Entry point: Brgy. Ampucao, Itogon
Exit point: Brgy. Sta. Fe, Itogon
LLA: 16.2904 N, 120.6312 E, 1846 MASL (Mt. Ulap)
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 3-4 hours
Specs: Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-3,
Features: Grassland and ridges with pine trees, scenic views of the Cordilleras, burial caves
(Source: Pinoy Mountaineer Website)
I was busy then with my work and I had no plan to climb. However, on January 18, 2016, I saw Pete Zee's Mount Ulap Climb Facebook post. Pete, whom his group of three were our companions in our April 13-14, 2015 Mount Kanlaon Climb, had served to be a person whom I usually ask something about travel and mountaineering activities since then. Upon reading that post, I chat with him and had some queries about the climb. Together with another friend, Retzer Quevedo, we finalized to join the latter's friend group to have the January 24, 2016 Mount Ulap Day Climb.
Retzer and I left Cubao at 11:09 A.M. on January 23, 2016 boarding Victory airconditioned bus No. 2111 on its Cubao Terminal. We arrived in Baguio City at 4:50 P.M. From the bus terminal, we opted to walk going to the Jeep terminal for our Bokawkan transient house. On our way, we dropped by at Burnham Lake just to unwind.
From Burnham Lake, we walked again uphill heading to Baguio City hall passing thru the Veniz Hotel just four blocks away. Then presto!! we found the jeep terminal heading to La Trinidad though we have to drop somewhere in our transient house where we will stay for overnight.
We really did not know the exact location of our transient house but the jeepney driver as well as the passengers helped us to find its address at No. 51 Bokawkan Road under the name of Mountainside Logding House. There, we finally met Retzer's friend with his friends for a total of 16 where they opted to be in Baguio earlier of the day leaving Cubao on the eve of January 22, 2016. We were provided with four rooms at a rate of P300 per person. Not bad for an overnight stay. Retzer and I had dinner at the downtown and some evening walk to chill out feeling the cool Baguio for a change.
As early as 2:00 A.M. on January 24, 2016, our group were already up from our beds to prepare. At exactly 3:00 A.M., our chartered jeepney picked us from our transient house. However, we were delayed since we dropped at 7-Eleven opposite the Victory Terminal to buy some food and other necessities.
We then left Baguio City at almost 3:30 A.M. heading along the Ampucao-Philex route and arrived at Ampucao's barangay hall at 4:10 A.M. It was just timely for some of us to have their breakfast at the barangay hall and at the same time to register at a fee of P100 per head. One can buy noodles and some other basic food necessities at the barangay hall.
Prior to our climb, our Expedition Leader had already contacted guides for our group. Unfortunately, they did not show up and so, we randomly took one guide for our group instead of a required two since we were all 18. His name is Jipson Pis-oy. There were a couple of group of climbers ahead of us.
It was still dark when we started the trek even if we started at 4:55 A.M. and so we used headlights and flashlights. First, we trailed through a concrete road with a number of houses along it. The air was crisp and we were breathing fresh air everywhere.
Our first hour of trek was still dark. What you can see are lined up lights along the trail since we were a total of four groups who climb together. Looking closely at our trail, we can see that we were trekking along a pine tree dotted slope. Occasionally, the trail becomes steep and some may even request for a quick rest.
Gradually, the dramatic sunrise was peeping through the skies. It was then that we witness in awe that we have trailing are densely pine forested. The nearby mountains such as Mount Pulag, Mount Ugo and Mount Sto. Tomas were visible to our naked eyes.
As I trekked, I realized how easy was the climb. It was cheaper and the preparations are not as that of Mount Pulag. It was still fresh to me that in my third climb in Mount Pulag dated November 27-29, 2015, we failed to reach the summit and nobody in our huge batch of climbers were allowed to camp somewhere but only at Ambangeg.
If you wanted to an easy climb, just pick Mount Ulap where it is jusst as equally rewarding like that of Mount Ulap though it does not have the sea of clouds. However, if you trek this mountain, you would consider this as an event since wherever you turned with amounts to a scenic view that you will really be in total awe.
The scenery you will see when you climb in Mount Ugo can be seen in Mount Ulap but the former is a major climb and it has a series of cardiac assaults. Trekking can be longer and exhausting in Mount Ugo and the budget is even more expensive.
As the sunrise completes its glorious showdown, every slopes of grassland somewhat turned into gold. It was so amazing to see it. We can't stop but to be lo and behold and snap some photos. Every angle was just completely amazing. I was absolutely speechless and only my camera was on its complete senses capturing as many shots as it can.
With less effort and sporting a somehow a malling walk, the joy I felt in every step of mine was just tremendous. It was such an awesome experience. Our group were completely stunned with the beauty of the mountain and we were with few words along our trek but continuously being mesmerized with what we see.
Alas!!! I've seen another showcase of beauty!!! It was the Ambanao Paoay!! I begged from our guide to scale it thinking it was out of way, but he said, it is really a part of the climb. Without any delay, I ran down with reckless abandon and reaching the foot of the slope, I rushed like a marathon runner scaling up the peak of Ambanao Paoay with an elevation of 1,788 MASL or 5,866.14 feet above sea level.
