K2DL Day 2 (Monday)
In the morning, everyone prepared for an assault. Since we were recharged, we have easily overcame the hurdles through the trail particularly the infamous “kiss the wall” section where one has to climb over a protruding upright rock. It took us less than 2 hours to reach the summit and it could have been way longer had we not set up e-camp. This is what efficiency means and why this piece is titled “redefining the (our) mountaineering principles”. Mt. Dulang-Dulang, popular among mountaineers as “D2”, is the second highest mountain of the Philippines at 2,938 MASL.
At the summit, we saw a number of clothed coins hanging from the trees. They say it’s the ritual area of the mountain where all hikers coming from D2 jump off offer a ceremonial sacrifice with the Talaandig tribe before hitting the trail. Mossy trees encompasses the camp site that looks like Ents from Lord of the Rings fantasy world. Here we took our lunch and bade farewell to our fellow e-camper group whose itinerary was only until D2. Tried to convince them to pursue Langkayugan Peak and possibly Mt. Maagnaw but they already have a booked tour in Surigao.
The first group already went down ahead to Langkayugan Peak and our group followed 40 minutes later. Trails are reminiscent of our Mt. Talomo traverse with roughly the same topography. On the third hour of the trek, we were caught up in the rain and I don’t have to tell you how sad that feels. Four hours later, nearly 3:30PM, we reached the next e-camp and found the first group taking refuge. They stopped hiking due to extreme cold and would continue the route to Langkayugan the next day. One of their guides advised us against pursuing the peak because of its steep rocky slopes (80°), slippery terrain and lack of water source. But we – adept at climbing in the rain – reckoned that it’s too early to rest and being static spells a colder temperature so we had to keep moving and let the momentum rolling.
Ascent to the peak is indeed made up of pure assault and slippery rocks. We were almost crawling in all fours and only held on to the sturdy grasses, heaving relentlessly into thin air. Even if it was raining and foggy, we could see the deep ravines and the whole Mt. Kitanglad range landscape. I could barely feel the tips of my fingers on both hands and to say that we’re cold is an understatement. That kind of cold hurts and certainly not the best day for a hike along the summit. A vertical “kiss the wall” version put a strain on my limbs but what really terrified me was the thunderbolts and lightning that seemed like a camera flashing at my face. There are no trees near the top, only giant cogon and buffalo grasses – we’re caught on exposed peaks with absolutely no shelter from a strike incident. I feared that the knife in my pocket or the carabiner clip at my chest, being small metal objects, would attract lightning. Fortunately, after an hour of intense clambering, we have reached the peak of Langkayugan. We pitched our tents in the rain, changed to dry clothes, caught rain water flowing from our tarp and used it to cook instant noodles. And before we drifted into unconsciousness, we felt proud and accomplished for pursuing the peak and not letting anyone sway us from this risky undertaking.