Sunday, December 25, 2011

QUEZON | Mt. San Cristobal


Mt. Cristobal also known as  "Devil's Mountain", one of the famous in the Philippine mountains for its "W" shape, creepy secrets and mysteries.  Of course it's exciting for mountaineers if it's true, isn't it?

After riding a bus from Buendia, we went to waiting shed area and rented a jeep from San Pablo to the jump-off, Sta. Lucia Dolores, Quezon. In our trip we saw other hikers riding tricycle, of course I just thought then, "we could save money if we did the same?" Hmm. . But when reached the town of kinabuhayan, our driver said that they should ride again tricycle (I have no idea how much) from the town, their vehicle can't withstand the uphill road up to the jump-off anymore. The road is so steep even our jeep run so slow. We're like climbing a mountain using a vehicle.

At the jump-off, our driver recommended a guide but it took us a lot of time because of some negotiation matter. Well it's quite much if you'll compared it to what I have read on other Mt. Cristobal blogs (so its really important to gather infos before you travel). Based on what I saw on web, it will just took us 300-500 pesos per guide only(as of may 2011), but when we negotiated, he offered us P1200 for overnight stay. He mentioned that the guiding fee is actually 600 pesos which is just accompanying to the campsite then we have to descent all by ourselves the next day, meaning we have to pay again 600 if we want to be accompanied back to the jump-off. Of course it's our first time to visit Mt. Cristobal, considered myself as a beginner. We rather choose to have a guide than none for safety and have someone accompany us to summit the next morning.

After agreeing on fee thingy, from jump-off, we walked an uphill cemented road followed by bushy and forested area.  It took us approx.1 hour to reach "Montelibano's House" where we registered and took our lunch prior to resuming the trek. From here, you can refill water and go to their restroom (esp.for girls). Upon starting the trek, we turned right and took an uphill way again.

Trail is good, you can't get lost up to the campsite (camp 1&2) (differ from campsite to peak which is kinda tricky) but you won't get away from it's devilish uphill, steep trail. You have to be cautious due slippery roots upon stepping on it, I think it's better if you just walk on dirt instead. Moreover, I can say that trail here is clean, I haven't notice any junk around. :)

From this point, neighborhood down from jump off can be seen here. Mt. Banahaw on background.
Trekking way up was very tiring of course, but it's really relaxing once you felt the blowing breeze of air coming from somewhere, added by tall trees giving shade and those moisten bark of trees everywhere. Also, we saw few trees went down maybe due to typhoon or what, where we took a rest, drunk or ate for awhile.

I just noticed that the 3/4 of the trail coming from the jump-off was kinda humid, you can barely felt air, unless you wait for a chance air to blew but once you reached the last 1/4, you would definitely feel the cold air.

According to our guide the trail was made by the NPA's before (impressing) and used it now as approved trail of DENR. This is amazing for adventurers due to variety of the trail itself, you have to cross between huge rocks, huge tree, a cliff and slippery slopes.

Well I can't just help but to take a closer look on the the mountain's livings.
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I took this pictures along the trail going to the campsite. The first one is a fungi found on dead trunk, "Bleeding Broadleaf Crust (Stereum rugosum)", source;  while the  second is a Millipede (Harpaphe haydeniana, a species from the Order Polydesmida, source: Wikipedia), I saw it along the way going to campsite until the next day we decent, I'm not sure if it's the first one I saw, but I can say I saw it on the same spot.

We pitched our tent at Camp 2 (Bulwagan Saddle) alomost 6pm. It was freakin' cold! I can't really stand it even with jacket and pants, so I strongly suggest to bring your own thermal wears so you can withstand temp here. Well during the night in the "Devil's Mountain", I haven't felt any beings around, just a huge bird tweeting beside our tent (along my side) strangely. I think it's just communicating with other birds.

3:00 AM,we're opt to summit, it was really dark then so we used headlamps and kept our eyes on our guide going left way from Bulwagan Saddle.
After passing the forested area, we went to a trail dense with cogon grass. It was like passing on a grass tunnel, so basically our  neck was bent down all the time until we reached the end, the summit.

BTW, be aware on some cogon sharp cuttings (cut to form the tunnel) that might poke you face/body. If you're just alone, it's a little hard to get there esp. if the trail is not well formed. It's better if you do it after the sky lightens up.


Upon reaching the summit, you will surely notice that it's just a portion of the peak's view about 1/4 and most are covered by cogon grass, but on the other hand, you'll definitely appreciate the scene. Great backdrop though. :)

Summit shots :)

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After breaking camp and took pictures we started our descent. Compared to the ascent which was almost 5 hours trek from Montelibano's house to the campsite, it just took us then 3 hours to return. It was the same trail we took on the first day so basically we can't get lost even we're left behind. Because of so much steep trail we engaged, it made my both knees ache. Being a Physiotherapist, I diagnosed myself with Patello-Femoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) due to muscle overwork and muscle imbalance, well it's one of the most injury of mountaineers.

Same trail, same trees, same creatures (like what I mentioned millipede above) but along the way I saw this black ant-lik- insect with huge eyes and red tint on it's appendages. Haha really looks strange for me.


I think Mt. Cristobal adventure is really a 2-day climb, but if you are an expert and can accomplish it from morning till dawn, I think it's possible.. :)
MOUNTAINEERS, one foggy morning at Bulwagan Saddle (left to right standing) Jay Adrian Evidente, Jeffrey Inovero, Ryhan Carascal, John Vincent Balingit, Jasmin Balingit, Julie, April Joie Ramirez, Aime Maranan(me), Raymond Rotairo(bf), (sitting) Michael Angelo Halog, Mikel Arcinue and Karl Kevin Hizon


BUDGET (12 person group)
Picture15 Momon and Me. Mt. Cristobal climb happened last September 24-25, 2011 (Saturday and Sunday), our 3rd mountain since April 2011.
Based on our hike and camp, the stories in this mountain about scary spirits and elements are so untrue. I believe that it's a safe mountain, so better check it out now. Do not be afraid of those stories, be prepared and be afraid of it's steep trail! :)

**Thanks to Nash our climb guide and Manong driver for keeping us safe to and from jump-off and to our other side trips. Acknowledgement to Ryhan Carascal for other photos exhibited in this post. Thanks :)


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