How to prepare for a Mt Pulag Climb

 

I’m heading back to Benguet tomorrow to attend the turn over of the “Klasrum ng Pag-asa” project. It’s amazing how quickly this new classroom was finished considering we were just up there for the first classroom turnover a couple of months ago. After the turnover, we’ll be climbing Mt Pulag again :). This is my second senior summit climb, though I’ve been to the junior summit about 4 times already. We’re bringing with us a lot of new climbers though and our trail master said that there’ll be 30-40 of us. Being one of the more”experienced” climbers lol (at least feeling experienced) I found it necessary to review the basics to make sure I can help out the first timers and not cause any problems for our trail master/s.

I decided to write a post about the basics of Mountain climbing prep since it’s something that will probably be useful to a lot of people.

Oh and if you want to see some more pics of the trail then you might want to check out my first Mt Pulag post. That one has more info on the trail (Ambangeg) that most people take to get up to the summit.

Before we go into the specifics, I’d just like to let everyone know that I’m not a pro in climbing… yet lol. The preparation I did for my second summit climb to mount pulag was something I came up myself based on my perceived weaknesses (pre climb training) and the advice of much more experienced climbers that I’m lucky enough to be able to go to for advice.

Junior summit trail to senior summit

This is the trail to the senior summit of Mt Pulag. The picture was taken from the Junior summit, near the camping area.

Let’s start with my Pre Climb Training

This is my second ascent so I’m a bit more aware of my weaknesses since I’ve actually experienced the climb before. The main weakness I learned about myself was that I had fairly weak legs. My lower body wasn’t as strong as it should be.

During my first couple of climbs to Mt Pulag, I never carried a bag because we only went to the junior summit (there’s a junior and senior summit). We always did a “balikan“trip where we’d leave all our stuff at one of the houses in the village and we’d start our trek at 1 or 2 am and be back at the village by 10 or 11. We got to the junior summit just in time for sunrise and after a couple of pictures and some coffee, we’d start walking back. We never needed bags since we didn’t have to camp out.

During these climbs I actually found the trek fairly easy. The main Pulag trail (I believe it’s called ambangeg) is not overly steep and there are only some parts that really work your legs. But without bags, the whole climb won’t be too difficult.

When we decided to camp out though and really head for the senior summit, we naturally had to bring camping gear. That’s when I realized how difficult the climb becomes when you add a little more extra weight. It wasn’t much at first but once we hit the really steep parts of the trail, the muscle burn became really obvious.

So, to make sure that I don’t slow my climbing mates this time I’ve been training mostly my lower body and my stamina the past month. I’ve been doing a lot of squats, box jumps, and stepper exercises. I also made sure to hit the treadmill after every exercise and crank the incline up really hight to simulate trekking. I don’t know if the training will be enough to make this climb more comfortable for me in terms of leg endurance but I feel really good about it. Now as I’m writing this I still feel a bit of that post workout muscle “pain” (well it’s not really pain although some people consider it to be) because I did some fairly heavy leg intervals yesterday. The trek will be on saturday, even though we’re leaving for the village tomorrow morning, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be more than ready by then.

Stamina wise I think I did ok in my past climb so there shouldn’t be any problems this time around. I recover my stamina fairly quickly anyway so as long as I don’t have to run on the trail lol I think I’ll be fine.

Things to bring to Mt Pulag

A couple of tips on the basic things to bring to a Mt Pulag climb, especially if you’re camping.

