Saturday, July 7, 2012

Mt. Kanlaon in Retrospect

The Stunning View of Mt. Kanlaon
A number of people have asked me as to what is the most beautiful mountain I have climbed so far and I usually find it difficult to give a paramount answer. Each mountain is distinct and it prides it's own terrain, trails, flora, fauna, weather and its commanding views. It would be challenging to just come up with one because I love every experience I had on the top. I could come up with a short list but I could not limit it to one. Among those would be my ascent to Mt. Kanlaon 4 years ago. 

I knew that Mt. Kanlaon existed as I grew up more than half of my life in Bacolod City. It serves as the backdrop of our humble city. Then, I never appreciated it as I was not yet lured into the world of mountaineering. I even got an invitation from a college schoolmate to climb it but I refused as I was not yet ready to leave the comfort I had at home. Fast forward my life here in  Manila  when climbing had started as an addiction. Every year, my group, OLAYS would always plan a year end climb and it is always something major. It is way of remembering the wonderful adventures we had for that year and toasting to the future outdoor trips we would share. For the year 2008, it was decided that we would scale Mt. Kanlaon. 

Group Pic At Guintubdan Before the Climb
I remember telling Ivy that I may not be able to join the climb for that year as I have to go home to Bacolod to spend the Yuletide season there. She said that my attendance was required and picking up from our last conversation how Cebu Pacific had promo fares every now and then, she suggested that why not take our year end climb outside Luzon that time and visit Mt. Kanlaon in our province. I excitedly agreed. After coming up with an itinerary,  arranging the logistics and budget, coordinating with PAMB and reserving our plane tickets, we were all set to Mt. Kanlaon. 

At Boslogan Falls
We arrived Bacolod City on Christmas Day. We spent the night at our place before the big adventure the following day. When our service vehicle arrived in front of our home, we were caught by surprise as we did not expect it to be so big. We were only 8 in the group but we thought that it could accommodate up to 50 passengers. We informed our guide that if we are already outside the city, we would want to be on the top-load as it has been customary for us. This would mean that it would be the guide and the driver left inside while all of us are getting some adrenaline rush on top. We arrived at Guintubdan after almost two hours. It is a requirement to register at the jump off point and give the climb permit issued by PAMB or you will be denied entry to the park. After last minute instructions, we started with our assault. 

At Pagatpat Junction
It was agreed that I would be part of the lead group since I could communicate with the guide better as I know how to speak the local dialect.  On the first part of our climb, me and the guide were still talking and he was within my frame of reference. As we made progress and all of us walked at our own pacing, the guide was of considerable distance and he would only stopped at certain points and waited for us to regroup. We were joking then if we really did train well for this climb or our guide was just unbelievably fast. We chose to believe on the latter.  Along the way, we were amazed by the beauty of Mt. Kanlaon - how the trails were not so wide and the forest unspoiled. This could be due to the fact that entry to Mt. Kanlaon is regulated. There are only certain number of people allowed per climb so the damage that could be done be minimized. One of the memorable points along Guintubdan trail are Boslogan Falls which was our first water source and where you could take a plunge on its cold and crystal clear waters. Further, there is also the Pagatpat Junction where the different trails meet and up ahead is the saddle camp where you could spend the night before heading on the summit the following day. Not to be missed is the presence of limatiks in the area. They made us attentive at all times and the climb more exciting.

Summit of Mt. Kanlaon with Ivy
As we moved away from Pagatpat Junction, we felt the temperature dropped and when we exited the area, we saw the fog enveloped the place and listened to the howling of the winds. Since we were nearing the saddle camp area, we hurried and thought of pitching the tents immediately as it might rain anytime. When we arrived in the campsite area, it suddenly became silent and when we turned our backs, our jaws dropped. The fog cleared and what we saw was the enchanting beauty of Margaha Valley and the stunning view of the summit. The view lasted only for 10 minutes and the fog enveloped again.  We were happy that Mt. Kanlaon gave us a warm welcome and we were looking forward to summit it the following day. 