Descending the Ambanao Paoay at 6:44 A.M. was just the start of unending scenic treats unfolding to our naked eyes. It was then that trekking became just gradual. Fortunately, that day was not really that hot. I did not even bother to use my umbrella tucked in my backpack.
We were on a cliff at 7:33 A.M. and it even took time because we have to fall in line to have our own moment for picture taking. When I asked our guide what was the name of the cliff, he just said it has no name.
Finally, we were at the Gungal Rock at 8:32 A.M. It was jammed packed with climbers who wanted to have their own solo souvenir shot. Others did not dare to try conquering its height. They were just contented watching those whose souls were brave enough to have their solo picture taken on top of it.
Though Gungal Rock is fast becoming the trademark of Mount Ulap, this is the ultimate goal in climbing the mountain because it is only 1,814 MASL or 5,951.44 feet above sea level. There is more! that is, conquering its summit.
The summit of Mount Ulap is recorded at 1,846 MASL or 6,056.43 feet above sea level. As far as I knew, major climbs should have an elevation of 5,000 feet or more. But this mountain considering its degree of difficulty at 3 and can be done at a half-day hike is categorized under a minor climb.
Ascending to the summit is not really in cardiac assault level of difficulty. It has somewhat well-trimmed grasses and one can enjoy leisurely lying on it. We took time staying on the summit not just for picture taking but to have an ample rest and to savor the moment being on top of everything.
There is enough space on the summit and it has 360 degrees scenic full view. Photographers can capture a variety of shots at the summit and I find close up photos more amazing.
I can't believe that we were at the summit at around 9:00 A.M. and I did not even bother to take food because I was not yet hungry then. I just ate one big apple, mango-flavored jelly ace yum and a liter of bottled of water. I was completely occupied capturing pictures.
Descending the mountain was really a challenge since the trail is so steep. Though it was even rewarding as you cut through densely-pine tree forested trail. Still on an elevated location, you can see two dams.
It was more than an hour of descending the steep trail, somewhat endless at that. From the foot of the ridge, you will pass three hanging bridges and finally a meal station where food is sold at a very minimal cost. Siomai is P5 per piece. Pancit is sold at P25 per serving. There are cold drinks, too. I haven't seen fruits being sold there. After having our lunch there, we trek again passing two more hanging bridges and finally reach the national road where the jeepney going to Baguio awaits us.
We were back in Baguio at around 2:00 P.M. just timely to buy some "pasalubong" for my Ate Rose and friends. At the same time, I accompanied Retzer to roam around the City of Pines. We left Baguio City at 6:00 P.M. boarding a Genesis airconditioned bus and reached Manila at 11:40 P.M. of the same day of January 24, 2016.
Please note that Baguio City is the center of tour activities for those who go Mount Pulag, Mount Ugo, Sagada, the influx of tourists in a Baguio tour and the number of students who reside in Baguio City but studying in Manila and this is not to mention those the alarming increase of climbers in Mount Ulap. Thus, when you arrive in Baguio City, you should purchase right away your return bus ticket for Manila. Booking reservations are always full and you might end up staying for another two days if you do not follow this advise.
11:00 Take bus from Manila to Baguio
17:00 ETA Baguio City
04:00 Take jeepney or taxi from Baguio to Brgy. Ampucao along Philex Road
04:40 ETA Brgy. Ampucao; Register on its barangay hall and hire a guide
05:00 Start the trek
06:30 Ambanao Paoay Peak
08:00 ETA Gungal Rock
09:00 ETA Mt. Ulap summit
11:30 ETA Sta. Fe jump-off point where jeepney to Baguio can be accessible
12:30 ETA Baguio City for lunch, shopping and roaming around
18:00 ETD Manila
24:00 ETA Manila
To minimize costs, do not stay in Baguio City for an overnight. Leave Manila at 10:00 P.M. as your Day 1 and approximately arrive in Baguio at 4:00 A.M. at Day 2. With this arrangement, you should have booked for a contact of a jeepney so that when you arrived in Baguio, you can take a connecting trip to Ampucao and arrives there at 4:40 A.M. If you are just alone or a group of 3, it would be wiser to take a taxi with a round trip cost of P1,000 from Baguio to Ampucao. In taking a jeepney, the fare per person is P50 for one way. So, if you are less than 22 passengers, you have to shoulder the total of P1,100 one single trip for a jeepney transport. So, it is an advantage if you travel in a bigger group since your group can divide the said amount minimizing the share per person.
Take with you enough water where you will need it along the trail. 2 liters can be safe. However, it is suggested that you also take trail food like apple, pears, jelly ace yum as you do not have to drink water when you eat them. Chocolates needs more water to drink. Equipped yourself with a pack lunch as you would go hungry while trekking. For those who opt to have a connecting trip from Baguio to Ampucao, equip yourself with packed breakfast and lunch.
Take with you a headlight, if you opt to start the trek at 5AM or earlier. You may also bring with you a rain coat and an umbrella. I just observed that the mountain is not that windy.
To give you an idea of how much you will spend for this climb with an option of staying overnight in Baguio City, just read it below:
|1.||Round trip bus fare from Manila to Baguio City (P450 one-way)|
|2.||Round trip jeepney transport from Baguio City to Ampucao (P30 one-way)|
|3.||Accommodation fee for the transient house|
|5.||Share in the guide (Guide's rate is P400 for a day for a maximum of 8 persons)|