Mountain climbing per se is an activity that has to be done by people with unceasing tenacity. Adhering to the fact that it entails moving out of your comfort zone alongside your goal of reaching the summit. From the vantage of the lofty summits, I can dream of a lot of things- more of the future. The perspectives that I gain from summits after summits are insurmountable enough reasons to tell those people on why I think differently at my young age. Truly, the euphoria gained through mountaineering is just difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t camped at a 2,922MASL elevation, or to someone who hasn’t experienced standing above the clouds.
A lot of people were already asking for my Mt. Kinabalu climb. But prior that, I cannot miss to write about our Mt. Pulag climb which came in before my Mt. Kinabalu climb and how it became so significant. It was an accolade of a one-of-a-kind experience of ups and downs, literally and figuratively yes. With its title, you probably already have an idea of how my second Pulag climb experience went.
I was able to experience Mt. Pulag already the first time I climbed it November last year via the Akiki Trail. But climbing it this time with my closest set of friends who are climbing it for the first time made me really giddy that the moment they told me that they wanted to join the MMS 20th Anniversary Open Climb, I had no choice but to go with them. Haha! Lucky, Nitu, Rizza, Joan, and Lidie joined with us. They also invited friends whom I just met that time: Ceng, Doris, Ralph, and Wap. Most of them were first time climbers. That’s why days before the climb, I would send them message on what they should bring and how they could prepare for the climb.
We followed the itinerary set by MMS. It was Friday night, 10PM, when we gathered in Victory Liner Cubao to board a bus heading to Baguio. Upon arrival, we waited for the jeepney that brought us to the DENR office, then to the Ranger Station where the jumpoff point is. We had our usual breakfast stop over at the Pinkan Jo Snackhaus.
The Ambangeg trail or the so called “Executive Trail” has long been familiar to me since we descended via this route during our Pulag climb last year. But ascending through it gave me a different feeling. Still, its fame of having a picturesque view alongside the long and winding road fenced with pine trees was still there. Via the Ambangeg trail, you have to start at a high altitude already unlike in the Akiki trail wherein you really have to start at a much lower elevation.
Since we are a big group, we had to form mini-groups during trekking. I had Lucky, Nitu, Rizza, Ralph, and Wap climbed with me at the last group. From the Ranger Station, you have to walk a total of 8km to reach the Saddle campsite. I took photos of them while ascending though the terrain. You can feel the cold air already while ascending but nevertheless, the weather was favorable.
So here comes the twist of the story. At the middle of the trek, I felt some lightheadedness and had to vomit. So there, I got bitten by the so-called altitude sickness*. I threw up and released all the food I took during breakfast and lunch. I started to lose my appetite that every time I would try eating my trail food, I felt like vomiting. With zero calories to burn, it made me weaker and slower to ascend. I tried to take in trail foods and even the Gatorade that I have, but none of them worked. I would threw up at every moment I took them. The condition accompanied me all throughout my trail to the campsite. I just couldn’t thank God enough for my bestfriend Lucky who never left me all the way up. She would assist me and check if I’m okay. We even had to swap our bags because mine was heavier and my body was getting weaker already. We were also with Wap who was having momentary cramps that time. So technically, Lucky had to attend at her 2 patients that time. Haha!
*If you’re not yet familiar with what altitude sickness is, let me google it for you- here’s the link. And if you also experienced it during your Pulag climb, chill! You are not alone! 😉
It was a really humbling experience for me. Imagine an experienced mountaineer who has been consistently climbing, taking the Mt. Pulag via the Ambangeg trail, which has been deemed as one of those easy climbs and can be taken by first timers, getting miserable on climbing it. Haha! Whew! It was really demoralizing already (I guess) at some point knowing that I’m supposed to be taking care of my guests. But it turned out that they’re the ones who took care of me! They were even faster and stronger than I am!
We were the last group to reach the campsite. And since Nitu and Rizza went ahead with us, our tent was already set up when we came. The temperature was already very cold. I really wanted to take a nap with my condition. I asked them to start preparing the food while I rest. Told them I wasn’t making an excuse not to help, but I really just cannot. And I just know that these people are the kindest and the best and that they will understand. Hihi! I love you friends! 🙂
Call time was set at 4am for the summit assault. I was feeling hungry since I haven’t eaten anything yet. I tried to take in a small piece of sandwich with me just so I can burn some calories during assault. But nah! I threw up again. So there, with a totally empty stomach, I went on with the assault with my friends. And with my very hopeful self of seeing a beautiful clearing with the sea of clouds and sunrise.
Whew! I felt like I climbed it for the very first time again since I missed to see this view during our prior climb here. The sun rays soothes through my nerves renewing my lost energy. The sight itself was refreshing as the sun reflects itself through the sea of clouds surrounding it producing an array of pastel colors. It was an enigma of feelings that could bring yourself to the wonderland for a moment. Aaahhh! Heaven it was! God, You are the greatest painter of all times. You just never fail to amaze me with your wonders.
After a multitude of photo ops, we went back to the campsite to have our breakfast. I felt that I was already gaining my energy this time. I was already able to take in the food and never had to throw it up. Indeed, I’ve regained my energy back. The descend was much easier this time and I was back at my usual pace already. No more signs of altitude sickness. Thank God!
This is what I love about mountains. It expose its best grandeurs only to those who sweat and make an effort for it. They appease your suffering by lavishly rewarding you with great views pleasing to your eye and inner self. Mt. Pulag will always be memorable to me because of this climb. And despite the conditions that I’ve told, I just know that I will definitely climb it again in the future and will never get tired of repeating this climb.
Happy 20th Anniversary MMS! And thanks to my friends! You guys know how much I love you! ❤