The weather was great, not too sunny, but it did not seem like it would rain. We left Manila quite late but the travel was smooth and quick. We were at the Evercrest Golf Course before 12nn. We ate lunch, stretched a bit then started our trip up the cool Mt. Batulao. We had a few kids helping us out as we gradually ascended the slopes of Batulao.

A few minutes into the climb, I got into an accident. I was walking a bit fast and tripped on a big rock. It did not move, held it's ground and instead, pulled me down to the ground. My whole body crashed and my right knee hit another rock. Blood started to form on my skin as my knee began to swell. This all happened as two horses walked behind me. Fearing they would walk over me, I, with some help, moved to the side of the path under the hot sun. My knee started to swell out of proportion. First aid was given, but I refused to let this stop me. I climbed still all the way up to the camp site. Though it took us a lot longer than planned, I still got to the camp site.

The rest of the climbers went up the peak as I stayed at camp, cooking and preparing for the climbers arrival. Good thing this wasn't my first time at Batulao. I had already reached the peak before. Being left behind wasn't a big deal to me. The next day, the bigger task of descending faced me. My knee had swelled a bit more and my wound was beginning to water. The bandage was sticking to my skin, making it really hard and painful to change. A few minutes into the descent, I agreed to ride a horse instead. Our porters' father had a horse who patiently brought me down the sometime steep slope. My fear level was beyond 100% while up behind the horse's back. The sometimes steep slopes made me hold tighter and pray harder.

We all thought it was a perfect climb until that very moment.  It still was a perfect climb... As my emergency physician has said, "just PRICE it...Protect, Rest, ICE.. and you'll be back to climbing in 2 weeks. Just take it slow."

For two days I was scared of going to the hospital, fearing what I would be told. But as with all things, prayer helps... Before climbing, make it a habit to ask Him for protection.

As with all experiences, lesson learned.


by Gideon Lasco

This annotated checklist, I hope, will help everyone planning a climb.

For overnight climbs, a 40L backpack will do while multi-day trips may require larger packs; make sure to have a raincover with you to protect your pack from rain. Bring tents that would be exact for each group. Don't forget the pegs that would protect your tent from being collapsed or blown away by wind and the flysheet that will protect your tent from being rained down. A sleeping bag is not a necessity especially when the planned campsite is predictably flat; some tents may have a built-in groundsheet but bringing one is always recommended. An earthpad serves a dual purpose of scaffolding the items in your pack and providing insulation at night.

Sets of clothes: 1 set going up, 1 set in camp, 1 set going down: but actually you can just bring two sets, one going up, and the other at camp you can wear going down; just add a pajama or sweater for the camp itself if it will be cold. For multi-day, rainy climbs, you can have two sets: the wet set during climbing and dry set during camping.

Waterproofing. It is best to make sure everything, especially clothes, are protected from rain. You do not need fancy waterproof packs to achieve this; simply putting your clothes inside plastic bags can serve the purpose. However, items that are waterproof are always cool and useful; look for GORE-TEX fabric in clothes, jackets, and shoes as a mark of waterproofing. Otherwise, make you sure you bring a poncho or raincoat to protect your body in case of rain. Also, choose clothes that easily dry and does not get get heavy with rain. This is the reason why jeans are a no-no!

Cold protection. You can either go for quanity (many layers of clothes) or quality (just a few with the right fabrics and sufficient protection). Not all good fabrics vs. the cold are good against rain, however, such as jackets with goose feathers or those thick ones for winter. So in the setting of cold weather, it is best to have warm insides and a waterproof outside (a Gore-Tex jacket) to keep everything dry. Body warmers such as bonnets, gloves, socks, and thermal underwear are good items. Since tolerance to cold vary from person to person, only experience can definitively tell you how many layers you should bring for a Pulag climb. Three to four is enough on the average, though.

Thin, long-sleeved shirts or rashguards would also serve the purpose of protecting the skin vs. thorns and insects and they are worn with shirts in the same way that leggings are worn with shorts. They have the added benefit of some protection vs. the sun, although wearing sunblock (SPF > 30) is still recommended in exposed trails.

Other items you can bring is a pair of sunglasses/shades to shield your eyes from the intense sunlight at high elevations and a trekking pole (sometimes two) to assist you in steep trails. A trekking pole may not have a purpose at the start, but it could be a precious tool when you get a sprain.

