Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Hiking Adventures #44: Mt. Kalawitan - 2nd Major Training Climb for MMS BMC

Almost a month after our 1st major training climb in Mt. Amuyao, we headed to Mountain Province again for our 2nd major training climb in Mt. Kalawitan. This is one of my unforgettable climbs because of the struggles we experienced. Almost all of us was very vocal about not going back to the mountain. However, this climb taught us lessons that would make us better as mountaineers.

Mt. Kalawitan Summit
Mt. Kalawitan Summit


Day 0


Since we're heading back to Mountain Province area, we rode bus from Coda Lines Terminal again which is located in Cubao, QC. The Team Leader for this climb is my batchmate Jo Lastra and the Assistant Team Leader is yours truly. This climb is special because one of the Founding Fathers of MMS, Sir Long Henson is joining this climb as part of his birthday celebration. There were also senior members joining the climb. We headed to Mountain Province by 09:00PM and expected to arrive at around 09:00AM.

Day 1


We arrived at Golden Farm Resort, Bontoc directly from the bus ride at around 09:00AM. I have ordered food in advance prior to this climb. The resort already cooked breakfast and packed lunch for us when we arrived and it saves us time.


Golden Farm Resort
Golden Farm Resort


Before we started to ascend at around 10:00AM, we first had a prayer led by Sir Mark Padil and did some stretching. Prior to this climb, I volunteered as sweeper together with my batchmate Isaac Oblefias a.k.a. "Aki". The journey began and the first part is an assault. The weather was nice at first, it was hot because it's an open trail. It was a relief when we reached the Pine forest. I really enjoyed the tranquility brought by the Pine forest. It is very wide and we took more or less 2 hours passing the Pine forest. We had our lunch there for an hour and some of us took a nap. 









It was at around 01:00PM when we started to trek again. It would take 5-6 hours more before we reach the summit. After the Pine forest, we entered in a Mossy forest where we get to prepare our alcohol spray for notorious limatiks (blood leeches).

The first Mossy forest took at least 20 minutes of our time and exited to a Pine forest again. But shortly, we reached another portal to Mossy Forest and our guide told us there will be no more Pine forest and it will be mossy up to the top. Sad!

While we were walking through the mossy forest, the limatiks started to appear in various parts of our body. My sweeper buddy Aki turned to be my limatik check buddy. From time to time, we checked each other if we have limatiks sticking around our body, most specially on face. Every time I got a limatik, he was the one removing it off by spraying alcohol and I was doing the same thing for him. Sweet, right? Hahaha!

Isaac "Aki" Oblefias

Few minutes after we reached the mossy forest, it started to get dark and eventually, it rained. I decided not to wear my rain jacket because I thought of just getting soaked and wet then get change in the campsite. As we were getting elevation, we started to feel cold, that was the time I pulled my jacket off my bag. I started to feel better and continue trekking.

It took so much time and so much cursing before we reached the Camp 1. The rain really made it more harder. As it rains, the participation of the limatiks was becoming worst. The sweep team got  socked and wet that resulted to chilling that would cause hypothermia. We stopped for a while to discuss if we're going to proceed in summit or e-camp (emergency camp)  in Camp 1 because the original plan is to camp in the summit. It was me and my batchmates Aki, Dolfo, Karis, Miki, Chi and Jo who gathered in Camp 1, plus 2 senior members, Sir Mark Padil and Sir Arin Desembrana. While we were discussing, Karis and Miki couldn't endure the cold anymore. But I was pushing them to continue, but they just can't. Sir Arin decided to e-camp along with my batchmates Karis and Miki plus Sir Mark.

Aki and I were already accompanied by Dolfo, we thought of joining the e-camp group but we were thinking twice because it would be harder for us to wake up in the morning for summit assault. Chi and Jo plus the guide already left because they can't bear the cold also. As long as we're not moving, the cold is getting worst. I forced my sweep buddies to continue because I can feel my body is getting numb and I need to move. So we decided to continue for summit assault without a guide and just follow the trail signs the guide told us.

Dolfo, Aki and I reached the summit at around 9:00PM. Some of the group that reached the summit before dawn were already having socials. I joined them and told our experiences during the ascend. After having my dinner, I pitched my tent beside the bushes near Sir Long's tent.

Day 2


I woke up before my alarm because I felt something itchy on my sole. I found out it was cause by limatik bite as there was an unwelcome blotted limatik beside my foot. It seems the limatik sucked good enough blood from me as the wound was already closed.

The weather was nice that morning which made think we made a good decision to proceed to the summit. However, in order to see the view, you need to climb a tree because of the 3 to 4 ft high plants. There were a little Sea of Clouds around and we can see Mt. Amuyao was having Sea of Clouds at that time. After the picture taking, we prepared for the descend. Aki and I was still the sweeper. We're going to pass the trail we passed the other day, so hello limatiks and uneasy mossy trail again.



