Climbing Cuenca’s ‘Curly’ Mountain

Mountain trekking—or climbing or mountaineering or whatever term you have for it—wasn’t in my short list of favorite things. It doesn’t appeal to a clumsy individual who’s afraid of heights and of descents, the darkness in the wilderness, and treacherous terrain.

But if climbing a mountain is the most advisable training for something I’ve set my mind to do, then the green light is on.

After a series of forum roll call, e-mail loops and SMS exchanges, the destination was set and the plan was finalized. We’re off to Mt. Maculot on April 9.

Maculot, here we come!
Maculot, here we come!

Destination: Cuenca, Batangas
Mt. Maculot’s the only mountain I’ve climbed in my entire life—the first time was in 1999. I attended a youth camp that brought me there to talk about nature and leadership, but the experience wasn’t enough to get me hooked to the outdoors. How would you be enticed if you were thrown to conquer the mountain in jeans and sneakers, and having only 350ml bottle of hydration and zero mountaineering orientation?

However, if there’s one thing that I appreciate and remember about the climb—even after all these years—was what the mountaineering guide told us about respecting Mother Nature: Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures.

So fast forward to today, I just realized: I’m old. Haha. It was in 1999! It’s been that long. Back then, I was in high school and we were singing Third Eye Blind’s Semi-charmed Life as we happily made our descent.

Fast forward to 2010, and Maculot and I meet again. A lot has changed, I suppose. Moreover, I don’t think the trail we’re about to traverse is something the newbies take.

“We’re taking the trail that not everyone’s familiar with,” Dennis, our designated lead, told the group.

Maculot, here we come.

Plan: Sunrise at the Summit
To get to the summit by sunrise, the latest we had to leave Manila is 2AM. Eager beavers Ellen, Carly and I even met up before midnight in Makati.

Hopping from the office to the grocery and the house (to eat, pack and shower), I was the last to arrive: Carly, who came all the way from Laguna, even got there earlier! And Ellen was even energetic enough to do a 10k after logging out of office and meeting up!

We boarded the bus at 3AM. The bus left the terminal at 4AM. And we greeted sunrise… on the bus.

Apparently, the IT remained on paper; the schedule didn’t push through.

But that didn’t dampen our spirits.

At the grotto :)
Carins takes a group shot

We conquered inclines…

So, how do we climb up?
So, how do we climb up?

Braved trails…

Happy bunch of climbers got lost, but found the way back. :)
Happy bunch of climbers got lost, but found the way back. 🙂

Enjoyed the view…

Got lost…

Found our way back…

Thanks for the training, Mt. Maculot!
Thanks for the training, Mt. Maculot!

And had a blast!

It is unfortunate, however, that recreational climbers would litter the mountain. Even candidates for the upcoming election have banners up there.

And for that, we need mountain super heroes…

Saving the earth before race day?
Saving the earth before race day?

Their formation looks like they’re a super hero group. 🙂

Til the next climb!

Thanks to Ellen and Carina for the pictures. 🙂

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