Nature-ral High

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

April 29, 2009

Mt. Guiting-Guiting (Side Trips)

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After a very challenging yet enjoyable climb, we badly needed some relaxation. So to put additional good use for the time and effort we spent going here, We planned to do a side trip in Carabao island. Carabao island is a part of the Romblon group of islands. Our initial plan is to travel via land and sea going to carabao island. But according to the locals here in sibuyan, it is also possible to do it with just one boatride. It's supposed to be faster and more convenient with the only drawback is that the only boat available is a fishing and not a passenger boat. To make it short, we hire a boat and scheduled a trip very early next morning.
We were scheduled to leave Sibuyan at exactly 7:00am (April 09), with another group that we met here in G2 that is going to Boracay. But due to the other groups undecisiveness(long story to tell), we left one and a half hour late. Being a fishing boat it doesnt have any life vest and we were all cramped to the small space alloted for the boats crew and their fish hauls, adding to the uncomfort is that the trip takes about 5-6 hours. We saw some dolphins and lots of flying fish along the way temporarily cleansing our boredom. Our boat even encountered engine problems with about thirty minutes away from the shore, worst we broke down on a place that is known to be the local version of the "bermuda triangle". I really practiced my prayers here.
Arriving in Carabao island, we were greeted by one my companion's relatives, who are also our host. We set camp at their backyard, this is our home for the next two days. So what did we do on our two days of stay here? Plenty. Ate native chicken dishes and goat meat, drank "Tuba" and buko juice fresh from the cocounut tree, played the local version of pool, ate fresh fish newly netted by fishermen, bum around and of course enjoyed the islands beautiful beaches.
BTW, I guess your now wondering how the island gotten its name. Well according to the locals, during the mid 1900's there were lots of wild carabaos here. A lot, that a trail was created on one of the islands rivers due the carabaos habit of drinking there every afternoon. During those days, the supply of Carabaos on the Visayan region are mostly coming from this place. But during my stay here there is no trace of the islands former carabao glory albeit I saw two domesticated carabaos with cows outnumbering them.

Lazy aft

We left the island on Saturday (April 11). Our route was to go by Caticlan then take the RORO (roll-on, roll-off) transportation going back to Manila. But since Caticlan is very much near Boracay (that we even passed by it coming carabao island) half of the group decided to spend an extra night on the island. I guess sometime things doesn't go the way you planned it, at least for the better. =)

Strong man (a passengers baggage)
Club Panoli

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April 21, 2009

Mt. Guiting-Guiting (The climb)

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Very early the next day (Monday, April 06), we started our trek to G2. Our goal is to reach Mayos peak as early as possible. Mayos peak is the campsite were hikers camp-out before proceeding to the summit. From the information I gathered, the distance from the basecamp up to Mayo's Peak is 11KM. The trail is mostly steep ascents with around 20% flat to semi-flat. The most inclined part of the hike is after Bulod Spring (the only water source), and is also very slippery. The trees grows big near the foot of the mountain, as the climb progress it becomes mossy with the roots protruding on the trail. When your almost at Mayo's peak the trail becomes exposed, the trees are still there but they are small with only a few leaves. Along the way we met hikers going down, they told us they have a failed summit ascent due to bad weather, proof that in G2, failure is always a possibility. It was raining for several days, luckily the sun is peeking this day.
We reach Mayo's peak after around 10 hour hike with very little rest except for lunch. We wanted to be early at Mayo's for there are around 50 hikers (maximum allowed) that registered, we wanted to be at the best camping ground possible. Describing Mayo's peak, its densely covered with trees that sheild the campers from the wind breeze specially during the night. Most of the time also drizzles early in the morning, sometimes early at night.

G2 Towering from afar.

Bulod's son (Cocoy, our guide) in Bulod spring.

Campsite at Mayo's peak. We woke up early again (Tuesday, April 09) to finally do the summit assault. Surprisingly and luckily the weather is on our side. It didnt rain yesterday and the sun is still shining today. You need to move out of the tree cover to be able to start the hike. From here you will see the start of the trail, its a jaw droppingly beautiful and also a bit scary sight. You'll have a view of the jaggedly mountainous trail. we can also see hikers who went ahead of us. Ant size, you can see them scrambling unto the rocks. The trail from here are composed of ridges and steep ascents (sometime descents) on rock formations. The trail is difficult and technical that several parts have been given names: "Knife ridge", "Camel Back", "Kiss the Wall", "Peak of Deception", "Hillary step" (similarity to the real one) and "Walk of Fame". Upper body is used althroughout the hike. There are two parts of the trail that is worth detailing, first is a "Kiss the wall" in which you need to walk on a 2-3 meters long, 2-3 inches wide step holding only to the crack on wall. The other one is "Hillary Step" in which you need to hang on a small crack on wall and the step is about a meter away from you, chest high. A cut-off-time is given to the "Peak of Deception", you should be able to reach this place before 12NN, else you should turn back. But we were able to get to this place with much time than required. We reach the summit with a handful of climbers already there and celebrating. We also celebrated, congratulated ourselves for a feat not most climbers dared or even able to accomplish. Then, we took our lunch, take some pictures and also congratulate the rest of the climbers specially those that arrived after us.

Knife Ridge

Cliffs on both sides.

Mayon volcano can be seen from on the trail

Last leg to the summit

Summit at the background.

The next Pinay
summitter? Shes only 9 =O 

Summit group shot. Hiking this terrain in the dark is a big no no, so after a short stay on the summit we decided to head down. Opposite to the ascent, the surrounding suddenly turned foggy and later on it drizzled, proof that the weather here is so volatile. The trek going back is almost as difficult as going up. The fatigue factor is already present plus with the trail and rocks being wet. Slowly and surely we head back to Mayo's peak. I also recall an instance when one of our companion grab on a rock that I guess was not so durable, the rock chipped off. All of his weight was on this rock so he fell, fortunately he landed on the flat surface beside cliff. Close call, whew! The complete assault (and back) took us 12 hours stopping only to drink and take some pictures, Again, from the information I gathered the distance between from Mayo's peak up to the summit is around 5KM.
If the first two days are difficult, the trek from Mayo's to jumpoff is taken on a much lighter pace and mood (Wednesday, April 08). The only thing that made the trek difficult is that half of the climbers went down ahead of us, making trail muddy, slippery and beaten. Arriving at the jumpoff, We took a dip again on the dam and after which we went back to Manong Lee's place. Then took a hearty dinner of different Lapu-lapu recipes (and other fish), cooked by Nonos Mom. =D

No visibility

Having said so, is the climb to G2 difficult?
You bet! Now I know why this is considered one if not the most difficult climb in the Philippines. Patience, stamina, endurance, strength, climbing skills and perseverance are put to the limits. The rock formations are not identical that getting through them is just like solving a jig-saw puzzle, everyone has their own solution. And solving it going up and is different from solving it going down. For those who are planning to climb G2, my advice is to train and have a good diet. It works well for me, eventhough I'm tired at the end of the day, Im not totally burn-out.

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April 17, 2009

Mt. Guiting-Guiting (The trip)

For the Holyweek, my group (PALMC) had a long scheduled climb for Mt. Guiting-Guiting (G2 on Mountaneering Lingo) in Sibuyan island of Romblon , there are 10 of us for this climb. I had been to some parts of the Philippines throughout my climbing career and I had never thought that the travel to this part of the country could be so difficult and is a challenge. My travel going to Sibuyan will be discuss on this part of this blog which entirely is about the Mt. Guiting-Guiting climb plus the sidetrips.
There is only one boat going to Romblon per day, and since its the holyweek it is expected that great number of people will take this ride. The boat company does'nt give reservation so its a first come-first serve basis, our EL opted to go to Batangas pier early to buy tickets. She arrived there at around 8-8:30am (Saturday, April 4) but unfortunately all the tickets for the 1st class (supposedly) rooms are sold out. It turns out that there are also scalpers (and I thought these only happens on concerts and sporting events) who later sold these tickets at a higher price. In the end we purchased tickets for the economy rooms, rooms that have reclining chairs for the passengers. Most of us were at the terminal at around noon and the boat leaves at 5:00pm. Most of the time we stayed at the Batangas port terminal repeatedly hearing women shouting services for 'Manicure - Pedicure'. Think of the boredome we bear.
Fortunately, the boat arrives on time. I was wondering why the passengers were scrambling to go ahead when there were actually numbers on the seats. Entering the boat, there are already some vehicles (for transport) making the passage to the 2nd floor using the single person size stairs difficult. Seeing the room, my question is now answered. There's are a lot of chance passengers, but since there are limited seats most of them wants to be first on the most comportable space available. The isle, the cafeteria, even above the luggage boards. They are even irritated if you pass-by where they are staying, eventhough its the walkway. I even met some of my climbing acquaintances staying above the ship. The ship is overloaded. Everything seems to be good because we had reserve seats, oh so we thought. Our leftmost seat was occupied by an old man, actually he is reserving it for his wife (all of us are seated side by side). I kindly told the man that that seat is reserved to us, but he wont budge. I still inisted and later on he started cursing me, and we had an argument. When it was already heating up my colleague who is also from Romblon said just to chill down and that we'll just take the seat that the old man have (ours is 110 his is 112). To make the matters worst another man is also occupying seat 112! To make the story short, my colleague ended up taking seat 116(?). Early that night, being tired of waking up early morning, I decided to go to sleep. The boat was starting to rock side to side. Later the boat was swaying the hardest, I'm not sure if its because I'm sleeping or I'm just good at it that I did'nt get dizzy. From all of my sides I can hear people throwing up. Then I realized the boat stop, we were now at Odiongan Port, also at the island of Romblon. Most of the people alighted. It is also then that I heard the news that the air-conditioning for the 1st class room broke down, luck were still on our side. The next day(Sunday, April 5) we arrived at Romblon, Romblon, the Capital. I'm so relieved to be on the ground again.

The name seems familiar.

Sardines is an understatement

Sweet Dreams

There are two schedule of boat rides from here to sibuyan 9 and 12pm, we decided to take the latter so that we can spend some time checking the place. Describing the island, it looks like a port city that blends the old and new. Fort San Andres is located in this city. Theres also an old spanish church were the bell tower was restored with most parts still from the old materials. For those whos not familiar, Romblon is the marble capital of the Philippines. Hence, when your walking at the cemented roads, you will see bits and pieces of marbles (I think they use crushed marble instead of gravel).

Purely solid marble

Old Manila

Then hurriedly we took the boat ride going to Sibuyan, its another two long hours ride. =) When we arrived at Manong Lees residence (the jumpoff), we were greeeted by his wife and Nono his son. Nono is the barangay captain of this place and also the head of the guides. Its good to know that hes a PALMC member! We were allowed to have our packs inside the house, use their kitchen and dining place. We later even slept on their sala. =D. But before that we also took a dip to barangays river/dam, we havent took a bath since yesterday. Imagine our smell.

12 people are on board.

Feel so good to take a dip.

G2 View from the Dam.

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