIPINAS..