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 the Kitanglad Mountain Range, a popular destination for Filipino climbers due to its elevation, summit view and difficulty.
Mt. Dulang Dulang (D2) is the second highest mountain in the country with an elevation of 2,938 masl, while Mt. 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 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 that others can’t sleep well. 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 dangerous: we were prone to tumbling down from stepping on wet boulders; also to tripping over the muddy and slippery narrow ridge path. You got to step on soggy tree branches, hold on to some roots, and in the later part grip blady cogon grasses on a steep route before reaching Kitanglad peak.
There are vertical portions that you need to surpass by holding on to braided nylon ropes that might give you a friction burn. 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 the 90° vertical route with heavy backpacks.
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 PAMB/PENR for a fee. Our guide John Murs took care of that. (Guide Contact Number: +639 2954 25100 Peter John Muring)
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 were really fast hikers despite carrying a heavy load on their backs. They would rather have longer rest periods and finish early to lessen the burden of hiking for hours carrying their 60-liter backpacks.
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.
Our group got camp water supply and refilled our own water-bottles in a small river that we passed before reaching the campsite. The first campsite is at Manny’s Garden, near D2’s summit, surrounded by slender mossy trees. Our evening temperature here 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 climb.
Early morning the next day, we visited Manny’s garden ritual site before summiting D2 then crossed the ridge to Kitanglad.
When we reached D2 peak, we were rewarded by a sweeping view of the mountains and sea of clouds. Not content, we climbed 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.
Here we are – happy that we finished the struggle scrambling with large backpacks on a steep vertical route with ropes. 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 bigger than coffins to keep you warm.
During the last day of our climb, we trailed down the path of slippery boulders and many stairsteps 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 were 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.
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