Friday, June 15

Mt. Amuyao 2012 - A Minority Climb

Morning view from the summit of Mt. Amuyao
Finally I am back in the mountain, not for a trail run nor a sky run but for a real climb with  almost 30 lbs of load on my back. My very first mountain climb this year, something that I have been wanting to do for almost 6 months now. I miss the challenge of pushing myself to reach the most awaited campsites while carrying a heavy load traversing on a challenging terrain while enjoying the beauty of nature with a great company of good friends.....that will always be a great reward .

View of Barlig as we ascend to the summit of Mt. Amuyao
I also miss sleeping inside the tent, something that I want to do  and test my new TNF Mica 1, but a more comfortable shelter is offered in all the campsites that we have, I ended not opening my tent at all. Something I should do on my next climb, use my tent.

I am one of the 4 wait listed person on this climb. But because I really want to go for a climb on this long weekend, I opted to look for another option just in case no available slot will open for me. My other friend's climb   welcome me with enthusiasm and the mountain is equally good. But 1 slot opened for me, now I am turn between two great mountains, two group of good friends. But because it is a birthday climb of my three good friends, I decided to join on the first group that I signify my intent of joining.  The climb is blessed with good weather, no rain, not so much wind on a great mountain. 

The Trail
The group followed a 4-day traverse itinerary, starting from the Municipality of Barlig to Batad. What I like most about the trails of Amuyao, the trail that offers a quality climb to trekkers with a bonus of the scenic mountain range of the Cordilleras and the famous rice terraces. From the elevator stair ascend  to the summit,  to a never ending slippery descend,  to the long and unending crossing on the pathways of the rice terraces,  up to the stair way to heaven stairs on the last day of the climb to the saddle where an only pick point of vehicle to Banaue, all of these really make this climb full of fun and adventure.

A good way to start our day 2.
Day 1 From Barlig to Summit of Mt. Amuyao. The trail  is well maintained for a local security of the Relay Tower up on the summit of Amuyao uses this trail every single week. In fact the  trail is being followed by an electricity wire that provides electricity on the Relay Tower too. Something that was not available the last time I was here, 4 years ago. From the community of Macalama,  Barlig, the trail goes down to the paved steps that passes through the houses until it goes to the rice paddies until it started its constant ascend from the pine forest up to the summit ridge. The wooden stairs on the famous elevator stairs are well maintained too. Despite pushing myself on the never ending ascend with a heavy load, I still enjoy doing it. I just love the adrenaline rush of the uphills.  Reach the summit campsite in 4 hours of trek. It was windy but lucky for an empty bunk house is open for us to sleep for the night. 

Batad Rice Terraces with the summit of Mt. Amuyao
Day 2 From Mt. Amuyao Summit to Pat-yay Community. What we trudged up the day before now we need to descend on the other side of the mountain. I equally love doing the descend as that of doing uphill. But what made this part challenging are the slippery roots under the forest that is covered with moose. The trail here is less maintained compared to the first day, bushes are high and sometimes cover the trail. There are landslide areas too.

As I followed our trail master, most of the time I am way behind him but at times managed to catch up. Some parts  of the trail has landslides making the traverse really difficult and sometimes dangerous. It is here that we encounter the blood sucking leeches and encounter some bees too. I hate both of them, my trauma of the bees due to a bee attack almost 12 years ago on climb is still there especially if I hear the sound of the bees. I enjoyed most of  the uphills though. Reaching the open part with the beautiful view of Pat-yay rice terraces is just breath taking, and crossing the rice fields is manageable. Reach the campsite in 5 hours and decided to use the house as our shelter for the night. 

Stairs all you can
Day 3 From Pat-yay to Batad with a stop over at Cambulo, the longest day of  the trek. As the group decided to stay the night at Pat-yay community, an earlier campsite than our suppose to be one, our trek this day is much longer. From the community, we ascend to the mountain range above the village, which leads to the ridge of the mountain after which we descend on the side of the mountain slope. No more leeches at this time which made me so happy but bees are just everywhere, at the river where the group stop for lunch and on the trail. Since the other group of climbers of equally the same size as we are leave earlier than us on this day, the trail which is wet becomes already loose which is  challenging to negotiate on a descend, at some parts it's very slippery with no vegetation on the trail anymore,  at others the rocks and gravel are just very loose. This made me trek slower now leaving me alone on the trail most of the time. My other teammates on the lead pack are just to far ahead of me. I just have to be extra careful on those parts too dangerous to traverse. 

