Friday, November 16, 2012

Mt. Tapulao | A Sweet Revenge

About 2 months ago, my first attempt to conquer Mt. Tapulao ended in an epic failure, an epic silly failure (check out the story in this link). It was supposedly a day hike to summit but unexpectedly, we found ourselves trekking to Bagsit River. oh well..

The call for a revenge climb kept bugging me in the weeks that followed our aborted climb, halos hindi ako mapakali at talagang nangangati ang mga paa ko na balikan ang Mt. Tapulao. I was about to do it solo when I received an invitation from some college buddies. They're gonna hike Mt. Tapulao on All Souls Day.


Thursday - November 1, 2012

Came All Souls Day, me and 3 climb buddies were on our way to Mt. Tapulao. We traveled by bus from Manila to Iba (P350), tricycle from Iba to Zameco Junction (P200), then another tricycle from Zameco Junction to Mt. Tapulao  jump-off (P250). Travel from Manila to the jump-off took about 6 hours all in all, medyo nakakapagod pero sobrang exciting naman. One tricycle driver there even recognized me, he remembered our previous epic fail climb, nakakahiya.

The four of us arrived at the jump-off early at 04:45 AM. We settled first, reduced the load of our packs (iniwan namin yung mga pampalit na damit at tent sa jump-off), had a quick breakfast, then paid the necessary fees (P20 reg fee). Again, the woman on the desk recognized me and our previous epic fail climb. According to her, more cases similar to us (yung iba nagpa-rescue pa daw) had occurred in the past month. Thus, they are now mandating the service of guides (P500 per group; P700 if porter/guide). Just to give emphasis, GUIDES IN MT. TAPULAO ARE NOW MANDATORY, even if you've climbed Mt. Tapulao before. Hindi na kami nagtanong pa, ok na rin yun para makatulong sa locals. Once everything was settled, we started our trek.

Here's a trick to lessen your load, we left all our pampalit at the jump-off
The trek was quite exhausting, especially that we're on full pack. I was carrying 11kg at my back, originally it weighs 13 kg, but since I left some load at the jump-off, it became lighter. During my hikes in Mt. Pulag and Mt. Ugo, I was only carrying 8-9 kg pack, much lighter than what I brought here in Tapulao, kaya naman medyo nanibago ako.

take 5 muna
The ascend was gradual, but the trail's length and raggedness makes it a slightly difficult hike. Magsasawa ka talaga sa mabatong trail ng Tapulao. If you would be careless, for sure matatapilok ka sa daan

At 08:00 AM, we reached the first water source located at KM 5 of the trail, it took us 2 and half hours. Medyo napagod talaga ako, ambibilis kasi ng mga kasama ko, and still hindi ko pa nakukuha yung tamang buhat sa pack ko. We rested  for only 5 minutes before we carried on with the trek.

Kuya Rolly, our guide, told us that our pace was quite too fast. According to him, if we maintain that speed, we could reach the bunker houses early. woohoo nakaka-proud. Somehow, medyo comfortable na din ako sa bitbit ko.

still a very long way ahead of us
we reached the first water source at 8AM
ganito katindi ang mga bato sa trail ng Tapulao
When we arrived at the second water source at KM 10 (time was 09:45 AM), we decided to stop and have lunch first. There were improvised tables and seat in the area so to have lunch there was very ideal.

Adobo for our early lunch at the 2nd water source.
We finished lunch at 11:15 AM, and proceeded with the trek right away. Our initial plan was to reach the bunker house by 2 PM then continue with the assault to summit and spend time at the summit until the sunset. But Kuya Rolly said that it will be impossible for us to see the sunset since fog has started to creep towards the summit area. Realizing that kuya Rolly was right, we decided to just assault the summit early morning of next day to view the sunrise instead. Dahil din dito, hindi na namin binilisan ang pagte-trek, kasi wala na kaming hinahabol na oras, because once we got to the bunker house, we'll just rest and prepare dinner.

Fog began to accumulate after we had lunch
The trail beyond the second water source was, guess what.. it was still full of big chunks of rocks. I asked kuya Rolly why it was so rocky in Mt. Tapulao, he said it was because of the mining activity in the area. Mt. Tapulao is a huge source of chromite, miners would dynamite the rocks then leaves the debris on the trail.

The rocky trail ended only upon our arrival at the pine forest area (between KM 11 and 12). That's right, Mt. Tapulao has a beautiful pine forest trail. I liked the pine forest trail so much, aside from the cool climate, it also suggests that we're nearing the bunker houses.    

still a rocky trail
here comes the Pine forest
and it was very picturesque
From KM 12, it still took us more than 2 hours to reach the bunker houses at KM 16. A sigh of relief, sa wakas nakarating din kami. It's now time for us to have a good rest. I noticed that there were 2 bunker houses, we stayed at the old one because there's a group who arrived before us. There's also a water source in the area, so water for cooking was not a problem. I think the only problem was the extreme coldness in the place. 

Bunker houses at last
punong-puno ng vandalism ang mga bunker house, shame on these people
We fell asleep soon after we had a sandwich mirienda. Then suddenly I was awakened by the extreme cold temperature, it was already 6PM when I checked the time. When I went outside, I felt the coldness even more, grabe lang yung lamig, medyo lumevel sa Pulag.

At 06:30, we were already munching on our maling and egg dinner (it was supposedly a Pasta Putanesca for dinner to be prepared by me but the group decided to have the pasta at Potipot Island, yup nag-Potipot Island side trip kami after ng Mt. Tapulao, will create a separate blog post for that trip).

prepping our dinner, Maling at Itlog
After dinner we went outside to heat ourselves at the campfire prepared by our guide. I know campfires are strongly discouraged on mountains, but here in Mt. Tapulao, the locals really need it to battle the coldness of the night. We stayed near the fire and had a very good kwentuhan of ghostly stories since it's Halloween eve naman. Nagkuwentuhan lang kami hanggang sa maubos yung apoy. We called it a day afterwards.

