Location: Bokod, Benguet, Philippines
Entry point: Japas, Bobok-Bisal, Bokod, Benguet
Exit point: Sitio Pethal, Brgy. Ekip, Bokod, Benguet
LLA: 2,310 MASL (Mt. Pack); 2,100 MASL (Mt. Purgatory); 2,325 MASL (Mt. Komkompol)
Days required / Hours to summit: 2 days / 4-5 (Pack); 5-7 (Purgatory); 9-11 (Komkompol)
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 6/9, Trail class 1-3
Features: Pine forests, mossy forests, Views of Benguet mountains: Pulag, Ugo, Salingsing, Timbak, Sto. Tomas
Note: Some of the information here has been adapted from www.pinoymountaineer.com and Bokod Municipal Tourism Office
I had such a fervent wish then to include Mount Purgatory in my mountain scaling portfolio and it happened. The tour operator of this said climb did not really give its level of difficulty and so I tried to convince my friend who never had any climbing experience to join me where she gave her nod.
Our group boarded a bus from Victory Liner Pasay Terminal on a 10:30 P.M. trip and arrived in Baguio City at 4:00 A.M. the following day. It was actually cold in the bus but it was our excitement which made us feel warm all throughout the trip though we've got an ample sleep. The coldness in Baguio was bearable but the blowing breeze made us feel colder.
While waiting for our chartered jeepney, I savored the delicious taste of the strawberry-flavored "taho" bought from enterprising locals roaming around. This is what I usually buy when I am in Baguio City. Since, we were just at the back of Victory Terminal which is close to a 7-Eleven store, we had the convenience of buying our necessities for the climb. The jeepney trip from Baguio City to the jump-off point in Japas, Bobok-Bisal, Bokod, Benguet took us barely two hours including a stopover for breakfast in Banao.
The Japas jump-off point was just accessible along the national road. Since it was an organized tour through Mr. Miguel Mapalad, everything just turned smoothly. The Bokod Tourism Office had representatives to orient us about the climb. I was amazed that Mount Purgatory climb is being catered by a well-organized team with glossy brochures and the locals who conducted the orientation were fluent in English. Maps and significant information are permanently posted through paint in bulletin board erected right there at the jump-off point.
After we had a group prayer, we started the trek at 8:40 A.M. cutting through gradual trail. It was such a rewarding and refreshing sight of pine trees. Take 5 was observed along the trail but we really rested by around 15 minutes at the grounds of Bulo Elementary School. Some parts of the road there was cemented to allow a motorcycle to pass through.
And yes!!! I was amazed to know that Mount Purgatory Traverse is not just a one-summit climb but is consist of a circuit of peaks like the Kibungan Circuit where all these peaks have markers labeled as to the name of the peak where one can take a picture of evidence that he was there. And the first peak was the Mount Mangagew at 1,705 MASL where we set foot there at 10:00 A.M. It was like a village though and there were a few houses distant from each other.
Mount Mangagew has its pen name of Mangakew and is being inhabited by a number of villagers. I have seen there a couple of stores selling basic necessities.
No doubt, Mangakew is really inhabited by some villagers where the proof is it has its own Catholic Chapel of the Sacred Heart of Jesus where at that time, it was just newly constructed.
Yes, there were established roads along our way and passenger habal-habal transport are available but it is a dusty road. Even four-wheel vehicles can pass through it. But since we are trekking, it took us more time to have it by foot. Our only consolation are the stunning mountain slopes and pine forests. Some mountain slopes were turned as vegetable and crop plantations.
One more thing that I was really amazed was between Sitio Giweng and Bangtinen, we happened to regroup in a certain sari-sari store which sold a mango- and buco-flavored ice candy. It was really freezing cold and delicious. It also sold cold softdrinks and yes my favorite local "puto" and some biscuits.
We actually had our lunch at the first cabbage plantation we passed. There was no problem with water source because the local-piped water supply tastes like a mineral water. Thus, we did some water refill anticipating for a longer trek till early in the evening of that day.
From Duacan to Prospect were minor assaults and pine forests was getting thicker. We happened to rest at a concrete shed with galvanized iron roof. By that time the sun was getting hotter.
