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Friday, July 25, 2014

Mt. Batulao | Revisited the 4th Time Around

NASUGBU, Batangas -- The first time I learned 'bout Mt. Batulao was in the website www.pinoymountaineer.com. I was in intense hunger to explore this as it looks like a back of a dinosaur and those multiple ridges is just so inviting. I remember my first time on this mountain was trekked through the old-to-old trail. The new trail was not established yet and the last was in 2011 which was my third. And for the longest time, last month, my 4th time on this mountain materialized. 

Certainly, Mt. Batulao must be one of the nearest climbing destination if one is from Metro Manila. It is located in the entry point of Nasugbu, a town in Province of Batangas. It can be seen while driving through the road of Tagaytay City with its neighbor -- Mt. Talamitam. What is also good in this mountain, after the climb, there are numbers of side trips that can be done after trekking it. Like the nearby, Tagaytay City where you can glance the amazing view of Taal Volcano on Taal Lake while sipping hot Bulalo. Isn't it just rewarding after the exhausting climb?! We usually do that.

And if you want to experience nostalgia, a 45 minutes up to 1 hour more travel will bring you to the Heritage Town of Taal where you can visit hispanic houses, traditional Filipino houses which we popularly know as "Bahay na Bato", or visit the Asia's largest cathedral in the same town. If you can't get enough with Mt. Batulao and you feel like you crave for more adventures, you can do a double peak or even a tri-peak which include Batulao-Talamitam-Pico. Man, that's one of my toughest bucketlist!

Together with my co-workers and one of our boss, we planned this climb randomly. A week before. We prefer Mt. Batulao because of its proximity, awesome beauty and yet it is suitable for beginners. We have a companion who is newbie in mountaineering so it will not difficult for her.

Our meet up point  was in company office at 7AM and leave exactly. We traveled via SLEX, Silang-Tagaytay Road, and through scenic Tagaytay Road. 

We reached the jump off at 9AM and started our trek 15 minutes later. This time we braved the Batulao Traverse from old to new trail. 

It was a fine sunny morning. The surrounding soil was moist and wet but not sure if the rain poured in the area last night. I think it did, perhaps. I was expecting or maybe missing the notorious muddy trail of Batulao on its beginning but to my surprise it wasn't there anymore. Rather, a long stretch of concrete pavement was touched by our adventure-lust feet. 

I admit! I miss the old trail. Those muddy and slippery trail that add thrills when climbing that mountain made this mountain distinct from others, her own identity. Where one will be challenged pulling up his/her stuck up trekking footwear. Yes it feels embarrassing but somehow, for me that makes the real sense of climbing mountains -- its tough, you will have a hard time, sometimes you will slide down and got stranded on muddy trail. 

It is yourself who will help you in the first place. You have to find ways to avoid getting stuck and learn to practice patience. If it didn't work out alone just yell and seek help from your climbing buddies and they will surely lift you up. In mountaineering, I learn the basic value of camaraderie and it grows out more as we conquered more mountains.

We have passed through those commercialized stations. Those makeshift stores were becoming one of the source of income by the locals at the same time provide stops to the mountain's spectators. In there, we took the opportunity to rest in few minutes and sipped coconut water under its shade.

We were on the mid distance of the old trail. It's descending and shady due to the concentration of large trees in the area. That was like a walk in the park. We met this young family who live in the middle of the trail. That aromatic smell of jackfruit was so inviting that we made our next stop in their compound. They generously offered us to try their langka. We ate few slices and bought fresh coconut which they sell.

Minutes later, we proceed to our trek. We reached those consecutive camps and paid for the registration. We stay there longer and met some of outdoor fellas. This time, we felt the heat of the mighty sun. Thanks for the shades in the area though.

We were at camp 17 at about 11 AM. The sun was scorching hot but the good thing is the wind was blowing. Well, that lessen the heat of the surrounding. We spent our lunch there since it will be the last camp that has good shade to provide us. We stayed for more minutes, almost an hour perhaps and caught time for siesta while savoring the cool sea breeze of Balayan Bay

 We then proceed to the next phase of this trek -- going to the summit! 

Look at this mid-day torturing heat of the sun, we braved it the whole day.

30 minutes later, we were at the summit already. What else can we do up there?, of course, took photos and did some photo ops. As for me, I look for a refreshing drinks. FYI, Mt. Batulao is among the few mountains where you can find or buy soft drinks sell at its top. You can actually choose from a refreshing coconut water or a cold mountain dew hence its name says a mountaineer's drinks.

805 MASL as my watch Altimeter read the summit's altitude. 

The team at the summit! We spent the next 1 hour in the summit under the mid day sun and the blowing wind. I realized that Mt. Batulao is still among the best climbing destination in the country. Simple and easy trail yet offers an amazing piece of nature. It would allow us to witness that beauty still best in its simplest form. And Mt. Batulao definitely posses it. 

We descend after an hour and when the sun was covered by thick clouds which provided us a shade while trekking down. This time we are passing through the other side. As mentioned earlier, it is a traverse. We were at the "dinosaurs back fin-like" or the ridges. It is the most scenic part of this mountain. 

Urrghh!! Those ridges was so picture perfect. We enjoyed traversing it. We did photo ops of course. 

For trail runners, Mt. Batulao is a good place to do the sports. I trail ran the remaining hours and at 4 in the afternoon we already reached the lowlands and rested for few minutes and wash up afterwards. 

The Sidetrip 

A Mt. Batulao Climb would not be complete if you don't do a side trip either in Tagaytay or Taal. In our case, we opted our way home side trip. We spent an hour in the scenic location of Tagaytay while sipping hot soup of Bulalo.

Meet the Team

(From L-R) Sir Gerry, my hardcore boss! A member of UP Mountaineer! Idol! Frank, we speak the same language when it comes to outdoor! 

Billy, yours truly! While sipping soda of mountaineers! Last ko na corny joke to! Hehehe! 

(From L-R) Hanika, the newbie! Amihan, my boss' daughter, may future na bundokera to! 

It seems that I'll be revisiting all previous mountains that I trekked and need to buy dri-fit sport shirts for the upcoming trips. I have already checked some good stuffs to buy online.

Important Note:
  • Mt. Batulao offers majority of an open trail so make sure to bring enough sun protection and sufficient water to drink. It will surely drain your sweat and get ready to pant like a working horse.
  • I would personally advice not to climb this mountain during gloomy-stormy like weather because as told by one of my co-mountaineers in SMB Mountaineers, they experienced a near strike by a lightning at the mountain's summit. That is really possible in that open-kind of trail. So please consider safety first. 
  • Although considered as a minor climb, do not underestimate this mountain. Caution is strictly advice. 

How to get there: 

Via Bus 

There are bus lines that passing through Ever Crest, the jump-off point. Jam Liner at Pasay Rotunda Terminal. The bus are bound to Nasugbu-Lemery. Just advice the conductor to drop you at Ever Crest and they know that already. Travel time is roughly 2 to 3 hours. 

When you get in Ever Crest, you have the option of walking going to the jump off point or take a tricycle ride and pay the amount of Php 20.00 per pax. But I suggest that you rather walk as it serve as a warm up and have a glimpse of the distant view of Mt. Batulao and the nearby development. 

Via Car

Just follow the route to Tagaytay. From SLEX to Silang-Tagaytay Road and travel through the road of Tagaytay until you reached the welcomed arch of Town of Nasugbu. Drive further until you see Ever Crest. 

(C) mountain-forecast.com

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