Crater of Mt. Kanlaon
Second day of the climb was unexpected. The original itinerary was entering Kanlaon via Guintubdan trail and exiting it through Wasay Trail.  We were supposed to wake up at 4 AM the following day for summit assault but it was delayed to 5 AM then later to 6 AM because it was still raining and had no clearing. 6 AM came and the weather was getting worse that a summit assault would be impossible. We were all summoned to a meeting by our team lead, Sir Daile. We agreed that instead of exiting through Wasay trail, we would stay for another night on the saddle camp and hope for a clearing on the third day. Whether it would turn out favorable or not, we would need to go home the following day and exit on Guintubdan trail. It is a good thing that we still have sufficient supplies to help us last while we take on our chances. 

The famous Margaha Valley
Having decided to stay on the saddle camp area, we killed time by a simple routine - sleeping, exchanging conversations, tent hopping and eating. Since the rained poured heavily on that day, i felt like I was on waterbed. The water was passing through below tents but the good thing is that we have several layers of plastic inside our tent so it didn't sipped in that would make us wet. We can feel the coldness of the water though. All of us also said our individual prayers hoping that God would grant us our innermost desire that time of having a perfect weather to do the summit assault. It was already night time and it was still raining. We were loosing hope but Richard said that everyone just needs to have faith. We had more than enough sleep the whole day that we find ourselves waking up almost every hour on the second night. Everyone was too cold to go out and we were hoping that the morning would come so we can all descend and go home.  It was almost 4 AM when someone went out of the tent to respond to the call of nature. When Richard went back to the campsite area, he woke us all up and said to prepare as we are all heading to the summit. We hurriedly went out of our tents and we saw the stars in the sky and the summit from a distant. We knew that Kanlaon was inviting us to the summit assault already. We were more than ready. 

Human Spelling ... O L A Y
We started walking up at around 430 AM and we felt how cold the weather was. Aside from our jackets, bonnet and gloves, our eagerness and excitement kept us warm. The trail to the summit was rocky because this was already nearing the crater of an active volcano. After almost 45 minute walk, we were on the summit and we waited for the sunrise. Upon reaching the summit, we were humbled how we were presented with this opportunity. After spending some time with myself and nature, I rejoined the group to explore the area. I could not believe it for myself but yes, I was at the edge of the crater of Mt. Kanlaon. The view of the Margaha Valley from the top was more beautiful than it was on the saddle camp. We learned that the valley was used to be the old crater and how it is beautifully connected to the new one where we were standing then. Being the highest mountain in the Visayas region, Kanlaon offered magnificient views of the neighboring islands. We spent more almost two hours on the top but we lost track of time while we there as we were all awed by its alluring beauty. Everyone agreed that this was one on the top list of the beautiful mountains that we had been to. 

Slopes of Mt. Kanlaon
Time to descend but we were still on high because of the picturesque views we had. It was too beautiful that I was able to capture hundreds of shots from my camera. We were also too high that when we started to descend, the only time we rested was at Boslogan Falls which was more than 2 hours away from the summit and  almost 45 minutes away from the exit point. Kanlaon fueled us with a renewed energy and spirit. 

I never thought that there is a treasure hidden in my hometown in Negros.  I would have never come face to face with it if I was never fascinated with mountaineering. As what Paulo Coelho said on his book the Alchemist, “Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure." I am so passionate about outdoors and mountains and as a reward , I had a superb experience in Mt. Kanlaon.

Standing: Mikoy, Me, Cris, Richard, Ivy, Anton and Daile. Kneeling: Drew


  1. one of my dream hikes is to get there on top of Mt. Kanlaon...

  2. bet na bet. mabenta ah. ian, retrospect na rin ang weight mo dito. ampayat mo inay!

  3. all hardships for the glory of standing on top of this beautiful mountain - is really great! i'm so proud of you hon. i hope another trip will allow us to see them. i really enjoyed this great writing. more stories to come. :-)

  4. @ dee quixotic - am sure maakayat mo rin yan sir...and i wish you the perfect weather when you had the chance
    @ bundokaholics - oo nga ...wag mo ng ipaalala...hehehe ...payat pa talaga ako dyan... mahirap na pumayat ulit kaya reminiscing na lang..hehe
    @neil dee - thanks hon for the usual support.
    @lagataw - ok naman ang OLAY. minsan na lang nagkikita kasi busy na rin sa kanya kanyang work and family... still hoping for a super reunion climb with everyone though

  5. sir, buti po kayo.. maganda weather... di tulad nung climb namin :(

  6. oo nga sir... the weather favored us that time kaya we were able to admire the beauty of mt. kanlaon..dont worry sir may next time pa naman .. am sure best weather na yun!