My Mt Pulag Adventure

 

UPDATE: I just wrote another post about how I trained for my second summit climb and the stuff you need to bring if you intend to go up there. Here’s the post, be sure to check it out: How to prepare for a Mt Pulag Climb. This post has a lot more pictures though and has a more indepth write up about the trail so you’ll want to read this one as well if you’re going for your first climb. You might also be interested in my post about climbing Mt Apo.

I’ve been wanting to write about Mt Pulag for a while now. I just never really got around to it because I always had some other stuff to do.

Now I finally have the time though and I plan to take advantage of that.

For all of you who’ve never heard of Mt Pulag, it’s a very popular mountain and the third highest in the Philippines. It’s located in the Northern part of Luzon, in Benguet province to be more specific.

It’s a really really beautiful place. The air is clean, the food is fresh, it’s really cold (I love the cold) and the people are really really friendly.

They have their own dialect so I don’t understand a word they say when they’re talking to each other. But thankfully they can speak Tagalog as well and a good number of them can even speak English really well.

Mt Pulag Summit

All the Photos on this post were taken by either me (red sweater, red scarf, dark glasses, using someone else’s camera of course lol) or Chieko Yokota Kato a Japanese friend who went up to Pulag with us. She’s the girl wearing the orange jacket in this picture. Permission was given by her for me to use these for this post. Please respect her rights to the pictures. If you own one of these photos and I failed to give proper attribution, please let me know. I might have mixed up my collection but chances are you were at the climb with us and I probably told you I’d be using them.

How do you get there?

UPDATE:  Our friends who works at the school as teachers (who we met when we were helping out with the classroom building there) also work as guides and they finally started their own Mt Pulag Tour Package. They call their group Mt. Pulag Edelweiss Tours and you can find them on FB actually. They only charge 1,900 pesos per head but you need a minimum of 15 in your group and you need to get yourselves to Baguio. They’ll pick you up there. So if you’re interested in climbing Mt Pulag, be sure to  give their package tour a try. Just message them on FB or you can even email me and I’ll forward you their numbers.

Mt Pulag, like I said earlier is very popular because it’s not that hard to climb. It’s a great place for beginners or wanna-be mountaineers (me) to experience their first climb.

It’s also very accessible if you live in Manila. The trip is a bit long, 7-9 hours by car. But if you leave Friday night, weekend trips are entirely possible.

With my group, what we normally do is leave at 9 or 10 pm Friday night. We usually meet up some place in either Makati or Quezon City since a lot of the people who come up with us live in those areas.

A quick tip if you’re setting up a group, expect people to be late. So if the meet up time is 10 pm, expect to leave at 11 or 12. Someone will always be late especially if it’s a big group.

Then from Manila it’s 4-6 hours to Baguio. Depends on how fast you’re going.

We do stops on the way if someone is hungry or if we’re not rushing. There are a lot of places to eat at.

It’s really convenient if you have your own Van or car because you’re able to do stopovers whenever you want. So consider bringing your own transportation at least up to Baguio.

From Baguio it’s another 3 hours by car to the Badabak Ranger Station in Kabayan, Benguet (I really hope I’m getting the names right haha).

You will be passing through some really really rough terrain here. They’re already working on the roads but there are some sections still that are impassable by none 4 wheel drive cars so keep this in mind if you’re heading up there.

If you don’t have a car built for rough terrain, you can always contract a jeepney from Baguio to take you there. A lot of the Jeepneys in this area have modified engines I think (I know nothing about cars).

Me on top of the jeep to Mt Pulag

Badabak Ranger Station, Babalak Bashoy

The ranger station is located at the end of a small village called Babalak Bashoy, I think. I could be wrong about the spelling but I believe that’s what it was called.

The Village was actually the main reason I first went up to Mt Pulag.

A couple of people I know were building a school there for the community (It’s already done but a lot more developments are still being done so we continue to go up). They also went up for medical missions from time to time and they would invite me whenever they do. So I went up for the first time last December to help out with whatever I can.

That’s how I got introduced to the Mt Pulag, to climbing and to the community. I’ve been going back almost once a month ever since.

Farms 2

Farms

Farms and village

 

Things to bring before going up

I know there are pro climbers who have things down to a science. Me, I just climb for fun and am heavily dependent on my more experienced friends ;). So I might miss some things here in this list. If I do, feel free to correct me by commenting.

Make sure you bring the following:

  • tents, If you didn’t bring tents, I believe you can rent some at the ranger’s station
  • sleeping bags
  • thermal jackets
  • scarf and gloves
  • food, easy to cook ones ideally like cup noodles
  • Water is of course essential
  • Utensils, cooking and eating
  • trash bag, very important
  • clothes obviously
  • toothbrush
  • tissue
  • Coffee, even the instant ones taste amazing up there
  • money for the porters and souvenirs
  • Flashlights
  • Sunblock
  • lip moisturizer
  • and a walking stick

My friends brought some chocolates for the trail too. It’s a good source of quick energy.

