Without agenda

“It’s another long weekend.”

That was the only reason I need to pack and head for the mountains. Besides, I had no deadlines and Bukidnon is just a few hours away. So it was Mt. Kitanglad this time. I initially planned a D2K traverse, but because it rained really hard during my ascent, I figured that it was best to err on the side of safety and save Mt. Dulang-Dulang for my next climb.

Kitanglad mountain range is home to three other top 10 Philippine peaks.
Kitanglad mountain range is home to three other top 10 Philippine peaks.

I was told to message a certain facebook account, which can assist me in obtaining a climbing permit for the Kitanglad mountain range. True enough, I got my permit just in time for the climb even though I arrived at Bukidnon on a holiday (Labor Day). Whoever was on the other end of that facebook account was truly an angel for accommodating all my requests on such short notice.

Other than I bonked halfway through the climb, nothing disastrous happened. Okay, the bonking was totally foreseeable. I reached Malaybalay City at 1 a.m. and my excitement made me skip breakfast. Lack of sleep + empty stomach = bonking. Plus, we were fighting a torrential downpour on our way up, so we had to move really fast. I suddenly felt dizzy and the next thing I knew, I was lying on wet ground to find my bearings. Ha! What is climbing without drama and close calls, right? LOL

Flowers on the steppes of Mt. Kitanglad
My bunker wall graffiti reads,
My bunker wall graffiti reads, “Life begins when you’re out of your comfort zone. I conquered Mt. Kitanglad today. Great life!”

It felt really nice to just climb a mountain. No reason. No agenda. No expectations. I met first-time hikers, biologists/researchers, tourism officers, telecommunications engineers (there are communication towers at the summit) and even firm clients(!!) along the trails. I got to hear stories about mountain legends training in Kitanglad before climbing Mt. Everest, local runners defeating Kenyan runners in Kitanglad mountain races, the struggles of the Intavas community to compete with Sitio Lantapan as gateway for the mountains, and other local anecdotes of pride and humor. I just love the purity of that moment. The genuineness of my encounters is inspiring. This kind of experience grounds a person. This kind of opportunity is rare in the world I live in.

At 2,899 masl, I could not even attempt to get up for sunrise. It was too darn cold!
At 2,899 masl, I could not even attempt to get up for sunrise. It was too darn cold!

Humbled by the great

No one is more hardcore and crazy with the mountains than my guide Walter.
No one is more hardcore and crazy with the mountains than my guide Walter.

My guide, Kagawad Walter Galasanay, has been the president of Mt. Kitanglad’s association of porters, guides, and rescuers since 2003. His record of 1 hour and 37 minutes is the second fastest ascent-descent time for the said mountain. He also holds the fastest traverse time to Mt. Dulang-Dulang at 8 hours. He trained mountaineers Carina Dayondon and Romi Garduce before they had their Everest expeditions. I am truly honored to have the privilege of climbing this mountain with him.

I took the above picture of Walter on our last 6km stretch from the base of Mt. Kitanglad to the DENR office at Brgy. Intavas. We were probably the only crazy people to walk/run that road on that rainy day (everyone else rode a tricycle or an elf truck).

Someday, I will spend every waking morning this way.
Someday, I will spend every waking morning this way.
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