|Mt. Sicapoo viewed from summit of Mt. Timarid|
A friend of mine was supposed to climb Mt. Sicapoo this long weekend. Unfortunately, there was some abrupt changes in the guiding and porter system. The family who do the guideship suddenly raised the prices. Guide is now 500 to 1000 and porter is 1000 to 1500 per day. From what I know the first climbers affected by of these changes where the climbers who had their climb last December, and they knew the changes after doing the climb.
ONe Degree Mountaineering Group (ODMG) is the pioneer in exploring this mountain and the group responsible in introducing to the mountaineering community. They are the one who set-up the guiding system, reservation on climbing, how many can climb per day and any other important matters to keep the mountain clean and minimize environmental impact. ODMG is now keeping their hands off on their matter, but I'm hoping they will would ask assistance from the locality to bring back a system and work things out amicably
Since the mountain is now unregulated, climbers are now going directly to the guiding family without following the system provided by ODMG.
My friend by the way decided to cancel his climb.
Below are the exact words of ODMGs Archie Pinzon that has been posted on FaceBook.
The ONE DEGREE MOUNTAINEERING GROUP (ODMG) as of today, January 14, 2015 would like to officially announce our complete and absolute cessation of assistance and support to any and all individuals and groups - organized, freelance or legitimate mountaineering groups and clubs - seeking to climb Mt. Sicapoo and its subsidiary peaks of Mt. Simmagaysay, Mt. Timarid, Mt. Saulay, Mt. Bubuos, Mt. Balbalite, Mt. Pakpako and Mt. Matalidong, found in the town of Solsona, Ilocos Norte. This is in response to recent reports of events that have reached us regarding unrestrained escalation of guide and porter fees, due primarily to some hiker groups circumventing our advisory and documentation processes and going directly to the guides to arrange climbs. We are also aware that our suggestions for policies of a one climb party at a time and a maximum number of hikers per party have largely been ignored. Already, we are receiving reports of increased garbage and litter in designated campsites and along the trails and river crossings. Penguin Rock at the summit of Mt. Sicapoo now has graffiti and markings and have been repeatedly scaled despite our pleas for it to be left untouched.
It would appear that our efforts all these years, since 2009 when we first explored and summitted Penguin Rock on Mt. Sicapoo and shared this mountaineering destination to the community, have been in vain. Now, word has also reached us, that some who have trekked to Mt. Sicapoo already have advised other groups and their friends that they could arrange climbs with Tata Emilio and other guides directly and there is no need to go through ODMG nor follow our Trek Advisory. Our action now, it seems, is already belated and one that we should have done a long time ago. We have taken it upon ourselves for the past five years to document, arrange and control treks up Mt. Sicapoo primarily to ensure climbers’ safety and wellbeing as well as to preserve and protect the mountain’s natural pristine environment. This responsibility that we have done over the years is one that we have borne voluntarily and have done so in the same capacity – and one which we will no longer fulfill from hereon.
We would like to express our gratitude to all groups and individuals who have supported our efforts all these years to protect and preserve not only the pristine environment of this majestic peak but also the almost sacred and profound experience of each mountaineer which is our collective duty as fellow hikers.
Agyaman kami apo,
Agnes Pinzon for ONE DEGREE MOUNTAINEERING GROUP