Ambangeg Trail

The Ambangeg trail is I believe the easiest trail to the summit. There are about 2 or 3 others which are harder and which take longer to trek because you’ll be starting at a much lower point.

The trail is about 7 or 8 Km long and it can take between 3-4 hours of walking before you get to Mt Pulag’s junior summit. This is about 30 minutes form the main camping area.

With the Ambangeg Trail though, you’ll be passing through 3 main terrains.

Pine Forest

The first one is the pine forest. It’s basically called that because of all the pine trees.

You’ll be passing though the vegetable farms, lots of them, and a lot of indigenous plants and flowers. It’s really beautiful.

The trek is fairly easy and during the first 30 minutes or so you’ll still be on a road. It will give you your first taste of altitude adjustment though and you’ll find yourself breathing really hard after just 5 or 10 minutes of walking.

Just relax, take a break if necessary and continue on.

Pine forest 1

pine forest flowers 2

 

Mossy forest

This is where it gets a bit hard.

It’s called mossy forest because the tree trunks and branches are covered with green moss. You’ll really be cutting through the forest this time so the trail is surrounded by trees.

The terrain becomes especially difficult here when it’s raining. Mud will be everywhere so I advise that you consider the season when you plan a climb.

Mossy forest 1

mossy forest 2

 

The grass lands

Honestly, the first time I saw this place I remembered the traveling scene in LOTR 1 where Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli were running after the hobits. They were passing through the top of mountains in that scene and this place kinda looks like that.

It’s all grass when you get here. This is where you’ll be camping.

The camp area is hard to miss because there are always people there. Just find a spot and set up your tents.

Grass lands 1

Grass lands 2

Mt Pulag Tent area

 

Mt Pulag Junior Summit

If you’re not too tired after the trek, it’s only 30 minutes from the camp to the junior summit so you might wanna check that out.

It’s a really good spot to take pictures and the view here is awesome. Just try not to aim your camera at the tower beside it.

Yes, there’s a cell network tower here so your phone is gonna have full bars of signal.

Me on the Junior Summit

Junior Summit Kick

 

Mt Pulag Senior Summit

The senior summit is about 2 hours away from the camp.

So if you’re after the sunrise, it’s best you wake up at around 3 or 4 am. The trek itself is really easy cause the ground is relatively flat for the most part.

It’s only the very last assault that’ll really be a challenge.

Junior summit trail to senior summit

Mt pulag sea of clouds

mt pulag sea of clouds 2

Mt pulag other side

 

UPDATE: They’ve laid down a rock trail for about 1/3 of the way from the camp to the summit so it doesn’t get as muddy as it used. The trail looks awesome actually and must have taken a lot of effort to finish.

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Going down

After taking pictures at the Mt Pulag Senior summit you can start heading back to the camp.

Cook and eat breakfast, take a couple more pictures and start packing up. You just have to go back through the same trail to get back to the ranger’s station.

Climb down

 

End of climb, but it’s not the end of the story.

I mentioned earlier that the main reason I got to climb Mt Pulag was because I had been invited by some really good friends who are building a school for the community (again the school is done already but we’re still going back to help out the community more).

So I hope you all won’t get too mad at me if I take this opportunity to plead to the people who are planning to going up :).

Please help the community if you ever go up there

UPDATE: Tapos na yung school nila Yaaayyy!!! Madaming private groups yung nagtulong tulong through the initiative of Ten Moves para matapos yung school and medyo maayos na yung facilities ng school. High tech nga actually kasi naka solar power na sila hehe. Pero if you guys still feel like giving some school stuff palagi namang welcome yun. Para ma-engganyo yung mga bata na magaral and para mas madali maging trabaho ng mga teachers :).

The community there is in dire need of help. That’s why a private group had to come in just to help them build a school for their kids.

They’re near the top of the Mountain and there are a lot of towns before them on the way up. So whenever there’s government funding for infrastructure projects and stuff like that, the local government always starts from bottom up because its easier to do.

So the people at the top have to make do with what ever is left. Lucky for them that there are a lot of climbers and that the land is good for agriculture, but it’s not enough.

What I and my friends are really advocating is the education of the children. We’re not really big enough or rich enough to start funding infrastructure projects.

What I would love for any climbers who are reading this to do is to donate notebooks, pencils, papers and pretty much any school stuff for the kids. It’s so difficult for the families there to have to go down from the mountain just to buy their kids materials for school.

*UPDATE: Mukhang ok na ata sila sa school the last time I went up :). Maraming salamat sa lahat ng tumulong at nagbigay.

And to us it might not be that expensive to buy a notebook or a pencil, but that much money is a really big deal to them.

