Saturday, September 8, 2018

Hiking Adventures #45: Mt. Talamitam - 1st MMS Open Climb 2017

"Open climbs" is a set of scheduled climbs prepared by Metropolitan Mountaineering Society as part of their yearly calendar which is open to all. It occurs between July to December of the year. The primary objective of this Open climbs season is to recruit our joiners or guests to be part of our growing community.

Mt. Talamitam. Photo by Abbie Giron
Mt. Talamitam. Photo by Abbie Giron

Before I became an MMS Member, I was once a guest first. The first time I joined MMS Open climb was way back 2015, it was their Bakun Trio Open climb. I was invited by my long-time hiking buddy, Edmund Milanes, the one who introduced mountaineering to me. It was a great adventure. I can still remember the feeling being in Bakun for the very first time which led to my annual visit in the town for 3 consecutive years.

Two years after, I joined MMS. I was encouraged by the members during my 2nd visit in Bakun last 2016. During the BMC Training 2017, I already knew that I will be setting such climbs for MMS Open climbs just like the ones I joined before.

Prior to the open climbs, all of us in the batch suggested mountains to be listed as part of the Open climbs 2017. After collating the suggestion from our batchmates, Atty. JP Anthony Cuñada and I, the batch's Batch Coordinator and Asst. Batch Coordinator respectively, chose mountains from the pool of suggested mountains. We also the ones who scheduled the climbs. Here's the result:

So the first one is Mt. Talamitam. This mountain is one the easiest mountain to climb, also good for beginners and very accessible because jump-off point is just a bus ride from Manila. This climb is also special because this will be dedicated to my batchmate, our batch's leader JP who will undergo deep brain surgery few days after this climb. JP has X-linked Dystonia Parkinsonism (XDP), also known as Lubag Syndrome or X-linked Dystonia of Panay. XDP is a rare x-linked progressive movement disorder with high penetrance found almost exclusively in males from the Panay, Philippines. JP is a native of Pilar, Capiz in Panay Island. For more information about JP's fight against XDP, please visit his FB page Climbing the Unclimbable: Defeating Dystonia, hit Like button and support JP.

Day 1

I was the Team Leader for the climb and the day before the climb, I was drunk. I can't remember who I was drinking with, but I think it was my father. Suddenly, the next morning I slept through my alarm until my friend Abbie called. When I woke up, I checked my watch then I realized that I already late. I was rushing because I haven't started packing my stuff. So I hurriedly packed my things wishing I brought all the important things I need for the climb. 

Luckily, Grab or Uber (can't remember which one) was on my favor because I got easily booked a ride going to Coastal Mall where the bus terminal going to Nasugbu, Batangas is located. While on my way, Zaldy, one of the members and climb participant called me telling that there's no bus terminal in Coastal Mall anymore. Abbie also called reporting the same problem. So, I felt so pressured that time and I don't have an idea yet for an alternative. I was googling while on my way and I found out some buses in DLTB Buendia are heading to Nasugbu. So, I told them to go back to Buendia where DLTB Terminal is located and told some participants while on their way to Coastal Mall to en route to DLTB. Then, I told my driver to do the same thing also. Abbie called again and told me they already riding a bus to Nasugbu as chance passengers. I felt guilty because I know some of the participants in that bus were standing while on their way.

Lesson: It's best to ocular first prior to the trip to make sure itinerary will not be compromised.

I arrived in DLTB at around 11:00AM. I started to wait some of our guests and my batchmates Karis and Erica. Some of our guests shared a ride with members who brought their own cars. Finally, we are complete after 2 hours. 2 HOURS!

We arrived in the jump-off point which is located in Sitio Bayabasan, Brgy. Aga at around 3:30PM. There was already a guide waiting for us and the first batch already started climbing almost 2 hours ago. The second batch consists of me, Karis, Erica plus our guests, Pearl, Mico and Liz.

The first part was the concrete road heading to the river. Then, the trail proper started on a bamboo bridge, then assault. After the assault, my batchmate Erica started to get a bit exhausted. According to her, she haven't been doing exercises for months that's why she gets tired very fast. However, she was determined to continue and to reach the summit.
Bamboo Bridge. Photo by Abbie Giron

After an hour, we reached the long field (yes, gradual) and we can already see the peak of Talamitam. I enjoyed the trail while it's gradual before we deal with summit assault.

