MT. KANLAON 2008: 7th All Women's Climb

On September 2008, climber delegates from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao gathered once again to be part of the 8th All Women's Climb (AWC), its theme dubbed as "Dayan Dayan sa Bukid" (Walk the hills).

The annual event was this time hosted by Negros Mountaineering Club and they delighted the participants with a four-day event (Sept. 24-28) to the highest mountain on their side of town - Mt. Kanlaon, in Negros Oriental. The event is an invitational climb to member clubs of the Mountaineering Federation of the Philippines (MFPI) yet no eager climbing gal was turned down to participate in the event. Registration fee was Php700 pesos. This includes a cute purple shirt, a colorful beanie to match, an AWC headband, and many more freebies from the event sponsors.

AWC delegates from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

I am an old-timer in AWC. I climbed with them in 2003 (AWC3) at Mt. Tigum in Alas-asin, Iloilo and participated in the official launch of the first AWC climb in Mt. Apo though I did not join the climb.. My co-Luzon delegate in AWC3 was Yas, but she passed on this one (though she flew to Bacolod to join the after-climb party) so I invited two kick-ass chicks I know to join me on this trip - Kat and Shak. Mt. Kanlaon was one of my frustations in climbing, having set to climb it many times before, which was always canceled due to different circumstances. So I took the opportunity to cross it out of my climbing list, with only female companions to make it more memorable.

Luzon Delegates

Two routes lead to the summit of Mt. Kanlaon, the traditional - Guintubdan Trail (1day trek to summit), and the challenging - Wasay Trail (2days trek to summit). Group 1 will ascend and descend via Guintubdan. Group 2 will ascend via Wasay and descend via Guintubdan. Except for Kat, Shak and I have been climbing for years now, so we chose to climb the Wasay-Guintubdan Trail. This was Kat's first major climb.

Wasay Trail Group

Half of Day 1 was consumed for registration and travel to jump-off. The jump-off to Wasay Trail turns right from the entrance to the Mambukal Hotspring Resort. Unfortunately, our itinerary does not include visit to the hotspring, so we settled for a photo at the resort's signage.

Jump-off to Wasay Trail - Mt. Kanlaon

We trekked a short distance to a small house (or a school, can't remember) where we stayed for the night.  I don't know most of the girls in the Wasay group especially the delegates from Mindanao. We got to know each other a little bit over dinner. Then we turned the lights off to rest and prepare ourselves for the climb the next day. Two more Luzon delegates - AWC pioneers actually - Kat P. and Joyce arrived around midnight to join the group. 12 girls comprised the Wasay trail Group plus one female guide.

Day 2 was a gradual and enjoyable climb. The Visayas and Mindanao climbers were getting along speaking Cebuano (or Bisaya), while us Luzon climbers could barely understand what they were talking about. In the same way, it was very uncomfortable for them to speak Tagalog.

Girls carry tall backpacks too.

We were getting along just fine, when we were halted on our tracks by a group of men (no worries, they were decent-looking).  They asked for identification and the groups' permit to climb the area. Of course, our organizer - Maan had those documentations at hand so we were cleared. Those men were personnel from the geothermal plant operating nearby. 

We passed by a road development site for the transportation network of the Negros Geothermal Plant operation that taps Mt. Kanlaon's geothermal resources. The power plant is controversial among the locals and they are contesting its legality being situated in Mt. Kanlaon, a declared national park since 1983. However, the road and the geothermal plant location is said to be in the buffer zone of the national park which permits infrastructure development.  The road being constructed at the time of visit goes all the way up the mountain to ensure accessibility to the geothermal facilities. 
Cut trees and widened trails for road development.
A long and winding road being constructed in Mt. Kanlaon.
The geothermal plants' commercial operation began in February 2007 and subsequent projects such as road construction were undertaken. These developments, however directly impacted most of the old growth forest of Mt. Kanlaon and the community fears that the "Hardin sang Balo" (Garden of the Widow), which we visited during the climb, won't be there for climbers to visit in the future. Our guide told us that the Hardin sang Balo also lies within the so called buffer zone, and it too will be affected by the road development works.  This garden is an old growth mossy forest which kinda like reminds of that scene in Lord of the Rings in which Frodo crosses a field where dead bodies lay to his left and right. It was a creepy, desolate and weird place to be alone at, but it was nonetheless beautiful. 
An old growth mossy forest which will soon be gone.
Mt. Kanlaon Geothermal Plant serves and distributes its electricity to off grid locations in the Visayas and portions of Mindanao with an installed capacity of 1,198 Megawatts. 1 Megawatt could supply electricity to roughly 1000 homes. Geothermal power generation also saves us millions of pesos from importation of fossil fuels. If losing our old growth forests is the price we have to pay, we seriously have to weigh our options. 

