Mt Pulag is the third highest mountain in the Philippines and Luzon’s highest peak at 2,922 meters above sea level. As the highest mountain in Luzon, Mount Pulag attracts many mountain climbers because of its montane forests and grassland summit with its "sea of clouds" phenomenon.
This mountain was my first climb on one Valentine’s Day and I have made it an annual thing every February. One day a friend asked me if I knew someone who could guide a group of novice hikers for Mt Pulag. Since their climb will fall on a February, I said I could organize the trip.
Jangjang-Balengasay hanging footbridge
My travel buddy Ritsi, another friend Jerome, and I met the climbers at Victory Liner and took the 10PM bus for Baguio. Our jeepney ride for Badabak Ranger Station was already waiting for us when we arrived in Baguio. After 90 minutes, we had our first stop at Jangjang Eatery for breakfast.
At the back of the eatery is Jangjang-Balengasay hanging footbridge which was constructed to facilitate the transport of products from local livelihood like fish and provide safe passage for schoolchildren in Sitio Jangjang in Barangay Ambuklao, Bokod Benguet.
After breakfast, we headed for the DENR office to log in, pay the fees and attend the 1-hour orientation then went to the Badabak Ranger Station, the jump-off point for the Ambangeg-Ambangeg trail, which takes 2 days and is the easiest route to the summit. The other famous trail is Akiki-Ambangeg takes 3 days to finish.
The ranger station is also where hikers get the guides and porters. at P500/day (ratio is 1:5 guide to climbers) at P300/day for 15kg and additional P20 per kilo. Once we have secured our guides and porter, we started our 3-hour hike through the mossy forest.
Mt Pulag Summit from below
Lovely couple from Davao resting
We arrived at Camp 2 before sundown and set up for the night since it is close to water sources and has a nice view and the temperature is more manageable.
It is advisable to bring several layers of clothes, jackets and anything to keep you warm because it can go as cold as less than 0 degrees here. It is also recommended to have your climb in the early parts of the year. It is a 1-hour trek from here to the summit.
We woke up at 3:30AM to catch the break of dawn, sunrise and the famous sea of clouds.
Mt Pulag Sea of Clouds
Mt Pulag Sunrise
Another couple I requested to pose for me
Mt Pulag is not only for people seeking adventures. I have witnessed a lot of couples hike this mountain during the "Love Month". A mountaineer once proposed to his girlfriend on the summit and eventually got married. I have scaled the heights of this mountain every February for one reason - this was my first official climb on a Valentines Day with someone I was dating then. She was a Malaysian Chinese Expatriate who spent more than a year in our beautiful country. We both loved the outdoors and travelled together every weekend. Since then, I would come back every Valentines Day or the weekend nearest to it.
Looking at the sea of clouds
Novice climbers from HP Philippines
Mt Pulag grassland
The experience of a Mt Pulag climb cannot be described in words, one has to go here in order to find out. It will be all worth it.
A hike going here can starts from Baguio City serviced by several bus lines including Victory Liner and Joy Bus which both have deluxe buses that have seats which fully reclines and very comfortable foe long trips. It is suitable to reserve early tickets especially during peak seasons. The best trip to take is between 10PM to 11PM.
From Baguio City, it is advisable to rent a jeepney to take you to the ranger station and back to the city. The contact person is Ms Gina Epe at 0918-816-9234. Rates start at P9,000 and depend on which trail you will be taking.
The most impotant person to contact is Ma’am Emerita Albas – the DENR Park Superintendent (0919-631-5402) and Kuya Roy (0929-166-8864). You have to inform them of your intended dates of climb and group size.
Fees for climb range from P225 up depending on the trail. The guides can be secured at the ranger station at P500/day for a ratio of 1 guide per 5 persons and additional P100 per person. The rate for porters is P300/day plus additional P20/kg in excess of 15kg.
There are several organizers who operate Mt Pulag Climb which have rates from P3,500 up depending on the trail and what’s inclusive. The rates include transportation from Manila to jumpoff and back, registration fees, guides and 2 meals.
The cold weather of Mt. Pulag can be dangerous for those who take it lightly, especially those with no winter or high-altitude experience.
Make sure you are adequately prepared; getting wet, getting windy, and getting cold are the ingredients of hypothermia, a potentially life-threatening condition.
DAY 0 Friday
2100H Assembly at Victory Cubao
2130H ETD going to Baguio
DAY 1 Saturday
0400H ETA Victory Baguio, take chartered jeep
0415H ETD to DENR
0630H Breakfast at first stopover
0730H ETD to DENR
0900H ETA DENR, Registration and seminar
1000H ETD going to ranger station
1100H ETD Ranger Station, arrange guide, porters, lunch
1200H START TREK GOING TO CAMP 2
1600H ETA Camp 2 Extension, pitch tent, assault summit
1700H Prepare dinner
2200H Lights out
DAY 2 SUNDAY
0300H Wake up call, coffee, prepare for asssault
0330H Summit Assault
0500H ETA MT. Pulag Summit (wait for sunrise, photo ops)
0730H Start descent back to campsite
0830H ETA Camp 2, breakfast, break camp
0930H Start descent to Ranger Station
1300H ETA Ranger Station, wash up, lunch
1400H ETD to DENR
1430H ETA DENR, buy souvenir shirt (log out)
1600H ETD to Baguio
1900H ETA Baguio City, dinner
2030H ETD to Victory Terminal
2100H ETD back to Manila
DAY 3 MONDAY
0300H ETA Victory Cubao
THINGS TO BRING:
2. Ground Sheet
3. Trek Shoes
4. Trek Pants
5. Trek Shirt / Dry-Fit Shirt
6. Trek Pole
7. Head Lamp
9. Arm Sleeves / Warmer
11. Jacket (at least three layers)
12. Sleeping Bag
13. Sleeping Pad
14. Water Bladder or Water Bottle
15. Mess Kit
16. Cook Set
18. Gloves, Bonnet
19. Thermal Wear
20. Thermal Socks
Would you like to join me next Valentines Day?