My first 9/9 (Difficulty Level) mountain... The greatest challenge encountered in this so called Mountaineering life of mine. Mt. Guiting Guiting (G2) is where my mind was set to be the first 9/9 mountain I will climb however failure to join the G2 Dayhike set by PACKERS, my dream went astray.
Bumped to this video posted in FB, Mt. Sicapoo became my Target. I shared the video and got some positive reactions and confirmations from my friends online..... exchange insights...... several preclimbs......then we're ready to take the challenge.
November 1 - 4 were the days when 12 of us faced the challenge, 11 were able to reach the summit, 9 reached the Penguins Peak.
Day 1 of our Itinerary went haywire when Sir Chong didn't make it to the 8:00pm departure and left Manila around 11.30 instead. We had the entire first half of the day roaming around the City.
Took pictures of the Sinking Bell Tower, once an old Red Cross building turn to SM Hypermarket and the Provincial Hall.
Registration is required at PNP Office then headed off to Brgy. Manalpac for final preparation and to secure Guides.
The entire 4 days challenge was blessed with sunny weather, thus my fear of crossing several rivers was turn into pure fun.
Day 1 was light to moderate trek, the hardest part was the crossing of rivers. Though the level was not that high and the current was not that strong yet the rocks, slippery rocks slows the team on day 1.
Unable to reach Saulay Slope due to the delay, few of the team decided to call it a day. eCamp was made, and tents were put up near the river. Though I disagree on the idea of camping near a river for possible flash flood, I managed to secure a place few meters away from the river, slipped inside the sleeping bag while watching the stars until i felt asleep.
Day 2 and the final 3 rivers were crossed. Reaching Markang Bato was a bit of a challenge, minor difficulty on the terrain passing a very small path covered with cogon grass while to the right side was a cliff.
Markang Bato was the last stop for the River crossing challenge (for route Gasgas River to Solsona Dam) then the rest was purely assault, knife edges and 100% sun exposure.
The most challenging part for this day was reaching Saulay Junction (Guides sometimes call it Saulay Crossing and Saulay peak measures 1286 masl) was purely assault. My backpack was too heavy and my back almost gave up. I agree with the video that it's somewhat similar to Akiki Trail of Mt. Pulag (Eddit River going all the way up to Mossy Forest)
Saulay Junction was not that wide in terms of space however it accommodated 6 tents for the team, it was our base camp for the next 2 days. Now I understood why the place was preferred to as Crossing because this is where the trail going to Bubuos, Pakpako, The Summit and Mt. Timarid meets. (The Guides and I had a bit of confusion about Saulay Junction and Saulay Crossing)
Blessed with a good weather, from Saulay Junction Mt. Sicapoo was pretty visible as well as Mt. Timarid on the opposite.
Day 3 came, a 14 hours trek was expected. Peaks to cover for day 3 were : Bubuos peak (1400+ masl), Balbalite peak(1500+ masl), - Pakpako peak (1620 masl), Matalidong peak, Mt. Sicapoo summit "penguin shaped rock" 2388 masl.... then back trail to reach campsite.
The trail was composed of knife edges, flat grounds, pine trees and fantastic views. We had our last group 15mins break at Mt. Matalindong while mounching some small berries. Mt. Sicapoo was just in front of us and the Penguin' beak can be seen.... sumisilip at naghihintay sa aming pagdating.
Sir Deng decided not to pursue the climb and opted to stay at Mt. Matalindong due to a bad foot injury. The rest pushed and some of us were able to reach Sicapoo's Summit for almost an hour.
Good thing I brought with me my 20ft. rope and with it, 9 of us were able to reach the topmost portion of the famous Sicapoo's Penguin Beak.
We had our short lunch at the Peak then made some PhotoOps then descend started around 2:00pm. We reached the camp site around 7:00pm even though we did a combination of trail run and fast paced trek. I believe PhotoOps was the culprit for the delay but hey you cannot blame us for it...... with the view like that, surely no one wants to miss it and seize the moment.
Day 4, the End. Woke up early to witness the final sunrise at Solsona........ This time, we were heading the opposite side... and Mt. Timarid was waiting for us......... Sir Ryan, me and Sir Chong took the lead pack while the mid pack were the ladies..then the rest of the team.
Finishing Mt. Timarid was a pure challenge too, with its 70 to 80 degrees of descend and ascend under the scourging heat of the Sun. A 20 mins bath at the stream recharged my body......for what lies after Timarid........... The final blow at Mt. Simagaysay.
So there we were, the first three and 2 guides rested and ate lunch at the Summit of Mt. Timarid and waited for the rest before the descend.
This time we were joined by Sir Ton and Sir Rex..... Entering Mt. Simagaysay was a bit easy compared to Mt. Timarid yet the crazy moments started when we entered the forested part of Mt. Simagaysay. Trail was slippery that most of us slid and slipped several times.... "Kung kelan patapos na saka pa nagkaslide slide".
Rested under the shade of a big tree while watching 5 Hawks (Lawin) soaring and gliding across the field below. Our Guide gave us the Go signal..... a go signal for the last part of the 4 day traverse............ The Surprise that awaits the entire team..... The Surprise that almost crippled me or worst ended my life.
The other side of Mt. Simagaysay going to One Degree Plateau is like Mt. Batulao............ 10x longer (we called it The Mother Batulao). Knife edges with no shade and loose soil of mostly descent trail under the heat of the Sun....... I was fully drained before reaching the only shade available (2 small Duhat trees, agawan pa sa mga Baka na nagpapahinga din).
I accidentally stepped on these pebbles while descending when I slipped and dragged to a small hole. My left leg was trapped inside the hole (highly above knee level) while my entire body bend towards a cliff.... If ever that hole was not there.....you won't be reading this blog now.
Watching the One Degree Plateau from above was like watching a scene from The Lion King or any African Safari Docu. The plateau was a vast land covered with grass, dried grass at that time which was a perfect scenic when the sun was about to set, it painted the entire area Orange...... Magnificent....
The lead pack was so thankful we witnessed such view.
The taste of water became so blunt that I was already craving for anything sweet. Our guide assured us that we were almost there, and indeed.... one more final descend...... Solsona Dam welcome us......Hooray!!!
The first group was relieved after 1 liter of Coke (each) quenched our thirst.... thirst for something different aside from water.
Rest... Sharing of experiences and funny moments while waiting for the rest of the team before heading back to Tatay Emilio's house for final clean up then head back to Manila.
My First 9/9 Mountain....
Once a Dream..........
became a reality.............
Now you are reading the One of my Craziest, Extremist Climb.......... in Far North!
1. Make sure your tummy can tolerate mountain waters... Carrying heavy loads of water for the entire Traverse will slow you down.
2. Water Sources are available and Guides are very accommodating in terms of refilling your containers/source.
3. Itinerary will be provided by One Degree Group. All climb activities for Sicapoo are arranged by the said group.
4. Mt. Sicapoo challenge can be traverse either 4 days or 3 days itinerary.
5. Bring tons of patience, courage and equipped yourself with enough strength for this awesome adventure.
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