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Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail

April 14, 2012

Mt. Mantalingajan (local name Mt. Mallnuu) traverse

Introduction
Mt. Mantalingajan which local name is Mt. Mallnuu can be found in Rizal, Palawan . A south-western city which is six hours away from puerto princesa. The mountain is rarely scaled, so there is no definite Itinerary. Climbers usually rely on the local guide on how the climb is going to be. In the mountaineering community, Mt. Mantalingajan has a reputation of being the toughest climb in the Philippines (which after climbing I think is true). The length, difficulty and technicality of the trails, plus the fact that the place is malaria infested adds to the perils of climbing this mountain. The main road in Palawan is located on the both sides of the island, the middle part are mountains. So basically traverse climbing is entering the south-west of the island and exiting the south-east side. The start of the trek starts ~0 masl and exits on the other side around the same level (1km from from the sea). So basically after completing the traverse, you have done a sea to summit to sea hike, on the highest mountain in Palawan.




Ascending.
   After buying our additional supplies in Puerto Princesa, we took the six hour ride to Ransang in Rizal, Palawan. We met the guide and took another hour walk to Brgy, Balen-balen. We reached the jumpoff early evening. A day was already spent just for travel, we rested and started the trek early the next morning.
  The first day was already a difficult trek but was still manageable, since the trail was still adequate for walking, I think due to the mountain tribe (tau bato) still use them for walking to and fro... and for those who sometimes travel to the lowlands to buy supplies. The trail is fully covered with trees, century old trees. There were also spots where 'kaingin' (slash and burn) farming was being done by the local tribes. There are several areas that can be used as pit stops or campsite depending on the pace of the group. The last water source before paray-paray (campsite before the summit) is Kabugan, a big community of the local tribe. After Kabugan the trail becomes more steep, our local guide went way ahead to check if there are traps along the trail. According to the guide, the traps are not simple and can really kill people, flying spears and arrows, but the intended targets are wild boars. We also passed by several local tribe communities but they do not allow themselves to be exposed with city dwellers. They were afraid of us, mainly because they dont have protection against diseases that we might bring (colds etc). After the Kawayanan campsite, the fun begins. Its a continous assault for 5-6 hours. The trail was now more narrow and more steep. This is a good sign since it means the place is more pristine, but this adds to the difficulty of the hike. When the trail became Guiting-like rock formations, we know that we are close to the Paray paray (1650 masl) campsite. We arrived early and though summit assault was still possible the group conferred to do it early the next day, since there was more chance of a clearing. 


To Jumpoff


Manta is still on the other side


Jumpoff






'Kaingin' House


Large logged tree
One of the simple hazards


Manta is on the other side still



Kabugan - a local tribe community




Nice Tree


Resting at Kawayanan


Narrow Path








Bonsai Tree










Moss Bed


Paray Paray Camp




A bath in the clouds


















Summit 

  Early the next day we started our trek to the summit. The summit trail starts scrambling through rocks very much like the 'camelback' area of guiting albeit with century old bonsai trees. After this place was a mossy area with bamboo like plants. Its just like getting inside a den, very pristine and cavelike shaped. The next part was now very similar to the rock formation of guiting but unlike guiting several rocks are loose, which you will only know upon stepping or holding them. Additional care was needed to avoid accident. We saw several nearby mountains from the trail, Rio Tuba, Mt. sinapaan where Taut Bato reside and the beautiful Tres Marias peak. After several hours of scrambling, we reached the Mt. Mantalingajan summit (2030 masl). And there was 360 degrees clearing!!! wuhooo!!!. We can see both sides of Palawan on summit. I guess we were really lucky, it was even the first time for the guide to have this very good weather. 




Mt Sinapaan, residence of the Tau't Bato










With the guides








Summit!!!








The Gang






Tres Marias


A long last view


Japanese treasure hunters dug this


The trail that looks like a den


Bonsai Tree









Foot over a foot


Retired shoes


Traverse Descend
  After the summit assault we descended the same afternoon. According to the guide we were the 4th group to do the traverse exit, the trail was actually the one being used by the local tribes. When we start descending very steep and bamboo bushy. I said to myself, 'o boy this is gonna be a long afternoon'. Part of the trail was passing by a very mossy dry river...with loose rocks, loose soil and wet logs. The trail was very difficult to negotiate. We were just waiting for a snake to came out and eat all of us (later the guide confirms that this place was a snake haven). The trail continues like this for several hours, later it will become something like a ravine.. with only a single foot will fit. Adding to the danger was the twigs and small trees you can hold on are sometimes dry/dead, very dangerous. The first day of the descent, we walked for 7 hours at the constant height of 1400++ masl.  The traverse side also has just one watersource and one campsite. Proper rationing and budgeting was needed. In my previous climbs when you descend its a continous, but here it was up and down. Sometimes the height goes constant for several hours. I think we passed by several smaller mountains along the way that I lost count. The last 1/3 of the trail was not that technical, but still very long. We reached the main road after 12 hours of trekking (2nd day of descent)
  
Dangerous trail, I hid may cam after this shot for fear it might fall.