Backpack / raincover
Tent / groundsheet / earthpad
Sleeping bag*
Hiking shoes / plus optional slippers/sandals
Trekking pants/light pants
Thermal/cotton/wool undershirt
Long sleeved trekking shirt
Poncho / raincoat
Extra shirts
Gloves/bonnet/thick socks
Bush hat / cap
Trekking pole*

Water. When bringing water, take the presence and interval of water sources as a guide on how much to bring. In general, 1 liter can last for two hours on mild to moderate sunlight on mild to moderate trails. So if the average interval of water sources for each climb is four hours, it is best to have at least 2-3L water in addition to what you will need in camp for cooking. A cool item is of course the hydration pack (sometimes referred to as a bladder) which can store water inside your pack; you can just sip it from a valve.

Trail food. It is entirely up to you what kind of trail food you want to bring. Personally, I always bring a mix of dried fruits (dried mangoes, raisins); energy bars (chocolate, oatmeal bars); the traditional gelatin (i.e. JellyAce -- but I love those with fruit bits or nata inside); and candies. Don't forget to keep track of your wrappers! Some climbers prepare their own trail food by filling Ziplocks with ChocNut, bits of Oreo and M&Ms, plus gummy bears, for their personal snack. Don't buy low-calorie stuff, though - you need the energy!

Meals. It has been mountaineering tradition to cook in camp - i.e. buy meat from the local market, rice, etcetera. However, don't feel embarrassed if you will resort to canned goods. The important thing is leaving nothing at the campsite, especially those tin cans. Cooking rice up in the mountains is just like doing it in town, but water boils faster in high altitudes so make adjustments. Pasta - or sotanghon - is advocated by some as an easier alternative to rice. Oil of course is very important and personally I always want something to spice things up like peppers or chili powder.

Stove. A majority of portable stoves in the Philippines are still butane-based although there is an emerging number of multi-fuel ones. Make sure you have enough fuel for the climb; one butane cylinder usually lasts for 1-2 meals. I usually bring 1 cylinder for each night, plus an extra. As for the stove, of course you have to bring one. Setting up a fire for cooking in campsites is not a recommended practice. Bring a ligher or matches just in case the igniter of your stove conks out.

Cooking and eating utensils. Your cooking utensils can double as your eating utensils. The higher-end ones are made of titanium although the classic Kovea cooker set is a very good deal. Bring spoons/forks/knives; they can all be combined in a camping Swiss knife so learn how to economize on space and items.

After meals. If water is limited, the utensils may be cleaned by a wet tissue/towel with alcohol. Don't leave utensils with food lest you attract mountain rats and other guests. If there is a water source, do your cleaning downstream so as not to contaminate the source.

2-3L water or liquids / hydration pack or water bottles
Trail food: could be energy bars, nuts, dried fruits
Rice / precooked/uncooked meat/
Noodles / instant coffee
Oil / garlic / pepper
Portable stove and fuel
COoking/eating utensils
Spoon/fork/knife/can opener
Lighter /matches
Garbage bags/Ziplocks

Needless to say, you have to mind your personal needs even when in the mountains. First on the checklist is a trowel (though one per group will do) which you will use to dig a hole for your waste; the rest are quite self-explanatory. You may not need these during the climb itself, but at the jumpoff, a postclimb shower may be a good reward -- and something you need to sleep all the more soundly on the bus back home.

Trowel /tissue paper
Soap/ Shampoo
Toothbrush / toothpaste

This is like a PC game in real life - you can actually use cool gadgets in real life as you climb. Of course, the most basic ones are a flashlight or headlamp (go for long battery life) and a camera. Virtually everybody has a digital camera by now and of course outdoor photography is best served by a dSLR. Navigation and expedition people, on the other hand, bring GPS / altimeter watches: these are vital on explorations. Otherwise, a compass is basic. In all these, don't forget to bring extra batteries because cold temperatures drain batteries. And, if it rains, make sure you have a waterproof solution.

