Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mt. Arayat

Arayat, Pampanga
Entry point: Brgy. Ayala, Magalang, Pampanga
Exit point: Brgy. Juan Bano, Arayat, Pampanga
LLA: 15.2067N, 120.7441E, 1030 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 1-2 days / 5 hours (NP) 8 hours (SP)
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 5/9, Trail class 1-4 (10kms)(Source:

The Backpackers:
Ivan Laurence Ignacio
Heinz Lopez Alvarez, Jr.
Len Tomas
Liz Honrade
Ralph Flores
York Advento
Frank Aguilar

Jovy Duremdes
Contz Cirujales
Deepee Piano

Mon Sarmiento
Jovy Almero

The Backpackers Survived 
Sinukuan's Traverse Challenge
~By The Backpackers Lead, Ivan Ignacio

Poster by Ivan Ignacio
A Climb Master

Meet up at RJ Express terminal in Caloocan. Met Backpackers and guests Mon and Jovy. Altogether we travelled to Magalang, Pampanga. Ate quick brunch and headed to Brgy. Ayala – the jumpoff point.


From the jumpoff point, you will see a common mountain trail, we walked for five hours in the long, winding, and dusty path. There were a couple of take-fives. The longest rest was the spring area where we had a quick bread munch.

The ascent reminded me of Mt. Pico de Loro, only here it’s wider and purely going up. The sun went down and we were still hiking up. And finally, we arrived at the summit campsite where a barrack was situated. The soldiers there were very kind and polite and provided us with what we needed.

The climb just started.
A long break by the spring area.

The trail by the summit's threshold reminded us of Mt. Pico de Loro.

Backpacker girls at play in the summit.

Backpacker boys at play in the summit.
The Camp- tents were strategically positioned for socials purposes.

The Backpackers Victory Shot for Mt. Arayat
White Rock. Taken from the campsite.

The wonder of being on top of Mt. Arayat is when you are experiencing the marvelous White Rock. This is also where the traverse from South Peak to North peak begins. The trail here was very easy. It was forested so I did not worry much about the sun. After two hours of trekking, we reached the White Rock, nestled between Mt. Arayat’s two peaks and offering a magnificent view of the plains of Central Luzon. Picture taking began!


The biggest challenge of the Arayatrav is the ascent from White Rock to the North Peak. Here, we went through a kilometer of death defying uphill climb, maneuvering from roots to rocks to prevent ourselves from sliding down. There were portions of 90 degree angles where it really felt like we were on a rock climbing expedition. After an hour of extreme ascent, I reached the North Peak, rested a bit before climbing down to check the status of the team. It was tougher than the root climbing portion of Mt. Tarak! But when we got on top, we felt the great accomplishment – traversing Mt. Arayat’s South – North peaks!

Birthday girl Len forced a smile while struggling down this rock wall.

Birthday boy DeePee coming out from a cave-like structure formed by those vines.

On top of the rock that is North Peak.

Fun despite the rock challenge!

"It takes bravery to be on top..."~ Frank

"Seeing someone on top should give you a drive to make your own start..." ~ Mon and York

We went down quickly from the North peak to the Arayat trail campsite where the spirits were up and high. We even skipped taking a quick meal there, postponing it until we get to the natural pool area. Little did we know that the hike was just starting… From the campsite, I was ahead of the guide following an uncommon mountain trail – it was pure forest and there was no prominent trail. I was only relying on the trail signs. We hiked and hiked when I saw some towns below – we were still hundreds of meters high above the ground! Our guides took the lead but they were unsure on most parts of the trail. This is when the A in Mt. Arayat Traverse loomed – Agony.

With only few flashlights that were all turned on, the moon tried to light us amidst the dark forest.


We were walking inside the forest, and that would mean close encounters with bugs and thorny plants and who knows what could have been observing the group. It was a very long hike and the sun was not shining in the sky anymore. We readied our lights and the trek commenced with us getting closer to thick and thorny bushes and trees. I started to suspect that we were lost! And yes indeed we were! The guide told me that should we had left earlier at the South Peak campsite, we wouldn’t be lost because the sun would still be up. I got pissed because as a guide, you should know the trail by heart – day or night, but did not show it, after all our guides were nice. I also hid to the group the fact that we were lost although I was pretty much sure they were smart enough to figure that out. We were creating our own trail, our guides destroying the plants to make a path which to every mountaineer spells out horror and unethical. Thorns were scratching all parts of our bodies. I was blind troubleshooting in the dark because I had no light (gave to the guide)! Everyone was exhausted, somehow injured and thirsty. I called for the group to rest while Mon and the guide backtracked. Everyone already knew that we were out of the real Juan Bano, Arayat trail. We prayed, lead by backpacker Jovy. When we continued the hike, after a good thirty minutes or so, we ended up finding the real trail! BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF PRAYER!

It was then an hour or so walk in the park until we reached the San Juan Bano, Arayat jump off point.


That was a very memorable, agonizing but fun climb!

Did Mariang Sinukuan played a trick on our guides and made us lose our path during our descent? Well, regardless of the many unforgettable things, this climb is definitely one of the best climbs for the Backpackers. =)

Succeeded the challenging ArayatTrav- The Backpackers
The birthday celebrants who sponsored foods and drinks.


Ivan, Mon and Heinz
York and Contz
Ralph and Liz
Jovy and Jovy
Len and Dp

Photo Selection and Captioning by: Heinz Lopez Alvarez, Jr.


Ivan Laurence said...

Nice! I love it!

Anonymous said...

Astig!!! I so love mountain climbing and I love the backpackers!!! see you on the next summit!!

Anonymous said...

Waaahhh !!! galing ng write up na ito and the experience RAMDAM na Ramdan ko whilst I am reading..

Lalo na yung phase 5..