Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mt. Guiting Guiting (Traverse) Part 1

HOLY WEEK (2014) IN SIBUYAN ISLAND
(the ascend to Mt. GUITING GUITING TRAVERSE climb)



This is Part 2 of the Holy Week (2014) in Sibuyan Island.

April 17, 2014 (Thursday), the day we’ve all been waiting for since December of last year. The day when we got the chance to conquer one or if not, the most difficult climb in our young mountaineering careers. The day wherein we knew that our body would be placed to the extreme limit. Almost everyone was nervous and at the same time excited. This is it! We’ve waited for this and we wanted this. This is our journey to Mt. GUITING GUITING (“G2”) TRAVERSE.


THE “G2 399”

During our Day 1 registration with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), we were asked fill up a Registration Form and sign a waiver. On the form was box for us to indicate our group name. Everyone was asking whether to put either I.S.G or on our part, The BACKPACKERS. Sean asked Sir Remy on how many groups were able to try the traverse of G2 and he said “almost 400”. On that note, out of nowhere, I uttered “what if G2 399?” since according to sir Remy it was “almost 400”. With that simple reason and everyone agreeing, our group was called as such.



“I NEVER SHOULD HAVE LISTENED”

On our first night, before we got some sleep, Sir Remy gathered us with our guide and porters for the whole adventure to orient us on what are the different landmarks and pit stops we will pass by and how long should we stay in every stop. It was almost like impossible for me, personally, to stay strictly on time in every pit stop. I knew, deep in myself, that I would be left behind by the group. I kept on whispering to BP Isabel and Lav that every time Sir Remy said during the discussion that we should be in this area after an hour or so, I would say I’ll be there after an additional 30 minutes or an hour. Seriously, even before the climb started,  I was already regretting clicking the “JOIN” button in Sean’s invitation on Facebook.  I knew that the guys would be speeding their pace and somehow, I assumed that the girls would be keeping a steady pace since Isabel is my fellow Backpacker and Lav doesn't really look like she’s in to climbing (just try to see her FB page and you’ll know what I mean).


G2 Traverse Map
The discussion by sir Remy hit me hard on whether I should still pursue with the adventure. I knew and I have read blogs that it was going to be really difficult and challenging but with the pacing that he wanted us to do, it was nearly impossible for me to cope up with that. I am the “savoring every step kind of guy” and this will be my first time to do a time pressured and fast paced climb. Before we slept, I just told the guys that I never should have listened with the orientation and just relied on what I read on blogs.



“A WALK IN THE PARK”

G2 399 woke up at around 2:00am. Everyone was preparing their backpacks and removing unnecessary weights on it, doing their morning rituals (special mention to Lav) and eating breakfast. At past 3:00am and after a prayer lead by yours truly, we temporarily bid goodbye to Sir Remy and started our G2 Traverse climb.

And we are ready to go
The first part was a simple “walk in the park”. It was level grounded yet slippery. Walking on an open field with the moon and stars being our light was a good warm up for the group. Suddenly, we had our first accident. Grin Perlas slipped hard resulting to the breakage of his headlight. Thankfully, he was okay. We reached the first stop, named Olango River, ahead of time. The porters filled the empty bottles as additional drinking water. As for me, I bought my own drinking water just to be sure.

Olango River


“ALWAYS LAST BUT NEVER LATE”

Shortly after filling the bottles, we continued on with our journey. Based on our orientation, the next pit stop would be a few hours away and no water source would be available from hereon forward. It was still dark during the assault and Tito Mon was having a hard time ascending since he cannot see things clearly in the dark. It was a steady and manageable hike for me so far. It was a complete assault with no level grounded path. We completely reached Camp 1 within the time prescribed by Sir Remy. Actually, I was at the back of the group so I arrived a few minutes within the prescribed time while everyone else was there a few minutes before.


Arrival at Camp 1
Camp 1 to Camp 2 had similar trail characteristics but by this time, my mind was battling my weakness. I was acknowledging the possibility of retreating and just enjoy the island of Sibuyan. In fact, I can just insert in our climb shirt “I survived...CAMP 1 of G2 Traverse”. After a couple of hours and within the time prescribed by Sir Remy, I reached Camp 2 behind everyone else. Tito Mon was telling me to just keep my pacing since I had been arriving on time. And then I realized, that my pacing was slow moving but I haven’t taken any “Take fives”. The only time I got a chance to rest was when I arrived at a pit stop. Imagine how slow I might have been if I took a rest in between pit stops then I guess I wouldn't have seen them at all. By this time, I was jokingly telling people that I can already insert “I survived...CAMP 2 of G2 Traverse”.

