My Top 10 hikes of 2014

Mt. Agung in Bali, Indonesia (May 2014)

Following my tradition for the past seven years, I have selected the top 10 hiking trips that made my 2014 a very memorable year of adventure. My year pretty much turned out to be divided into a “overture” of two exciting traverse dayhikes: Pantingan-Tarak and Guiting-Guiting, followed by a first movement of international climbs from Switzerland to Sydney, and from Taiwan to Indonesia. The second movement covers a fruitful time in Palawan, where I managed to do four major climbs. And finally, as an encore, visits to Apo and Pulag – again as dayhikes!

Note that these hikes are in chronological order and I make no attempt to further rank these hikes:

1. Pantingan-Tarak Traverse – To start off the year my good friends Coby, Koi, Jeshua, Daryl and I went on a “dayhike” of Pantingan to Tarak, going up and down – and up and down again – the caldera rim of the great Mt. Mariveles in Bataan. We started at 0400H from the jumpoff of Pantingan and we saw the sun setting in Tarak Ridge. Injury and rest time included, the hike took 20 hours – a very long dayhike indeed. Narrated in Hiking matters #386: Up to Pantingan Peak and the crater rim and 

2. Guiting-Guiting Traverse – It’s been several years since my first G2 and since I hadn’t done the traverse yet, I decided to do it in February, also as a dayhike. Sadly, I failed to see Mt. Mayon from the summit as we were hiking at the tailend of storm. Still it was a great hike, and I relished every moment of the Knife Edge crossing. Thanks Dandan, Martin, and of course Tatay Remy for this adventure!  Narrated in Hiking matters #388: Olango to G2 summit and Hiking matters #389: Knife Edge to Mayo’s Peak and down.
3. Mont Noble, Switzerland – I spent a month in Europe for my studies and one weekend I returned to the Swiss mountains, hosted once again by my good friend and mountain mentor Leo Oracion. We snowshoed our way up the worthy Mont Noble. Despite the biting cold, we managed quite well and had a great French dinner after, courtesy of Leo’s wife Vanessa. Narrated in Hiking matters #393.
4. Jade Mountain, Taiwan – The odds were 1 in 10 that time, but our team got lucky: our permit got picked in the raffle drawn to decide who gets to climb Taiwan’s highest peak! My sixth hiking trip in Taiwan turned out to be another fantastic one, as we had a great view at the summit. Narrated in Hiking matters #394: From Tataka trailhead to Paiyun LodgeHiking matters #395: Ascent to Yushan Main Peak, and Hiking matters #396: Back to Tataka trailhead
5. Mt. Kosciuszko and Blue Mountains, Australia – a very easy hike but a symbolic victory was our reaching Mt. Kosciuszko, the highest mountain in the Australian continent and one of the Seven Summits according to the Bass List. Of course we didn’t go all the way Down Under just to do a dayhike so we headed to the Blue Mountains, caught a glimpse of the visiting Prince William and Duchess Kate, and had a great time bushwalking. Narrated in Hiking matters #397: The hike up Mt. KosciuszckoHiking matters #398: Blue Mountains 1 – Katoomba, and Hiking matters #399: Blue Mountains 2 – Wentworth Falls.
6. Mt. Rinjani with Mts. Batur and Agung, Indonesia. I celebrated my birthday with three Indonesian volcanoes, starting from Gunung Batur – my first international hike way back in 2005 – culminating in the fantastic Mt. Rinjani – and ending in another Bali hike, Mt. Agung. Narrated in Hiking matters #400: Gunung Batur, BaliHiking matters #401: Gunung Rinjani, Lombok Day 1,
Hiking matters #402: Gunung Rinjani Lombok Day 2, and Hiking matters #403: Gunung Agung, Bali
7. Mt. Mantalingahan Traverse – Six years after I first documented this great mountain, it’s not become a mecca for serious hikers and as in G2, I wanted to experience the traverse. With my hiking buddy Coby and guided by the cheerful Kuya Binoy, we did the traverse and had four wonderful days in Palawan jungle. Narrated in Hiking matters #408: Brgy. Ransang to Cabugan campsiteHiking matters #409: Cabugan to Paray-Paray campsiteHiking matters #410: Mt. Mantalingajan summit assault, and Hiking matters #411: Traverse to Brooke’s Point 
8. Mt. Victoria – After climbing Mantalingajan, we decided that we still have enough time and energy to do another mountain and fortunately Jehson Cervancia helped us decide a guide for Mt. Victoria, the second highest in Palawan. An additional two days in Palawan jungle – and two dozen river crossings to boot! Narrated in Hiking matters #412: To the high camp and Hiking matters #413:To the summit and back.
9. Cleopatra’s Needle – Two months after Mantalingajan and Victoria, I completed the “Palawan Trilogy” by climbing Cleopatra’s Needle, the third highest in Palawan and the highest north of Puerto Princesa. It was fantastic: 51 River crossings, forests with majestic almacigas, and a stunning summit view featuring all of Puerto Princesa’s mountains, and a wide section of Palawan itself from Mt. Victoria to Mt. Capoas. Narrated in Hiking matters #419: Endless crossings of Tanabag River,  Hiking matters #420: Up the summit campsite and Hiking matters #421: The beautiful summit and the long descent
10. Sultan Peak – A few years ago, I thought all I needed to hike were Mantalingajan, Victoria, and Cleopatra. But Palawan continues to amaze, and Sultan Peak. The grandness of the hike is comparable to a Kanlaon traverse and the biodiversity is stunning. Sultan Falls was the first reward, and at the summit, three giant pitcher plants were waiting for us! And after that, mystical Atong Lake where I swam to my heart’s content. Narrated in Hiking matters #437, Hiking matters #438, and Hiking matters #439
Honorable mention: Mt. Apo (Kapatagan) dayhike and Mt. Pulag (Akiki-Ambangeg) dayhike. It was great to revisit the highest peaks of the country’s two biggest islands one month apart from each other- with the latter turning out to be my yearend major hike. Reminds me that you can’t really climb a mountain twice, there are many ways to experience a mountain!
Thank you Coby Sarreal for joining me in five of my top 10 hikes: Pantingan-Tarak, Rinjani, Mantalingajan, Victoria, Sultan Peak.Also acknowledging Daryl Comagon, Brenton Tan, Ian Tesaluna, Dada de Silva, Foncy Conanan, Cynthia Sy for joining in two of these. And of course my gratitude goes to everyone who made these possible! Looking forward to another exciting year of climbing mountains!

Top 10 Hikes of 2014
Top 10 Hikes of 2013
Top 10 Hikes of 2012
Top 10 Hikes of 2011 (PH) | International
Top 10 Hikes of 2010
Top 10 Hikes of 2009
Top 10 Hikes of 2008

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