The Feisty Beauty of Mayon Volcano

One album from my classic climb photo collections before the dawn of the age of digital cameras. This was my climb on Mayon Volcano in my Bicol hometown.

The towering beauty of the Bicolandia, rests on Legaspi, Albay. The alter-ego of the legendary Bicolana - Daragang Magayon (means beautiful lady), famous for her beauty and grace. She died of stray arrow on her supposed wedding day to a scheming villain who was forcing her to marry him. The love of her life came to rescue her, but he too died in the battle shortly after slaying the villain. So all the main characters in the story dies. What a tragedy! Her grave was where the volcano rose, radiating all that she was - beautiful and perfect. 
Mayon, volcano, mt. mayon, active volcano, philippines
Daragang Magayon
Mayon volcano is an active stratovolcano, world renowned for its near symmetrical conical shape (same as Japan's Mt Fuji). It erupted numerous times in the past, the most recent of which was in December 2009.

We left Manila on Halloween. There were some last minute considerations because there was a sudden eruption alert level forecast from PHIVOLCS. Days before our set climb departure, the volcano was on Alert Level 01, which means the source of activity is hydrothermal and shallow. When we arrived in Legaspi on All Saint's Day, Mayon was elevated to Alert Level II meaning the volcano's magma is rising which anytime could lead to an eruption.

Unyielding to nature's warning, we hiked to Camp 1 the next day. I told myself my instincts would tell me if somethings not right. Then whatever that is, I'd run as fast as I can away from the volcano without looking back.. Okay, I'm exaggerating. Haha. But the slightest ground shake during that time, and I probably did just that. It was a restless night for me. How could you have a good night sleep with an impending eruption in mind. ;(

We made it through the night. Day 2 was assault to the crater. From Camp 1, the crater is 5 to 7hours climb without backpacks.
Mayon, volcanic rock
Mayon crater assault
The ancient path of the lava flow after each eruption episode was the main trail. Vegetation was confined to the outer bounds of the trail. No trees, just grass, moss and a handful of bushes. The sight of vegetation is a good thing when climbing volcanoes. It gives a little dash of hope that it has been a while since the volcano erupted and emitted lava from that side of the volcano. ^_^ The green color of the vegetation screams of LIFE. Vegetation thins out from the jump-off to Camp 1 and to Camp 2 until there's none on the way to the crater.

The trail to the mouth of the volcano from Camp 2 is and was a treacherous terrain. Loose pyroclastic material and lava flow trace made up the trail. At this point, climbers are exposed to the unforgiving rays of the sun with no vegetation to provide shade and some inspiration. No rumbling of the ground so far, so I should be okay climbing to the crater of an active volcano.
Hiking the lava trail of Mayon Volcano.
They said that Daragang Magayon won't show herself in full bloom to female visitors. There is almost always, some sort of cloud that envelopes her. The cloud that hides her is none other than her lover protecting her from the lustful intents of others. But there I was, on her bosom, sitting next to my good friend - Kudz, in all her welcoming gaze. Steam (mixed with sulfur and CO2) rising and a reminder to her silent rebellion.  What was I thinking climbing her at a mood like that?
At the smoking crater
The slope made the descent the greatest challenge for me. My  leg brakes were always on, otherwise, gravity would send you speeding down the steep terrain. I felt the hot earth below my feet every step of the way. I'm not sure if it was the sun scorching the rocks, or the magma heating it up from deep below. I'd like to think it was the former. Some boulder to cobble sized pyroclastic materials were randomly on the trail.  There's no exact trail or path. We took the trail whichever we feel was the fastest and relatively the safest. Climbing down is more difficult than getting up there. How steep the volcano is, can only be expressed by this photo.
Mayon slope, lava trail
The lava trail of Mayon is anything but gentle. 
They said that Daragang Magayon won't show herself in full bloom to female visitors. There is almost always, some sort of cloud that envelopes her. The cloud that hides her is none other than her lover protecting her from the lustful intents of others. But there I was, on her bosom, sitting next to my good friend - Kudz, in all her welcoming gaze. Steam (mixed with sulfur and CO2) rising and a reminder to her silent rebellion.  What was I thinking climbing her at a mood like that?!
Before leaving Daragang Magayon to her rants and tantrums, we took our classic group shot.
Mayon Volcano will always be on my top climbs.

Disclaimer:
The recorded Mayon volcano eruption after this climb was March 17, 2003 with a Volcanic Explosivity Index of 2. I wouldn't encourage anyone to climb Mayon nowadays under the same conditions we had back then. Don't be at the wrong place at the worst time by choice (or by stupidity). What we did was careless, but we have luck favoring us, and certainly Daragang Magayon on our side. But that's no excuse. Another day, another fate. Be safe..

Photo Credits:
Scanned photos prints from Tatay Jun.

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3 comments:

  1. nice set jonie! tropang sandugo..todong film pa pix nyo!
    hahahaha

    -dyey

    ReplyDelete
  2. w0w... nice blog ate jonie.. haha
    hope to climb the summit someday.. :D

    jun - MITMC

    ReplyDelete
  3. dream adventure ko ito.. isabit nio ko minsan sa ganyan ka extreme.

    ReplyDelete

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