Crossing the many rice terraces. Thank's Bugsy for the picture.
Crossing the rice terraces is another story. I only did  few climbs in the past on rice terraces, and it was even on a shorter part of the entire trek. On this day, I never really thought I will be that scared falling on a newly planted rice paddies. Having a heavy pack on my back walking on an uneven pathway on the terraces, I just cannot get my confidence crossing it on a faster pace. I ended  up so tensed that each step forward is really of so much care, making sure of my balance, having one trekking pole at one hand while concentrating on my deep breathing from my core. Whew....And there are just too many of them that made me face my fear and overcome with. Thank goodness I pass all of it unharmed and at the same unable to harm the precious plants of the locals. Reach Batad before it totally gets dark,  trek almost 10 hours with rest stops for the day. 

We just had so much fun at Simon's Inn. Thanks Bugsy for the picture.
Day 4 From Batad to the Saddle, pick up point to Banaue.  We stayed at Simon's Inn for the night, and because there is just one bus that travel from Banaue to Manila, there is no point of rushing back to Banaue early that day. The group decided to leave only after lunch. Having nothing to do in the morning, I wanted to maximize my very first visit on this beautiful place of rice terraces. I've been hoping to see the famous Tapia Falls. But because no one from my group really wants to do it and getting a guide cost that much, I decided to set aside my hopes of going to the falls. Most likely someday I will be able to do it, just not now, I thought. 

Trail running along the mountain slopes of Batad
But having no chance for me to visit the falls did not stop me from doing something else, trail running along the mountain slopes of Batad with the rice terraces as my view is my last option. Sweet. My legs are already sore from the 3 day climb, but I want to maximize my stay on this place. As usual I run like a child hopping from one step to next in going up and going down the established trail.  I sometimes follow the trail that leads to the terraces, sometimes successful in doing it, others times I ended on a house with dogs which I back track most of the time.  I also followed the trail that we will do the last trek on this trip. What a good way to end my morning in Batad, running along it's beautiful trail. Happiness.

After lunch, bringing our stinky pack we head to the saddle, the only place that any vehicle can reach on this haven hidden by the mountain slopes above it. It's almost an hour uphill trek on a hot sunny day.  

The Minority Group
Why a Minority Climb? 
The group never fail to have so much fun every night on its socials and even on those times that opportunity arises. Discussions about so many topics about climbing and our passion of the outdoors are just so intense and interesting. I would like to think, most of us agreed on certain things about mountaineering, it's essence and how it is being done. It is where the we also realized this is a gathering of the minorities. But I'd rather not want to go to the details of that. Let's just leave the answer to that to the members of this climb and leave it the to the stalks of the rice as they become the mere witness as the voices of these passionate climbers echo to the terraces on the mountain slopes of Pat-yay and Batad.

Truly, it feels great to be back in the mountain. The beauty of nature never fail to amaze me at all. We are blessed with good weather for it never rain on our 4 days on the mountain. It was hot and sunny but I always see that as my heat training. Having to climb with friends whom I share the same passion and love of climbing with is always full of laughter and fun despite the challenges we encounter along the way. It's always great climbing with you all and  I always look forward of climbing/trekking with the group again someday.

'Til the next mountain peak.

Pictures: Mt. Amuyao 2012
Climb Itinerary:  Mt. Amuyao

Curly Climber climb the 10th highest peak of the Philippines

1 comment:

  1. mam do you have a guide? and where does he live?
    do you have contacts for guide and transpo, and details of the amount on a rented jeep and guide..
    pls send me...
    tnx a lot...
    were planning to climb mt. amuyao this 2nd wik of august, and were planning batad-barlig...
    tnx a lot..