koko & everything else

koko & everything else

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

MT. BATULAO: Minor but Definitely not Beginner’s

So last Maundy Thursday, me, my mom, my girlfriend and yaya (who’s my second mom… she has been taking care of me for 27 years already) went to Nasugbu, Batangas to climb Mt. Batulao.

Okay, here’s the story… just a few days before that… I was inviting all my friends if they wanted to join me at my Pico De Loro escapade. I saw the photos and it was breathtaking… but then a close friend of mine told me that Pico de Loro was not for beginners (according to her “friend” who she said was an experienced mountaineer). Her friend suggested that we should just try Batulao… coz it’s generally safer and best for beginners.

And because she is my friend… I believed her… despite the things I read on the internet about Batulao having a difficulty rating of 4/9 against Pico de Loro which was 3/9. I mean, who was I to debate… It’s only my 2nd time (Mt. Manabu in Batangas was my first) and maybe her “friend” may be more of an expert than I was…

So here’s what happened… after all the conversation I had with my friend… and after the changing of plans and all that… guess what… she bailed anyways… (That my friends is another story I don’t realy like to share anymore….)

So at around 5AM that Thursday we set off to Batulao… We got there around 6:30AM and spent around 30 minutes to find a parking spot… We arrived at the jump off at around 7AM or so… and there we started the trek….

Erwin was the guide of the day… He was like around 16, I guess.. and was wearing slippers that time… He was one of the young boys there who earns a few extra bucks as a guide… when they don’t have school…

You see… we were really not in shape… I work as a freelance writer… just imagine how my job works… I wake up in the morning… sit and write the whole day… and stands up and moves around when it’s time to bathe or eat…. My definition of a climb is going up the stairs to my bedroom.

My mom was no different… she spends most of her waking hours in front of the computer doing reports and staying online…. My yaya and girlfriend though do have a little bit of exercise… so I think they are way ahead of us on this one….

Batulao was one extra-ordinary mountain… it had the greatest view and all… but it was also steep and slippery… the ground was filled with loose rocks… and to climb it was really difficult… each step I made caused tiny pebbles and rocks fall… and with cliffs here and there… my knees were trembling like hell… I love the risk and all.. but I’m not planning to die… yet

And that was just the climbing part… after 3 to 4 hours of all that… we finally got to the summit… but it wasn’t that easy to get there…. Since we chose to go the old trail that meant we had to climb a wall of rocks to get to the top… As I have said…. I am no mountaineer and I lack the skill and physical strength… but the thrill was great… and despite my sore legs, thighs and the rest of my body… I was able to make it… and so did they…

But that success wasn’t possible if it weren’t for the three guys and a girl that we met on the campsite just before heading to the summit… Thor, Pj, Rj and Chel…. You guys are the best… They became our motivators… and our personal coach and even gave us the 101 on climbing,….

The summit was great… it wasn’t that windy… but the view was breath taking. It made the whole climb worth every step… we sat there for a while and just drowned ourselves with the view of nature…

But the nightmare began when we decided to descend….

We chose to go through the new trail to get a different experience… and boy… that was totally different… although the new trail was somehow shorter and generally easier… the part from the summit to the campsite was HELL ON EARTH… the rocks were so slippery I couldn’t stand on my own two feet… I was going down on my ass… trying to find steady rocks to grab and support myself… one wrong move… I’ll fall 300 meters down the cliff…. My knees couldn’t stop trembling and if only I have an EJECT button I could press… I would in a heartbeat…

But there’s one thing Thor told me that made me less scared and really boosted my confidence up a little notch… he said…. To believe in each step that I make… to believe on my own foot… and with that… even if I slipped here and there…. I was driven to finish what I started…. (with my shoes…. Getting more and more torn into pieces… literally… good thing my mom brought an extra sandals)

Finally after the campsite… the trail got milder and milder… though we got more and more exhausted with every step…. And when we were only a few kilometers from the jump off… my mom’s knee got sprained… the rest of the trek got more intense because her knee still had to go through slopes and rocky trails still….
Finally at around 5PM we got to the end of the trail… finally… were off the mountain…. We were so exhausted and sore… but did you remember our guide Erwin? He was chilling the whole time… like he was just strolling BGC… how cool was that?!!!!

Anyways… we rested a bit at a nearby HALO HALO store to freshen up a bit before heading to the car (which was a tricycle ride away).

I tell you… Mt. Batulao is not for the faint-hearted…. I kind of felt guilty that I dragged my family and my girlfriend to such a risky trip… I mean, I am the only adrenaline junkie of the group and I do get a bit excited at the sight of danger at most times… but to put my loved ones on such is a different story,… I got so scared that someone might get hurt the whole time….but God is good… He guided us all the way… and he sent us angels… in the form of the four great people we met on the mountain….

THANK YOU THORS, PJ, RJ and CHEL… for helping us and motivating us all throughout… You guys are the best and I could really say in all sincerity and honesty that… WE COULDN’T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU….

Moral of the story: Research a lot… do not believe what other people might say… trust your research over that… It’s also best to ask around people’s opinions (most especially the experienced ones… and ask a lot of people not just one), be prepared for the climb… jog, exercise, stretch… whatever that’s going to strengthen your muscle and prep your body for the climb… and lastly, wear the right shoes…. My girlfriend and I are now mourning for the loss of both our shoes… LOL

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