It was getting dark during our summit assault. I told them to hurry up for us to avoid trekking in the dark. Around 6:30PM, we have finally reached the summit.

MMS President (2016-2017), Dr. Mai Ledesma. Photo by Abbie Giron
MMS President (2016-2017), Dr. Mai Ledesma. Photo by Abbie Giron

Photo by Abbie Giron

MMS Founder Long Henson with his daughter. Photo by Abbie Giron

My meal group consists of Abbie, Mico, Erica and I had experienced a bad situation while opening the camping stove. The stove flamed very high and it freaked us out. My body became stagnant because I was shocked and I didn't know what to do. But eventually, I started to take action however Mico already able to control the flame. *Sigh* good thing it didn't cause fire. For first time users of camping stove, don't turn the stove's valve too much. When you hear a little swoosh sound after turning, stop there and click the igniter. It will produce just a little flame and adjust it when needed. It's best to take precaution because we don't want to cause forest fire on our beloved mountains.

At the camp. Photo by Abbie Giron

After the dinner, it's socials time. At the socials, we started to discuss first why this climb is very meaningful. It's because this climb is dedicated to my batchmate JP and the first climb for Dystonia Awareness. Sir Mau Romarate (currently the VP of MMS as of writing this), JP's closest friend in MMS and a Registered Nurse led the discussion about XDP. I can see all of the participants was listening attentively to Sir Mau and in fairness to Sir Mau, he was really great at explaining the disease and the discussion was very informative. He also shared how JP handled the situation when he felt the symptoms.

Sir Mau discussing about X-linked Dystonia Parkinsonism. Photo by Vladz Padilla
Sir Mau discussing about X-linked Dystonia Parkinsonism. Photo by Vladz Padilla

After the serious discussion, the master of social masters, Ricardo "Papa Ding" Prudencio, Mar Alrhey Jumarang and Emoi Dedicatoria started to hit their timeless jokes and the people started to laugh.

Day 2

I woke up before my alarm because I felt the temperature went down a bit. It was cloudy outside but I like it. Abbie already went outside the tent and joined me on my morning self-reflection before we started to cook for breakfast.

Sunrise. Photo by Abbie Giron

We went down at around 7:30PM after couple of group shots with MMS flag and Dystonia Awareness banner. The descent went faster as I was expecting and weather was good all the way down. All participants reached the jump-off at around 10:00AM. I was welcomed by bottles of Red Horse strong beer and my beloved seniors. It was a good climb amid compromised itinerary due to failure of bus terminal ocular, so cheers!

Our guests. Photo by Abbie Giron

Group Photo! Photo by Abbie Giron

When most of us already made themselves tidy (I think I was the remaining one who was not taking a bath yet), I invited all to gather for the Post-climb. In Post-climb, the guests will going to give their feedback about the climb whether it is positive or negative and hope they give suggestions for us to make the next climbs better.

We've got a positive feedback from our guests and the only thing negative was the meet-up place which was my fault as the Team Leader. I really apologized but it really happens sometimes. I'm really thankful the climb was still a success despite what happened and thank God for the good weather. I also want to thank my batchmate, adventure buddy and closest friend, Abbie Giron for stepping up as Team Leader for the first batch. Also, to the senior members who joined the climb and made themselves involved by giving advises and sharing experiences that would very useful for the next adventures ahead.

Interactions between our guests. Photo by Abbie Giron

Of course, beers! Photo by Abbie Giron

It was a good climb indeed.


Day 1

1100 - ETD Coastal Mall Bus Terminal to Nasugbu
1400 - ETA Registration area at Sitio Bayabasan, Brgy. Aga (KM. 83)
1500 - Start Trek
1730 - Arrival at Summit. Set Camp. Watch Sunset
1900 - Dinner
2000 - Socials
2200 - Lights Out

Day 2

0445 - Wake-up Call. Prepare breakfast
0530 - Breakfast
0700 - Break Camp
0730 - Start Descent
0830 - Layong River Sidetrip (Optional)
0930 - Continue Descent
1030 - ETA Jump-off. Tidy-up
1130 - Post Climb


Registration: P20/head
Guide: P500 per group (May vary depending on the size of the group)

Estimated Budget: P600 - P700

Mt. Talamitam
MMS Open climb 2017
July 8 - 9, 2017

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