How a Wimp Managed to Climb Guiting-Guiting: Getting to Mayo’s Peak

I’ve learned to my absolute delight that one’s mountaineering credibility increases exponentially if one has climbed Mt. Guiting-Guiting. I get newfound respect and admiration whenever people find out that I’ve been to the summit of G2, as if I’ve somehow proved that I’m now a legitimate and serious mountaineer with this feat. Guiting-Guiting, after all, is considered as one of the toughest mountains to climb in the Philippines.

There are only two people I’ve failed to impress: Sir Joey, our guide who was often so far ahead of us we might as well have been on different climbing groups, and my climbing buddy who had to suffer through my glacial trekking pace for two and a half days.

On the G2 summit with Sir Joey and my climbing buddy who I had to edit out of the photo because, uhm, he’s a super secret spy whose identity cannot be compromised. Yep, that’s it.

Our climb started with a bad hangover, which is probably not the best way, especially for a wimp, to begin a G2 ascent.

We arrived at the jump-off at around 2pm. Sir Joey said that with such a late start, we won’t be able to make it to Mayo’s Peak by sundown. We decided to begin the climb the next day and just set up camp for the night next to Aling Lusming’s house. This is the last house you’ll see before reaching the river and starting the ascent.

Sir Joey left us for a while and came back in the evening with fresh fish and a liter of gin. Being the weakling that I am, one would’ve thought that I’d have enough sense to steer clear of alcohol on the eve of a major climb. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that much common sense or self-control.

I got ridiculously drunk and woke up the next day feeling like shit with dehydration and a nasty headache. It rained that morning and I had half a mind to just forget the climb and spend the day instead sleeping off my hangover. The rain stopped after breakfast and by 10am, we had packed up and started trekking.

Thirty minutes into the hike and I was already red in the face, gasping for air and on the brink of passing out. My companions became concerned that I might not be able to continue with the climb but I assured them that I was okay (although I probably didn’t look too convincing). Dammit, I endured a ten-hour boat ride in the most godforsaken corners of the ship to climb Guiting-Guiting. I wasn’t going to turn back just because my lungs were about to collapse. (I told you common sense isn’t my strength.)

My breathing eventually stabilized as we trudged on although I still had the walking pace of an aging turtle. We passed by three clearings designated as Camps 1, 2 and 3 where we took longer rest stops. It was a gradual uphill trek from the jump-off to Camp 3. The heavily forested trail displays the amazing biodiversity that G2 is famous for. We saw towering trees, beautiful flowers, wild orchids, pitcher plants, ferns, mosses, butterflies, snails, funny-looking bugs and other strange and wonderful organisms. Even the flies are pretty with vivid colors of yellow, orange and blue.

Fern garden on the trail.

Fog-covered forest of Guiting-Guiting.

A few minutes from Camp 3 was Bulod Spring, the only accessible water source before Mayo’s Peak. There is another water source on the way to the summit known as Mabel’s Spring but the availability of water is not assured.

Sir Joey filling up our containers in Bulod Spring.

The most challenging leg of the climb to Mayo’s Peak was a long steep ascent on a narrow open trail. There were stable footholds and handholds but hauling myself and my backpack up with each step still took a lot of effort.

After six hours of trekking, we finally arrived at the campsite in Mayo’s Peak. I couldn’t be more relieved and amazed that I made it there with a barely functioning respiratory system.

The six hours of exhaustion and breathing struggle faded in an instant when I saw this.

Cloud-covered peaks of Guiting-Guiting.

Flatlands of Sibuyan Island below.

Glimpse of a sunset.

After the painful lesson of that morning’s hangover, I imposed a liquor ban on myself and stayed away from Sir Joey’s stash of gin. We still had a whole day of summit assault ahead of us and from what I heard, it wasn’t going to be easy.

Part 2: Summit Assault
Part 3: The Descent (and an Epilogue of Sorts)


2 thoughts on “How a Wimp Managed to Climb Guiting-Guiting: Getting to Mayo’s Peak

  1. jasper

    There’s an old log book in the house of Tay Lee Tansiongco in Tampayan were old school mountaineers use to write their names before climbing G2, if that said log book still exist but probably since Tay Lee had past away i hope his son Nono preserved it, you will find someone in that log book and if my memory is correct after that mountaineer who climb g2 way back May of 1998 fell in love with that mountain and on October of that same year he climb solo on G2 again.. that time theres no compulsary need to hire for a guide.. and after a year with that same month of October he set up camp and slept overnight on the summit of G2.. he did this all after traversing halcon for 5 days on Feb of 1997.
    Mountaineering in the phils evolve so much now before you dont care who knows where youve been but as if every climber wants to publicize their climb for their personnal fame.. i used to recall that climbing is like rediscovering your ownself..

    1. Tintin Post author

      Thanks for your feedback. It’s always fascinating to hear stories from seasoned mountaineers and how things were back in the “old school” days.

      I like writing. I like telling stories. I also like climbing mountains. And writing about my climbs allows me to enjoy these things. It also allows me to connect with people who can somehow relate or have shared similar experiences with me.

      We all have different and unique journeys to self-discovery. And they would be more enriching if we focus on improving ourselves and encouraging others instead of making hasty judgments about other people’s ways of doing things. Thanks again.


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