Mt. Pulag Climb: The Day before the Climb (Part 1)
From the top of Mt. Pulag, seeing the sun rise above a sea of clouds is truly an awesome sight to behold. But perhaps people have over-romanticized climbing the Philippines’ third highest mountain and have downplayed how hard it really is to get all the way up to the summit.
It took us 11 hours, starting from our 1 am jump-off from the Ranger station, to reach the summit and back. Here’s our story…
Mt. Pulag Hike (Photo Essay)
12:27 am: Our alarm clocks were set at 12 midnight and we were ready at half past 12.
: #ootd tips for Mt. Pulag Hike – The cold temperature at Mt. Pulag peak is brutal, so have layers of thermal wear, sweater, winter jacket, and rain coat at the ready just in case it rains. – Make sure you have bonnet, gloves, and scarf. – Have a neon color on your outfit, which is very helpful to see in the dark. – Bring a reliable headlamp for lighting. Don’t buy the cheap LED ones. – Bring tried and tested hiking shoes. We had a lot of soles that were ripped off; good thing someone brought duct tape.
12:32 am: We had a nice warm bowl of instant noodle soup to start our day.
12:57 am: We packed our own breakfast of red hotdog, Baguio longganisa, hard boiled egg, and rice.
1:00 am: Here’s my breakfast. I forgot to bring a plastic container so I had to settle for a resealable plastic.
1:07 am: It’s important to look good when you climb. Build your hiking gear over time so you can look this good. 🙂
1:16 am: Sibling bonding–climbing Mt. Pulag together!
Ranger Station Jump-Off
1:32 am: The youngest in our group who successfully climbed Mt. Pulag–very impressive indeed. I hope to bring my boys in the near future.
1:33 am: We had a total of 4 guides and 3 local guides, for a ratio of 1 guide to 4 hikers during the climb.
1:40 am: We were so energized as we started our hike from the ranger station.
1:55 am: Camping is only allowed in the vicinity of the ranger station. We were glad we stayed in a homestay so we could leave our stuff behind securely.
1:59 am: We started our hike through the pine forest in total darkness, with only our head lamps to light our way.
2:17 am: We were hiking up narrow trails, steep inclines, and beside dangerous cliffs, which you cannot see in the dark.
2:40 am: I was with the trailing group and we were able to catch up with the rest of the team after an hour’s hike to Camp 1.
3:01 am: I decided to join the leading group with a faster pace through the mossy forest.
3:35 am: It rained earlier so the trail was extra muddy in the mossy forest. We were blessed with good weather during our hike.
3:41 am: One of the crossroads in the trail called the Lusod junction. Make sure to take the left side going to the summit.
3:57 am: We reached Camp 2 after an hour. The mossy forest trail was covered with trees all the way but very muddy.
3:57 am: Hikers rested in Camp 2 to recover and prepare for the final summit hike.
4:04 am: We could feel the weather getting colder. At this point, you can change your drenched shirt and put on additional layers of clothing.
4:13 am: There’s a restroom structure with a hole in the ground that you can use. It’s quite smelly but it’s best to use it.
Tip: Bring diatabs if you want to control your bowel movement because it’s such a hassle to poop in the mountains.
5:07 am: I decided to wait for a while and join the middle group to reach the summit just in time for the sunrise.
5:13 am: The grassy land doesn’t have any trees, so it’s much colder with the wind chill. There’s a good stone trail at the start.
5:35 am: I was catching my breath every second as I climbed up the mountain. I could hear my super fast heartbeat thumping at the back of my neck.
5:39 am: We decided to climb up to the Peak 4 summit instead of our target Peak 2 so as not to miss the sunrise.
5:43 am: We were freezing and the cold was getting unbearable. You have to sit down to take cover from the freezing wind chill.
5:43 am: It’s so beautiful to witness the black turn to orange in the horizon above the sea of clouds.
6:07 am: We were lucky that our peak wasn’t too crowded, so we could take all the photos we wanted without obstruction.
