Sunday, September 2, 2007 Mt. Dulang-Dulang (2,938+) MT. DULANG-DULANG Lantapan, Bukidnon Major jump-off: Sitio Bol-ogan, Brgy. Songco, Lantapan LLA: 8.09798°N 124.9605°E 2938 MASL (#2) Days required / Hours to summit: 2 days / 10 hours Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 6/9, Trail class 2-4 Specs (Traverse): Major climb, Difficulty 8/9, Trail class 2-4 with roped segments BACKGROUND The second-highest mountain in the Philippines also possesses one of the most impressive forests in the country. Mt. Dulang-Dulang, chief among the high mountains the Kitanglad mountain range, possesses a mystical aura that visitors compare to the elven forests of Rivendell in "Lord of the Rings". Indeed, the long trek to the peak boasts of a variety of landscapes, starting from the wide trails with pine trees and grassland and progressing into denser and denser jungles. The jungle will reach a point that virtually everything is covered with moss and clouds. Trees are like bonsai, with spiraling, convoluted branches and 'beards' of lichen and white moss that give an 'ancient' feel to the forest. The temperature goes down even in daytime, and when you emerge from this jungle to the clearing at the peak, you can behold the whole of the Kitanglad range and even catch a glimpse of majestic Mt. Apo. Dulang-Dulang, like Pulag and Apo, is sacred to the locals. The Talaandig tribe of Lantapan have been accorded rights to the mountains as their "ancestral domains". Hence it is a must to secure their blessing to climb Mt. Dulang-Dulang. It is said that they limit the climbers to groups of 20, although this demand is somewhat negotiable. Nevertheless, a ritual sacrifice of chickens is done before every climb by the datu, and climbers perform the ritual of hanging bands of white cloth at the summit, as respect to the native culture. These traditions add to the mysticism of Mt. Dulang-Dulang. Usually, Manila-based climbers go with Mindanao-based groups when climbing Mt. DulangDulang; it is logistically difficult to go independent without local knowledge or contacts. Climbers fly to CDO, then take the bus to Malaybalay, Bukidnon. From there, jeepneys are arranged to go to Lantapan. The last leg of the drive is comprised of rough roads which become very slippery when wet. You will then spend the night at the jump-off. Add two days to the climb proper, and the whole trip becomes a total of 3 days. Although very difficult, experienced climbers attempt the "Mt. Dulang-Dulang - Mt. Kitanglad Traverse", which takes you deeper into the heart of the Kitanglad mountain range to reach the second highest peak in the range, Mt. Kitanglad (4th highest in the Philippines). It is considered by some one of the top 5 most challenging climbs in the country. The pristine and mystical environment of Mt. Dulang-Dulang makes it worthy to stand among Mt. Apo and Mt. Pulag as one of the three highest mouintains in the Philippines. ITINERARY REGULAR CLIMB Day 1 1100 From CDO's Agora terminal, take bus to Malaybalay 1500 ETA Malaybalay market, meet with the group 1530 Take jeep to Lantapan 1730 ETA Lantapan. Courtesy call with datu 1800 Prepare for next day's climb, dinner 1900 Attend ritual sacrifice by the Talaandig tribesfolk 2100 Lights out Day 2 0530 Start trek 1130 Lunch at water source (near river) 1600 ETA Plaza 1630 ETA Manny's Garden (campsite near summit). Set up camp 1700 Visit the summit (just 5 minutes away) Day 3 0545 Wake up to watch the sunrise at the summit. Spot Mt. Apo 0630 Breakfast 0800 Break camp 0830 Start descent 1200 Back at water source 1600 Back at jump-off point; take jeepney back to Malaybalay 1730 Take jeep or bus back to CDO D2-KITANGLAD TRAVERSE (DOUBLE MAJOR CLIMB) Day 1 1100 From CDO's Agora terminal, take bus to Malaybalay 1500 ETA Malaybalay market, meet with the group 1530 Take jeep to Lantapan 1730 ETA Sitio Impagsug-ong, Sumilao. Courtesy call with datu 1800 Prepare for next day's climb, dinner 1900 Attend ritual sacrifice by the Talaandig tribesfolk 2100 Lights out Day 2 0530 Start trek 1130 Lunch at water source (near river) 1600 ETA Plaza 1630 ETA Manny's Garden (campsite near summit). Set up camp 1700 Visit the summit (just 5 minutes away) Day 3 0600 Breakfast 0630 Break camp 0700 Return to peak; hang the white cloth on the trees 0730 Start of traverse. Brace for very steep descent! 1200 Lunch along the trail, near crash site 1300 Continue trekking 1500 Start of steep ascent in cogon grasses; ropes maybe required 1700 ETA Mt. Kitanglad summit. Set up camp, or retire in bunkbeds 1800 Dinner, socials Day 4 0600 Mountain-viewing session: Mt. Ragang, Mt. Balatucan, D2, etc. 0700 Breakfast, break camp 0800 Start descent via Intavas trail. Muddy and steep. 1100 Reach "Aerial roots": roots suspended in air 1300 ETA rough road 1400 ETA jump-off point at Sitio Intavas. 