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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Surviving Mt. Pulag (My First Climb / Summit)

Rizza Salas first summit / climb x Mt. Pulag mountaineer
 You will never be crowned if you always back down.

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag

          Mt. Pulag is known as Luzon’s highest peak and the country’s third, towering at 2,922 meters above sea level (MASL). The locals believe it's a resting place and playground of their gods but also a place where they bury their dead. 

Major jump-off: Ambangeg Ranger Station, Bokod, Benguet
LLA: 16°34’58?N 120°53’15?E, 2922 MASL (#3)
Days required / Hours to summit: 4-5 hours / 1-2 days
Specs: Major Climb | Difficulty 3/9 | Trail class 1-2
Trail system: Grand Cordillera Trail, Section 3
Features: Sea of Clouds | Dwarf Bamboo Slopes | Mossy Oak Forest

          Mt. Pulag was my first major climb, not to mention my first mountain to summit. Can you imagine the thrill I've experienced and the enchanting chills I felt the moment I conquered its summit? It was beyond magnificent.

Along with my friends, and with the help of RW Outdoor Club, we hiked the summit last February 6, 2016 via Ambangeg trail - known to be the easiest. Also said to be the perfect trail for beginners.

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag x warm up
Warm up photo, e? | Photo (c) Nurf

 freezing wind accompanied by mist | Photo (c) Nurf

Majority of us didn't brave the extreme cold water, hilamos nalang muna tayo. Trek starts at two in the morning, the cold weather lingers and the wind was freezing (I can't feel my face when I'm with you playing on background)

What I wore during the ascent (Hello, extra layers!):
+ (1) t-shirt
+ (1) long sleeves thermal wear
+ (1) winter jacket
(1) leggings
+ (1) jogging pants
+ (2) pair of gloves
+ (2) high knee socks
+ sturdy pair of shoes
Despite of the number of clothing I wore, I still froze a little inside, and my hands - mas manhid pa sa puso ko. Haha (Number of clothing still depends on how well you can cope)

Plus the stuff I have inside my bag:
+ Poncho / rain gear - it was a misty morning / can also be used to keep you warm
+ Light source = headlamp is highly recommended - to light your path while keeping your hands free
+ Food trail and water, I only brought 500 ml with me, there's a water source located at Camp 2 and before the Grassland
+ Camera and extra batteries
+ Wet wipes and garbage bags
+ (1) extra jacket - descent will have you peeling off layers

The first couple of minutes of the trek was the most challenging (slash that) more like critical minutes of my life. In a flash I began to think if I can actually make it. For a non-experienced hiker like me, the trek was tad easy (okay), but considering the freezing wind, the thin air and its lack of oxygen will leave you gasping for breath like a dog! Haha Can you fathom how much adrenaline and endorphins I’ve fueled for this hike? Hehe Pero sabi nga nila, ‘If you want something, you will find a way to get it’, or 'they will doubt you. Show them how bad you want it'. Ha! Iba pala nagagawa ng pag-akyat sa bundok, madami paring hugot. Haha

By the way, you won't be allowed to trek without your doctor's clearance, you might as well have your cardio and pulmo cleared. Hypertensive individuals (with > or = to 140 systolic) are not allowed to hike Mt. Pulag.

Ascent or hours to summit are approximately 3-5 hours, depending on your pace. If you feel like taking five or ten, then do it! Don't let other climbers pressure you, it's your body anyway.

five minute break | Photo (c) Nurf

Three other trails are: Akiki Trail - steeper and perfect for experienced hiker, the Tawangan or Tabego Trail also known as the bloody trail because of the presence of blood leeches called Limatik and Lusod or Ambaguio or Mt. Ugo-Pulag Trail.

Finally, we're at the peak... ang sarap humiga at huminga!

Few photo op at the peak hihi

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag

Jekylfer Lazo x Mt. Pulag

Then we continued our way to the summit

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag x beautiful mountain

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag

Our four hours (or less) hike from the Ranger Station maybe exhausting, but once you've reached the summit, everything's cloud nine, overwhelming I must say! I was lucky enough that RW Outdoor Club summit the top. If you want to summit the mountain on sunrise, ask the group you're joining sobra kasi talaga ang traffic sa Pulag!

We didn't get to chase the famous Sea of Clouds or Pulag's beautiful sunrise though. Nonetheless, all was truly worth it, I couldn't wait for my next Pulag climb, perhaps my revenge climb. 

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag
New friends and we're all nurses | Photo (c) Nurf

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag Sea of Clouds

As we head out on our final leg, it was when we fully appreciated the beautiful terrain that Mt. Pulag has to offer: Grassland with its golden brown Dwarf Bamboo Slopes, the Mossy Oak Forest, which is the mountain’s dominant habitat features ferns, lichens, moss, pitcher plants, laurels, and trees of which the most prominent are the Philippine Oak trees and the Pine Forest which rests on barren and rocky slopes, contains one of the only two pine species in the Philippines - the Benguet Pine. (c) Wikipilipinas

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag

My favorite trail 'road', cos I hated the one with the huge rocks, it was slippery as well kaya muntik muntik ako ma-fall haha

The very sweet "Ate" (too bad I forgot her name) - thank you for patiently guiding us :)

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag
Diba? Parang may shooting lang! The descent took us more hours, because more photo op! Haha

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag Ambangeg Trail

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag Ambangeg Trail

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag Mossy Forest

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag Pine Trees

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag Mossy Forest

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag Mossy Forest

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag

Yay! That silver lining though, clearing!

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag x what to wear

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag Sea of Clouds

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag x Jekyl Lazo DLSMC Nurses

Its mountain worthy experience and natural beauty is beyond amazing - no wonder why Mt. Pulag has been a target list to all tourists and adventure seekers.

Did you know? They have this intense 'habal-habal' (single motorcycle) ride, if you're a little tired or if you feel like the the few 15 mins of descent will kill you, take the ride instead! It was fun and scary at the same time!

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag x RW Outdoor Club Mountaineers
Thank you, RW Outdoor Club. | Photo (c) Win Francisco

Group photos before heading home. *Special mention to Sir Win and Sir Sidney, thank you mga boss! :) Check out their upcoming events, and like them on facebook RW Outdoor Club.

Not to be missed: TOP LOADING (riding on top of a jeep)!

Rizza Salas x Mt. Pulag x Toploading

Rizza Salas x Mt. PulagRizza Salas x Benguet Toploading

TOP LOADING at Mt. Pulag x Rizza Salas


So what's your take on the Pulag issues? It maybe easy for some to say that the mountain should take a rest, but what about its locals, or its loyal hikers? When you say let the mountain rest, or heal, was it because you've already experienced its beauty so you don't mind if it closes? 

We all like/love to preserve and to let the world know all the beauty that our country has to offer, so why not start it within ourselves? Follow the LNT "Leave No Trace" principle by heart. (PS I'm no experienced hiker as well, but we can be a responsible one.)

"Kill nothing but time.
Leave nothing but footprints.
Take nothing but pictures.
Keep nothing but memories."

All photos are mine unless stated otherwise. Feel free to use, but please give credit. Thank you.


February 6, 2016
Mt. Pulag, Bokod, Benguet
via Ambangeg Trail


  1. Thank you for joining RW Outdoor Club event. see you again :)

  2. Hello Rizza, not an experienced hiker here as well. I only got less than 5 climbs (all minor). I actually planned going here a year ago. But because of the difficulty I doubt and decided to get some trainings first. Haha
    Thanks for making me inspired, I'll be here soon!!!



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