  • Clothes to battle the cold weather (I normally bring a sweater, a jacket, a couple of long sleeve clothes and wear them together). If you’ve got thermal clothes then that’s awesome. Be sure your pants are warm and preferably rain proof. Wear 2 or 3 overlapping ones if you didn’t bring/buy trekking pants. It’s really cold up there, and I mean REALLY cold.
  • Bring rain gear. Trash bags will work too if you don’t have any.
  • Make sure your shoes are good for trekking. If you’re going up during the rainy seasons make sure that you’re either wearing boots or waterproof trekking shoes. You can also wrap your socks in plastic before you climb if you’re only using normal running or gym shoes (me lol). If it’s raining/rainy season expect to have permanently browned shoes (unless you’re wearing boots) when you get back down (again, this is what happened to mine).
  • Bring 3 or 4 socks. It can get really cold at night and if you’re like me, your feet will be the first to feel the cold. I normally wear 3 socks when I sleep up there.
  • Make sure that you bring gloves, decent ones. Not the ones you’d wear to a gimik lol.
  • Bring a bonnet, cap, hoodie, or scarf if you can.
  • Ground pad although you can do without this, but that’s just my opinion.
  • Bring a whistle so that people can find you if (and I hope this doesn’t happen to you) you get lost.
  • Bring your eating kit – spoon, fork, and plate. Disposable ones aren’t advised because those just become trash after eating.
  • A backpack for your clothes and gear. I used a gym bag before to climb lol, very stupid idea. Make sure that the contents of your bag are covered in plastic in case it rains.
  • Bring water to drink for the trail. My friend says 3 litres is good and preferably it should be in a refillable container because there’s drinkable mountain water up there. If you’ve got issues with mountain water though then you better bring enough for the climb up and walk down.
  • Bring your toothbrush, mouthwash, wet wipes, tissue, etc…
  • Bring some trail food like the trail mix being sold in some grocery stores or sharable chocolates also work well. These are for instant energy boosts along the trail or for when you take a break. Try to bring extra for your mates if you can.
  • Bring a tent if you’re going to be camping.
  • A sleeping bag is also necessary because it’s going to be really cold up there. During our first camp out we were only able to sleep for a couple of hours and almost everyone was up by 1 am because it was too cold to sleep lol. We just waited till 3 am before we started heading up to the senior summit.
  • Bring your meds if you have some special drugs you need to take like for allergies and stuff. You never know.
  • Bring a first aid kit or assign someone to bring one for the group.
  • Bring a decent flashlight because you’ll be trekking at really early in the morning for the senior summit climb or for the “balikan” junior summit climb. Make sure it’s charged or has new batteries. You don’t want it dying out on you.
  • You might want to opt for a headlight too if you want to free up your hands.
  • Bring a lamp for the tent.
  • Of course some alcohol is always good for when you’ve all got nothing to do ;).
  • COFFEE tastes amazing up there lol. Pretty much anything hot will taste good (noodles, hot choco, etc…).
  • Make sure there’s someone who’s bringing a portable stove and cooking materials. You’ll need them to heat water and cook whatever else you brought.
  • Make sure you also bring trash bags. Please don’t leave trash up in the mountains.
  • You might want to bring a trekking pole if you think you need one.
  • And make sure you bring a camera for pictures :).

That should be enough information for a first Mt Pulag Climb :). I may have missed something so if you know of anything else that’s necessary for the trek, please leave a comment below to let me and the readers know. If you want to know what the climb is like and see some pictures, you can check out my other post about Mt Pulag here: My first Mt Pulag Summit Experience.

I’m really excited and can’t wait to get back up there. This time tomorrow I’ll be in cold mountain territory again :).

UPDATE: Just finished climbing Mt Apo, you can read my post here if you’re interested: Mt Apo Climb.

 

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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).
 

15 Comments

  1. Gabz | Pinoy Travel Freak 2 March, 2013 at 1:50 am

    Wow, thanks for these! Really great information! Looking forward to my first ever Pulag climb soon! 🙂

     
    • Malds 2 March, 2013 at 2:32 am

      Awesome. Good Luck :). Pulag is an amazing place and be sure you enjoy the climb and please please keep the trail clean :). I think they’re limiting the number of people who can climb to 30 at one time nalang because there’s been so much damage done to the trails.

       
  2. Cess 7 March, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    we will be having a climb to Mt.Pulag this coming march holyweek….thank you for the information..a basic things to do as a first time climber:-)

     
    • Malds 7 March, 2013 at 7:10 pm

      That’s awesome. Be sure to be good to the environment :). Bring your cameras and prepare for a cold cold night.

       
  3. Larah Pabustan 7 April, 2013 at 2:10 am

    Hi, just want to ask, since its summer now, and were planning to go up there mid of April, what kind of weather should we expect during night time? Thank you sooo much for sharing its really a big help 😉

     
    • Malds 7 April, 2013 at 9:32 am

      Hey larah, its always cold up there so expect the same thing. The good thing lang pag summer is that the trail isnt muddy but it’ll still be really cold at night. Sun will be really strong tho so make sure you have sunblock, a cap and arm sleeves. You wont be bothered as much by the sun because its cold but malakas UV so you need the protection.

