Mt. Kalatungan Climb – Day 2

First part: Mt. Kalatungan Climb – Day 1

It was a cold, gusty morning on the summit of Mt. Kalatungan and our tent was still miraculously upright. Raging winds gave it a serious beating the previous night. There was a puddle of water inside and our sleeping bags were wet, which explained why our asses were freezing the whole time.

Ben was outside getting busy with breakfast while Tupe and I stayed in the tent, complaining about the weather and sound-tripping to mournful songs of Joey Ayala and Gary Granada. It turns out we had similar tastes in music and the propensity to get terminally depressed during stormy climbs. In our defense, it’s well-documented that horrible weather makes people sad and droopy (and probably whiny as well) so cut us some slack.

We eventually overcame our sluggishness, thank God, and got around to packing up and breaking camp. Tupe suggested that we back-trail but Ben insisted we stick to the plan of taking the traverse route, climbing two more peaks before going back down to Barangay Mendis. By then I didn’t care which route we took, I just wanted to see sunshine again. I was sick of the rain and the wind and being cold. (See, bad weather really does make people whiny. Or maybe it’s just me.)

Bleak scenery on the summit.

Bangkaso (altar) of the indigenous tribes. Storms and strong winds have destroyed the roof and reduced the altar to a skeletal structure.

Customary summit photo with Tupe and Ben. You can tell by the forced smiles on our faces how much fun we were having in this weather.

It was 10:45am when we started the trek, going down the traverse trail. After about an hour, we reached the bamboo campsite, which is where most climbers set up camp. It can accommodate large groups, has ample forest cover and a water source nearby. The campsite was named as such because of the abundance of dwarf bamboo in the area.

Dwarf bamboo

Water source

Why on earth did we not camp here instead? Oh yeah, we were chasing after a sunrise that didn’t show up.

From the campsite, the trail leads to an open space that features a natural fern garden surrounded by gnarly trees. The photo isn’t much but it looks magical in real life.

It took another hour of hiking through the forest before we made the ascent to Lumpanag, a secondary peak in the mountain range. Ben and Tupe said this could be among the top 10 highest mountains in the Philippines since it has an elevation of over 2800 meters above sea level. Its proximity, however, to the Kalatungan summit (2,880 MASL and currently ranked fifth highest) relegates it to a mere sub-peak rather than a separate mountain. Lumpanag is also known as Mt. Wiji, named after a Japanese hiker who made a map of the area.

Lumpanag Peak is characterized by grasslands with a smattering of dead tree trunks.

Our Manobo guides, Kuya Tanyo and Kuya Erio, on Lumpanag Peak. The pendant of Kuya Erio’s necklace is a tusk of a baboy-damo (wild boar) which was caught by his father. Very cool.

We took a break to have lunch and then descended into another forested trail. The trek to the third peak was a short, steep hike but what made it difficult were the thorny shrubs that lined the trail. My hands and arms were covered with cuts by the time I reached the top; it looked like I had a brutal fight with a blade.

This minor peak is still unnamed so I convinced our guides to name it after me. Fine, I didn’t make a fancy map like Wiji but I’m still calling dibs on it (because that’s how you name a mountain, by calling dibs like a 10-year-old). They both agreed and Kuya Erio happens to be a barangay kagawad (village council member) so I’ve got political support right there. Ben is also warming up to the idea. Of course, they may have just been humoring me but I’m still taking it very seriously. I’ll just have to get more people to back me up on this and I’m counting on you, dear reader. Spread the word.

The vegetation on this peak is similar to Lumpanag, grasses and dead trees.

I’m making it official: this dreary patch of land shall be known as Tintin’s Peak.

Thorny plants on the trail.

After the descent from Tintin’s Peak (get used to it, people), we hiked through another mossy forest which was just as enchanting as the previous ones. This was my favorite part of the climb. The weather was still cool but no longer chilly, the trail was easy to navigate, and I was in the midst of a beautiful forest.

While the guides were far ahead and my climbing buddies were busy taking pictures, I was by myself skipping, running and sliding down the trail with a stupid grin on my face. I felt like a child again and the entire mountain range was my playground. This is why I climb mountains. This is what makes everything worth it. After the grueling hours of trekking and being pummeled by vicious winds, I live for these solitary moments of unadulterated joy. (Bad weather also makes people cheesy. Or maybe it’s just me.)

The forest trail ended after two hours of hiking. The final leg of our descent was an open trail that passed through the Manobo community in Barangay Mendis. This is where I got to practice the sampling of Manobo phrases that Kuya Erio taught me.