So if you’re heading up there, please donate to the school if you can.

The village is really small and everyone knows everyone so just talk to the rangers if you feel like helping the school and the kids out.

You can also talk to the guides. Chances are, your guide is going to be one of the teachers there. Thay’re all really really nice people so if you guys can, please help out.

Kids at school

Kids at school 2

Kids at school costume

 

So there you go 🙂

Be sure to put Mt Pulag on your must-go-to checklist because the climb, the view, the community and the experience is totally worth it.

And if you do go up, don’t forget to drop by the school and donate some notebooks, pens or pencils if you can. It’d really help them a lot.

Don’t forget to say hi to the kids as well :).

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Malds Menzon is the owner and main writer for The Fit Pinoy blog. He's a law student, blogger, internet marketer and fitness enthusiast who enjoys writing about all the gyms he's been to and fitness classes he's tried. He spends most of his time either at the gym or studying/writing at one of the Starbucks places in the Metro Manila Area. He usually looks a little too serious but he's a nice guy so don't be afraid to say hi if you run into him :). You can follow or add him on Twitter and Google+ by clicking the appropriate buttons on your left (below the picture).

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9 Comments

  1. NOMER 12 November, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Thanks Mr. Menzon. Good reference for my first climb this coming weekend. More power and more write ups.

     
    • Malds 12 November, 2012 at 9:54 pm

      Thanks for dropping by Nomer. Good luck on your first climb and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. I just came back from a climb last weekend actually and it surprisingly wasn’t as cold as it was the last time we camped there. But you never know so be sure to bring proper clothes to battle the cold.

       
  2. jee 1 December, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Interesting story.

    Hem, im intend to climb the highest mount on our country soon.. 🙂

     
    • Malds 3 December, 2012 at 1:30 am

      Good luck, better get to training then :). I’m actually planning to climb Mt Apo (highest in the Phil) next year as well.

       
  3. Essie Elwick 15 December, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Hi! Im interested to climb Mt Pulag….but I am not sure if i would be having any companions. What are your thoughts on me going there by myself….on top of my concerns would be the safety of such….would love to hear your advice/ suggestions asap. Thank you!!!

     
    • Malds 17 December, 2012 at 3:50 pm

      Hi Essie, climbing Pulag on the Ambangeg trail should be ok to do solo. I can’t speak for the Aikiki trail since I’ve not tried it yet, maybe next year. It’s not overly difficult if you’ve already got the climbing experience from other mountains and you’ve got the proper gear and clothing. There’s the altitude to worry about but if you’re used to climbing a lot of high mountains already then you should already know how to deal with it. Safety wise the footing is pretty solid if it’s not raining so you should be ok if you timed your climb correctly. There are some areas where the trail becomes narrow with a cliff on the side. But it’s usually still wide enough to walk on so there are no areas where you have to hug the wall just to pass or anything like that. Once you get to the camping area, it’s about 1 to 2 hours away from the senior summit and it’s mostly just hilly grasslands so it’s a pretty safe and an easy trek. The only slightly difficult part will be the final assault to the summit. But the last time I was there (early november I think) they closed the the really steep trail because some of the soil eroded I think so the longer easier one will most likely be the one you’ll be taking.

      You will most likely be required to have one or two guides with you though, since the rangers and guide association prolly wont let you go up solo. And once you get there you’ll probably run into a lot of other groups who are going up since it’s a fairly popular climb. So you might get the option to tag along with them if you want. Most of the climbers I’ve met along the trail are pretty nice so they prolly will let you tag along if you ask. Still if you really want to do it solo it should be ok, like i said if you’ve got the experience. If you’re new to climbing though you shouldn’t go up without a group who knows what they’re doing.

      I’ll ask one of the guides on FB if they’ve got special rules for solo climbs and let you know what she says.

       
    • Malds 27 December, 2012 at 5:03 pm

      Hey Essie, sorry for this late reply. But my friend who’s a guide at Pulag just messaged me on Facebook. She said that people can go up there solo if they want to, but they’ll still have to get a guide once they start heading up (rangers station). Hope that helps.

       
  4. yhingnaz 23 April, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Thanks Mr. Menzon.I already been to Mt. Talamitam, Sagada, Mt. Manalmon, Pico de Lor(mt.Palay-Palay) o, and Mt. Batulao , Do you think this experienced is enough for me to able to climb the Mt. Pulag? planning to go Up there this coming May 3 -5 ..

     
    • Malds 23 April, 2013 at 10:15 am

      Lol for sure :). Ive never even been to those mountains yet. Which trail are you taking? If its ambangeg then you’re not gonna have any problems. Im not sure how hard aikiki is but i hear its a 3 day trek and is supposedly a lot steeper. Havent tried the trail yet tho, were thinking of climbing through aikiki soon but no date

       

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