Thinking about my options while resting...
Taking my five minutes rest.

We arrived at our Day 2 campsite before dark. We ate dinner and everyone was called out for the socials despite the rainshower. We secured ourselves under a tarp and continued with our stories, while shots of gin and juice were being passed around.  One by one we introduced ourselves and shared some girl climbing experiences to the rest of the group. We were dispersed and forced back inside our tents when heavy rain poured. When I went back to the tent, I found my malong soaking wet from the water condensation on the tent ceiling. It wouldn't be too wet if Shak didn't use my malong to wipe excess water inside the tent.  Oh well it was done already, she said it was wet anyway, and thats about the only resources available to her to save us a dry, (relatively) comfortable sleep (Shak and Kat connived against me on this one.). Good thing, the alcohol I drank calmed my senses and warmed my body that I was into deep sleep instantlly. I neither felt cold nor wet even without my malong.

Day 2 campsite.

We got up for Day 3 with a rested mind and body. Well, we needed that rest, because while we had an easy Day 2 hike, Day 3 was a gruesome one. The terrain was the same gradual slope with a few rock bouldering encounters. The hike was made difficult when heavy and consistent rain angrily poured on us. 

Up and ready for Day 3. 

We have very limited photos on Day 3 due to the really heavy rain. We had to set-up a tarp so that we can eat lunch. Not that i'm whining, but truth to the matter is that this was one of my most difficult climbs in terms of weather.  Our destination was a campsite near the summit where the Guintubdan and Wasay Trail merges. We were supposed to meet Group 1 there.  When we got there, it was still raining hard and heavy. We had to set-up our tent and play tug of war against the wind. It was tiring. We took turns changing into our dry clothes while the two other girls turned around. After a while, I felt really cold, was shivering and realized I have a fever.  My angels took over my cooking duties and prepared pasta with salmon for dinner without hesitation. I took my meds, slept a while, and when I woke up, I felt ok already. The pasta was delicious, though it was not the salmon on top pasta I imagined it would be, because my girlfriends mixed the sauce, pasta and salmon all together. 

We were sharing the same campsite with the Guintubdan group, but all the Wasay girls stayed inside their tents and there was no socials for the night. 

Bad weather confined us to the tent.

Day 4 was a short ascent to the summit and descent via Guintubdan Trail day. But the weather was still against us, and there was no clearing so the expedition leader decided to cancel the summit ascent. Our group shot was taken, and everybody packed for the descent with a heavy heart.

A cold and foggy Day 4 morning.

It was still raining when we left the camp.

The distance showing how near I was to the aborted summit ascent.
(Notice the sudden change of weather)

Passed by this beautiful waterfalls/rapids
Hiked safely to our guide's home along Guintubdan trail and she served nice, hot coffee for everyone. A short distance  from our coffee stop, a truck was already waiting to transport us back to the city. 

The event finale was a party organized for the AWC girls. The traditional Ms. AWC was awarded to Chai-chai from Davao. The AWC core delegates had a short meeting to discuss future plans for the organization. 
After climb party.

We left the party to head to the other side of Negros for our sidetrip in Siguijor Island. :D

Our climb permit seen posted by Jun Arancana in DENR, a week before the climb. 



  1. hi jonie. i will invite mayet andam (of claveria, misamis oriental). she's on my friend's list sa facebook. she's the girl in dark glasses/black shirt (4th from left) in the 3rd top picture. kita kits sa Apo climb nyo.

  2. thanks jun! kwentuhan nga kami nung climb eh, common friend ka pala nmen.. I was in the Malindang climb diba, sila pala organizers nun, pero I knew her nung awc 8 lang..

    Climb ka na ulet ha! Keep visiting..

  3. sure. kati na nga paa ko. tanong nga lang when kaya maka akyat ulit ha3. hahay pwede naman pro dayhike/uwian nga lang


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