AMCI Mt. Halcon tips

by Jay de Guzman, Jan. 5, 2001

Mt. Halcon is regarded as the toughest mountain to climb in the Philippines. Climbers who aspire to set foot on its 2,587-meter (8,448 feet) summit must trek through wild and rugged terrain. Its landscape is primeval- it is as if time has stood still in this mountain.

The starting point is barely 50 meters above sea level. One must first hurdle the 1,500-meter (4,900 feet) Mt. Dulangan (or Mt. Aplaya to some people). The trail then winds down to Dulangan River at 500 meters (1,600 feet) before climbing all the way to Sialdang, the summit of Mt. Halcon. Altogether the climb is equivalent to 4,580 meters (15,027 feet) which is longer than that to the summit of Mt. Everest from its base camp.

Below are the areas to be visited during the climb.

  1. Bayanan - This is the trailhead; we will leave our change of clothing (including side-trip clothing) to the brgy. captain. DO NOT leave money and any valuables. Each group is advised to put all of its members' clothing in one big plastic/duffel bag. Put a label on it. This way, there will only be a few plastic/duffel bags for safekeeping. We can load trail water here.
  2. Mangyan Village 1 - Trail water can be replenished here. Be polite to the residents of the village.
  3. Mangyan Village 2 - Camp 1 is at the outskirts of the village. There are limatiks at the campsite.
  4. Aplaya - Camp 4. Twenty or more waterfalls can be seen coming out of Mt. Halcon's side.
  5. Dulangan River - Camp 2. It might be necessary to setup a rope to facilitate safe crossing of the river. Idyllic site for swimming (if you can bear the cold waters).
  6. Balugbog-baboy A break in the forest about an hour after Dulangan River.
  7. Mag-asawang Ilog - Emergency campsite.
  8. Big Waterfalls - This is the last water source before Sialdang. Suggested lunch area.
  9. Durungawan - This is a viewdeck overlooking a Mangyan village.
  10. Sablayan - Alternative campsite. This is the start of the summit area. If the weather is really bad, then we will setup camp here. The weather can change quickly from this point onwards. Our rain jackets, windbreaker, gloves and other cold weather clothing should be accessible.
  11. Mini Forest - Rest area before the summit ridge (Knife's Edge). The trees provide shelter from strong winds.
  12. Knife's Edge - We will climb a 10-foot wall to the Knife's Edge. A wooden ladder has been setup there, but the steps are worn out and could break anytime. DO NOT climb the ladder with your backpack. Participants who are skilled in technical climbing will setup a rope to ensure safety of everyone.
  13. Sialdang - Camp 3, the summit of Mt. Halcon.

Prepare your mind and body.

No doubt the physical aspect of the climb is daunting enough that many people dread climbing Mt. Halcon. The psychological aspect is as daunting. The climb is truly a body and mind thing. It has to be both because Mt. Halcon will mercilessly tax the body and mind. Definitely, one can't do without the other. Doing without the other spells certain defeat. A holistic approach must be followed. It is not enough to be in top physical shape. The mind has to be ready too. Mt. Halcon is a testament to this ideal.

Plan your meals, gear and equipment.

For a 5-day itinerary, you need to plan 4 sets of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

There are plenty of water sources. Except for Camp 3, all other campsites are near a water source. Foods that require lots of water e.g., pasta, soup-based viands (Sinigang), etc. can be included in the group's meal plan. But be mindful of the spoilage rate of food.

Lunch should be prepared in the morning and packed individually. There should be minimal cooking during lunch break.

Dinner for DAY 3 should be easy to prepare. Remember that DAY 3 is the longest and toughest part of the climb.

Bring lots of trail food. Don't allow yourself to become hungry while on the trail. Snack frequently.

Don't forget to bring extra provision in case of emergency.

Check all equipment for defective parts. Have it repaired or replaced. Everyone should be familiar with the assembly and operation of tents, stoves and lamps.

Travel light, but complete.

Identify all the provision and equipment of the group. Prepare a load distribution chart outlining the load assignment of all group members for the duration of the climb. The load distribution solution should be equitable to all members of the group. Remember that fair distribution is not necessarily equal distribution.

The scribe should provide each member of the group with a load assignment checklist. This is most important for DAY 1 so that your group is assured that nothing is left behind.

At each campsite, make an inventory of the provisions and equipment. Adjust the load assignment as deemed necessary.

Teamwork and Unity

Patience and awareness of one another's strengths and weaknesses should be put forward by everyone. We should complement each other. The weakness of one person could be the strength of another.

Respect for the Mountain

Don't swear. Pack out what you pack in.

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

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