1500 Take jeepney back to Malaybalay or CDO 1800 ETA CDO SPECIAL CONCERNS Dulang-Dulang is a difficult climb. Have an experienced guide with you if you will climb this mountain. The temperature can approach those of Mt. Pulag, so bring adequate clothing (jackets, gloves, thermal clothing). Always have your camera ready if you want to document the animals of Mt. Dulang-Dulang. The trails are generally straightforward. Remember to show respect to the Talaandig tribesfolk. Knowledge of Visayan will come in handy as well, although Tagalog is generally understood throughout Mindanao (thanks to TV). Guide and porterage fees, as well as registration/park fees do exist, and they are comparable with (if not cheaper than) prices in Luzon. TRIVIA The 'Manny's Garden' mentioned in this guide is the mystical forest right before the summit area of D2. It is named after the late Manny Serina, the 'great pillar' of mountaineering in Mindanao. He was among the pioneers who explored (and introduced) D2 as a climbing destination. The Kitanglad range is home to a variety of fauna and flora. There is a bird, called 'tusing' that is said to be endangered and is endemic to the mountain range (the blogger managed to capture one on camera). Squirrels also live in the highest alitutudes (the blogger wasn't able to capture them on camera). the Philippine serpent eagle and Philippine sparrow hawk find also refuge in the large uninhabited section of the mountain range. Believe it or not, there are 58 mammal species in the area - including bats, squirrels, monkeys, wild boars, flying lemurs, shrews, and deer! Sightings of the Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) have been reported in the Kitanglad mountain range. Given this richness of biodiversity, caution must be in the mountaineers' mind whenever he/she climbs Mt. Dulang-Dulang. Most of the species mentioned are endangered. We are merely vistors to their habitat, and we must be responsible enough to minimize our environmental impact. On a lighter note: As Guiting-Guiting is dubbed 'G2', Dulang-Dulang is now coined as 'D2'. It can be safely declared that D2 is the second highest mountain in the country. It is 16 meters higher than Mt. Pulag (2,922 MASL). Locals in D2 quip that mountaineers should bring one kilo of land each so that it will eventually overcome Mt. Apo as the highest of them all. Monday, 03 January, 2011 Anonymous said... details for d2k..wer planing this holy week Thursday, 20 January, 2011 Glenn C. said... Hi there! I just have a couple of quick questions. Which route is better to do when it comes to the views, accessibility of the trail and getting a permit? A traverse from Dulang-Dulang to Kitanglad or a traverse from Kitanglad to Dulang-Dulang? When is the best time to traverse these mountains? If I do need a guide, how much will it cost me to hire one. I have climb these mountains before but that was long, long time ago, i think it was late 90's with my barkadas. We were planning to do this hike but unfortunately we were not able to this traverse hike. Hope you guys can answer my questions so that i can plan my trip ahead of time. Thanks alot... -GlennTuesday, 15 February, 2011 Anonymous said... Hi there! any body wants to climb this month of March? - M2M Friday, 11 March, 2011 Joshua Floyd said... been here last april 2011! it was worth it..the traverse to mt kitanglad was brutal but made it safely thanks to our guide mr jerry,son of the talaandig chieftain!and reading from this page,my mind was cleared about the white strips of cloth being hang on the summit of d2. some mountaineers back in our place made comments on those cloth regarding about LNT. we just simply answered them that its part of the rituals of the tribesfolks and i guess as mountaineers we should respect their cultures. many thanks to the CAFGU's in mt kitanglad who accomodated us well when we arrived. nice climb! Tuesday, 24 May, 2011 Anonymous said... I dont care if the road's gonna eat me up.... i'll just climb!Jhazmine! Thursday, 09 June, 2011 Anonymous said... Anyone climbing D2 this year? I'd like to join! Or kung may gusto umakyat let's form a team! Saturday, 25 June, 2011 TRAILMASTERS said... We are planning to climb here sir this year. let's form a group. 09222468772 Monday, 04 July, 2011 Anonymous said... our group will be climbing on Nov. 23-27. anyone interested to join you can call or text me 09179355977. thanks. Friday, 05 August, 2011 Anonymous said... pwede po ba sumama dun sa group na aakyat ng nov 23-27?? ako lang kasi eh... Saturday, 06 August, 2011 Anonymous said... Magandang araw po Sir at M'am, Magandang araw Sir Gide, Gusto ko po sana humingi ng payo sayo Sir Gid at sa mga veteran na mga mountaineer natin na nakapag D2-Kitanglad na. Gusto ko sana magkaroon ng idea ng gastos na aabutin sa buong trek, kung meron na din po kayong mabibigay na contact para sa Transpo, Guide, Registration, etc. Plano naming umakyat next year at gusto ko sana ihanda ang lahat para walang hassle sa pagpa-plano. Salamat po! Tuesday, 16 August, 2011 alan samorin said... Hi everyone, Im a solo climber from Iligan City. I have scheduled a