       
  4. KT 8 May, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    my cousins and I are going there on the 29th of May. Thanks for the tips! 🙂

    KT
    /ktlifestyle.blogspot.com

    p.s. I was the 100th person who like your Facebook page. 😉

     
    • Malds 8 May, 2013 at 7:11 pm

      Have fun at Pulag. It’ll get really cold so make sure you guys got all your gear ready. And bring sunblock and a hat since it’s summer. I might go back up there this may or in june actually. A couple of my friends have never been there and told me they wanna try climbing it. So I might just bring them up there someday soon.

      And thanks for the 100th like KT, I’m now your 115th liker ;).

       
  5. camille bianca (@camaeja) 11 March, 2014 at 11:35 am

    This is very helpful. The jackets and all that are too expensive. I’m glad I found this blog. I would’ve resorted to Ukay-ukay. They pretty much have a lot of winter clothes/jacket if those are applicable? It would be my first time to try this May! and im uber excited but i dunno if i could survive it! ahahaha

     
    • Malds 11 March, 2014 at 1:09 pm

      Hi Camille I’m excited for you :). Tagal na din ako na di nakakaakyat and I really wanna go back up there haha.

      Re ukayukay stuff, yeah pwede yun for sure. The first time I went up I just layered shirts and had one sweater and a jacket. Make sure that you have a top wind breaker tho. Like a jacket that wind can’t go through or even just a kapote (raincoat) is good enough. The wind is really cold and if you’re only wearing a sweater and layered cloths the cold wind can still get through.

      If you can find a good thermal jacket, what other people do is they wear dry fit clothes underneath that one. Kasi even if it’s really cold, you won’t feel it as much if you’re moving. You’ll actually sweat a lot. So your bottom level cloths if you’re layering will be wet with sweat. So at least if it’s an easy to dry type of cloth you can try drying it and reusing the same one when you climb back down. I used to carry 2 extra shirts since I didn’t want to put the wet one (the one used to climb up) on anymore the next day when we went down lol.

      And kaya mo yan, just train your stamina. Just keep running all the time and if you can work on your legs. Like incorporate squats and lounges when you run. Maybe after jogging you can do drills. It’ll be a lot easier kasi, especially when you’re heading back down if you have stronger legs. Mine were shaky already when we were climbing down the first time I went up hehe.

      But for the most part, Pulag isn’t too hard to climb. Just get a good guide, and don’t go up with too fast a pace and you’ll be fine :). If you feel that you’re starting to get too exhausted just let your group know so that they can slow down or take a break. Wag magpride pa umaakyat ng bundok haha. Pagnahihirapan aminin mo na. Baka mahimatay ka kung pilitin.

      Be wary of the first 30 minutes or hour tho. It’s gonna be really hard. Within 5 minutes from walking your gonna start breathing really hard because your body will adjust to the thin air. Just try to get through that slowly and you’ll be fine the rest of the way.

      Good luck and feel free to come back and comment once your done :).

       
      • rv 9 May, 2014 at 1:25 am

        when are you planning to climb? id like to join.. want to try solo climb sana

         
  6. Mhac 30 November, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    Hi poh were getting ready for the treck this coming january first week..ask q lng poh if ever n may dalang ssakyan may parking nmn poh s ranger station? Tsaka poh wat poh kaya pdeng gawin kasi walkin lng kme di kme kkuha ng tour tnx poh s replies

     
    • Malds 2 December, 2015 at 9:58 pm

      Hey Mhac, yup madaming parking dun so no problem yung auto. May section talaga na para sa auto tas jeep lang.

      If you have all the gear na, pwede naman kayo makakuha siguro ng guides dun pag dating nyo na (required na meron kayo). Pero you need to coordinate with the rangers ba or the DENR there before you go. Kasi naging mas strict sila sa regulations a year or two back dahil masyado nang madaming umaakyat, so you need to schedule your climb.

      I think ito pa rin ang number +639196315402 ng contact person na nag cocoordinate ng climbs, try nyo lang.

      Good luck.

       
  7. enpjean 6 January, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Great post, thank you for the tips. My friend and I are climbing in February. 🙂

     
    • Malds 8 January, 2016 at 6:45 pm

      Good luck, I’m sure you’ll have fun :).

       

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