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Most Difficult Mountains in the Philippines - MIMAROPAs Big 3

“Never underestimate the mountains based on its difficulty rating,” “Never conquer the mountain; let yourself conquer your fears because of the mountain.” I created those mottos because of my personal experiences which result to personal accomplishments.

Toughest, hardest, most difficult, to the highest level: I know that words are powerful, but in this case, that power is not applicable. I have no idea if those words can be used to describe the difficulty of the mountains (especially describing to non-hikers.) I think no one can give the exact description that will fit certain individual’s strength. Actually, I started writing this article in the second week of December 2013, where I am still missing Mt. Mantalingajan in Palawan. Reason in writing? Well, it is to set everyone’s expectations before hiking the Big 3 of the MIMAROPA; and I was getting a hard time writing this, because I was lacking right term or right description on each mountain.

The summit of Mt. Pundaquit in Zambales was my first summit reached and still considered as the most difficult mountain that I trekked (so far, 2013). This mountain has a minor scale in all aspects (trail class, altitude, and what’s not) but still it is on my Top 1 list. I wasn't mentally prepared and I underestimated this mountain because of the ratings given by some hikers and bloggers as well.  "Others found it easy and I found it difficult; others found it difficult and I found it easy." Be Read and Be Prepared!

After that successful climb, although it was a tough one, I used the power of Google in searching more mountains and its difficulties. Then, with different groups, I trekked more mountains in different categories.  After a year of climbing and reading several blogs, I finally decided, “why not the 9/9s?” And talking about the 9/9s, why not the pride of my province – ROMBLON. Please click on the yellow links

Mt. Guiting-guiting in Sibuyan Island, Romblon is one of the most challenging mountains in the country. A lot of hikers who reached the summit of G2 (another acronym for Guiting-guiting), in different weather condition, said that this mountain has its own character, a character that is unique and can only be found here.
For me, G2 is like a gigantic rock fell on the ground. The cracks on the surface of this rock give an amazing but dangerous experience to the hikers. The sharp edges of the boulders are razor like, which can cut the sole of your shoes. There are parts where the boulders are slippery, cliff hanging and 90 degrees assault.

If you are hiking this mountain during summer, be ready and physically prepared! Your one week jogging and regular exercise will be a great help for yourself. During summer, your water containers are essential and absolutely advisable. In rainy season, you need to focus on your security and expect that the trail will be slippery. The mosses and algae can make the surface of the cliff hanging boulders more dangerous. All of your hiking stuff is important. I can personally suggest; you must have your dependable shoes, gloves, and water gaiters. If you can’t handle long-packs, please don’t do it, which might affect you. And in addition to that, your positive attitude is a must!

Next is Mt. Halcon, situated in Baco, Oriental Mindoro. This mountain also got a 9/9 rating in terms of its difficulty. The trail here is much longer than what G2 has. But, G2 still have the technicalities. This mountain still has virgin forest which contains great flora and fauna. The mangyan tribe, who are the guards of this mountain, are preserving the richness of nature. Not only that, Halcon is also one of the mountains which bear horror stories; and I know and/or experienced some.

Hiking this mountain wasn’t easy at all; the unpredictable weather condition was our main concern. In this mountain, your physical strength is very important, that’s why hikers said: “Mt. Halcon is physically demanding.” I thought, we’re almost on its summit, but we’re not; we’re still approaching the base of the gigantic Mt. Halcon. The long trail is composed of river crossing, bouldering, and 80-90 degrees ascending/descending. The blood sucking parasites are additional challenge as well.

It is very essential that you need to observe the weather, as it affects the trail and then the entire journey. Your rain gears, lamps, fine knitted pants and leggings (leech protection) and other hiking stuff are needed. I do suggest, please do water proofing on your gadgets and personal belongings for safety.

Lastly, Mt. Mantalingajan in Rizal, Palawan. Some said that this mountain is the combination of the two mountains above. It contains more than the length of Halcons trail and difficulty by the G2. If Halcon has the stories about ghosts and spirits, Manta (another name) has the stories of superhuman abilities and superpowers. Historically, this mountain has different cultural tribes that serve as the guardian of the mountain. They also have their own and unique belief in their respective communities.

Among these 3 big mountains, I can say Manta has the most virgin forest because of minimal hikers who do traverse. The factors are: location, required days to summit, expenses, fear of malaria and some other things. The trail here is challenging, as it includes: cliff hanging, loose soil, muddy and slippery (because of its rain forest.) Please be mindful and give respect to the tribes residing in the area; they are still using the ancient style in living, so please be careful in making them as subject in taking photos (always ask permission from them.)

Before hiking Manta, I suggest that you need to do more physical exercises, as part of the preparation. Hiker’s positive mentality is also needed during the hike; the long trail and difficulty of this mountain can measure your ability to manage and handle stress. Since some parts of the trail are limatik infested, it is advisable to wear fine knitted fabrics as your protection. Wearing long sleeves and applying insect repellents will be a great help in preventing the hikers from malaria. Hikers must have their own first aid kit, gloves for rock climbing, dependable shoes, rain gears and what’s not.

In general, hiking these three big mountains within my first 1 year and 9 months was remarkable. Other hikers told me that I am lucky that I was able to hike this Big 3 within that range of time, unlike them; they waited for more than five years before completing this MIMAROPAs Big 3. Reaching the summit, seeing the richness of the Philippines, building good relationship with the other hikers, conquering my own fear, discovering new things and ideas; those are some of the achievements.

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