Climbing Mt. Pulag was my first joiner experience. A joiner is when an individual or group organises a tour that a fixed number of people can join for a fee. The fee usually includes meals as well as the transportation expenses and the services of a travel guide. I don’t consider myself the sociable type but when a workmate, who is also a friend, invited me to join the trip with her friends, I decided to give it a try and I enjoyed the whole experience.
As a first timer, I did my best to prepare for the climb. The climb was scheduled for February, the time of Hanging Amihan, so I was trying to figure out how to survive in such cold weather. Here are some of the things I did to get ready for my first mountain climb.
1. Pack Light
Since we we’re going to be climbing a mountain, I knew I should only carry the basic stuff so I don’t exhaust myself from carrying too much. I went online and searched for the items that mountain climbers usually bring with them, especially during cold weather.
At this point, I was still skeptical about actually going and being a home-based worker, I found the fee for the trip already pricey. So I thought to myself that if I find items to bring that are not too pricey, then it’s a sign that I should go ahead. I got my sign alright, so I decided to buy what I needed and packed my bag with the following items:
- 2 liters water
- 1 sando (sleeveless shirt)
- 1 shirt
- 1 hoodie
- 1 body hugging jacket
- 1 Michelin jacket
- 3 leggings
- 1 shawl
- 1 beanie or hat
Snacks and food were already included in the fee. Our climb was just an overnight stay and by sunrise the next morning, we would be on our way down back to where we started.
2. Bring a Good Camera and Power Bank
If you have a good hand held camera that’s small enough to carry with you, then bring it with you or invest in a mobile phone with a good camera because you will be taking lots of pictures. I wouldn’t suggest a bulky DSLR camera if you’re not used to it as it will be heavy and it will feel heavier as the climb progresses. Also, don’t forget to bring a fully-charged power bank so you don’t run out of batteries while taking pictures.
For good pictures, be a bit more adventurous and try toploading – riding on the roof of the vehicle (in our case, a jeepney) – you will get a 360 degree view of everything. You will have to manage with the wind in your face though.
3. Pay Attention to The Orientation
Don’t skip the orientation at the Ranger’s Station as you will be guided on the do’s and don’ts while on the trail and once you’ve reached the campsite. Some tips include:
- Eat before heading out because you will need to fuel your body for the climb. We already had breakfast before the orientation.
- Don’t wear your jackets at the start of the climb. Your body temperature will naturally rise up as you go through the trail and you will be sweating buckets so you don’t need your jacket.
- Bring energy bars. This will give you an extra energy boost when you start feeling tired or hungry.
4. Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Foot Prints
Be mindful of your own trash. When we arrived at the campsite, I was shocked that there were a lot of campers who stayed for 2 nights already but they didn’t take care of their trash. The place was already filled with tents so it was hard to find a spot to put up our own tent especially with so much trash around. This means that we couldn’t appreciate the rest of the scenery as all the trash was distracting.
Also, the restroom was not clean at all so I just found a spot to pee in the middle of nature. I guess this is one of the main reasons why Mt. Pulag was closed for rehabilitation for a time after our climb.
As an added tip, prepare what you will wear for the next day’s activity. Better yet, wear the clothes that you will use for the next day and sleep in them so you don’t need to rush in the morning to change your clothes. Remember that it will be very cold at the mountain peak where you will stay the night while you will all be sweaty on the way up and on the way back down.
5. Try Not to Be A Sweeper
The sweeper is that person who is the last one to get off the trail. Try to keep up with the pace of the rest of your companions and try not to be the sweeper. Being a sweeper will make you feel even more tired and you lose all the fun of being with the group. It is also demoralising, making you feel like you are dragging the group down since you know you’re the only one they’re waiting for so they can start the trip back for resting from the climb.
I think these tips will still be useful to those who plan to climb a mountain. Just adjust some of the items you will bring to suit the weather conditions during your climb. Each mountain also has different challenge, not all trails will be smooth so be sure to get in touch with your travel guides for proper instructions.
Whatever mountain you climb or whatever trip you go to next, remember to respect Mother Nature to ensure that the next generation will still be able to enjoy the same experience that you did. Take pictures but also take the time to appreciate the beauty of nature with your own eyes.
Sarah is an adventurer who is an avid fan of local travel. She has joined many tours and has organized several tours to different parts of the country herself. She is currently taking some time to sort her adventures at work and home. But she will definitely be back soon to creating more exciting travel adventures.
She also provided all the pictures on this post.