Monday, November 14, 2016

Hiking Adventures #29: Mt. Guiting-Guiting Traverse - The Dream Climb

Last May 2016, I finally conquered one of the toughest mountains in the Philippines, Mt. Guiting-Guiting in Sibuyan Island, Romblon. This is every Filipino hikers dream and so am I. Let me share how I made this dream come true.

Mt. Guiting-Guiting
Mt. Guiting-Guiting

This climb was planned last January 2016 by Ed Velasquez, one of my hiking buddies. He first looked for participants who would join him before he set the details. When I got the invitation in Facebook, I really wanted to go, but I was thinking of other factors before I commit. But prior to the climb, there were training climbs set by Ed to ensure that every participants would be physically and mentally ready. He set Mt. Amuyao (March 2016) and Mt. Arayat (April 2016) in which I have joined plus a Mt. Batolusong Night Trek that we set few days before the G2 climb. However, I'm still not sure if I could join.

The only thing that bothers me from joining was the vacation leaves that I will be taking since it would take 5 days for the whole trip. Back then, I was having some training with my teammate from  Lebanon. But when I realized that the last training session would be on the 13th of May, I told my boss about the climb and asked permission to use VLs. Surprisingly, she allowed me and offered to help me to wrap up all my tasks. Now that I've got the permission from my boss and I have enough budget for the climb, I think I'm good to go.

Day 1 - May 18, 2016

Day 1 and Day 2 would be just the travel going to Sibuyan Island, Romblon. Yes, it took 2 days. Our ETD in Buendia going to Batangas Pier was 9:00AM, so we would be arriving before lunch then reserve tickets. I left home at around 8:00AM carrying my tall pack and just wearing my usual attire going to mall.

Upon our arrival in Batangas Pier, we immediately went straight to the ticket booths and check the schedules of each shipping lines. Then we got 2 options here,

1.) The ship of Navios going directly to Cajidiocan, Sibuyan Island for 12 hours. No bed.
2.) The ship of Montenegro going to Odiongan, Tablas Island for 9 hours. With bed. But from Odiongan, we will have 2 hours land travel going to San Agustin Pier then another RoRo going to Sibuyan Island.

It looks like Option 2 is very tiring, but since we need to get more sleep as much as we can, we still chose Option 2. And the adventure begins.

This was my first RoRo ride and the experience was really great. We are so blessed because we had a good weather during the trip. I spent some much time in the view deck enjoying the breeze while thinking if I can really pull this one off. We tried to get some sleep at around 10:00PM and wake up around 2:00AM for Day 2.

Day 2 - May 19, 2016

The ETA in Odiongan is 3:00AM that's why our call time is 2:00AM so we can have 30 minutes to prepare. Then we hurriedly stood in the exit so we can be the first group to get off the ship then catch the first trip going to San Agustin and from San Agustin we can catch the first Roro going to Sibuyan Island.

As we got off, we immediately looked to the first trip going to San Agustin. We were surprised that it was a Mini-Bus. There are already passengers inside so we opted to ride above the topload.

We were just in time for the 6:00AM trip. If we were not able to arrive on time, next trip would be at 8:00AM. Since we have arrived hours before ship's departure, we had our breakfast first and watch the sunrise. So as I've said, it would take another 4 hours before we reach Sibuyan Island. It was around 10:00AM when we finally arrived in Sibuyan Island. Tatay Remy, the head guide was already waiting for us. He brought us to The Bagumbayan Beach Resort where there's an eatery and from there we had our lunch. We decided to arrange a post-hike dinner with the eatery so we don't have to think about it after the climb.

It was around 12:00NN when we started to travel again, this time going to Tatay Remy's house in Olango which is the main jump-off of the traverse. But first, we will be heading to DENR for registration. After that, we headed to Olango Market to buy other stuff for the climb. Going to the market would actually surpass Tatay Remy's house so we will have additional hours to spend. We arrived in Tatay Remy's house at around 5:00PM, so all in all, our travel time going to the entry point was 32 hours.

While preparing for our dinner and meals for tomorrow's hike, Tatay Remy conducted a quick pre-climb. He told us where we going to start, where the camps are and the time that we should be on a particular spot. We should be very careful about the time, because if we failed to reach a certain camp, the climb could be compromised.

Day 3 - May 20, 2016

As expected, I didn't get enough sleep. The call time is 2:00AM and the trek will start after 30 minutes. At first, I was really nervous, Seriously! Aside from we were walking on a creepy trail on a midnight, I was only with my porter and the others were ahead from us and some were behind. Then we reached Olango River, the first water source.

After the river, it would now be the start of the steep assaults. I can vividly remember the struggles of that moment. I realized how much more if we were carrying our tall packs. Then I realized the ease of having a porter. After that assault, we were finally arrived in Camp 1. One of the teammate, Lei complained that her knees was aching. Good thing I brought my knee support and I let her used it. I know in her mind she wants to give up, but she insisted to continue. An hour after, we reached Camp 2 and took a 15-minute break.

We reached Camp 3 just in time for lunch. We spent an hour in the Camp 3 to have more rest and prepare for the boulders.

As we reached the boulders, I was surprised because of the steepness of the trail. Again, I realized how hard it was if we were the one bringing our tall packs. Maybe we may need another day or two. It feels like where in Mordor as we reached the upper part of the G2 boulders. It was really awesome. The last challenging part would be the rock climbing in the boulders then we would be closer to the summit. It was hard, but the coolest part nonetheless.