Mt. Pulag climb this October 28-31, 2011. Im planning to climb D2K traverse after Pulag by November 2-6, 2011. Anyone of you here na mayroong climb sa D2K on these dates. Pakisabay naman po. Salamat Here's my name,eadd & contact no. name: alan samorin eadd: [email protected] contact: 09094971064 Monday, 19 September, 2011 Anonymous said... Anyone interested on a Dec 5 to 8, 2011 Kitanglad to Dulang Dulang? Maybe from Mindanao as it is too late for Luzon since flight maybe expensive. Post on this site your cell. - Joel S. Sunday, 27 November, 2011 Anonymous said... im in CDO. is there any group thtt will climb D2 this january? im interested to join. pls. contact me... 0923-680-4853.. thanks! Saturday, 07 January, 2012 Tin said... Hi everyone, I'll be in Bukidnon on March 8-14 and I'm planning a D2-Kitanglad traverse within those dates. I've climbed Mt. Dulang-Dulang last year but this would be my first time to do a traverse. Anyone here with the same plans? Please drop me a message at nagbabasangpinoy[at]gmail.com Thanks! Thursday, 19 January, 2012 Anonymous said... hello there!will there be a scheduled climb this month?or in celebration of kaamulan?hope to hear from you guys! Tuesday, 31 January, 2012 boks said... Hi Everyone: Is the D2-Kitanglad traverse climb available year round? thanks. Tuesday, 29 May, 2012 Anonymous said... Looking for a responsible and culturally sensitive guide to Mt. dulang dulang? txt.092633222457 Tuesday, 26 June, 2012 Anonymous said... Looking for a responsible guide to mt.d2? txt me. 09263322457 Tuesday, 26 June, 2012 Henry Mark Binahon said... planning on climbing d2 on november 3-4. Tuesday, 30 October, 2012 Anonymous said... hi there! team wiliki from davao are planning to climb the dulang2-kitanglad anyone planning to climb please drop me a message . [email protected] Sunday, 06 January, 2013 Anonymous said... hi there! team wiliki here from davao, we are planning to conquer d2-kitanglad dis coming holy week anyone hu plans to climb this said week pls message me 09324021419 Sunday, 06 January, 2013 Anonymous said... D2-Kitanglad traverse climb on Aug. 8-11. :D Wednesday, 06 February, 2013 Anonymous said... Hi I want to join D2- Kitanglad climb on Ausgust 8-11, contacts please :) Im from Manila. Thanks. Friday, 08 February, 2013 helmet said... 0sir gidz, pa post lang po..thanks mga sir,, post ko na, para makapag abang na kayo ng seat sale.. the bukidnon almigh-3 kitangland-dulangdulang-maagnaw traverse Dec 1 arrival in Cdo, dec 2-6 climb date, Dec 7 onwards uwian na.. Abang abang na ng seat sale. Friday, 08 February, 2013 Traversing Two Mountains: The Dulang-Dulang – Kitanglad Challenge, Day 1 This entry was posted on March 23, 2012, in Bukidnon, Mountains, Travel and tagged D2K traverse, mountain climbing, mountaineering, Mt. Dulang-Dulang, Mt. Kitanglad. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments I am way in over my head here. This is suicide. These were my cheery thoughts as I prepared for the traverse from Mt. Dulang-Dulang to Mt. Kitanglad, the country’s second and fourth highest peaks, respectively. I’ve climbed a few mountains but I still can’t consider myself a mountaineer. Whenever I try to say “I’m a mountaineer,” I break into raucous fits of laughter. By and large, I’m just a wimpy, masochistic idiot whose ambitions far exceed her physical abilities. I got the idea of doing a traverse on my first Dulang-Dulang climb last October. I saw Mt. Kitanglad from the D2 summit and thought “Wouldn’t it be totally awesome if I managed to walk from here to there?” My flashes of sheer brilliance are priceless, I tell you. After blogging about the D2K traverse and sending out email blasts to everyone on my contacts list, I got quite a lot of response from people who want to join. I was ecstatic, thinking I won’t be doing this solo after all. Then they all backed out for one reason or another and I was back to square one. I’m used to traveling on my own and wouldn’t mind doing the climb with just a guide but the costs are too high for me to shoulder alone. Two days before my trip to Bukidnon, I got a call from a random guy who said he read my blog and he wants to come with me. I didn’t expect anything definite until he’d actually show up in Bukidnon with his backpack. And what do you know, he did show up. Ben, our guide, said another climber would be joining us. She’s hardcore and has a lot experience climbing tough mountains, he said. I grinned and thought, “Great! There’s someone to balance out my wimpiness and inexperience.” We scrambled to get food supplies just as stores were closing up, slept in a hostel, and traveled to the bus terminal at the crack of dawn to catch the first trip going to Lantapan, the jump-off point. We started the trek at around 9am with overcast skies. I was getting nervous at the dreadful possibility of getting rained on while on the trail. