Mt Kalbo

22 04 2014

“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.

Rounded Peak Of Mt Kalbo

Rounded Peak Of Mt Kalbo

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.

Playground BRAVO 50K Trail Run Participants

Playground BRAVO 50K Trail Run Participants

@ "Binutas", Near Mt Natib During The Playground BRAVO Race

@ “Binutas”, Near Mt Natib During The Playground BRAVO Race

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.

Cleaning Of The Trails

Cleaning Of The Trails

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.

More Cleaning In The Forest

More Cleaning In The Forest

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.

The Assault Trail To The Peak

The Assault Trail To The Peak

The Final Approach To The Peak

The Final Approach To The Peak

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.

Finally, A Pose At The Peak With Mt Natib In The Background

Finally, A Pose At The Peak With Mt Natib In The Background

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.

Cleaning The Peak & Exposing The Rocks

Cleaning The Peak & Exposing The Rocks

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.

Rocks At The Peak Of Mt Kalbo

Rocks At The Peak Of Mt Kalbo

My Men & Training Partners

My Men & Training Partners

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!

 





3rd Week Of Training (January 20-26, 2014)

31 01 2014

January 20, Monday—Rest Day 

2-Hour Massage

January 21, Tuesday: @HPA Parade Ground (Paved & Dirt Roads)/ Start: 7:52 AM

Distance—10 Kilometers/6.2 Miles

Time—57:15 minutes

Average Pace—5:42 mins/km

Average Speed—10.5 kms/hour

Total Calories—686 cal

Total Ascent—323 meters

Total Descent—232 meters

Weather—Cloudy

Shoes—HOKA One One Stinson Evo

January 22, Wednesday: @Remy Field Oval Track/ Start: 7:14 PM

Distance—13 Kilometers/8.1 Miles (Tempo Run: 4K Easy Run; 5 X 800 with 800 as Recovery in between repetition @ 4:00-4:10 minutes per repetition)

Time—1:16:09 hours

Average Pace—5:50 minutes/km

Average Speed—10.3 Kms/hour

Total Calories—897 cal

Weather—Night Run/Cold/Windy

Shoes—ASICS Gel-Lyte Racer

(Note: Slower Time due to Lots of Runner & Walkers on the Oval Track)

23 January, Thursday: @ Mt Natib Trail Route/Start—10:15 AM

Distance—42 Kilometers/26 Miles (Trail Run with Power Hike)

Time—10:50:09 Hours

Average Pace—25 minutes/mile

Total Calories—1,757 cal

Elevation Gain—1,780 meters/5,873 feet

Elevation Loss—1,778 meters/5,868 feet

Minimum Elevation—30 meters/95 feet

Maximum Elevation—865 meters/2,852 feet

Weather—Sunny and Windy

Shoes—Helios, La Sportiva

24 January, Friday—Rest Day

30-Minute Stationary Bike (PM)

25 January, Saturday: Start: 5:00 AM

Race Director—2014/4th Edition of the Bataan Death March 160K Ultra Marathon Race

26 January, Sunday—Rest Day

40-Minute Stationary Bike

Total Weekly Mileage: 65 Kilometers/40.6 Miles

Total Vertical Distance (Ascent): 2,415 Meters//7,921 Feet

@ Kilometer #7 To Mt Natib

@ Kilometer #7 To Mt Natib (100-meter uphill paved road of the trail route)





#2 “Peak Bagging” @ Mt Natib, Bataan (1,287+ MASL)

17 04 2012

March 29, 2012 @ Mt Natib, Barangay Tala, Orani, Bataan

Mt Pulag is more than twice as high as Mt Natib in Barangay Tala, Orani, Bataan.

Exactly 14 days after Mt Pulag’s “peak bagging”, I was on my way to Bataan and try find out if I can reach the peak of Mt Natib within half day. It started with a simple Personal Message on Facebook with a “friend” who happens to be the Military Commander of the Northern & Central Luzon Areas and then later with telephone calls to two subordinate commanders whose areas are within Bataan and other provinces in Central Luzon. After 12 hours from the time I sent a PM on Facebook, everything was set and I could run and hike up to the peak of the famous Mt Natib the following day.

Two days before joining the 1st King of the Mountain Mt Ugo Trail Marathon, I was on my way to Balanga, Bataan to visit the Commander of the 7th CMO (GWAPO) Battalion, Colonel Benny Doniego, who gladly received and escorted me to the 73rd DRC Detachment in Barangay Tala, Orani, Bataan where I would start my run & trek to the peak of Mt Natib. I was surprised that he prepared a breakfast for me and my staff! It was nice to see Col Doniego after I’ve retired from the military service for the past almost 5 years. He happens to have served under me when I was assigned at the 7th Infantry Division in Fort Magsaysay.

Not only did Colonel Doniego prepared a breakfast for me, he even went to the extent of providing me with one officer and one team/squad of soldiers (9 soldiers) as my escorts. His parting words for me was that there will be fresh coconut juice and my favorite dish of “sinampalokang native na manok” waiting for me as soon as I arrive running/trekking from Mt Natib for lunch! Wow! What a nice incentive to finish the activity in a faster mode!

