The traverse from Mt. Dulang-Dulang to Mt. Kitanglad (dubbed as D2K) is one of the most challenging trails I have braved. The majestic mountains belong to Kitanglad Mountain Range, a popular destination for Filipino hikers due to its elevation, summit views, and difficulty level.
Mount Dulang Dulang (D2) is the second highest mountain in the country with an elevation of 2,938 masl, while Mount Kitanglad is the fourth highest at 2,899 masl. Other great mountains to climb like Mt. Kalatungan (2,824 masl), Mt. Maagnaw (2742 masl), Mt. Sumagaya (2,248 masl)—a plane crash site, and Mt. Apo (2,954 masl) can be spotted from D2K peaks.
What makes the traverse a difficult climb aside from its elevation and long hours of hiking is the cold temperature which is typical of tall mountains. It can really get cold at night leading to a bad quality of sleep which isn’t a good thing for tomorrow’s intense hike. We crawled inside our tents early, right after dinner, because we couldn’t stand the cold outside – we’re used to a warm weather.
It was also raining during our climb making the trail tricky. We were prone to tumbling from stepping on wet boulders, to tripping over the muddy and slippery narrow ridge path. You got to step on soggy tree branches, embrace roots, and in the later part clutch a handful of blady cogon grasses on a vertical route before reaching Kitanglad peak.
There are steep segments that you need to surpass by holding on to braided nylon ropes that might give you a friction burn if you don’t wear gloves. This was the most challenging part—largely due to the fact that it was getting dark when we reached the “Halik ni Hudas” trail where we had to climb up a 90° route with heavy backpacks.
Guide and Permit
Only a limited number of climbers are allowed to traverse–not more than 20 per day to avoid damaging the trails. Climbers are also required to secure a permit from Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) and DENR for a fee. Our guide John Murs took care of that.
Guide Contact Number: +639 2954 25100 – Peter John Muring
Talaandig Tribe Ritual
Before commencing the climb, a traditional ritual with the Talaandig Tribe will be performed with the Datu’s blessing. The ritual needs 1 native chicken per group of 5 persons, 2-meter white cloth, and 2 eggs.
Our porter-guides belong to this tribe and both are really fast hikers despite carrying a loaded 60-liter backpack. They would rather have longer rest periods and finish early to lessen the burden of hiking for hours.
Trailhead to First Campsite
We took the traditional trail starting off at Lantapan for about two hours of walking on a rocky and hot road. The real climb starts when you get deeper into the forest where the air gets colder.
For camp water supply, there’s a clean river that you will pass by before reaching the campsite. We refilled our own empty water bottles here.
The first campsite is at Manny’s Garden, near D2’s summit, surrounded by slender mossy trees. Our evening temperature was chilling so make sure to bring sufficient gears to stay warm and dry. Note that the weather can be unpredictable in the mountains. It was mid-March, but it was raining on the 2nd and 3rd day of our hike.
Early morning the next day, we visited Manny’s garden ritual site before summiting D2 then crossed the ridge to Kitanglad.
Reaching D2K Peaks
When we reached Mt. Dulang-Dulang summit, we were rewarded with a sweeping view of the mountains and sea of clouds. Not content, we climbed up a tree for the fun of getting a bird’s eye view.
You will be able to get this panoramic view of Mt. Kitanglad during the ridge crossing. There’s a satellite tower at the peak seen from afar (top right).
Here we are – happy that we finished the struggle climbing up with large backpacks on a 90° rope segment. It was already dark and raining lightly when we’re almost near the bunkhouse cabin at Kitanglad’s peak.
The bunkhouse has running water, a kitchen sink, a toilet and with small enclosed bunk beds slightly larger than coffins to keep you warm.
Exiting to Sitio Intavas
During the last day of our climb, we trailed down the path of slippery boulders and many stair-steps with light rain to Sitio Intavas. It’s the jump-off point if you do the reverse KD2 climb.
We ended with an easy hike on a wide non-paved farm road, but with very tired feet. Sunflowers, carrots and cabbage plots are along-way.
After the hike, we finally had refreshing softdrinks and a crazy karaoke fun while waiting for the van to pick up us to go back to CDO. These guys sang really loud and well after a few shots of Tanduay and Emperador but nobody was really drunk.