At 5:30PM, we finally reached the summit and all of us were very proud. The adventure is not over yet but it felt like I already conquered G2, but there's more to come. Since we were the only group that day, we stayed in the Secret Garden and set camps. Secret Garden is now my favorite campsite to date. After we have pitched our tents, I went outside the Secret Garden to check G2's famous Sawtooth. I was with Edmund, my porter and our guide. All of us were tired and must take a rest, but it didn't stop me to trek 10 - 15 minutes again to see it. It was really worth it, G2's Sawtooth is a stunner.

Finally, Summit!

G2's Sawtooth
G2's Sawtooth

Day 4 - May 21, 2016

Since we're all drained, we haven't had socials last night and we rather chose to sleep and rest after the dinner. Last night's weather was cold but not as much as in Cordillera mountains. We woke up at around 4AM to cook breakfast. While we were cooking, we were greeted by a Stick Insect.

At around 5:00AM when we started to have our breakfast. None of us urges to finish as faster as we can, but not until I thought of the sunrise. I didn't take another round for breakfast to go outside the Secret Garden. When I got outside, I shouted "May Sea of Cloudssss!!!!!". And it was nothing but pure beauty. Surreal!

Mt. Guiting-Guiting

Mt. Guiting-Guiting
Sea of Clouds

Mt. Guiting-Guiting
Ed Velasquez

Before we climb G2, Tatay Remy told us that Mayon Volcano can be seen from G2 summit. We failed to see it on Day 3, but this morning, it was one of the awesome things we have seen aside from the Sea of Clouds. I finally saw Mt. Mayon but soon I hope to see it much closer.

Mayon Volcano at seen from G2 Summit
Mayon Volcano at seen from G2 Summit

As we started to descend, more of G2 are waiting for us. The next challenging part we've encountered is the 90-degree Wall. I thought we will be having a hard time dealing with it, but through the help of the guides, we safely descended from that wall. After that, we dealt with Peak of Deception and boulders. Our target was to reach Mayo's Peak before lunch time. From the foot of Peak of Deception, Mayo's Peak looks so close but the trek would take 2-3 hours. Before reaching the Mayo's Peak, we dealt with one of G2's highlights, the Knife Edge. It wasn't my first time to deal with Knife Edges, but this one is the longest and a bit scary. Together with my porter, I decided to trek ahead from my groupmates to take a photo of them. As I reached the end of the knife edge, I was stunned with what I saw.

G2's 90-degree Wall
G2's 90-degree Wall

Mt. Guiting-Guiting

Mt. Guiting-Guiting

Mayo's Peak
Mayo's Peak

Mayo's Peak
Kiss the Wall

G2 Knife Edge
G2's Knife Edge

We had our lunch at Mayo's Peak. From there, it would take 3 - 4 hours more before we reached the Tampayan River which is near the exit point. Before reaching Camp 3, there's the last water source called Bulod's Spring. The spring is named after Bulod, one of the guides of the first G2 expedition. He was the one who discovered the spring. So refill your containers before the final stretch of the hike. 

It was around 5:00PM when reached Tampayan River. We were very happy as we reached the exit point and finally conquered Mt. Guiting-Guiting. I'm so very proud for the team. We stayed at the river for 30 minutes, some of us took a quick dip on the river. While me, I just waited the clouds to clear up so I can see the Sawtooth from below, but I failed.

Creepiest thing I've seen in G2.

We went to DENR office in Brgy. Tampayan to log out and claim our certificates. But the certificates wasn't done yet. Then we went to Bagumbayan Beach Resort together with our guide, porters and Tatay Remi for a post-climb dinner. We stayed in the resort all over the night before we go back to Manila. We thought that we might stay for another day because there might be no scheduled RoRo trips going to Batangas. Fortunately, a by-stander butt in telling that he's going also to Batangas and he told us about the right thing to do.

Day 5 - May 22, 2015

The hardest part of this adventure was going home. I don't wanna leave yet but we all have to work on Monday. We wanted to visit some of the beaches in Romblon, particularly the Bonbon Beach. Maybe next time.

Bonbon Beach

We went to Magdiwang Port to catch the trip going to Romblon Island. I can't remember the exact time we left but we were there for like 2 hours before the ship's departure so we can secure tickets. From Magdiwang Port we traveled to Romblon Port for 2 -3 hours. Then, from Romblon Port we hurriedly secure tickets again for the trip going to Batangas. However, we were already chance passengers so we have no choice but to stay in the side deck for 12 hours. Some of us lay on the floor with their sleeping bags. It was not comfortable but for me it was an awesome experience. In an adventure you really have to sacrifice a little comfort.

Going back home

It was really an awesome adventure. My favorite climb so far. Couldn't be more thankful to Ed and the rest of the team. I went home with pride and memories to treasure. Probably, I will go back soon.

Team MaGuiguiting - Ed, Tayn, Ken(Me), Jhed, Jayson, Darwin, Edmund, Lei

Here's the edited video I've created about the climb. :)

Mt. Guiting-Guiting Traverse
May 18 - 22, 2016
Entry Point: Sitio Olango, Brgy. Espana, San Fernando
Exit Point: Brgy. Tampayan, Magdiwang
Difficulty: 9/9

Estimated Budget: 8,000 - 10,000

In case you wanted to set a G2 climb, kindly contact my friend Ed Velasquez to help you for the details.

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