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Climbing Mount KanlaonAug 22-25, 2010

Climbing Mount Kanlaon

The Goodies
It's been over 2 years since I last climbed with the Goodies when we summited Mt. Apo in 2008. Since their next climb was Mt. Kanlaon, practically a few hours by bus from my base in Dumaguete, I welcomed the chance to join them when I got an invite from Reggie. The group would consist of Reggie, Aarone, Xtine and Ian, with 2 German hikers plus Guide Gabby Solomon.

New Things
I tried 3 new things for this climb:

  • tobacco solution - I soaked my climbing clothes in tobacco solution and brought some with me to apply when trekking the limatik sections.
  • studded boots - for added traction, specially since my soles have worn off, I placed wood screws on my soles.
  • 2 trekking poles - to support my knees and get more traction, I carried 2 trekking poles.

The Plan
We would meet up in La Carlota to start our climb on the Guintubdan Trail, traversing to Wasay Trail and coming out in Murcia, where The Blade's hot spring awaits our aching bodies in Mambukal Resort. It's a one-day ascent from the jump-off at 860 MASl gaining top elevation of 2437 MASL at the crater. The more gruelling descent along the Wasay Trail will take 1.5 days.

Our Hiking Tracks (using a Garmin Vista GPS)

Mt. Kanlaon hiking tracks

Too Much Baggage
Since I planned to do some exploring of Bacolod and Silay after the climb, I brought with me other items that were not essential to the climb - big mistake. Aggravating that was I climbed self-contained - no one to share the load of my tent, cookset or stove. The added bulk and weight exacted a hardship penalty. It slowed me down, sapped my energy, caused me to slip more, snagged on low lying branches, and made it very difficult to manage technical sections. At some point, even with the trekking poles, my knees were screaming back-up! Reggie was kind enough to lend me her knee support.

The Trails
The Guintubdan Trail was fairly manageable with a technical section closer to the Pagatpat Junction. After summiting the crater, we headed back to Pagatpat Junction to traverse the northern and more technical Wasay Trail. Even from the map, the Wasay Trail was much longer. Factoring the vertical ascent, it would be more than twice longer than Guintubdan. What made Wasay daunting was that we'd been hiking up and down for nearly half a day on technical trail and our altitude remained the same. This was followed by 3 punishing river crossings - we'd descend down to cross the river, then climb back up the ridge, then down again to the river and back up the ridge and down....etc. My load didn't get any lighter after leaving the jump-off (since we ate the food I brought for breakfast), so the weight and bulk of my pack felt heavier with the onslaught of fatigue.

hiking profile

The Crater
This one blew me away. I thought I'd see a partial depression on the ground, but this one was a deep wide gaping hole on top of the mountain. The view to its inner bowel was unobstructed. And on its edge is a sheer vertical drop to its center! In 1996, without warning, it spewed out rocks that exploded upon impact. 6 climbers died on that day. Today, the volcano remains active and temperamental.

The Blade at Mambukal Resort
After 2.5 days of climbing, Mambukal Resort, which lies at the end of Wasay Trail, was nothing short of the Promised Land. Upon arrival, we had lunch and took that much needed dip into The Blade's hot mountain spring. Having our aching bodies soothed by the nourishing water was nirvana. On top of that, literally, fruit bats hovered above us. I imagined my perfect Shangrila to be a nipa hut on a mountain slope overlooking the sea with a hot spring water source where friends can gather and share the bliss.

Post Climb
In hindsight, I should have met the group in Bacolod to unload stuff I won't be needing for the climb (instead of heading straight to La Carlota). A lighter and leaner load would have added a little fun to the climb - instead of making it a punishing training climb. But somehow, when everything has been said and done, I have to admit a little feeling of accomplishment having hiked 2.5 days with such a heavy load without burdening others to carry part of my stuff. Aarone and the Guide Gabby offered, but pride got the better of me.

Ending Thoughts
Next climb? Right now, I'm just glad to be back home and writing about it. Mt. Kanlaon is full of superlatives for me. Partly because of my load, it's perhaps the most difficult for me. I also consider it the most technical with fallen trees we had to hurdle over, going on all fours with low lying branches, going up and down and still being at the same elevation, etc. View-wise, very few mountains (I've climbed) can compare with this stunning scenery, although Mt. Apo comes close. Kanlaon's 3600 view was breathtaking! More imposing was the view of the gaping crater. For everything it is, Mt. Kanlaon will remain a memorable climb.

--- TheLoneRider

Thanks Reggie for the many things you've done for me - bringing my 8k climbing gear from Manila, lending me your knee support and inviting me to this climb. Thanks Aarone and Gabby for offering to carry some of my stuff! And thanks to everyone for the many little things.

    Related Info:
  • The Blade at Mambukal Resort - entrance to Mambukal Resort P30, The Blade Hot Spring fee P50, tel. 09216486348
  • Guide Gabby Solomon (if starting from Guintuban Trail)- tel. 09298293094
  • Guide Punky Arima (if starting from Wasay Trail)- tel. 09217855306

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The following people like this story:








Reader Comments:

"Mt. Kanlaon made me long to climb again." -- Charlene Tan
(Sep 5, 2010) For sheer grandeur and the price it exacts, Mt. Kanlaon is a definite bucket list entry.

Charlene Tan
(Sep 5, 2010) Mt. Kanlaon looked breathtaking indeed...after seeing your picturess. I am sure Mt. Kanlaon is so much more. It made me long to climb again. Great mapping too, I must say...very clean. Oh...you need new hiking boots!

"If and when Aris gets inducted, we'll definitely plan for this :)" -- Bernz Varona
(Sep 5, 2010) I'm so out of the loop, I didn't even know Aris is a UPM applicant (UP Mountaineers). An alternative itinerary? You can do a traverse - Wasay-crater-Kanlaon (the municipality on the Negros Oriental side) and then take the shorter bus ride to Dumaguete. Then let's dive!

You also gave me an idea. I'd been thinking of ways to make this post my most comprehensive...itinerary, terrain map, elevation profile map, downloadable forms, etc. I'll also add the actual GPS tracks for download...but I have to edit and make file conversions. I'll just post it under Additional Info.

Bernz Varona
(Sep 4, 2010) Shucks now I want to climb this. We (PJ, Casper etc) were supposed to go around 2 years ago (after Mt. Apo) but the plans didn't push through. If and when Aris gets inducted, we'll definitely plan for this :)

"Can you tell me where one can buy tobacco leaves?" -- Angel Provido
(Sep 2, 2010) Any wet market will do. Get the rejects - it's cheaper. I paid P5 for mine (the one in the picture). Contrary to popular belief, you won't smell. Good luck on the climb! Wanna send me a pic so I can post your profile pic as well?

Angel Provido
(Sep 2, 2010) Hi LoneRider.. I will be climbing Kanlaon next week via Wasay-Guintubdan trail. Can you tell me where one can buy tobacco leaves? Is that available in the local palengke? Thanks! I'm thinking of trying that one too.

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