“Kalbo” means Bald.
Three years ago on my first trek to the peak of Mt Natib, the highest mountain in the Bataan Natural Park, I noticed a mountain peak without any trees or vegetation on it as seen on the right side from the trail going to a place called “Binutas”. The “peak” is located on a nearby mountain ridge and it is very noticeable because of its bare appearance.
Due to curiosity, I asked the guide if the peak has a name or something that would identify it among the local people in the area. The guide said that the mountain popularly known in the area as “Mount Kalbo”! I laughed and asked from the guide if he is really serious, and he said, “Yes”. The mountain peak is really called “Mount Kalbo” among the locals living in the area and I thought that someday I would be able to peakbag the said mountain.
After two years, I was able to trace a trail from my Playground to the peak of Mt Natib. But the trail is very challenging that it took us some time to really re-trace the trail which is being used by the hunters in the area. I brought some of my running friends to join me in trying to connect the trail from where I stopped with my training partner up to the place called “Binutas”. Due to the lack of time, we decided to turn-around and returned to where we started. It was a good 30K trail blazing experience among friends.
Finally, after starting very early in the morning, my training partner, Danin and I were able to reach “Binutas” after coming from the North side trail approach to Mt Natib, which means that we came from the Subic/SBMA area. It was a 40K total of “out and back” course and we came to know that we only had to trek for about 5 kilometers from the point we turned around with my running friends. On our first successful attempt, we had to deal with tall grasses; vines, and plants with thorns on those rarely-used trail.
To my surprise, on the last 1.5 kilometers before reaching the place called “Binutas”, we could see the peak of Mt Kalbo which is situated on the right side of the trail. I think my training partner and I would pass the foot of the peak for about 5-6 times already on our regular training runs to “Binutas” and Mt Natib since we discovered that Mt Kalbo was within our reach.
Two weeks ago, four (4) brave trail runners attempted to run the North Trail Course to Mt Natib in a trail race dubbed as “Playground BRAVO 50K Trail Run” which is actually a 51-Kilometer “out and back” course and only three (3) runners finished the course. Although they experienced the usual sharp blades of grasses, thorny vines and plants; and leaf-covered vines on the ground that traps ones feet, these runners were able to pass the tests of this trail with flying colors, not to mention the brutal elevation and the heat within the area.
In my desire to clean the trail from these grasses, vines, and thorny plants, I brought two of my men with their bolos and foods/drinks to once and for all clean the trail for easier running and trekking.
After one hour of cleaning the trail within the vicinity of the foot of Mt Kalbo, I finally decided to instruct my men that we have to “peakbag” it and trace whatever trail that can be seen towards its peak. From the trail where we were cleaning, everything was an assault towards the pointed part of the mountain.
We had to slowly put our foot one after the other as we go up the peak and hold whatever plant or growth as we pulled our bodies upward. It was a very slow and deliberate pace as we got higher in elevation. After about 350 meters of steep inclined approach, it leveled up and I started to see a lot of rocks surrounding the last assault to the peak. More rocks can be seen on the last 50 meters towards the peak of the mountain.
Finally, we were able to “peakbag” Mt Kalbo! It appears that the reason why there is no thick vegetation or trees on the peak is because of the presence of a lot of rocks. Only the cogon grasses thrive on the peak and it gives a semblance of its appearance as a bald mountain, most especially when the cogon grasses start to turn to brown and dried during summer.
More rocks can be seen on the flat portion of the peak but I have observed that the same vegetation that can be seen at the peak of Mt Natib is the same with that of Mt Kalbo. There are wild plants; cogon grasses; and orchids that can be seen at the peak.
There is a trace that an industrial drill had been used to bore a hole from the peak of the mountain and it has a cement marker that is almost disintegrating due to the elements. There is also a wooden pole which drilled to the ground that we could hardly pull from the ground. I guess, the wooden pole was placed beside the cement marker where one can place a flag or a cloth marker on top of the peak.
After some photo-ops, I instructed my men to clean the peak of the mountain and cut those tall grasses in order to expose the rocks on top of the peak. How I wish these rocks will not be vandalized by people who will be visiting this place.
Many thoughts and ideas came into my mind as I inspected every inch and foot on top of the peak of Mt Kalbo. I guess, Mt Kalbo Trail Run is coming soon as a challenge to trail runners.
After about 45 minutes at the peak, we decided to go back to the place where we started. It was a good 12 hours in the mountain and we finally reached our place at 9:45 PM.
My Garmin Watch registered an elevation of 930 meters at the peak. The whole 40K course also registered an Elevation Gain/Loss of 7,000 feet.
It was a good 40K “out and back” distance for the day! We officially “peakbagged” Mt Kalbo. And I am officially inviting bald trail runners/mountaineers to visit the place and I am also declaring it as the Official Mountain of the Baldies!