Random MMS Members with me (trainee) wearing their batch's shirt.

Limatik
My buddy over the night

Going down got a little easier and the weather was good. However, sometimes I was losing my patience that kept me asking our guide "Kuya, malapit na ba?". Halfway through, we saw Sir Gerome was injured while walking. I radioed our medic which is my batchmate Dolfo who was ahead of us to leave a bandage along the trail for us to pick it up. Radio communication in a climb was really a great help.



with Kuya Guide

Our Medic. Dolfo Roxas

The sweep buddy. Aki Oblefias

Sir Gerome together with Ma'am Meri and Sir Gerry were telling us to go ahead and leave them as they are members and they can take of themselves. However, we didn't leave them and stick to our role which is to sweep whether the one we were sweeping was a member or a guest and we make sure that no one is left behind regardless of the consequence.

We arrived in the resort at around 5:30PM, just in time for the ETD going back to Banaue where we going to take a bus ride to Manila. Aki and I were given 5 minutes to tidy up. So I hurriedly took a bath then packed my stuff as fast as I can. As I went outside the bathroom, people were looking for me as it seems to be a complain from our participants.

We had an issue about Guide fee and Porter fee. The guide and porter fee cost P1,500 per 24 hours (1 day) as per the tourism office we have asked prior to the climb. However, the guides and porters were complaining that it's per day not 24 hours. If it crosses another day, it will automatically another P1,500. Some of our participants who have hired a porter arrived at around lunch time, meaning they only spent 24 hours plus succeeding hours until they arrived. So they should pay only P1,500 + considerable amount for the succeeding hours. However, the porters were insisting that it should be P3,000 because it crosses another day. Jo and I, our TL have argued with the porters, we even called the tourism to confirm, but the porters still insisting their own rules. Eventually, since we didn't have enough time to argue and we needed to go, we all agreed to the cost they were asking and shoulder the extra amount needed. Then, another problem was raised, a porter was asking for his pay even if all the participants with porter have already paid. Then we came to realized we miscalculated the number of porters needed and we have an extra. Before the climb, I thought I have assigned all the porters to the respective participants. But this one porter, just grabbed a bagsack of food then climbed it up. Probably, he didn't have something to bring down and yet he's asking for the same price. Therefore, we shoulder that one extra porter and all officers shared for the extra cost. Our current president as of writing this, Roy Lopez have lent us extra amount to solve the problem.

It cause too much stress afterwards, not good weather condition on our way up plus guide/porter issues after decent. But moving forward, lots of lessons learned. It was not a best climb but it will surely help us to be better next time particularly for Open climbs 2017.

Regarding the issues with porter, I realized that my reaction was unacceptable. I'm not the type of person who always argue on something. As much as possible I want to stay harmonious with people always. But I lost my control this time but I realized that I should just agreed the amount they were asking because it's not everyday you climb mountains and pay these people that are somehow less fortunate that us. The additional amount could mean help to them or might change their life, we never know. So don't condone my reaction to the issue and I encourage you guys to treat these porters as we are helping them for their daily living.

Me and rest of the officers departed to the resort late and some of the participants are already in Banaue. They tried to please the drivers to wait for us and fortunately they agreed. We left Banaue at around 8:30PM. Meanwhile, some of senior members with my batchmate JP Anthony Cunada went to Sagada to extend the trip.

Team e-Camp. Photo by Sir Mark Padil


Itinerary


Day 0 (May 12, 2017)

0800PM – Assembly at Coda Lines
0900PM – ETD Cubao (Coda Lines)

Day 1 (May 13, 2017)

09:00AM – ETA Golden Farm Resort (jump-off). Register and repack things.
10:00AM – Start trek
12:00PM – Lunch at first campsite
01:00PM – Resume trek
01:20PM – Start of mossy forest (hello limatiks)
05:00PM – ETA campsite. Trek to summit
06:00PM – ETA Summit. Set Camp
08:00PM – Lights out

Day 2 (May 14, 2017)

05:00AM – Wake up Call. Wait for Sunrise
06:00AM – Prepare breakfast
06:30AM – Breakfast.
07:00AM - Break camp.
08:00AM - Start descent
09:00AM - ETA 2nd Campsite. Entering Mossy Forest
01:00PM - First Campsite
03:00PM - ETA Golden Farm Resort. Tidy up
04:30PM – ETD Golden Farm Resort going to Banaue
05:30PM – Reserve Tickets
07:00PM – ETD Banaue

Day 3 (May 15, 2017)

04:00AM – ETA Manila


Mt. Kalawitan
May 13-14, 2017

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