Trails from Camp 1 to Camp 3
The sun was up and we were ready to move on. It was still almost the same kind of trail from Camp 2 to Camp 3. We passed by another landmark known as the Helipad. For obvious reasons, it served as a helipad for helicopters but our guides told us that it has never been used for quite some time now. In this landmark, I've only seen Fernan, Victor and Tito Mon while the rest, including the girls, went ahead.

TIto Mon and Lav
Again, I arrived last at Camp 3 but still within the prescribed time. This was where we had our lunch. Thankfully, there was a water source on this pit stop because almost everyone needed to refill our water bottles.  The water source area is called RemVal’s spring. I don’t know why but even if the the sun was not directly exposed to us, I still managed to empty my water. Wherein, compared to my previous climbs, I didn't even get a chance to drink half of my water. Everyone was sharing their stories so far on the trail. Some were tired, some were hungry but some were eager to proceed with the hike even if it was way early than our supposed departure on that pit stop.



“LOOKS CAN BE DECEIVING”

Due to the eagerness of the lead pack to continue and maybe because it was mentioned in the orientation that the assault to summit would be difficult and dangerous, we then proceeded with the journey. We were already informed by our guide and porters that Camp 3 up to summit would be pure exposure to the sun and that meant more water will be consumed and more “Take fives” will be taken. I, myself, was curious on why we should not be caught by dark in the assault to summit since the trail from jump off up to Camp3 never changed and it was not dangerous at all.



BP Isabel and Lav
As we continued our hike,  the trail slowly changed from forest-like to assaulting boulder trails. From there, our porter told us that we arrived at the landmark called the Crashsite. The beautiful part of this landmark were the scattered actual crashed plane parts. Tito Mon, Fernan, Vic and I (together with two porters) decided to take a rest and ate our trail food. The weather was cloudy and we couldn't actually see our view. All we knew is that we were ascending. The four of us even slept for a few minutes since we knew that we were ahead of time.


Crash site


While we were soundly sleeping, a voice from above kept on yelling at us. Was it danger? Did something happened to the lead pack? Is the summit near? Or are we in heaven? The fog suddenly cleared and we saw Grin Perlas at top of the mountain and catching up behind him are the others, INCLUDING THE GIRLS! We had no choice but to move. By that time, we were worried that we might trek in the dark.

BP Isabel at RemValDely's Peak

Grin with signature pose
At the bottom of RemValDely’s Peak, we can clearly see the girls from a far. I was stunned and in my mind I was like saying..."they were not girls, they are HARDCORE MOUNTAINEERS!"and “they made a shortcut!” I really thought I would be stuck at the end of the group with the girls but I was wrong, completely wrong. They were the ones who were leading the pack. I can even remember that during the orientation, the girls and I were telling each other that I will be at the end of the pack with them but that wasn't the case in the actual climb. The girls were unexpectedly fast.




The "HARDCOREs" (Sean, Lav, BP Isabel and Grin)

“LEARN TO RESPECT TIME”

It was already 4:00pom, Tito Mon, Fernan and I still haven’t reached the summit while the others were there for almost an hour. The lead pack were at the summit two hours before the prescribed time. As for us, we were walking slowly and enjoying the majestic view of the mountain ranges of G2.

By this time, I knew why we shouldn't be caught trekking at night. We were rock climbing/ boulderneering the whole time and it would be extremely dangerous for us (or for everyone) to even take a step if we get caught by the dark. Extreme caution should be done here by anyone who will try to attempt a traverse G2 climb, especially on this part.

The last assault
Hardcore Lav
Sean Roa
On the last assault, our guide/porter told us that it would just be around ten to fifteen minutes until the summit. The three of us were all excited to reach summit before sunset and have our pictures taken.

After almost half an hour or at exactly 5:00pm, we finally reached the summit. I immediately removed my bag and laid down. Physically, I was drained and just wanted to sleep but in my mind, I was yelling...I MADE IT, WE MADE IT! The three of us were too tired to even appreciate the view and even took a group summit picture. The rest of the group congratulated us, while we jokingly told them that next time they should follow instructions on just sticking with the time to be at the summit. Overall, the group completed the summit for almost 14 hours but I give credit to the “Hardcore(s)”who just completed it in just 12 hours










Individual summit pictures
Our day ended early since we were all tired. There were no socials for we chose to regain our energy. In my mind, the journey was still not done. We were yet to descend from the mountain on traverse. We didn't know what to expect, all we know is that we needed to rest.


Be sure to stay tuned for the exciting Part 3 of the Holy Week (2014) in Sibuyan Island. Find out how G2 399 successfully completed the G2 Traverse climb and what were the different challenges and stories incorporated with it.



PHOTO CREDITS to myself and Lav Nazarrea










For complete Sibuyan Island and Mt. Guiting Guiting experience, please click below:

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