Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Lets face it, the outdoor scene in the Philippines has been growing in the past decade. Just by looking at the log book in mount Batulao, Pico De Loro and Maculot we can safely assume this activity will keep growing for years to come. There are however so many people still stuck in the decision process of starting or not.  I should know It took awhile for me to get off my ass and actually try it.   5 years later I am being asked by many how to start. So in timely fashion I thought Id write about it and give my two cents worth on how to start hiking/mountaineering

First of all if you wanna start you gotta ask yourself the question of why do you wanna do it? Do you wanna visit mother nature? Do you wanna train in survival? Do you wanna get new cover photos for your facebook? Do you wanna meet the love of your life?  Honestly I dont really give a rats ass. WHAT I DO CARE ABOUT  are two simple things: You respect mother nature and you respect your fellow man encountered in the trail. Basically don’t treat the mountains and trails like it is your own personal home and don’t treat other people rudely. I just wanna make sure your reasons are as bright as day .Alright!! now that’s outta the way shall we begin?

Enjoying my time in the in the trail of Mount Kupapey in Maligcong Bontoc Mountain Province

Do I need to be JACKED?

Lets not beat around the bush, This is a very common question asked of me and my answer has always been the same. No you dont have to be in shape for mountaineering. It will be a big help definitely. Being athletic will allow you to enjoy more. If you dont get it well  try to imagine walking up an incline for a few hours with a heavy back pack strapped on your back. It may not bother you at first since its just walking but trust me it will eventually wear you down.  So if you have the time exercise please do it. Not only is it good for you but it will also give you enough mettle to enjoy the outdoors. Mother nature is as unforgiving as she is magnificent.

In my time hiking I have seen so many people get so physically challenged by the trail that it inevitably leads to them just trying to finish it rather than appreciate it. Trust me there are some trails that will eat away at you to the point that even texting becomes a challenge.

Another thing exhaustion does is, it forces us to lose concentration. So this means you don’t pay attention to the surroundings which can lead to injury which is rather bad up in the middle of nowhere. Also,I don’t think you just wanna enjoy the trip by just looking at 2d pictures right? Well this is assuming you had the strength to pull out a camera to actually take some.

So  How do you train for it? Well you can hit the gym, do running, biking, crossfit,  martial arts etc however the best way to train is to just to do it. There is no better trainor for mountaineering /hiking than the actual activity itself. I remember my Jiujitsu coach saying a similar thing to me in training “The best training for Jiujitsu is Jiujitsu” and I completely agree with this, this goes the same for mountaineering.  Please remember however that even though I am saying you don’t necessarily need to be in shape, it does not mean you should go out if you have a pending ailment meaning don’t go out if you have a heart condition or other condition that needs medical supervision, example: a heart ailment. I’m not discounting people who do have it however there are certain precautionary steps that needs to be taken to ensure the safety and the well being of the hiker. This however is a whole different subject on its own.

Clarence taking a nap in one of the most difficult trails. Photo taken in mount Sicapoo

A friend in need is a friend indeed..

There are alot of groups out there offering hiking trips and travel opportunities for anyone to experience this fun activity. I however recommend that you find a close friend that has been into hiking and start by going up with them.

I am sure that these groups are experienced hikers but I still strongly suggest you start with someone you know or at the very least start with someone he recommends and knows personally. A friend usually takes more accountability in the safety of his comrade than strangers. And of course once you get more experienced you will eventually meet more and more people belonging to a number of groups that I am sure will be very happy to have you join them in their journeys. I myself started with a team mate and eventually it lead to me getting to know so many from the community that I have no problem in finding a hike that I wanna go too. I still, however, prefer to climb with people I trust and of course I try to share the love as much as possible by encouraging and bringing others up the mountain.

Team Leader Harold  Borja briefing the team before the trek up mount Pulag

What the? Where is the nearest hotel?

An individual should also have the right expectations before hiking a trail. Lets get one thing straight. This is n0t a luxury trip. Most hikes involves looooong commutes and the likelihood of a good sleep in the bus or van takes some getting used too. Imagine this. You meet up in a bus station around 11pm at night then you take a 3-4 hour trip to the jump off, You have breakfast and off you go to road less taken. Bathrooms are replaced by holes dug in the ground, meals eaten in the table is replaced by meals eaten in the campsite, A bed and roof is replaced by a tent and sleeping bag. These are things not ussually palatable to the normal person. One must be able to think about these things before going up.  Why? Because once your in the middle of the hiking trail and you will need to do a number 2 well guess what Dig fucker dig!! You wont have any choice less you holding that bitch in for 2 days. Good news though!! Nowadays there are an abundance of gear out there that can make these trips a little bit more comfortable than it was 2 decades ago. Remember however if you want to bring up luxury your gonna have to carry it!!