Flashlight / headlamps
Camera / binoculars
Cellphone / Two-way radios
GPS / altimeter watches
Compass / Topographic maps
Extra batteries / memory

I always bring a notebook with me and a pen to document the climb; but it can also be handy in emergencies. You can use ribbons to mark your path on an uncharted trail, and a whistle will spare you from the need to shout at the top of your voice. A utility rope is not really advised in most mountains, but a first aid kit is very important. If you have an existing condition like asthma, never ever forget your personal medications! And when somebody finds you unconscious, make sure a contact number can be found somewhere.

Ballpen / paper/ ribbons / whistle
Lighter /matches
Insect repellant / Sunscreen or sunblock (>SPF 30)
First aid kit / Personal medications
Utility rope*
ID with emergency phone numbers


Why is it essential to take a BMC Course? Can't we just learn everything through experience just like most of the others have?

Well, it is good to learn by experience. They say learnings from experience stick more. But no one ever goes through all the necessary experiences that will fully prepare one for the uncertainties of the outdoors. It is alwasy good to gain other perspectives and best practices from seasoned and experienced climbers.

The SPi Mountaineering Club has not had any close encountered with severe harm because of careful planning and a lot of practice. Though we are still continuing to develop and be better, we know that we have experience and prayer on our side.


It’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves
-Sir Edmund Hillary

Enough sleep, they say, is needed before a climb. You need the energy. I just realized a few minutes into the “fun” climb that I should have forced myself to sleep the night before, but how could I, the overflowing excitement in every inch of my body wouldn’t allow such sweet sleep.

I’ve been planning on conquering a mountain since my brother bought his first tent (that has been ages ago). I was intrigued by his dirty climbing shoes, his long hair and the unmistakable stench of his laundry (dried sweat and dirt embedded in every thread) when he would come home after a climb. My sisters and I dubbed his look the “ermitanyo” look, with a giant mountain pack at his back, a walking stick, his fatigue style clothing and his long unruly hair. I wanted to be a physically active person too, to do some things that my small built and weak knees would allow. I started small by trying out simple physical activities like mini-olympics and swimming classes, then went on to try wall climbing, rappelling and knee boarding. It has been all fun! But these are all simple activities. Nothing that would take long. So when I saw a teaser for the next climb of the mountaineering club, I had to join! I was the only one from the SPi support group who braved the climb. Thought they say that the activity was just a “fun” climb, I didn’t care less.

Buntot Palos  doesn’t seem like such a high climb from the bottom of our path. That is just from the bottom of the path but the path is winding and the hard reality struck me a few meters up. Climbing is not an easy thing. I’ve sweat more in the few minutes of climbing then I have ever had in my entire life. I should not have worn jeans and new shoes. I should have brought only the  bare necessities and left my extra shirts.  I should have brought more water. I could rant on and on but at the end of the day, all the bruises were well worth it!

It was the breathtaking sight of the fields down below that made me forget about my cramping legs and the hot sweat coming out of my pores. The trek up then down to the hidden waterfalls, watching the log-bearing Horses and Carabaos and eating those sumptuous meals are the things that I will never forget. It’s amazing how things so beautiful can be kept alive by nature. If pictures could keep the hidden water falls in pristine condition, I would have filled my phone with photos of the rainbow across the falls, the surrounding walls of trees and the other wonderful sights. There are so many things that I would gladly have done again. Among them are sitting far from the ledge onto a raging river, falling into the water (when I made a promise never to get my shirt wet), swimming across a small lake and taking a bath under a falls, walking through a half-foot wide path with a canal at one side and the deep falls on the other (that took some time and self persuasion to achieve). The many pictures that we took of the place will forever be stored in my phone and in my heart. 

I do not know what makes people want to climb mountains but for me, it’s not just the thrill of facing danger on uneven and dangerously angled paths or learning how to do butt-breaks and relying on a walking stick to keep balance. The terrain might be hard and unforgiving for a beginner like me, but every step of the way is an experience worth cherishing and reliving. One day I will be able to compare mountains and paths and elevations and one day I will be able to really say that I am a mountaineer.

Buntot Palos is my first climb. It will forever be etched in my heart and mind as the first time I  conquered a height. I have a list of things to do before I become too old to do anything and now one of them is climbing more mountains, the higher and more mysterious the better. I have not just conquered a mountain but I am now slowly overcoming my fear of heights. With that, I’m now dreaming of the next summit I can conquer.

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