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t survive it. I’d lose my footing somewhere on the slippery trail, land on a giant rock, and crack my head open. Props for my perennial optimism. Thankfully, the rains didn’t push through. The cloudy skies even became an advantage since we had to hike through a long stretch of open trail before going into the forest canopy. Climbing Mt. Dulang-Dulang for the second time should’ve been easier. That was what I thought, at least. Wrong. It may even have been harder this time; my pace was slower and my breathing was heavier. Unlike last year when I did Mt. Malindig right before D2, I didn’t have the benefit of a tune-up climb before doing this traverse. My laziness in cardio training took its toll. I also had a full 35-liter backpack this time since we’d be on the mountains for three days. And the fact that I’m a natural-born dork with the agility of a sickly snail may have also worked against me. Ben and Daisy were so far ahead of me, and Jay (this was his first climb in three years) and Pele, our porter, were so far behind me that I was hiking alone most of the time. The trail was fairly straightforward though that even someone with a horrible sense of direction like me will have no opportunity of getting lost. Hiking solo for hours was quite an experience. I’d get into thinking about some profound crap, then I’d break into an Eraserheads song (I switch between Ang Huling El Bimbo and Magasin), then I’d stop and stare at the moss, which are all very pretty. For the most part, I was really just trying my damnedest not to lose my footing and crack my head open. We reached the Plaza, a large campsite about 45 minutes from the summit, at around 5pm. There we caught up with Sir Henry Binahon, the owner of the agro-forestry farm that has become my crash pad in Lantapan. He was guiding a British birdwatcher. They already had their tents set up and had a nice campfire going. I was shivering from the cold and dying of envy. We thought of setting up camp there as well but in the end decided it was better to spend the night at the campsite near the summit so we’d have an early start with the traverse. We made a side trip to Manny’s Garden for picture-taking and so we could stare at bonsai trees, more mosses and other pretty things. Then we soldiered on to the summit in the dimming late afternoon light. Guess who’s the coldest of them all. We reached the summit campsite just as it was about to get dark. Daisy went straight to the peak and was lucky enough to catch a great clearing that revealed a magnificent view. I could hear her squealing “Ang ganda!” while I was huddled underneath a tree on the campsite, trying to coax myself out of possible hypothermia. We pitched our tents, had a quick dinner and slipped into our sleeping bags as fast as possible. It was freakin’ cold. Was I glad it was morning. After spending the night not getting any sleep because of the grueling cold, I was only too happy to see sunshine. Jay and I went up to the summit for our psychic rewards after the previous day’s punishing climb. And all we saw was fog. Very thick fog. I already had my chance of seeing Mt. Dulang-Dulang’s breathtaking summit views on my first climb so I wasn’t all that bummed that we didn’t get a clearing. I felt bad for Jay though for missing out on this but he was still a good sport. Ben had an awarding ceremony to attend early the next day so he had to get back to Malaybalay later that day. He’s got all sorts of things going on and is kind of a local celebrity in Bukidnon. He was even interviewed on TV a couple of times! The downside of having a semi-famous personality as a guide is he’s so in demand he’d have to leave you while on the traverse. His initial plan was to descend from Dulang-Dulang and just have our porter guide us on the traverse and descent from Mt. Kitanglad. However, it was also Pele’s first time to do the traverse and he had no idea what the trail is like. So plan B was Ben would go ahead of us and secure the rope on the steep ascent (there is a rope-assisted segment where the slope is almost at 90 degrees) but we’d be on our own during the actual trek. The plan seemed to sit just fine with everyone else so I played it cool and gave a curt nod. I didn’t want to look like a sissy in front of all these tough mountaineers. In my head though, I was already imagining all sorts of scenarios on how I was going to die on the trail. It was the first time for all of us to do the D2K traverse and we’d be doing it without a guide. The rest of them probably had nerves of steel but I was insanely terrified. The start of the trek involved scrambling down a muddy, rocky, slippery and very steep trail. And this was not even the hardest part. After hours of interminable walking, slipping, sliding and clambering over or squeezing under tree trunks, we reached a clearing and decided to have a late lunch there. Then it rained. Hard. We quickly put up a flysheet and huddled underneath it while eating cold tuna flakes. The rain was still pouring when we packed up and continued with