Alto Maldito

We shared our experiences of Mt. Aminduen over dinner, shared our laugther, shared our moments – we shared Life!

Maldito – a Spanish word for “cruel” – was how a friend of mine described the climb to Mt. Aminduen’s Summit – Alto Peak.  The mountain was indeed heartless and cruel but beneath that disguise lies a beauty that takes your breath away.

Our excursion began at the city of Ormoc, where we rented a monster multi-cab that took us to the jump-off area at the mountain Barangay of Cabingtan. A group of lively, entertaining and energetic local Tourism Officers greeted us with a very big “Mais” on their faces (Mais – a term used by the locals for smile 😊). And truly, I can say that the local barangay did a very good job at selecting their tourism officers – they were the best, they were fun people to be with. After an orientation of the mountain we were off on the trail.

We started on a gradual ascent on a mountain slope vegetable farm and then abruptly turned into an arduous continuous assault inside a fern-mossy forest. The trail was established although quite still untamed due to falling branches, toppled tree trunks and slippery rocks due to moisture from condensed air the night before. The almost unending assault finally ceased when we reached the shores of lake Janagdan, the sight was awe-inspiring. The locals mentioned that the lake was once a crater of an active volcano long time ago; and no doubt it once was, because the parameter of Mt. Aminduen is dotted with several geothermal plants, which only indicate that there is a strong geological activity happening inside the belly of the mountain.

We had our lunch by the lake, rested for about an hour and then started our trek towards the campsite. the trail became slightly less difficult and the view became more stunning. However, as with anything beautiful it has its price, the mountain collected its dues by way of injuring one of our female companions (Ms. Chai Navarro); she got her ankle sprained and it swelled really bad. Fortunately, our local guide (Kuya “ayuk” Danny) had contacts with the local rescue unit and they responded well and fast. The group, now less than one, decided to continue the hike to the campsite and rest for the night, in preparation for the big assault to the summit the following day.

 

The morning came fast, it was cold and gloomy but it was a sweet morning nonetheless. The smell of morning dews, the smell of breakfast and of the smell of adrenaline sweat made the new day something to really look forward to. The assault to the summit started off gradually and then eventually turned into one of the most challenging climb our group ever had. The terrain was steadily steep, loose soil and rocks falling; some sections require ropes to pass though and what made it even more exciting was that, we didn’t have any safety equipment but the improvised ropes that were prepared by the local guides. The terrain was indeed dangerous, one simple mistake could prove fatal but it was the perfect place to be at during that time, it was perilous but a mirthful experience to be in.

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After hours of climbing we reached Mt. Aminduen’s Summit – Alto Peak. Sadly, the mountain did not give us a clearing, there was almost zero visibility due to thick fog and rain was threatening to pour. But it was a rewarding feeling to be up there, it was more than enough to see the mountain’s forest, its fauna and its magic!

Going back down was a different challenge altogether, by the time we started to decent the rain was already pouring strongly, the mountain’s water ways was filling up. The mountain’s terrain was already slippery in normal conditions, so much more when its wet. Going down was twice the risk as going up and to make matters worse we were cold-drenched in the rain. But we managed to return back to the campsite alive and in one piece 😊

We camped our second night near lake Danao, there we met our injured companion, Ms. Chai. We shared our experiences of Mt. Aminduen over dinner, shared our laugther, shared our moments – we shared Life!

Cheers to Mt. Aminduen! till we meet again

 

Some of Mt. Aminduen’s Flora and Fauna:

Our Local Guide Kuya “ayuk” Danny and Ate Janneth

Meet the Gang #DimenEU

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DimenEU

For the Newbie Mountaineer – Apir bi :)

You’ve been wanting to climb but don’t know where or how to start, you’re in the right place… go on reading

Lately a bunch of friends, acquaintances and even strangers asked me on how they could start to climb, like what mountain is best for beginners, what equipment to start with and, in their current state of fitness, would they be able to climb mountains. And it’s funny because this is exactly the same questions I asked the first time I showed interest in mountaineering. And I’m happy to share my thoughts. I’m not an expert, I myself am fairly new in this, but I have some little bits of info that I believe could help newbies start a passion worth pursuing.