The Prospect point and the Kabajo Road was such a long walk. It was like trailing four slopes' edges of mountains but the only consolation was that it was flat and the road was wide enough to accommodate a group of six people walking in a juxtaposed position. It was in Kabajo Road that our group had comfortably walked side by side while chatting
We reached the end point of Kabajo Road at 1:46 P.M. and on it is an inviting wooden waiting shed enticing us to have comfortable stop. And yes!!! we did, almost catching our breath from a very,very long trek. As we continued with a 10-minute gradual uphill trek, we found a bigger cogon waiting shed where it was marked as the entry point to Mount Pack.
Would you believe that from entry point, we still have to cut through densely-forested trail for one hour arriving at the summit at 2:58 P.M. of Mt. Pack where the wide clearing on the summit can be a campsite. It has improvised long "benches" where one can comfortable seat and relax.
We stayed at Mount Pack's summit for 30 minutes and resumed the trek with trail mostly of mossy forest. The trail was so established and there were warning signs like "Caution: Super Slippery Trail ahead". Indeed, the mountain is climber-friendly. I am continuously amazed as I witnessed all these things.
Unfortunately, while we were halfway to the summit of Mount Purgatory which is located in Mangisi Village, there was a heavy downpour. And it really made the trail super slippery. And the warning sign just made sense to me then.
Since I have no proper rain gear then, I was heavily soaked from the rain. Thus, I decided to trek fast and in my own personal record I had clocked 87 minutes trek from Mount Pack to Mount Purgatory. I was chilling cold when I arrived at the summit of Mount Purgatory. Good enough that there was a cogon shed there but it was too small to accommodate three groups which approximately has a total of more than 30.
We waited for more than 20 minutes at Mount Purgatory's summit because of heavy rain. Besides, we have not taken souvenir photos yet. When I resumed the trek, I headed fast without turning my back as part of the lead pack duo, the local guide and me. For which, I made it for 96 minutes to our Mount Bakian accommodation which was already at 6:51 P.M. It was already dark and the freezing temperature was getting into my bones. Good enough that we stayed in a cottage. I got asleep forgetting my wet hair as I zipped myself inside my thick sleeping bag. My friend was the last to arrive at 9:20 P.M. where I took my hot dinner at 9:30 P.M.
The day before was a complete struggle for my friend, Arleen as it was her first time to climb a mountain and not just a minor but major climb. However, when she went out from our accommodation in the morning, she felt so grateful that she had this experience and vowed to herself to have another climb.
Bakian cottages have separate latrine toilets and bathrooms with more than enough water supply but no one dared to take shower because it was too cold. To at least dry our wet clothes, we defied our IT schedule and stayed longer in our accommodation after taking our breakfast.
One can buy food supplies at the Bakian cottages like noodles, biscuits, drinks and other basic food supplies. They also provide hot water when you buy from them noodles. Staying in these cottages is a big relief and one does not have to pitch a tent during the freezing night.
Trekking from the Bakian accommodation to Mount Tangbao is only 20 minutes on a gradual trail. Tangbao has a spacious flat campsite at an elevation of 2,200 MASL. This summit features a flat grassland and provides a spectacular view of Benguet mountain ranges.
There were few houses I have seen within the vicinity of Tangbao and even two sari-sari stores. But the house which attracted me much is the one shown above with heart-shape windows. This is just around 5 meters away from the summit marker.
The trail leading to Mount Komkompol from Tangbao was such a rewarding one. It starts with a gradual assault of pine trees and kaingin-burned mountain slopes. After 25 minutes of trek, I saw a marker of the entrance to Mount Komkompol and what followed were all mossy forest.
The total trekking time from Tangbao to Mount Komkompol's summit is approximately one hour though in my own personal record, I did it for 48 minutes where it included stops for picture taking. We were so lucky that the weather then was so perfect.
The elevation of 2,325 MASL of Mount Komkompol is recorded as the highest point of Mount Purgatory trail. It provides a magnificent view of Mount Pulag, Kabayan and nearby Mount Salingsingan during good weather conditions. Our group really feasted with our photographic sense that we stayed there for 30 minutes.
It took me 55 minutes to trek back from Mount Komkompol to Tangbao campsite. Trekking back took me longer since it gave me an idea where to spend more time in getting good pictures. Hungry as we were, we bought some snack items at Tangbao campsite.
