The Mount Pulag Executive Climb Part I

Until now I can't believe that I've finally ticked Mount Pulag off my bucketlist. Big thanks to Coach CJ and the rest of my new found travel buddies for making the climb possible. Just like them, I can now also proudly say "I survived and conquered Mount Pulag!" (Duh?! Hahaha!)

The "conquerors" posing 2922 meters above sea level! Front: Kuya Joriel. Back (l-r): Diarie, Shiela, Coach CJ, Donna, Carter, Theresa, Jonathan, Yours Truly and Beverly. 
The Preparation
When Theresa forwarded to me the text message sent by Coach CJ around four in the morning of May 5th, I took  a bath right away and I ate my breakfast as quickly as I can. Because we also had an agreement to meet at her apartment at General Luna at five in the morning, I left our house thirty minutes before five. It was  still dark when I stepped out of our house.

I arrived at Theresa's place ten minutes ahead of our agreed "meeting time" and I waited for approximately twenty minutes before she came out - all set for the much awaited Mount Pulag climb. Then, from her apartment, we walked down to Lower Session Road and we went ahead to the Kias-PMA jeepney station. We're fortunate that the jeepney left right away after we paid our fare.

Stop-over at Ambuklao Dam. In this photo: Beverly, Theresa, Yours Truly and Jonathan.
We arrived at Sitel ten minutes before six in the morning. Then, from Sitel we rode a van going to La Trinidad, Benguet. At La Trinidad, we joined the rest of the "climbers" scheduled to climb on that particular day.

The Bumpy Jeepney Ride
We rode a private jeepney going to the tourism office because van is not recommended when traveling via Ambangeg Road. From La Trinidad, Benguet, we traveled for approximately four hours before we reached the tourism office. The ride was awesome and each lush mountain that greeted us every time we ascend reminded me of the richness of the Cordillera region. It was definitely a worth-blogging for and fantastic jeepney ride!
Because the rode was "closed," our team walked for approximately 30 minutes going up. In this photo: Yours Truly,  Beverly, Jonathan, Shiela and Coach CJ (partly hidden). 

The Pre-climb Orientation
Before climbing Mount Pulag it's mandatory to join the pre-climb orientation. During the briefing, I learned that we're going to take the easiest trail - the Ambangeg Trail. According the the "facilitator," this trail is highly recommended for "non-climbers" or "first time Mount Pulag hikers" because it's safe and trek time can only take up to 3 to four hours unlike other trails. I also learned during the orientation that Akiki Trail is also known as "the killer trail" and climbers can actually choose other trails to go to the summit: Eddet, Ambaguio and Tawangan. If my memory serves me right, Akiki Trail is most challenging trail.

The orientation/briefing. Unfortunately, I didn't get the name of the "facilitator."
The video presentation during the orientation also paved way for us to "learn more" about Mount Pulag. Considered by many as "the playground of the gods," the majestic mountain stands 2922 meters above sea level (MASL), making it the highest point in Luzon and the seconds highest point in the entire Philippine archipelago. It is also home to diverse flora and fauna, and some studies confirmed that it's a unique mountain because at its peak you'll find "dwarf bamboo grass" unlike other mountains. For the villagers, the mountain is sacred and they believe that it is the home of their dead ancestors.

At the Ranger Station waiting for our truck ride to the jump-off area. In this photo: Jonathan, Beverly, Shiela, Diarie, Theresa, Coach CJ, Donna and Yours Truly. No included in photo: Kuya Joriel and Carter.
The orientation, which lasted for approximately twenty five minutes, reminded us to: respect Mount Pulag, embrace Leave No Trace (LNT) policy, use existing trails and designated camping sites, walk in single file and live by "take nothing but pictures, leaving nothing but footprints" principle.

Off to the Ranger Station
Before heading to the Mount Pulag Ranger Station, our team stopped first for a quick lunch break. A four-hour bumpy jeepney ride is exhausting and "it drained my energy" so I ate a lot. I want to make sure as well that I'm fully "charged" before our climb to the camping site at CAmp 2. Aside from being physically and mentally prepared, keeping one's self "energized" when trekking or climbing is also necessary.

Preparing for the much-awaited climb! In this photo: Carter, Yours Truly, Donna, Theresa,  Shiela, Beverly and Coach CJ.
After lunch, we rode again for about thirty minutes and we reached the Ranger Station past one in the afternoon. Then, from the Ranger Station, we rode a truck going to the trekking "jump-off area."After almost fifteen minutes of another bumpy ride, we reached our destination. We readied ourselves as quickly as we can and, at exactly 2:45PM we started the much awaited climb to Camp I. Despite the exhausting and bumpy jeepney ride, I can still see the excitement in my companions' faces as we ascend to the playground of the gods... (to be continued)


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