Equipment/Apparel

Now, you really don’t need to have those fancy branded mountaineering items, maybe in the future you’ll eventually want/need those, but as for now basic stuff will suffice. Except maybe for shoes, I suggest you invest on trek shoes, because this is the one item in mountaineering that basically takes almost all the battering, having a sturdy shoe really does help. For the rest of the apparel, inexpensive and unbranded trek shorts and dry fit shirts will do. For starters you really don’t need that much of an equipment: a backpack, a durable water bottle, a whistle, a portable first aid kit and probably a trekking pole are primarily what you’ll need. When camping, an inexpensive Dome-type tent, a sleeping bag and an earthpad will serve; all other important equipment like burners, cook sets and blades etc. have your more experienced companion bring those items. Eventually and gradually you’ll learn to upgrade your arsenal of equipment, it’s only a matter of time and budget of course.

Where to climb?

And now that you have your basic apparel and equipment where should you take your first step to climb?

Unfortunately, I’m only going to recommend mountains within Cebu, since I live in Cebu City and I’m quite unfamiliar of other mountains for beginners outside Cebu; My apologies for non-Cebu residents who are reading this. Anyways, here is a list of mountains perfect for newbies.

Sirao Peak

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Sirao Peak via Malubog Trail – my personal favorite route to Sirao

Sirao Peak is that hill across Ayala Heights at the Transcentral highway; there are multiple entry points to Sirao Peak, However, the most popular route is via Budlaan. Budlaan is in Barangay Talamban, the trail features a river trek, a semi wall climb and an open field assault to the peak. The peak also has a wide campsite with a very beautiful view of Cebu City. Budlaan falls is probably the highlight of this trail.

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Budlaan Falls

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Mt. Babag

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Babag peak – View of Brgy. Bonbon’s Valley

If you’ve been to Cebu City you may have noticed those prominent towers on top of a mountain facing the city. That mountain is Mt. Babag. Mt. Babag is known by local mountaineers as the practice grounds or the playground. The Mountain is also the highest point in Cebu city and probably the most climbed mountain within the city. It offers a non-stop assault to the peak – a feature that most veteran mountaineers are looking for, for practice. When climbing this mountain, it is advisable that you follow your own pacing – going too fast will definitely drain you in no time. Once on top of the peak, you’ll have yourself a 360 view of both the city and the vast valleys of barangay Bonbon and of course a closer look of the gigantic towers of Mt. Babag.

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Babag Towers – they’re HUGE, like really

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Spartan Trail

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The Long Spartan River Trail

The Spartan trail lies beneath the forest inside the Pamutan-Buhisan water reserve. The first part of the trail is a steady assault and followed by a decent to a long river trail leading to the Buhisan water shed. This is a very long trail, so prepare your knees.

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Bonbon-Cantipla Trail

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River and Boulder Trail

It is recommended that you have had climbed Sirao and Babag before climbing this mountain trail because if not for its lack of height this could well be considered as a major climb. It is approximately 75% river trek with huge slippery boulders, aesthetically beautiful to look at, but very dangerous to tackle with. This is by far the most scenic trail I’ve been to that is within the jurisdiction of Cebu City, this is undeniably a must try trail.

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Himbabawud Falls
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Rappelling the waterfall

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San Carlos Heights

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Sann Carlos Heights Peak

It’s a small mountain near where I live, it is here where I usually run, jog, hike, walk and meditate ^_^ whenever I got not much time to do a minor climb in a larger mountain. If you happen to live in Basak Pardo, Cebu City or somewhere near it, give me a ping and let’s climb, it’s a perfect site for climbing practice.

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You can also join Mountaineering groups in facebook that schedules a climb every weekend – SuOC, DIY Travel, Cebu DIY-KKB climb, DimenEU, Kat-Kat just to name a few

There are many mountains in Cebu Province that you can try, most of them are friendly to beginners. Mt. Mago, Mt. Manunggal, Mt. Mauyug, Mt. Manghilaw, Mt. Lanaya, Mt. Hambubuyug, Candongao Peak, Osmena Peak, Mt. Kapayas and the list goes on

Fitness

Unless you have a serious heart problem There is no excuse, you are capable to climb, so Welcome my Friend and see you on Top of a Mountain!