6:11 am: Make sure to look back and witness the unfolding scene with that pinkish glow above the clouds.
6:13 am: Awesome sunrise at Mt. Pulag!
6:16 am: So blessed to be able to successfully climb with this group.
6:19 am: The siblings made the climb without their Achie, who unfortunately suffered a sprained ankle and had to stay in Camp 2.
6:19 am: Words aren’t enough to describe the feeling of making it this far. It’s quite the accomplishment.
6:22 am: You feel this sense of pride broadcasting to the world that you are at the top of Luzon.
6:48 am: There are different peaks in Mt. Pulag. Picture here are Peak 3 and Peak 2. The summit is at the back of Peak 2.
7:08 am: The group was determined to reach the summit. The trail was muddy but the heat from the sun energized us to go for it.
7:23 am: Mt. Pulag is named after the local term called Pul-ag, which means bald.
7:25 am: Some hikers decided to go back after reaching Peak 2. But that did not discourage us from going for the summit.
7:40 am: It was getting warmer by the minute. We stopped for a bit to appreciate the grassy landscape as we prepared for the summit climb.
7:48 am: We had to climb a steep incline and muster all our energy to finally reach the summit after 7 hours.
Mt. Pulag Summit
7:52 am: I’m on top of Luzon at 2,922 meters above sea level! Animo!
8:06 am: So happy to be part of this group who reached the summit of Mt. Pulag!
8:10 am: Don’t forget to take a #minimalpeople portrait shot at the summit. (Photo by Justin Monteron)
8:23 am: After the summit high, we mentally conditioned ourselves for the 4-hour trek back to the ranger station.
8:58 am: Last chance to appreciate the sea of clouds. We were so blessed that it didn’t rain!
9:12 am: This is the landmark of the Tawangan Junction on the way back to Camp 2.
9:13 am: The hike back is relatively easier but you have to start removing your layers already and make sure you stay hydrated throughout.
9:25 am: Finally, the view of Camp 2 in the distance after hiking for one hour.
9:28 am: We rested for a while to regroup with some of the hikers who decided to wait for us.
9:47 am: The mossy trail gave us a chance to recover with its shaded but muddy path.
9:50 am: There were a lot of ups and downs along the trail. Here’s the Lusod junction about 1/3 way through the mossy trail.
10:12 am: The Mt. Pulag survivors finishing all our trail mix food and enjoying the hike back home.
10:42 am: Camp 1 had a hut where you could rest under the shade and minimal signal to update your social media channels.
11:00 am: Decided to bounce immediately and power through the last trail through the pine forest.
11:05 am: This is the ravine we were walking along earlier, which we couldn’t see in the darkness.
11:06 am: The route back was more scenic and the trail gradually goes down.
11:09 am: If you are really tired, you can take a habal-habal for P100 on the way back to the ranger station.
11:12 am: But we decided to complete our experience on foot and power through the last few meters of the trail.
11:26 am: This is the view of the camp site, which signals that you’re near the ranger station.
11:31 am: JP made our walk back interesting, talking about our beloved P&G. 🙂
11:36 am: Make sure to bring your trash back from the mountain and throw the plastic bottles here.
11:40 am: As a reward, we were treated to the coldest, sweetest buko juice we ever tasted!
11:45 am: Don’t miss to try the Mt. Pulag malagkit turon snack.
11:57 am: Back at the ranger station after 11 hours of hiking!
11:58 am: We were so hungry that the Ukoy na Gulay tasted so good! 🙂
11:58 am: Victory Snack!
12:25 am: Back at Baban’s Homestay, exchanging war stories with the other victors! Congratulations to everyone!
12:54 am: Ended our trip with a plate of adobo and vegetables for lunch!
Related Blog Post:
Mt. Pulag Climb: The Day before the Climb (Part 1)
Live an Awesome Life,
Disclosure: We paid for our Mt. Pulag Experience. . I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights
P.S. Make sure to bring 2 liters or more of water and Gatorade to sufficiently hydrate you throughout the hike.