the hike. We donned our raincoats and braced ourselves for the ascent to Mt. Kitanglad. It was tough as shit. The trail was perpetually uphill and there were only cogon grasses to hold on to so you could pull yourself up. It was reminiscent of the final assault to the summit of Mt. Iraya in Batanes, only this was maybe five times harder. Halfway through the climb, my hands and arms were already bruised and bleeding. Then came the damned 90-degree wall. I seriously considered turning around and walking all the way back to the jump-off point in Lantapan just so I wouldn’t have to go through this. The 50meter rope fell short so we had to climb the first few meters on our own. The cogon grasses at the side were too far for me to reach. There were only slippery rocks and loose soil to hold on to and they didn’t seem stable enough for me to entrust my life with. I also didn’t have the strength to boost myself up; I could feel my heavy backpack weighing me down. I was hugging the wall and trying not to lose my foothold but I also knew that I could not stay still for too long. My legs were starting to cramp and my arms were getting tired. I finally got hold of the rope, which helped a lot but I still had to use all my strength to move up and I didn’t have much left by then. I was utterly exhausted. It took forever trying to crawl up that wall and there were instances when I really thought I was going to fall to my death. Kudos to Daisy and Jay for being so patient with me. (Seriously, thank you, guys.) When I finally reached the top, it was pure bliss. I would’ve done a crazy celebratory dance if I wasn’t so tired. The rest of the trek was a piece of cake after that. The trail was still muddy and slippery but after surviving that torturously steep ascent, everything else was easy. We reached the peak of Mt. Kitanglad at around 5pm. Me and Daisy beside the DENR bunkhouse. It does not look at all like we were cold, drenched and dead tired. Unlike the pristine environment of Mt. Dulang-Dulang, the Kitanglad summit is crammed with transmitters of the major TV networks. There are also staff houses and even a basketball court. Most hikers stay in the DENR bunkhouse. Unfortunately for us, it was locked when we got there so we had no choice but to pitch our tents again and spend another night sleeping on the ground. We are so beyond hardcore. The rain never stopped and even got so bad we practically ran out of cuss words in cursing the cold. We had dinner while again huddled under the flysheet. I was so hungry I ate instant noodles with my fingers only to realize halfway through that my hands were covered with mud. I didn’t care; I was beyond disgust (and basic hygiene) at that point. We went to sleep as the rain pounded our tent but I had a smile on my face as I settled into my sleeping bag. That day, I went through something far beyond my capabilities and survived. I couldn’t be happier. Prologue: Our first attempt at this Mt. Dulang-Dulang to Mt. Kitanglad Traverse Climb last year didn’t push trough. It took Team DaClavBuDiGurong almost a year to make this dream climb come true. I went agog harassing every climber I can shake so that this time, there will be no more traverse attempts. We have to make this climb happen! So last March 14, 2008, fifteen climbers from all over Mindanao and Luzon marched towards Brgy. Lantapan, Bukidnon, to climb Mt. Dulang Dulang, make a traverse trek through a newly opened trail, emerge on top of Mt. Kitanglad and then go down via Brgy. Intavas- safe, without accidents and with bountiful of experiences to share. This is their story. Adopted mountaineers of Bukidnon It was not our first time in Bukidnon. In fact, we were adopted sons of Bukidnon ever since we first visited its caves, falls and climbed both Kitanglad and Dulang just barely a year ago. We never stopped exploring Bukidnon’s great mountains thereafter. It is therefore not surprising, that the four of us, Chris, Ian, JP and me thrive so well in our travels and stay in Malaybalay City. Bringing along Lemuel, also an accomplished climber but a first timer in Bukidnon, we noisily traveled via a bus from Tacurong City towards Malaybalay. The Trek Expedition Members Waiting lazily for the other climb companions, we sat chatting with fellow climbers inside Famboy‘s plaza stall, our pre and post climb tambayan guy. Slowly, members of the climb expedition started to trickle in. The ‘expedition team’ is actually composed of uniquely diverse climbing zealots, bonded only by our common aspiration of traversing a trek that eluded as a year ago. Michael John Pizzaro (MJ), the PAMB authorized guide from Terrain Restoration and Exploration group(T-REX ) will lead our team. Joan Jatulan, an elementary school teacher and our de facto climb mother, would be joining us in the sweeper group. Aside from the TAMAC contingent, other experienced climbers are expected to join us. Already accomplished climbers are Dennis and Steve, who came all the way from Quezon