Mt. Malipunyo

After five months of mountain climbing hiatus, our come-back climb was set to be at Mt. Malipunyo―one of the three peaks from the Malarayat range along with Manabu Peak and Susong Dalaga in Batangas.

Despite the high precipitation probability and other indications that a bad weather was up that day, our adventurous spirits’ love for outdoors has swung full stretch again that we did not let a pinch of doubt took the slightest part of our thirst to put that particular climb into reality. However, due to the fact that we were illicitly unprepared with that climb, it turned out to be one of the toughest climb we had thus far. There were lots of available write-ups and stories about the mountain to fish online, but we barely had the time to check them out as we spontaneously planned and finalized to push it through just hours before the clamber.

That desire for a climb after the absence of such in months drove us, off-the-beaten path wanderers, towards this mountain. Yet unsure of where we’re actually heading as soon as the tricycle dropped us off along that residential area from where the locals instructed us with the directions, we took the risk of not seeking the help of a tour guide for this climb. Unfortunately, this was the worst decision we have made that day. Upon taking our way towards the base of the mountain, it was drizzling all around much to our disappointment. Little did we know that more adversities were yet to come.

It was quite like the typical hike, unfazed by the familiar encounter of dirt road, horses hurtling, locals gaping at us, as we walked that muddy trail. The feels were somewhat all too weary maybe due to the uninviting weather that day. Nevertheless, we continued with our quest not really paying attention with how sure are we of the path we’re trekking. We passed by a certain citrus plantation after around an hour, and then further went on with the slightly narrowed path dumped with wide and wild array of flora across. Minutes later while we were taking some pause to refuel ourselves, a tour guide appeared from seemingly nowhere and told us that the trail we were walking was bound for a San Pablo traverse. Upon learning that we were up to the wrong trail, we asked him the directions on how to get to the right trail towards the Malipunyo peak.

From there, we immediately went back to look for the alternate route. Due to that mistake, we have wasted ~45 minutes of our precious time already, which was a big thing especially that Mt. Malipunyo requires long hours of uphill tramp to reach its peak. After a few strides and turns, we found ourselves in a consistently steep ascent as we took the alternate route that we believed to be the alternate trail referred to by the guide we met earlier. The trail was definitely not as easy as what we thought it would be. The continuous steep slope was a real test of pliability and endurance.

After roughly four hours, we were caught on nothingness in the middle of that foggy unfamiliar forest, blundered with heavy roar from the thunder almost deafening my ears, concurrent with a series of lightning bolts sketched at the background. Right then, we knew something we’re scare about might be up. It was past noon already when raindrops hopelessly fell right upon us, tandemed with strong blows of wind that followed shortly after. Soon enough, it rained hard escorted with even stronger wind blows. We’re officially doomed. We’re trapped in a stormy situation, literally. Unfortunately, we’re not on the peak yet. And we had no other option but to abort the mission right away. But we’re not running really away. We’re actually running towards something once-in-lifetime.

It was almost 1pm already so we took our rain-soaked Jollibee burger meal before going down. We briefly consumed our lunch keeping in mind that we had to go down as soon as possible. Of course, the idea of possibly being stranded up there was not welcomed at all. From there, real action took place as we descended―we were like apes swinging from a tree to another, embracing the chill with arms wide open while literally skating down the muddy trail. At those desperate times, stress and adrenaline took their toll on us. We were running, descending at a pace and manner we’ve never did before. We were synchronizely taking our way down under a seemingly organized chaos. The temperature dropped unnoticeably and it really felt extremely freezing. The catastrophe went on for more than an hour. Paradoxically, it felt good.

Time passed with utter swiftness and the rain has ceased, the trails had brightened up, and the sun was finally, partially up. That gave us the hint to rest a little after that nerve wrecking descent. Despite all the tension and all, we were eager to take these few shots as an intangible reminder of how we survived such raging storm.

We walked a few minutes more before we finally got back to the jump-off point. As we took our ride back to Los Baños, I can’t help but wonder what the hell did just happen. I let the wind silently blow that bitter farewell I bid that sophisticated mountain from such failure. I wasn’t sure but I think this exceptionally epic fail climb, including all the drama in it―cliché ahead―wasn’t totally a failure at all, as it actually changed me, my take on resilience, and my views in life, in a lot of ways, in just one fvcking day. 

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