With military escorts infront and on my back, I started my run/hike from the Philippine Army Detachment at 9:30 AM. From the starting point, everything was going uphill until I reached the place which they call “Pinagbutasan” which happens to be a wide man-made “pass” or “breakthrough” on a mountain so that a trail was made on the other side of the mountain. There is a steel gate/fence that protects the unnecessary use of the trail from 4-wheeled vehicles. From this point, you could see the nice vista and mountains/ridges overlooking the towns of Morong and parts of the Subic cove.

The trail is wide with hardened soil/earth on the first part of the route from “Pinagbutasan” and then it transforms to a trail that has lots of stones and rocks. I was informed that the trail was made/constructed by PNOC on their digging explorations on the said mountain years ago. It is worthy to note that Mt Natib is considered as a dormant volcano and I have the suspicion that PNOC was looking for a geothermal source on the said mountain due to its nature as a volcano. Geothermal is one of the alternative sources of power energy. Unluckily, PNOC was not able to find any geothermal source in the said mountain as evidenced by their exploration diggings covered with concrete cement. You can ask your guide if you are interested to find out where these diggings are located.

On this rocky & stony portion of the trail, it is mostly covered with trees and plants. The terrain is not steep and I was able to jog on most parts of this shaded portion of the trail.

It was cloudy and cold during the day that I had my trek on this mountain and I could hardly see its peak. What went into my mind was to be able to reach its peak, take some pictures, and then descend from the mountain peak for my warm and tasty lunch!

After the shaded portion of the trail, an opening of two small hills beckons with tall grasses with the trail on the middle. I could only see the clouds that cover the mountain and the tall grasses as I proceeded with my power hike. More tall grasses on both sides of the single-track trail and then I was told by our guide to turn left towards a clearing.

There was a clearing which they call “Area 1”. It is actually a camping site which is good for 3-4 tents and located on the very base of the peak of Mt Natib. There is a number “06” marker on one of the trees around the campsite. This site is the start of the “final assualt” to the peak of the mountain!

Aside from the soldiers as my escorts, I had with me two of my elite runners who were there as my personal photographer and assistant. We started our final climb towards the peak with me located in between my two runners on single file. The runner in front of me would clear the way for branches and twigs/thorny vines and the other on my back was there to make sure that I will not roll down from the mountain if I tripped or slipped on the rocks. It was raining then and the trail was slippery. It was more slippery on the rocks that we have to use extra effort to push our feet up to the trail.

After 50 meters on the trail, the first runner suddenly stopped and started to retrace his footings backwards. He told me that there is a snake infront of us crossing our path. I told him to get nearer to it and find out where the head is located! He hesitated! I was the one that went nearer to the snake and it was really big but we could hardly see its head! I was about to hold its tail and yanked the whole body out of the thick foliage but I thought that it was not my main “mission” to look for snakes. I am not a hunter and I am not looking for food or for a pet! I am after the peak of Mt Natib, stick and stay focus to the very simple mission! In a split of a second, I instructed my runner on my back to give me my camera and I was able to get a close-up picture of its tail portion as the snake went to the thicker foliage part on the side of the trail.

After the snake encounter, we went higher and higher with more caution. Then, we were faced with a “vertical wall” which is about 10 meters! It’s good there is a nylon rope where one could hold for a nice rapelling experience! However, the challenge was for the the foot anchor to be firm on every leg push and strong arms pull on the rope towards the top of the wall so that there would be no slipping or sliding due to the slippery wet rocks brought by the drizzle. Going up on top of the wall was very slow and deliberate. There is no point of making it fast to reach the top of the wall. Patience is needed in this kind of situation.

After the first wall, there are rocks as part of the trail that I had to crawl just to be sure that I would not slip. Patience paid off. But there was another mini-wall (about 5 meters) with a rope (again!) to be climbed to its top. After passing this last wall, everything was a smooth uphill and in about 50 meters, I was greeted with the Peak/Summit Marker of Mt Natib! Finally, I was able to “peak bagged” Mt Natib!

Three of us, my two runners and I, were the only one who reached the peak. Our escorts were not able to make it! We spent our almost 20 minutes taking pictures and trying to survey the whole area of the peak. There was no view to be seen from the top of the mountain as it was raining and we were covered with clouds. However, I was able to take note of the trashes being scattered on the different places on top of the mountain. In my estimate, the peak can acommodate at least 8-10 tents (solo or double) and there seems to be no attempt to clean and maintain the area. I said to myself, I will be back to clean the mess here on the peak of Mt Natib in the days to come!

We reached the peak in 3 hours. And we were all in a hurry to go back to where we started at the Philippine Army Detachment. However, we needed more patience and more deliberate footing as we went down the two “walls” and rope rapelling. We spent more time in going down on the “final assualt” portion of the mountain. As soon as we reached “Area 1”, we started to jog and brisked walked. Since we did more on jogging and power walking as almost parts of the trail were descending, we made our way to the detachment in almost 2 hours. My GF 305 recorded an elevation data of 1,296 meters at the peak of Mt Natib!

The trip was concluded with a sumptous late lunch at the Battalion Headquarters with Colonel Doniego and I told him of my plan of going back to the peak of Mt Natib during a day with a nicer weather in the company of my running friends. I also told him of my plan to conduct Operation Linis on the said mountain with an specificied date. It will be April 15, Sunday! His answer was affirmative!

Well, this proves that I am already addicted to “Peak Bagging”!

Next….Mt Ugo…in the 1st King of the Mountain Trail (42K) Marathon…after two days!








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