Return To The Mountain – Mount Batulao Climb
Before my climb in Mount Batulao last January 2015, my last formal climb in my country home was October 2012 when we climbed Mount Hibok Hibok in Camiguin Island. The main reason I was not able to join mountain climbing with my group was because I was away from my country for more than 1.5 years due to assignment work abroad. In those times I tried my best to discover some places as I missed climbing mountains. Since I can’t climb mountains as I don’t have gears and all of my mountaineering stuff were back home, I still tried to join some tours and activities that involved mountains.
When I returned to my country and after long holidays last December 2014, one of the member in the mountaineering group where I am belong, sent invites to join a fun or minor climb through social media where we are connected. The said climb was the first climb that I did outside the climb of my mountaineering group. I decided to join the climb as I really missed climbing and I missed mountains. And since it was not a major climb that requires preparation, I confirmed my attendance to my friend that I will join the trek.
Mount Batulao is located in Nasugbu Batangas. Since it was my first time to climb that mountain, I agreed to meet the group in Mc Donalds near in MRT Taft Station as there is bus terminal nearby that goes to the said place. We took a bus that goes to Nasugbu Batangas. We agreed to meet at 5AM and then we left the bus terminal past 6:30AM. From the terminal, we passed Coastal Road, Aguinaldo Highway and stayed in that highway until we reached Oliveros Cavite. In the junction of Oliveros, we turned right and passed Tagaytay. It’s almost 1.5 hours has passed until we arrived at Evercrest Golf Course in Nasugbu Batangas which our drop-off point.
We stopped at the front of Evercrest main entrance where the bus dropped us so that the group can prepare and buy some foods for the hike. In half an hour we started our journey to the neighbourhood near the base of the mountain. And on our way I saw the mountain from a far and never realised how beautiful the mountain is. I tried to remember why I haven’t climb Mount Batulao before since my group set a lot of schedules in the past to climb the said mountain but as far as I remember it is always conflict in my schedule.
We were nine in the group, three of us are belong to the same mountaineering group and the rest are friends of the person who invited us in the climb. In nine people, only two were men, the rest were ladies. Most of us were new and rookies. I considered myself as rookies as its been years the last time I climbed, that is the main reason I prefer to join minor climbs.
–Snapshots of Mount Batulao near at Evercreat Golf Course
From the main gate, we passed the Golf Course Building and walked quite distance as we reached the neighbourhood at the base of the mountain. Along the way, I saw a lot of small stores where you can buy immediately anything (I am referring to food), which means there is no way you will be hungry.
–View on the way to the neighborhood at the base of the mountain
Little by little we slowly go upward. And while on the trail my friend told us that, there are two trails available in the mountain, they call it “Old Trail” and “New Trail”.
–Some snapshots at the surrounding area of Mount Batulao
–Mount Batulao from a distance
When I saw the mountain, it was a good thing that we set the climb at the right time as we had great weather condition, since it was January it was not warm nor hot as the mountain trail is open trail where it is a grassy mountain and only few trees are existing along the trail.
–At the trail
We continued climbing and while we do that, we saw some small huts and houses made by bamboo where there are some stuff available to buy such as foods and drinks.
–Snapshot while trekking the mountain
–Surround areas with nearby mountains
Our plan was to climb the summit through “Old Trail” and then we will descend using the “New Trail” which means its a traverse climb. When we set the climb it was long weekend, though we only plan for a day hike, I never expected that there were too many trekkers that also climbing Mount Batulao. I saw a lot of people and the trail were full of climbers. It was the first time that I witness such number of people in the mountain, as I used to climb mountains where only my group is in that mountain at that time of the climb or just together with one or two groups and nothing more than that. I can understand why too many people climbing the said mountain, aside from the long weekend and it is also near in Metro Manila. The mountains altitude is around 811+ masl (meters above sea level) which most people categorise the mountain with easy to moderate climb.
When we reached the corner of the trail that will separate the track of “Old Trail” and “New Trail”, at first I thought that the “Old Trail” seems that 75% of it is easy aside from the tracks thats near the summit. “Old Trail” track seems just gradual walking and a little bit of ascent up to the camp site where we need to pay P20 pesos for registration and to the summit.
–Mount Batulao and its summit in a much closer look
On our way to the camp, it came to me that as we approach the camp site I had a clearer view of one side of the mountain and for me it looks like the mountain are keep on getting bigger and taller which made me think that the climb gets harder and harder.
–Camp site at Old Trail
We reached the camp site, we had break and had our lunch. While at the camp I tried to glimpse the trail to the summit. And while looking at it, I kept wondering how difficult the mountain will be if we started our ascend. We knew that after the camp site, the trail will be all assault.
–Old Trail and the Summit
–Old Trail and approaching the summit
–One of the peak in Mount Batulao
–Looking towards Calaca Coal Power Plant
–Old Trail to the summit
–One of the peak of the mountain and Balayan Bay
Our assault started and we took a break every time there some space where we can rest for a while but there was a long queue along the trail because of too many people trying to climb and reach the summit of the mountain and within that sole reason, we have to wait, until we reach the part of the trail that we need to rappel. At first, we waited and then our group decided to climb the trail without the rappel, we just used our bare hands and feet. I was almost at the top and then I hesitated in my steps and from there I asked help from someone to give the rope to me so I can finish my climb in a steep part of the trail. After such treacherous trail, we continued our assault until we reached the summit.
–The New Trail
–Looking Towards Calaca and Balayan Bay from the Summit
–Looking Towards Binubusan from the Summit
At the summit, it was breath taking scenery, I always feel the same feelings every time I am in the summit of the mountain. There are lots of people in the summit that is why all are trying to sneak some shots without having a photo bummer. We took a break at the summit, had some snacks, took individual and group photos.
Then, we decided to descend the mountain and since the trail are at the side hill of the mountain, the tracks are quite tricky and need careful steps for safety. The trail is also slippery even though it did not rain, the challenge is the trail with not so much friction that will hold people to stand firmly. All people either go down while sitting or knee bend just to be able to move forward. There’s nothing to hold on so much. Most men near in our group while descending were helping women.
We also reach the trail where there’s rope as well and we need to go down using ropes. There were many part of the trails that’s really challenging until we passed those parts. That’s the only time we got relaxed as we knew the next part were all easier.
We passed the trail where the Old Trail and New Trail meet again. Next, we continued our walk descending the mountain. We did a little break in one of the hut store. After that, we finished our trekked almost before it gets dark. We stopped at the neighbourhood area after long walks to get some showers. And the group reassemble again after taking showers to eat something before we decided to separate our ways as our adventure finished.
For me the climb is a mixture of fun and quite challenging climb during the ascent and descent of the mountain as there are both steep part of the trail which requires rappelling, well different things can be really experience in the mountain.
Until the next climb (I hope I can join another one again…)