Photo by Ralph Mariano: Small Rest Stop in the middle of mount Purgatory

SHUT UP and take my MONEY!!!

How much is it?  Well no definite answer to this really. It really depends on what area and what mode of transpo and what gear you are willing to procure. I gotta be straightforward. Its not really a cheap hobby. Although the commute, guide fee and entrance fee may be cheap remember, the gear will cost money if you decide to get your own. For me I wanna get good quality gear. Ive been through survival training and one thing I learned is I DONT WANT TO BE IN A SURVIVAL SITUATION so if I can bring up the best I will bring up the best.

To give you and idea …a good tent can run from 5,000 to as high as 50,000php. Hiking Boots are 3,000 to 12,000.  And a good quality backpack from 5,000 to as high as 25,000.  Thats right folks! They are not cheap. I usually spend hours researching on a particular item before procuring…this mostly because I dont want to spend alot on something im not sure on.  Yes you can scrimp on gear and go for the very basic. You just better make sure you can handle the physical price that comes with it. A backpack failing in the middle of a hike is one of the worst things that can happen. Again research, read reviews ask questions!!

My Hiking Boots for my adventures. Merrell,  Salomon and Patagonia

Argh!!!! this isn’t what I signed up for!!

Planning your trip to set expectations  must be done. This is mostly planning for yourself.  Go to the internet, its there to help you. Most mountains have some write up somewhere. This will give you some slight familiarity with the trail.  Also dont be ashamed to ask other that has done it before, they usually give the best advice about it. Best person to ask will be the team organizer or his second in command. Its their responsibilty to make sure everyone is safe. Dont forget to also take into consideration the season of the hike. The challenges of the mountain changes between the wet and dry season here in the Philippines. Some easy mountains becomes challenging because of rain and some hard ones becomes very enjoyable when rain pours.

By planning and familiarizing yourself with the terrain and trip it will automatically guide you on what gear needs to be prepared which will be the next thing I talk about.  Oh before that,   for Gods sake make sure when you go up someone knows your itenerary.  This is a basic and non negotiable thing. Someone from home should know your plan and they should also be properly briefed so they dont freak out if for some reason you cant contact them. Remember most mountains has little or no signal. This also serves the purpose of having someone on standby to call the cavalry just in case something bad happens.

Briefing the group before visiting mount Ulap

Oh My God look at all the cool ass toys I can Get?…

Now for the fun part (Fun for me at least). Another question asked of me is what kind of gears are needed for a typical OVERNIGHT CAMPING TRIP.  So in this part I would like to enumerate the various things I bring when I go up for an overnight trip. Each item has a purpose to it and I dont think I can write about each one in this one entry. So if you should have any questions you can message me about it. Take note I try to keep the loadout under 12 kilos

My overnight Loadout

  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad Full Body
  • 3 season 2 person tent (Free Standing)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Survival Bug out kit
  • Toiletry Kit
  • Pocket Knife
  • Flashlight 150 lumen or above
  • Headlamp 150 lumen or above
  • Spare batteries
  • Powerbank
  • Waterproof Jacket
  • Thermal Undergarments
  • Extra Socks
  • Gloves
  • GPS/Compass
  • Kitchen Set (Plate, Spoon and Fork with cup)
  • Cook Set (Stove and Gas)
  • Garbage Bags
  • Ziploc Bags
  • Lighter or Firestarter
  • Whistle
  • Spare clothes
  • Paracord
  • Duct Tape
  • Spare cash
  • Sandals
  • Hiking Boots

So thats my gear. Ill be honest I still have a few more but those are just the “nice to haves” so no need to mention them. Oh!! ..If you notice I didnt mention any brand name. I have my preference Im sure you will have yours. Again these things depends on proper research so ask as many questions with experienced Hikers as you can. Thats how I was guided. I had teachers from the UPM, the GAC, WISAR and other groups that made me finally figure out the perfect load out for me.




Again if you have any clarifications or questions feel free to send me a message in facebook, I am searchable. In the future I will be posting more about gear and reviews but for now happy hiking everyone be safe always.


Special thanks again to Nonoy Generoso and Clarence Clarito for contributing to this blog entry



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