Friday - November 2, 2012

We woke up at 3 AM the next day. I looked up on the night sky and it was promising, "there will be a good sunrise for us," I told myself. We then had a quick breakfast, before we started the exhausting assault to summit. Sa totoo lang, throughout the length of Mt. Tapulao trail, doon lang sa final assault ako hiningal ng todo-todo. The trail was so steep and tiring that it made us stop 3 times. Habol hininga sobra.We also passed by a mossy forest which has some confusing parts.

hingal na hingal sa assault trail
By 05:00 AM, after about 1 and half hour, at last, we reached the summit. It was so cold up there so I got myself busy preparing coffee for everyone while waiting for the sun to show up. Then at 05:30 AM, dawn has arrived. .

a great scene, sobrang ganda lang.
A few minutes after, the sun finally woke up.

here comes the sun, tananana ♫♪♪
Cordillera mountain range seen from Tapulao summit, Mt. Pulag is the prominent summit
The summit of Mt. Tapulao offered us priceless beautiful scenes, I was in great awe, and it really made me speechless. Then I told myself, "it's a sweet revenge after all."

We decided to leave the summit at 06:15 AM. We descended the summit so swiftly that by 7 AM, we're already at the bunker house preparing our stuff for our trek back to jump-off.

pose muna bago mag-descend.
On the side of this tree is the traverse trail to Tarlac.
here's our group. L-R: Dan, Josh, Raymond and me
we're done packing and ready for the descent
At 08:10 AM, our long trek back to jump-off commenced. People say that descending Mt. Tapulao would not only need physical strength and endurance, but also a lot of patience. And they were right, you will see nothing but rocks and rocks and rocks, magsasawa ka sa rocky trail ng Tapulao. Some were even slippery and loose so it was still a challenging descent. But thanks to our guide for hasting the pace of our group, we reached the first water source (KM 5) by 10:30 AM, that's a little more than two hours from the start of the descent.

some random scenery viewed from the trail
some random scenery viewed from the trail, Masinloc Power Plant is visible
From KM 5, I began running the trail as fast as I could, iniwan ko yung mga kasama ko. The rocky trail as well as the scorching heat of the sun almost made me fall to my knees, pero hindi. At 12:30 PM, I was back at the jump-off. woohoo

 I rested on a side and started computing the total trek time: 9hrs ascend: 1.5hrs assault to summit: 4.5 hrs descend. woohoo. Success ang revenge climb! Mt. Tapulao is now my 27th mountain.


Done with my revenge climb, 27th mountain success!


After Mt. Tapulao, our group headed to Potipot Island. Follow the story here.. 


  1. I like the sign board provided by Tau Gamma Phi.
    Ganda ng umaga sa summit. Nice revenge, nice entry!

    1. indeed, one of my favorite summit views.
      thanks for dropping by :)

  2. Ivan! Anlupet nito! Ang ganda ng views. Congrats on this Tapulao climb. See you soon. :)

  3. Balak ko syang idayhike soon,pero nung nabasa at nakita ko yung
    mga photos mo dito!! Parang hindi na, parang gusto ko na ding hintayin yung
    pagsikat ng araw!! hahaha.

    Nice Sir Ivan. Ang ganda ng mga shots mo!! Bravo..

    1. mas sulit ang overnight sa Tapulao, I assure you that :)

  4. mas mahirap ang descent tama Ivan, scorchiiiiing heat talaga yun

    btw, look at the last group picture, iba na ang physique mo compare sa early climbs mo, musccccle :)

    1. yeah, at nakakapanlambot ng tuhod. hehe

      woohoo.. hita ko lang ang nagkakalaman sa katawan ko.. pero payatot pa rin ako.

  5. nagulat ako

    "At 08:10 PM, our long trek back to jump-off commenced."

    kala ko gabi na nga kayo umalis :)

  6. Ang ganda ng sunrise view! That's one great price for conquering the challenge of Mount Tapulao. Hindi man kayo nagtagumpay on your first attempt, still nag-succeed naman kayo on the 2nd!

  7. Wow. Your 27th mountain? Amazing. You're the maaaaan!

    I've been wanting to climb ever since. Pero siguro, kelangan ko munang i-condition yung katawan ko para dun. I'm planning to go to the gym so yeah. Looking forward to climb with you soon bro.

    I've been hearing a lot about Potipot lately so I'm looking forward to your separate entry about that. :}

  8. Great entry. Planning to climb this by month-end but I am changing my plan for now. :D

  9. I love your photos Ivan! :) fave mountain ko to. gusto ko balikan uli.

  10. great photos Ivan! :) My fave mountain! gusto ko din balikan.

  11. gusto ko to ganda ng shots mo! kaso pano yan hingalin ako sa trek :))

  12. koya!!idoL...more cLimb to come...:)

  13. Thanks for this entry. I'm a follower of your blog :). I hope someday mapanik at masaksihan ko din ang sunrise mula sa summit nito :)

  14. Me and my siter will be trying to conquer Mt Tapulao on this coming Dec 10, Dayhike only, ok lang khit abutin ng gabi sa trail during the descend.pls txt me kung sino interested maki join samin pra kahit papano may ksama kmi. 09298516769, this is jeff. Tnx

  15. rewarding naman sir ung view, kht papano naconquer :-)



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...