Adventure Hijinks: Climbing a Mountain

Finally! After years of saying "Gusto ko din matry umakyat ng bundok.", I finally did it! My very first climb!!!

Cray cray!

I went up Mt. Maculot. I was expecting an easy hike. Kept thinking, "how hard could it be? It's just basically walking." A long walk through the woods, a few rocks here and there, and most challenging part being the uphill with a heavy bag behind my back. 

I GROSSLY underestimated things. And as we later found out, Mt. Maculot is apparently the HARDEST CLIMB* (*for beginners) in the Philippines! 

Max's cam
The climbing group! (Collage by Max! As well as most of my solo pics!)


Props to our hike leader, Max Aficial, for helping us prepare for the climb. He made an itinerary with a list of what to bring. I brought the following things with me:
  1. Water (4 x 1L x P15 = P45) - Max really stressed the importance of hydration!
  2. Real Leaf Iced Tea (P19)
  3. Presto Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies (P12)
  4. JellyAce (P16) which is apparently a climber's must-have
  5. Century Tuna Paella (P32)
  6. Del Monte Pineapple Bits (P21)
  7. Vienna Sausage (P28)
  8. Rinbee Chips (P10)
  9. A couple of extra shirts 
  10. A pair of extra shorts
  11. Underwear
  12. Face Towel
  13. Gloves
  14. Sleeves
  15. Plastic Bags (for trash and laundry)
  16. Slippers (for after the climb)
  17. Shades
  18. SLR Camera
  19. Superman Cape
He told us to only bring the essentials, and I thought I did, but my pack weighed around 6-7kg! 


Starting line: JAM station.

We all met at the Cubao Jam station at 4 am, and left for Batangas by 5. (P155 per person for the bus ride) We arrived at Cuenca, Batangas around 7:30. We met Kuya Ed Puso (Yup. Ed....PUSO.), who became our mountain guide. (He charged P1,200 for the whole day / 6pax = P200 per person) We walked to the grotto jump off point and registered with the local authority. (P25 per person)


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The white stone tablets were the Stations of the Cross.
What followed was a tiring, but relatively easy, hour and a half climb to the grotto. There were still stairs. Most likely for the tourists who go there to pray at the stations of the cross. At the grotto, we took in the gorgeous view, had the customary picture taking, and then continued our climb towards the summit of Mt. Maculot. 

Calm before the storm at the grotto.

THIS was where the real fun started! The grotto was just warm up! 


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We were now going up the mountain au natural. The sights, the terrain, all felt like stuff of movies; like giant set pieces. There were areas where we hung on to roots because the land was steep and slippery (trees are your friends), a part where we climbed up piles of large rocks using a rope, a part where we crawled under large intertwined branches, and a clearing we could get lost in because the grass were taller than us. Up close, the mountain was magical.

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Something that's equally amazing about climbing is the wonderful attitude mountaineers have. We were taught that it's customary to greet fellow climbers and wish them well on their hike. So we'd happily greet and chat with everyone we came across. It felt like we were suddenly part of this imaginary but supportive/welcoming community. And being able to connect with people you just met was such a wonderful feeling.

View from the summit...WHAT VIEW??

After a grueling 2 hour climb, we reached the very underwhelming summit (the highest point of the mountain). It was just a small open area (with only enough space for around 10 people at a time) with an obstructed view. So right after eating lunch, we went on our merry way. Next stop - the camp site.


"We just came from the summit!"

The camp site is an open area for overnighters. There we saw the "7eleven" - a small makeshift store for food and drinks. Kuya Ed shared that come night fall, the overnighters would party there like there was no tomorrow. "Nilalabas na nila lahat ng kelangan ilabas." And I sort of understood. Up there, whatever your stresses, they all seem so so far away. It's something I wouldn't mind experiencing too, one day.

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Snake spine, anyone?


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The view below, and the view above while going up the rock(ies).

We left our bags at the 7eleven and proceeded to the "rockies" with only our cameras in tow. The rockies was a part of the mountain that had large boulders protruding from its sides. Once we got to the top, we couldn't help but be in awe.

The view was breathtaking.  One side is Taal lake, far, far below where we were, while the other side was the mountain summit where we just came down from. The winds blew hard on our faces. It was scary, really - but so wonderful at the same time.

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*Inhales deeply*

There I did what is probably the most dangerous thing I've ever done in my life. We took pictures on the rocks hanging on the side of the mountain! (With Kuya Ed assisting us, of course.) With the hundred foot drop directly in front of us, the violent winds, and the fact that people HAVE died there, it's hard not to lose your nerve. In fact, my knees shook uncontrollably when I tried to stand on the rocks. But I'm glad I did it. Scary as hell. But it was unforgettable!

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Am I glad I brought that cape!


Downhill sounded easier in my head, but again, it wasn't. Especially because of my stupid flat soled shoes! The ground was all gravelly and loose. I spent all my energy trying to stop myself from slipping off edges and falling on my ass. The most important thing I learned that day was to WEAR THE RIGHT SHOES! (Along with don't underestimate the climb.) And I learned it through the many cuts and bruises I now have from falling around 8-10 times.


When we reached the cemented road, it was glorious. #kissthefloormoment It was still a long walk to civilization, but at least we were now on concrete ground. It was funny because we got so used to walking downhill on rough terrain that walking on an actual road felt so strange.

Back in civilization!

We reached a mountaineer's rest stop where we washed up and got dressed. It was around 7:30 pm by this time. We took the tryke (P10) back to the highway and ate dinner at Ogie's at the suggestion of Kuya Ed. It's a good place to pig out after climbing the whole day. I had sizzling sisig (P50), and small lomi (P35) and a Pepsi (P10). Couldn't even finish half of the lomi!

Not bad for P50!

We said goodbye to Kuya Ed. He's a great guide. If ever you want to have him as yours, text him at 0917-7174588. Tell them you got recommended by Max's group. When Max got cramps, Kuya Ed massaged his leg and carried his pack. When I had a bad fall, he immediately held up my leg to avoid further injury. Bottom line is, you'd be in good hands with Kuya Ed!

Kuya Ed "assisting" me.

...for THIS shot. Me just chillin like a villain!

We took a jeep from Cuenca to Lipa (P25), then a bus from SM Lipa to Buendia, Makati (P100), and another bus home (P35). The end of a day long trip!

Packed Food = P183
Guide and Fees = P225
Commute Cost = P325
Snacks and Dinner = P130
Total = P863 (NOT BAD!)

And just like the trip, my article has to end too. It's so goddamn long!

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Last pics before heading down.

This was the ultimate adventure! It's only a day hike, but don't underestimate the strain it's gonna give your body! I was sore for the next 5 days! (Although playing football the next day didn't help.) And it's genuinely dangerous. As in risk-your-life, dangerous! So make sure to not underestimate the climb. Be prepared, be careful and don't forget to have fun!


Max's cam
Model Climber.

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