I had a lot of firsts on this mountain.
This was my first major climb. It was also the first time I scaled a summit. I carried my own bag – with around four liters of water inside, a tent that could fit two people, a sleeping bag, canned food, clothes – without the help of a horse or a porter. It was the first time for me to join an organized tramping activity. I also remember this climb being the first ever challenge that pushed me to ask myself kung bakit ko ginagawa ‘to. Lol.
The mountain on which I experienced these first times – Tarak Ridge, Mt. Mariveles. When my dad said that we’re climbing Tarak Ridge, I looked it up right away on Pinoy Mountaineer:
Tarak Ridge in Mariveles, Bataan
Jump off point: Brgy. Alas-asin, Mariveles
LLA: 14°30.357′N, 120°30′E, 1,006 MASL (ridge); 1,130 MASL (peak)
Days required / Hours to summit: 2 days, 5-6 hours
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 3
It was a sunny Saturday morning when we reached Bataan. We started off at 9am and reached Manang Curding’s house after a few minutes. All mountaineers are required to register here. What excited me upon reaching her humble hut were the banners of successful mountaineers hung in front of it. I wanted so badly to see our group’s banner with my signature up there!
This mountain challenged my patience and endurance to their limits. The first hour of trekking was quite easy, but the difficulty escalated as we started climbing steeper slopes with the sun beating down on us. Armed with a strong resolve (and a chocolate bar in my hand) to move forward, I kept walking and walking and walking.
After about three hours, I heard the steady sound of gushing freshwater and it was like music to my ears! We reached Papaya River, which is the only water source on the mountain. Our guide, Romy, decided to tweak the itinerary so that we’ll set camp along the river instead of on the ridge. It was the best idea ever because it will take another two hours (or more) to the ridge, and we would definitely be slowed down if we had our heavy backpacks with us.
After lunch and a nap in our tent, we set off towards the summit. Boy was it hard! We had to hold on to tree trunks and branches jutting out of the soil, steeling ourselves for a jagged landscape ahead. Our guide though was so proud of us because we were on the ridge in less than two hours. Yay!
Like what my friend said about mountain climbing, there is immediate gratification upon realizing where you are and what you can see below you. The ridge provided a 270 degree view of Bataan. It was also amazing to see Corregidor Island and Cavite from a distance.
I only had about two sips of water left in my tumbler, but that didn’t stop me from saying yes to our guide when he asked if we wanted to climb up to the summit. Ganon ako ka-competitive! It took another 20 to 30 minutes before we reached the first summit (apparently there are two summits – El Saco and Tarak). We were 1,130 meters above sea level and the view was really amazing, not to mention the air that was probably the freshest that I will ever get to breathe.
The descent wasn’t easy because of the slippery downhill paths, and the sun started to set as we trekked back to camp. It was another first for me, and I had to use my headlamp to be able to work my way towards the campsite in the dark. When I got to our tent I wanted badly to sleep, but of course part of the itinerary that everyone looked forward to was the socials. Oh and there was also a raffle draw! I won a drawstring bag from Basekamp. Another first! I’m never lucky in raffle draws. 🙂
Our second day was more relaxed as we got the rest we needed from yesterday’s assault to the summit. Our group enjoyed a bottle of whiskey while dipped in the river, and by 11am we were already on our way back to the foot of the mountain, thrilled to hang the banner after yesterday’s peat.
And we got to the foot of the mountain safely, with Manang Curding and a glass of buko juice waiting for us. FYI – I don’t like buko juice but I finished one tall glass in less than a minute. I was thirsty and exhausted and feeling sore all over, but these paled in comparison to the immense feeling of scaling Tarak Ridge. The achievement made me want to scale more mountains soon!
Join us in our quest to explore more mountains! Add Basekamp Ligaya on Facebook to get regular updates and deets of tramping activities organized by the group. 🙂