Narrow Trail








The last and only campsite






The look like noodles






One of the mini assaults


Berry Picking




Assaulting Kawang-kawang


Dont forget to take notes


Almasiga tree (for creating fire)


Ant colony


Nearing Civilization???




Luckily met Tau't Bato ascending from the City




Newly kaingin


City (other side)can now be seen
Exit point - Malis, Brookspoint






































































Final Words

  Mt. Mantalingajan is my most difficult climb. I have never hike for 12 hours non-stop before. The place is more pristine than Mt. Kanlaon if not equal. The techinicality and danger of the summit assualt and the traverse trail cannot be equaled. My companion had been to Mt. Guiting (via traverse, I had been to guiting myself but traditional) and Mt Halcon and according to him this is the most difficult. The approach will take several days and the difficulty of the exit. I came to this mountain with several weeks of preparation and training, but was still had a hard time. This mountain is very big yet there is limited water source along the trail, a guide is needed in finding them since some of the water supply can cause serious sickness (elephantism etc). Indeed these mountain probably is the toughest climb in the Philppines. According to the guide, we were the first group to the the traverse in five days. But given the chance that there was water source and good campsite on the traverse side, I would have prefer to do it in six.




In the Know
- the local name of Mantalingajan is Mt. Mallnuu which means smooth, for the mountain can be seen smooth (without any jaggedness) from a distance.
- the Tau't Bato (people of stone) got their name because they live on stone caves. 
- another tribe, the Tau't Daram also live before in this mountain. They were feared for their cannibalism. Our guide told us that it was believed that if you happen to wayward into their territory, you are absolutely gonna be eaten. They were even stories that they eat they own kin, during times of hunger. Their practice was stopped only during the time that a japanese preacher came into their place and was able to persuade them to stop this practice. The tribe is now scattered all over palawan and is not anymore a threat.

19 comments:

  1. Congrats on the climb Sir! And thanks for the detailed description of the trails. I'm also planning to climb Manta this June. Does the bus from Puerto go directly Brgy. Ransang? Or do we need to take another bus from Rizal town to Ransang? Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Tin. I'm not sure if the bus goes directly to Ransang. We took the shuttle from the new Market of Puerto Prinsesa. Take note though that the last trip is 1pm.

    Is your climb date already set? I dont recommended climbing Manta on rainy season cause its gonna be difficult and dangerous specially if your planning to do the traverse. Considering also that lots of time and effort is needed going to the place, I think its more worth it to climb it on a good weather (or have a bigger chance of a good weather)

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  3. Epic Climb!

    Did it twice last year.

    congrats Sir

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  4. Thanks and Congrats too... How was it?

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  5. intense sir!. ;)

    our recon traverse exited at Bataraza. and the second was the traditional trail.

    here is the link to my friend's Blog.

    http://ialman.livejournal.com/199699.html

    Keep on Climbing! ;)

    take care and God Bless

    Visit us at www.amci.org.ph

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  6. Awesome trip! What guide did you use to climb the mountain? Did you reserve one in advance of going or was it easy to find one once you got to Palawan?

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  7. Thanks sir! The guides are the locals in the area. From what I know only three locals can do guideship, thats the reason we contacted them in advance.

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  8. Nice blog here Sir. Can you please share the itinerary of the whole climb including the traverse? We are planning to climb this mountain soon.Thanks in advance...

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  9. Hi Gecarl,

    Thanks for the appreciation. Sorry but we don't have an IT. We just followed the advise of the guide, and he sets the pace defending our capability.

    Cheers

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  10. Thanks sir for information.
    i will climb Manta trav on August 22-25 (august 21- arrival in Puerto)

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    Replies
    1. No worries sir Ken, Keep safe, good luck and Enjoy the mountain. :)

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  11. Dear sir, thank you for the interesting description of this challenging climb. We are planning to do the Mantalingajan traverse early February 2014 but could not contact any guide so far.
    Do you have the contact details of your guide? my mail adress: axels31@hotmail.com
    Many thanks in advance
    Alexis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sir Alexis,

      Thanks for visiting my blog. I replied to your email. Don't hesitate to email me if you need additional info.

      Happy climbing and see you in the mountains.

      Naldy

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  12. Hi sir Naldy! can you please send us also infos and contact persons,fees regarding mt.manta- Orlandopunzalanjr@gmail.com..

    Thank you very much sir and more power!

    The Boulder Monsters

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I replied to this inquiry via email. If there is anyone who needs additional info, feel free to email me at bachwitz@yahoo.com. Cheers

      Delete
  13. anyone po n interested sa Manta July 5-10 please tx me 09296945959 or email aparas96@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi sir can you please share your detailed IT and do include all the necessary fees also. Thank you and God Bless.

    elabio2001@yahoo.com
    Eugene Labio

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sir,

      I will send you the IT via email. This is base on the explo we did last 2012. When we climb this there was no Itinenary yet, so expect small changes on actual.

      Cheers.

      Delete
  15. I appreciate it much sir. Thank and have a nice day ahead.

    ReplyDelete