Manupyan mahapon! Laklak kay-on. (Good afternoon! We’re just passing through.)” I would cheerfully call out to every house we passed by and every person we met on the trail. I’d get a return greeting and an amused smile. Meanwhile, Kuya Erio and Kuya Tanyo were giggling at my determined efforts to show off my puny knowledge of their dialect.

We arrived at the main road at 5:30pm. After saying goodbye to our guides and promising that I’ll be back (and I definitely will), we took a habal-habal (motorcycle) ride to the town center of Pangantucan.

There are some things I didn’t get on this climb: sunset, sunrise, picturesque summit view, a good night’s sleep. But there are also a few awesome things I did get: beautiful forests, challenging terrain, cute mushrooms and, ehem, a peak named after me (seriously guys, get on board with this already).

The weather doesn’t have to be perfect, the view doesn’t have to be scenic, and the sun doesn’t have to show up on the horizon. I was doing something I absolutely loved and that in itself is enough of a reward. It was still one amazing climb and I can’t wait to do it again.

Huge thanks to Ben for arranging everything and making this climb possible, to Tupe for the great company amidst the miserable weather, and to Kuya Erio and Kuya Tanyo for the language lessons and for being the most cheerful guides in the world. Daghang salamat!

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102 thoughts on “Mt. Kalatungan Climb – Day 2

          1. Manong Unyol

            ah opo nasa opis kc alam mo na basta makapg type lang and comment hehehe 🙂 cge po basta may mag invite na group sa akin yayain po kita ma’am dami din kc nagyaya sa akin ako lang minsan umaayaw depende kc sa bundok and weather minsan..

            Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      Syiempre, diyan tayo malakas, sa epal factor. Hahaha! Susuportahan kita diyan sa Jetjet’s Peak quest mo.

      Hoy mag-blog ka na tungkol sa Apo! And post lots of photos. I need my fix of vicarious experience. Hehe. But seriously, congrats on the climb! Glad you guys are back home safe at mukhang wagas ang pag-eenjoy nyo. Si Des di magkamayaw in raving about it. 🙂

      Reply
      1. worddruid

        Day 1 pa lang ako ng drafts eh at nagbabanta na ang naimbak na trabaho hehehe Go ba kayo sa MakTrav sa Sunday? By the way, punta ka ng Apo post climb/children’s party kina Yan sa Sabado!

        Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      Salamat sa suporta! Hehe. Oo, balik tayo dito. May trail na puro waterfalls ang pupuntahan. Gusto kong marating din yun. Ang haba na ng listahan natin ng mga aakyatin. Eto na ba ang meaning of life, puro climb. 😛

      Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      It’s in Bukidnon, a province in southern Philippines. A lot of Filipino mountaineers haven’t heard of it either since it’s not really among the more popular mountains here. Thanks for the reblog!

      Reply
      1. mamacormier

        Thanks for clarifying that. I was all set to google Mt. Kalatungan. Beautiful pictures. If you ever get back up there on a nice day I’d love to see those pictures.

        Reply
  1. Sarah

    Great read, including the comments! Whatever the language is, I’ve enjoyed sounding it out in my head. Congrats on being FP and hopes for many more climbs like this one (or maybe not quite — better!).

    Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      Thanks so much, Sarah! The language is Filipino. Being Freshly Pressed is probably the coolest thing that happened to this blog. I’m totally psyched.

      Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      Thank you so much! I remember you said that in your comment on another post. You must have prophetic powers. Hehe. But thanks for believing in me (naks, ang cheesy lang). It really means a lot. 🙂

      Reply
  2. speedtosped

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed and to the newly baptized Tintin’s Peak! You deserve both the accomplishments. Will be a regular follower of your blog from now on! :=)

    Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      Thank you! I don’t know if I truly deserve that (and Tintin’s Peak is just a joke anyway) but I am very grateful. Thanks for the follow!

      Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      I didn’t see any berries on those plants. Just thorns and loads of meanness. I’m practically clueless when it comes to plants though so I really have no idea what they are. Thanks!

      Reply
  3. Fatima Kashin

    Great adventures! I just remembered my climbing days before.. Nature is really relaxing! Cool photos! Keep posting!

    Reply
  4. starlight

    congratulations! its really amazing reading a blogpost of a felloy pinoy especially na-FP pa.. so happy for you.. your photos are so beautiful, love the view, very serene, so calming.. good luck on your next climb..

    Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      Thank you! I’m amazed and very thankful to be on FP. I’ve been wishing to be featured there but I didn’t think it would actually happen so this is really exciting. I even saved a screenshot of the Freshly Pressed page as a souvenir. Hehe.

      Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      Thanks! This blog was initially about books, hence the title, but it became a hodge podge of things that caught my fancy. Right now I’m hooked on mountaineering so most of the posts are about that. So excited that one made it on FP.

      Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Yes, I’d love to climb in Panay. Mt. Madjaas in Antique is actually one of my dream climbs.

      The photos don’t do justice at all to how amazing and magical the forests were. It really was breath-taking.

      Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      Kalatungan still has an intact primary forest in a lot of areas so the trees have been around for a long time. Not sure if they go as far back as the dinosaur era though (but it’d be really cool if they did). 🙂 Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  5. namitasunder

    wpnderful…beautiful pics.read both the parts.The best part for me is your summing up of post…….despite all odds if one is doing something one enjoys,thats a reward by itself.

    Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      Thank you for taking the time to read both posts! That’s one lesson I’ve learned in mountaineering (and life in general, I guess).

      Reply
  6. A Gracious Life

    Wow, this wonderful experience you have just completed…still on my bucket list! Congratulations to you, on reaching that peak and for a very nice blog. Well deserved to be on FP! =>

    Reply
  7. jimceastman

    Very nice photography, and seems like you’re really enjoying your adventures. I am an adventurous person also and love to climb mountains…I enjoyed watching your photos, enticingly beautiful and very well captured! I’ve heard of Mount Apo, and want to put it in my “To do List”, when time allows me to visit your country..Thanks for sharing and congratulation for your 1st FP blog 🙂

    Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      Thanks so much! Mt. Apo is one of the most popular mountains here. I’m also hoping to climb it one day. With that popularity, however, comes the problem of piles of garbage on the campsites. Awful.

      Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      It’s in Bukidnon, a province in southern Philippines. You should go there. It’s the perfect place if you love the outdoors. Thanks for dropping by!

      Reply
  8. Pingback: Mt. Kalatungan Climb – Day 2 « My Favorite Spaces

  9. Harold Boniol

    Ang galing! Congratz, nakita ko lang ito sa Freshly Pressed, ito pa lang yata yung pangalawang Pinoy na blog na nakita ko dun.

    Salamat, looking forward to more beautiful sceneries in the Philippines.

    Reply
  10. Ruby Ubaldo

    Your pictures are great, but I know the actual view is even greater and awesome!!! That’s how I feel when I look at my pictures from Batanes. It’s really hard to capture real beauty, one has to expeience it. But some of us may never be as lucky as you are, so thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I smile when I read your blog/s, and the comments it generates. Enjoy! Ingat lagi:))

    Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      Thank you po! Taking beautiful photos in Batanes is practically effortless. Just point your camera anywhere and click and the picture comes out gorgeous. Still dreaming of going back there.

      Reply
  11. mac

    i am truly in admiration after reading =) made me feel i was with the team during the climb…so beautifully said, sun in the horizon and 360 degrees of clear view isn’t always necessary to have a climb like the one you did…

    Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      Thanks! It was a great climb and I’m glad the experience resonated well with other people. Salamat sa pagbabasa. Nagulat ako na nag-comment ka. Haha.

      Reply
  12. T2Verge

    Had the same experience last Sat. and Sunday, only you have more balls to spend the night at the summit while we hid under the canopy of trees a few steps below the junction of summit and the bamboo campsite. It’s a tough climb, tougher than D@ and K, maybe due to overgrown grass ( talahib, cogon, etc. ) and thorny wild berries along the trail and the several minor summits to and from the real summit.
    First time to blog, maybe too old for this stuff but I really like your style of writing.. Hope you find time to write a book on Philippine Mountaineering.

    Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      Congrats on the climb, Sir! You made a much smarter decision by not camping on the summit. We should’ve done the same thing. Yeah, Kalatungan is a tough climb but very rewarding. The forests were beautiful, never mind that we didn’t have a great view while on the peaks.

      Thanks so much for dropping by! Your comment made my day. Writing a book is a pipe dream for now but who knows? 🙂

      Reply
  13. Iniel Caballero

    Nako Mam Tin,

    Susunod na naman ako sa yapak mo dito….. nakakainggit, sana pala naset ko dito ang akyat ko sa December. 🙂 Si Sir Ben din pala kasama mo dito ulet…. tindi na ng bonding climb nyo dalawa ha.

    -iamnoempty-

    Reply

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