Climbing enthusiasts scale mountains for different reasons. They do it for the fun, breathtaking views, and exercise, to name a few.
For some rookie climbers, however, merely hearing the word “climbing” can already trigger intimidation or even fear. Well, looking for a perfect peak to climb is the only way to get rid of that fear. Don’t worry because the Philippines has a lot of majestic yet rookie-friendly peaks for you to start with.
1. Mt. Batulao, Nasugbu, Batangas
Mt. Batulao, aside from its proximity to Metro Manila, is an ideal mountain for rookie climbers because of its gently rolling mountainside and scenic landscapes on the way to the summit.
For first-time hikers, it is recommended to take the new trail or a combination of new-to-old trails. Although some parts of the trail are steep, they are not considered very difficult. Rest assured, your efforts will be rewarded with a jaw-dropping view of the surrounding Nasugbu and Tagaytay ridges.
Mt. Batulao can be chilly starting in November with the most noticeable temperature decrease in February. On the other hand, the mountain can become significantly hot starting in March up to the month of October. When you plan to climb the mountain, don’t forget to bring the necessary protective gears for the season to have a memorable first climb experience.
2. Mt. Palay-Palay (Pico de Loro), Maragondon, Cavite/Nasugbu, Batangas
Located in Batangas and Cavite, Mt. Palay-palay, popularly known as Pico de Loro, is a thrilling climb. At just over 660 metres above sea level, no wonder it became a favourite of weekend hikers and rookie climbers alike. What makes Pico de Loro a rookie-friendly climb is its canopy covering most of the trail to the summit.
The first part of the trail to the base camp is just like a walk in the park thanks to its gradual ascent. Although climbing to the summit is a bit steeper, still it is not as steep as other major climbs. Upon reaching the summit, a monolith resembling a parrot’s beak from afar will give you an awe-inspiring view. The monolith would be able to offer an additional thrill to the climb had it not been for the DENR’s decision to close it to the public for safety and conservation purposes. Regardless, standing face to face with the iconic “beak” itself is rewarding enough not just for the rookie but the seasoned climbers as well.
(Update as of 17 Apr 2019: After almost three years since its rehabilitation, the Pico de Loro peak was scheduled to open its trails again on 30 Mar 2019. It was reported that the only way to visit the mountain is by booking online; however, the Protected Area Management Board of Mts. Palay-Palay/Mataas Na Gulod PL is yet to announce the website address for the online booking. On 26 Mar 2019, the management board posted an update on Facebook:
We apologize for the delay of the website announcement. The website is ready but is not live yet as we are trying to make a secured set up for the receiving bank. Rest assured we will announce it HERE in a few days. Thank you.
As of today, this is the latest update regarding the matter. Earlier last month, the Philippine News Agency also announced that hikers will no longer be allowed to climb up the park summit to see the famous Pico de Loro monolith as it was declared unsafe by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 4-A (Calabarzon).)
3. Mt. Manabu, Sto. Tomas, Batangas
Part of the Malarayat Mountain Range in Sto. Tomas, Batangas is another mountain perfect for first-time climbers – Mt. Manabu. The mountain is easily the ideal climb for rookies because of its short and straightforward trail.
From the base to the summit, anybody can easily scale it within two to three hours. Going to the summit, you will encounter a mix of gradual and not-so-steep ascents. You will know that you’ve already reached the summit because of the large white cross marking the spot.
If you plan on pitching up a tent, its wide, inviting campsite will entrance you with its garden-like surroundings. Aside from its easy trail, your Mt. Manabu experience will become more exciting because of the many hikers you will encounter, many of whom are seasoned climbers already.
4. Mt. Manalmon, San Miguel, Bulacan
Although considered more like a hill than a mountain, Mt. Manalmon located in San Miguel, Bulacan is nothing short of amazing. A two-hour trek will already bring you to the summit, yet going up is where the real adventure begins. The trail starts by passing Madlum/Manalmon Cave, which is too enticing not to be explored first. A river crossing gives this hike additional fun.
Since this is just a short hike, staying a little bit more at the summit by setting up camp will give you more time to enjoy the majestic view of both the Sierra Madre Mountain Ranges and the imposing Mount Arayat.
5. Mt. Balaan (Balaan Bukid), Jordan, Guimaras
This is by far one of the easiest climbs in Western Visayas. Located in the town of Jordan in Guimaras, Balaan Bukid (Holy Mountain) is a pilgrimage site during the Lenten season. The trail leading to the white cross and a chapel on top is a sight to behold. The trail is flanked on both sides with lush greeneries making it all the more easier to reach the top.
The summit offers a scenic view of the sea dividing the island of Guimaras and the city of Iloilo. You can climb this trail virtually any time of year due to its accessibility from the town proper of Jordan (pronounced with a letter “H” instead of “J”).
6. Mt. Napulak, Igbaras, Iloilo
Mt. Napulak is part of Panay Island’s southern mountain ranges. Aside from being the oldest hiking trail in the province, it is also the most friendly to first-time hikers. Mt. Napulak was named after a rounded rock sitting on top of its summit which resembles a woman’s nipple.
A four-hour trek will bring you straight up the mountain’s summit. Along the base, you will be greeted with a wooded trail which will eventually change into a garden-like flora. Even if you cannot conquer the famous rock at the mountain’s summit due to its relative difficulty, the view you will see on top of the summit is a reward in itself.
7. Mt. Mayapay, Butuan, Agusan del Norte
Mt. Mayapay is a famous mountain in Butuan, Agusan del Norte because of its remarkably flat top. This very feature served as Butuan’s landmark for over a millennia. At just 675 metres above sea level, you can reach the iconic flat top summit of Mt. Mayapay around three to four hours of hiking.
The first part of the hike is relatively easy, owing to its gradual ascent. On the other hand, the second part of the trek is a bit challenging due to the steep ascents. But don’t let this deter you from climbing to get a rare view of Butuan City from that vantage point. Also, the summit will give you a chance to see the mighty Agusan River’s water flow down Butuan Bay.
Hike these rookie-friendly mountains across the Philippines anytime, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. Reaching the top of these awe-inspiring peaks is addicting. Nevertheless, don’t forget to prepare before attempting any climb. Most importantly, don’t ever do it alone. Treat every peak you climb with respect. Take nothing but photos. Kill nothing but time. And ultimately, leave nothing but footprints.