city to join this climb. Donniex, Edong, Molong and two other young ladies from Bukidnon will be joining this climb and help us with their familiarity of the terrain. Lemuel, with his Bob Marley hairdo, got a twin in Butchoy, another climber cum- henna artist from Davao. Butchoy brought along his girlfriend Hazel to join us in this climb. The recently recovering ninja Jhon Meryl, who sustained an ankle sprain after climbing Joan’s gates, will also be part of the climbing team. The Climb begins at Brgy. Lantapan. Sixteen eager backpackers emerged from the plaza, riding a tricycle towards the terminal and after one hour of jeepney travel, in Datu‘s house in Baranggay Lantapan. Doing away with the formalities of introducing each one of the climbers to Datu as fast as we could, we camped for the night. We cooked and ate our dinner while waiting for Datu’s approval of our climb plan. We then joined the required ritual prior to any climb at Dulang. “This has to be the longest ritual I’ve known so far”I whispered to JP.Unmindful of the time and thoroughly engrossed in the ritual, our packed meat outside was somehow snatched by a dog. ” What an unlucky day!” This left us with just canned goods and dried foods for our climb. Tired from a whole day of traveling I dozed off easily when we were done with the ritual. I slept exactly where I slept a year ago- in Datu’s long bamboo chair! Waking up and cooking our breakfast late, we ate our food hurriedly. By 8 am we were all set to go. With Datu’s final blessing (and our prayer) , the group started the hour long trek towards the foot of Mt. Dulang-Dulang .I decided to with the sweeper group, more because of my turtle paced hiking abilities, rather than being an experienced climber. “Here we go!” This open trail is actually a rain water eroded mountain slope, exposing those big, sharp rocks and road that is apt only for off road vehicles. Luckiy, a passing farmer riding a cow (with a kalesa) allowed us to lay our packs on the sledge. This saved my back from the early strain of my heavy pack and uphill climb. The “sweepers” arrived at the foot of D2 with half of the team waiting for us. The lead group continued trekking upwards and into the forest towards the first stop- the Alanib River. We rested for a while at the trail entrance taking pictures and exchanging jokes over food bars and garbs. Well rested and in high spirits, we continued the uphill trek under the thick canopy of a virgin rain forest.My familiarity of this trail seemed to have been clouded by my traumatic Mt. Matutum debacle. Mt. Matutum’s terrain and virgin forests is almost similar to Dulang. Dulang’s foot trail however, is relatively straightforward and unconfusing compared to Mt. Matutum. The Latapan trail to Mt. Dulang is also one of the cleanest mountain trails I’ve been to if the number of candy wrappers littered along is our basis for judging a trail as “clean”. Avoiding the “panganib” at Alanib River Slowly regaining my familiarity of the terrain, I noticed that not much has changed since our last trek a year ago. “This is more like of a de ja vu!” I quipped to Joan. The eerie sound of a gushing water “told” us the Alanib River is just nearby. I had to be extra careful traversing though Alanib’s treacherous big rocks because last time, I felt my butt’s thunderous “kablag!!” after I slipped and fell butt first. Luckily, I did slipped again. But I regained my balance and thus no thundering “holy $h*!” echoed inside this holy place. Hungry and exhausted we ate our lunch while exchanging eerie stories about this campsite during our last trek here. One of our former climb buddy, Ploy, saw a long haired white cloaked, faceless lady sitting on a fallen tree just beside the campsite. Nobody else saw that lady, but most of us felt her presence. Dulang is known to “house” various deities and playful fairies that play harmless jokes to visitors, especially if the team doesn’t have any ladies in the group. Our group has had this “harmless jokes” or “abat” in the local vernacular, during our last climb. Misplacing a commonly used equipment, a running umbrella, going around the same place several times to name a few. But none of us were harmed, thanks to them and our prayers. “Yaikss! tama na dude! Kakatakot na yan ha!” said Hazel. After eating we continued our trek towards the summit of Mt. Dulang. On the way I’ve been regaining and recounting my “lost” memories of our last climb. The trek has been quite easy and uneventful. Biting cold at D2′s Peak The lead pack arrived at the campsite an hour early. Slow and unmindful of the time, we arrived at the campsite at dusk, just before the rain came pouring in . Unpacking our stuff as fast as we could, we pitched our tent, settled in and then merrily cooked our dinner. Cold is creeping in fast while rain poured continuously. The campsite is just 20 meters below peak, but it was raining heavily and cold is biting, I had to let go of seeing the peak nighttime and do it