After I confirmed that Mount Cristobal will be one of the mountain for our training climb before Mount Apo (the highest mountain in the Philippines), I was kind of hesitant because everything I heard about this mountain were not good, most of my team members in the mountaineering group where I belong told me their last experienced in this mountain was unpleasant.Based from the last and worst thing I heard about this mountain, I become afraid to try to climb this one. But I realized that I have to face it if I wanted to climb Mount Apo.The big day come and I told myself to focus on the beauty of the nature that I been wanting to see on this mountain.
Mount Cristobal is located at Dolores, Quezon Philippines. It is located near in Mount Banahaw (one of the famous mountain in the Philippines and used to climb by mountaineers too).
The group assembled at 4AM at 7/11 store in Buendia near in bus station where we will ride a bus that will carry us to San Pablo, Quezon.
After we arrived in San Pablo around 6:45 AM, we rented a jeep that will drive us to Dolores, Quezon (to our jump off location) where we will start the climb.
We finally arrived in the jump off place. And we observed that it will rain soon because there are raindrops falling already.
First part we passed the cemented trail with moss on it. To visualize it, you can imagine that if you walked on the cemented area with moss you will probably be very careful because the trail is slippery and one mistake leads to fall and accident. That was what I felt, because of that, I passed this trail with slow pace for safety. And I observed the other team member did the same thing what I did.
After an hour climb, our lead decided to stop and picked the place where we can build our camp to spend our night. We rested for an hour for building our tent and for our lunch. At 11 AM, we climb again. During the climb, my heart rate go faster and faster due to the fact that I am very near to the part of the mountain that will challenge myself physically and mentally. I set to myself the most difficult part of the climb in this mountain. I remember what I heard, there is a rocky part of the mountain that I will pass wherein I will walk on the roots and I need to hug the huge rock with plants on it with thorns. And if I will not do it, I will fall in the cliff. This is the description I stuck on my mind that I am hoping that I will be able to pass.
The climb goes on, I enjoyed the trail while trekking the mountain. It is covered by trees. One thing that I observed, the stairs are made of soil and roots. If roots gone, I am not sure if the stair trail will stay for long and I think no one will able to stand on it and able to reach the top of the mountain. I am very thankful to those big roots.
After more than an hour of climbing we are passing a trail wherein it so tiny space for walking because the side of it are cliff but the bottom of it are not viewable due to plants at the side is covering it. Then, I just found myself, walking to the limited space and holding the roots. Next are the big rocks that I have to hold tight because if I will not do it I may fall on the cliff. After passing that part, I heard that it was the rocks that I been thinking about except there are no thorns on it. I prepare my gloves for that rock, but I haven’t used it because I never saw thorns on it. But one thing that I remembered, my heart rate was really fast and I took it slowly and my focus are on it. I said to myself, I should not take a chance to make mistake. I am very thankful for the roots that I able to hold and while writing this, I am wondering, how long does those roots will be able to stand on its strength if mountaineers used to get hold on it just to be able to pass that difficult trail part of that mountain.
Mount Cristobal was the 3rd mountain that I climbed (as real mountaineer). And this is the mountain that let me experienced the combination of simple walking on the trail up to climbing a rock (with moss most of the time) and I have to depend on the trees beside the trail because I may fall because of wet and slippery rocks. Then, we reached the place where they call it crater 1 (someone just mentioned to me that there is crater 2). After reaching the crater 1, the group stopped and talked for a while. The group decided to continue the climb up to the ridge or the summit of the mountain. One thing that the group was not sure, if there are other group who climb up to the summit that had created the trail, because if none, that means we have to create a trail to be able to reached the summit. But the good thing, the trail does still exist.
While ascending the mountain, I am thankful I bought a hat that protects me from towering grass. The trail is narrow and the grass leaves are slapping our face if we are not able to hold it. After we reached the summit of the mountain I can feel the blow of the wind and it was forceful (which expected because we are at the top of the mountain). At first, we cannot see the view below because of the clouds, but after clouds got cleared, we were able to see views that for me are awesome to glimpse.
In total experienced, I love Mount Cristobal, not because of the view I found at the top, but the different experience I had while climbing this mountain. I can say the climb was not easy for me, but I won against myself because I never let my fear win over me.