Trekking down from Tangbao Campsite to Pethal Jump-off where our jeep awaits us started from 11:30 A.M. and ended at 3:50 P.M. where it means that it took me 4 hours and 20 minutes to make it to Pethal. Some of the trails have narrow cemented road just to accommodate a habal-habal (single motorcycle).
The all-descent 4.33 hour trek was really exhausting. There was a portion where one has to trek through an eroded part of the mountain going to a rough road though the right side of it are stunning overlooking scenery of vegetable fields and mountain slopes grown with pine trees.
Yes, it was a non-stop trek of 4.33 hours where we ate apple slices, jelly ace and drink while in motion. Of course, taking picture in such a scenic place would be inevitable
Part of the 4.33-hour descent was a concrete road where jeepneys can pass through. I realized that trekking in a concrete road gave me an uncomfortable feeling. A cemented trail is so unfriendly to the feet as it is hard and there is more friction of the feet inside the shoes resulting a burning feeling inside that I wanted to remove my shoes and walk barefooted.
Since we were walking a cemented road, we prayed that a public transport will be available or even trucks where we will just have to pay but to no avail. We really walked with somewhat inflamed feet inside my shoes. It was like heating up my feet and ready to give up.
Reaching the jump-off point at Sitio Pethal was really a big relief especially when I saw our chartered jeep. It was already 3:47 P.M. then and I just rested for 15 minutes and took shower where I paid P10. Then, I ate my lunch which was a part of the tour package. It was already 4:20 P.M. when we left Pethal and we headed to the Tourism Office of Bokod, Benguet.
The road trip from Pethal to the municipal hall was just more than 15 minutes. We went there as a part of courtesy call to the tourism office and stayed there for barely 10 minutes.
Our trip going to Baguio City from Bokod Municipal Hall was 56 kilometers or 2.4-hour drive. The first that our group did was to attend the last mass at Our Lady of Atonement Church or Baguio Cathedral from 7:00 to 8:00 P.M. which was an English mass leaving our backpacks at the Victory bus terminal.
After attending the mass, we just walked down the Session Road going to Good Taste Restaurant to have our dinner where we have been there at 9:20 P.M. but our orders were served at 9:35 P.M. We took taxi going back to the Victory Bus Terminal.
A walk over the foot bridge showcased to our eyes the weekend street night sale along the Harrison Road. We were supposed to drop by at it but we were rushing to get back to Victory bus terminal for our 11:30 P.M. return trip to Manila. Well, a 5.5-hour trip ended my trip where I slept soundly inside the bus. We arrived in Cubao at 4:30 A.M. the following day and was home at 5:05 A.M.
SUGGESTED 2-DAY ITINERARY
22:30 Take bus to Baguio City
0400 ETA Baguio City. Take chartered jeep to Bokod
0600 Breakfast along the way
0800 Arrival at Japas Jump-off point in Bokod for Registration & Orientation
0900 Start trekking
1200 Lunch along the way
1300 Arrival at Mt. Pack
1430 Arrival at Mt. Purgatory
1630 ETA Bakian Accommodation (alternative to set-up camp)
1800 Dinner at campsite; socials
0530 Wake-up call
0630 Breakfast / Break camp
0700 Resume trek
0900 Arrival at Mt. Komkompol
0930 Start descent
1200 Arrival at Pethal / Agno River
1300 End of trek at border of Brgy. Ekip
1400 Exit Bokod, Benguet
1700 ETA Baguio City. Dinner.
2000 Head back to Manila
0400 ETA Manila
05:00 – ETA Manila
HOME SWEET HOME
VERY IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER
NO ADVANCED COORDINATION NO CLIMBING
The Bokod Municipal Tourism Office (BOKOD-MTO) and the Association of Bokod Adventures Eco-Guides (ABADEG) regulates and arranges all climbing activities at Mount Purgatory. The mentioned agencies will not be responsible for any untoward incident, inconvenience or delay caused by non-coordination.
NO WALK-IN CLIMBERS
MOUNTAIN GUIDES ARE MANDATORY
The members of the Association of Bokod Adventure Eco-Guides are the only official and deputized mountain guides and porters for Mount Purgatory and with this, it is advised to climbers to:
1. plan ahead and prepare
2. travel and camp on durable surfaces
3. dispose waste properly; bring home your trash
4. leave what you find
5. avoid bonfires
6. respect wildlife
7. be considerate of other visitors
8. wear appropriate clothes