early in the morning tomorrow. It was during our dinner that Lemuel revealed it was his birthday that day. So we sang a “birthday song” and prayed before eating our meal of pinakbet. Afterwards, we sat around the makeshift kitchen tarp exchanging jokes over cup noodles soup. Exhausted and shivering in the biting cold at D2′s peak I resigned early to my tent and slept soundly. I woke up early in the morning to catch the sunrise at the peak. Bringing along my camera and my sponge bob scarf I ran to the top of Dulang, reliving what I did the last time I went here. What lay before my eyes was the astounding view of Bukidnon and the nearby peaks, Mts. Kitanglad, Apo, Kalatungan, etc. Our cameras got busy. My friends were taking turns taking pictures and posing for their one of a kind shot. “This is all fantastic!” The view here is better compared to what I’ve seen. And your forest? Not like those in Luzon who are mostly denuded. This forest is pristine!” said Steve, one of our guest climber, in Tagalog. The grueling traverse adventure After eating breakfast, we packed our stuff and cleaned the area. Saying our prayers and final instructions, we started descending towards the entrance of the traverse trail. MJ told me earlier how difficult the trail would be. There would be vertical descents on 90 degrees slopes and rocks, holding only on tree root parts. Vegetations would be thick and foot paths narrow on several mountain slopes we’d be passing over. The traverse trail will end up at the northside of Mt. Kitanglad’s foot, where we will be making our final ascent towards the peak of K2. I was already bracing for the hardest trek I made in my life. I also silently prayed fervently that we will survived this traverse, safe, without accident or injury. I barely warmed my legs trekking when we hit the first difficult trail obstacle- a 90 degree descent trough boulders and slippery rocks without ropes. I felt my legs weakened when I glimpsed at the descent path. “We’re actually descending over those rocks? With our heavy packs on? Jesus H. Christ!” I whispered helplessly. I have fear for heights and of falling.This one just hammered a nail into my frozen feet. But the there’s no going back. For a moment I just stood there on the edge and thought about the descent deciding what to do. Others have gone through this and so can I. “I can do this! But please, no accident, Lord?”. The “sweepers” decided to lower our packs first then descend one by one, assiting one another carefully. When my turn came I was mumbling incantations while dangling helplessly on a branch of tree and on slippery footholds and rocks. But I went down safe and in disbelief of my luck. But that is short lived because as I found out later, there are five or more descent paths like this one. Each time, I pass through one of those obstacles, I swallowed my fear, prayed and thought hard about my method of descent. I go on trance while going down this route, focusing only on my safety, foothold and grip. The final descent is even riskier and much more difficult than the previous ones. It was a 85 degrees sudden drop, with no footholds, on slippery eroded soil, hanging only on loose root parts. When my tent pegs accidentally feel out of my pack into the drop, I realized how horrifying it would be If I fall into that slope. It was during this time that I was seriously entertaining of going back. This one is too much of a risk for me. One wrong step and I’m gone. “What am I doing here?”. I stopped and watched carefully how others managed through the descent. Holding on to a branch of a tree and dangling on a cliff is the first step. The rests of the descent is pure luck and will power. So I plunged and held on to that tree branch, hang in mid air with my foot desperately looking for a stable foothold. For a moment I’d like to scream and curse ” darn this slippery slope!” But before I could shout, my foot found a jutting root part and then inch by inch I slowly descended down the slippery drop, breathless as to when I’m actually going to reach the bottom. After about several minutes of scary descent, I reached the bottom. “Oh yes! I made it!” I shiver in disbelief while watching Chris descend. This one has to go to my logs of “the hardest descents I made in my climbing life!”. Definitely. After that, the trek to the foot of Mt. Kitanglad was a battle between sheer determination and our exhausted body. I felt like I was dragging my legs all though out the trek.I could barely talk from exhaustion. The air is darn cold and the rain showers just wont stop. But I was grinning and smiling. This has to be the price I have to pay for being a stubborn, ego maniacal climber that I am. “Ka sarap sarap ng buhay sa clinic! Mag climb talaga!”