It’s really hard to explain to people why one should take up mountaineering; brave unknown forests, hug boulders, cross rivers, and crawl muddy trails. All of these with spotty phone reception.
But really, there’s no better place than the great outdoors to cleanse your spirit. Everything is put into a different perspective when you’re inches from a cliff, even priorities will be trimmed down to tinapay and water. All the big city problems will become petty and irrelevant while having envy-worthy #VitaminB photos.
Here is a list of mountains where you can enjoy the view while challenging your mortality to forget stress:
The initiation of a budding mountaineer starts in Batulao (well most of the time). This mountain in Batangas is practically the mecca for newbie hikers and trail runners. The trek is fairly easy compared to most of the mountains on this list but it also has the hardest summit to reach because of mountain traffic. Most of the trek going to the peak includes overtaking and being overtaken. And since hikers are encouraged to stay on one lane, so as not to disrupt vegetation, lines tend to get long, especially when there’s an acrophobic upfront. Reach the summit and chances are it’ll be crowded with hikes and mountain vendors.
Another newbie favorite is Balagbag. The trails are wide and are usually shared with runners, off-roaders, and livestock. Most of the mountain is exposed to the sun so make sure to bring a cap or umbrella. Even beginners will find the Balagbag trek easy so might as well include Maranat for a quick dip in its many waterfalls.
There’s no mountain better than Pulag (aka the playground of the gods) to ultimately convince someone to pick up the outdoor hobby. A hike via Ambangeg trail is pretty much a breeze even for non-hikers that it has even become a tourist destination. The difficult parts are the low temperatures when night falls and insane wake up call to catch the sunrise over the sea of clouds (not to mention the eerie night trek going to the summit to catch this).
Bakun Trio (Mt. Tenglawan, Mt. Kabunian, Mt. Lobo)
One does not really need to climb all three, but Bakun, Benguet is not really the most accessible place from Manila. To maximize the trip, climbers tend to include all three mountains to their itinerary. The mountains in Cordillera are favorite destinations because unlike the hot mountains in southern Luzon, a nice hike in Cordillera bathes you in fog and clouds.
As soon as you reach the top, you’ll conclude why the mountain is named Marami. Marami kang lalakarin. Climbers have to endure kilometers of walking in the mud (during wet season) or under the sun (during dry season.) And if the guide is feeling chatty, he’ll tell you tales of hikers getting lost for days in the Cavite mountain.
One of the closest mountains where you can witness a solid sea of clouds is in Rizal. But that also means leaving Manila at midnight and start hiking before 4am. Climbers have to navigate rice fields in the dark and virtually trail run to catch the sunrise, which is sort of okay since the last stretch going to the summit is an open trail. The sun’s rays will still be bearable by the time you climb down.
On the look out for a mountain with minor climbing specs but with a picturesque view? Sembrano in Pililia, Rizal is your place. The view on top includes Laguna Lake and the Sierra Madre mountain range. Even the climb going up is scenic with grasslands, hills ,and talahib swaying with the wind.
If you’re not intimidated by the words “knife edge” or “kiss the wall” then the eighteen-hour trip to the island of Sibuyan, Romblon should be on your bucket list. Knife Edge is the steep jagged ridge portion of Mt. Guiting-Guiting with ravines on both side of the ridge. Kiss The Wall is the portion where you’ll have no choice but to hug the boulders for dear life so as not to fall to your death. And if those don’t excite your heart, deities apparently hide and protect the mountain.
Another Cordillera favorite is Amuyao and its mossy forests and pine trees. It does not draw as much of a crowd as Pulag (and that’s a good thing actually), but the sunrise and sunset view will definitely not disappoint climbers. That is, if you’re willing to climb stairways for hours.
Serious mountaineers should be familiar with this mountain and the lives it claimed. Definitely not for the noob. Halcon is up on the list of “the toughest Philippine mountains to conquer.” There’s limatik (blood leeches) present on the trail and the threat of flashfloods during inclement weather.