. When we stopped for lunch, it was like a blissful feast for me, even if it was just salted egg, pork and beans and tocino. I took a 3 minute nap, to gain some energy. Then we started hinking again. The whole climbing team waited and met near the foot of Mt. Kitanglad, just as we planned. The transmission towers on K2′s peak are visible from where we are. Very much happy and relieved, I was unaware of another seemingly unending climb obstacle. We are to ascend a cogon vegetated 80 degree slope holding only to cogon leaves most of the time, towards Mt. Kitanglad. “Are we nuts?” I was cursing. “There are ropes” shouted Ian, who was acting as rope belayer on the other side of the slope. “Ropes!???? That hard?!???” Hard was an understatement. The ascent was so difficult we had to rest often and “traffic jams” were created on the ascent trail. I could easily collapse in exhaustion. My breath labored, I wasn’t talking even. I was concentrating dragging my heavy ass to K2′s peak, some thousand feet up. I was surprised at how sturdy cogon leaves can be. Just about 400 meters below the peak, we came across an 85 degrees incline with only loose soil and a rope to hold. The rest is “drop zone!”. “I’ll be dammed!”. I’m not good at rope rappelling much more balance myself with my backpacks on. But I made it up, more with luck and prayers than anything else. I finished the rest of the trek (which was mostly easy) still thinking how on the earth I survived this traverse. “I simply don’t have any idea how!” At last, safe and without injury on the second peak! We arrived at Kitanglad’s peak with the full moon well above the dark sky already. Other team members were warming up inside the bunk house. ” Yahooo!!!!!” I dropped lazily on the floor and rested without even removing anything from myself. Realizing, I was still drenched in mixed rainwater and perspiration ( not to mention mud and the stench all over me), I stood up after a full 30 minutes of rest. Despite the freezing temperature outside, I took a bath on open air near the water tanks on K2′s peak It was the coldest bath (and probably the highest) I ever had so far! I felt cold down to my bones! After washing off dirt from my body, I hurriedly changed to dry clothes and warmed myself inside the bunkhouse. We ate our dinner merrily while watching TV. This has to be the highest channel surfing, TV battle between “Kapuso” vs “Kapamilya” followers. After dinner some of us went into their own sleep holes and snored. I together with a few others stayed on watching TV and chi-chatted for a while. I went to my bunk about an hour later, and happily dozed off in the comforts of a cramped “sleep couch”. I woke up early next morning, hoping to catch the sunrise early. Fog already covered most of the landscapes we’re supposed to marvel at. We just had coffee outside and then chatted some more while breakfast is being cooked. After eating breakfast, we packed our things and then cleaned up the bunkhouse. We started going down around 9 am, when the fogs cleared and the sun was already warming up the trail. I’ve trekked down Kitanglad before, so I didn’t expect this to be rather difficult. Except for the slippery path and the big rocks exposed by constant soil erosion, none of the first few thousand meters of the path has changed. It was in this first few meters of rocky trail that unforeseen lurks, so I was extra careful here. The rest was an easy downhill trek. At the water source, a campsite built for a brief stop over of pilgrims going up K2. The water source was also “piped” into the clearing. There was this carved figure in one of the makeshift chair that wasn’t there before so I pose for picture with it. We arrived at the foot around 1pm and ate our lunch together with the rest of the team. We took some more pictures and then started trekking the open trail to Brgy. Intavas. The whole group was waiting in Brgy Intavas and as we congratulate each one of us for completing this traverse trail, we exchanged souvenirs and “pabaons”. Then the group rented a multi cab and headed back to Malaybalay City. Epilogue: Some of the the group members decided then to go to Gantungan Falls, a favorite post climb relaxing place for us. The rest of the pack went ahead to Malaybalay City and promised to meet us during our post climb socials in one of the bars of Malaybalay. That is however, another story to tell! Credits and Acknowledgments: We are much indebted to the leadership of Joan and Michael John, both accomplished climbers and true friends to us. To Chris, Jaypee, Ian, Sir Joy and Lemuel the TAMAC contingent that made this all happen. Special thanks to our guests climbers, Steve and Dennis who shared with us their climbing experience beyond Mindanao. To Donnex, Edong and Edong’s Angels, as well for the food they offered us. The henna artistry of Butchoy and Hazel wouldn’t be forgotten also. I would like also to thanks our friends who didn’t join us during the climb but have greatly contributed to this traverse preparations: Famboy, our Tambayan’s owner; Merlin our ever magician and gracious hosts;Yayan, who came all the way from Cagayan to join the socials and the so many other friends I couldn’t remember their names. Thank you!