Mt. Batulao, Nasugbu, Batangas – It was supposed to be easy, I was told. That it was a beginner’s sandbox for greater heights…and then “change” came!
Rookies at heart and infants in experience, we were supposed to take the weekend to the sky via one of the trios of Rizal – Mt. Pamitinan. It was an attempt to somewhat answer my what-ifs…my internal battles with my demons and monsters…a validation of my limits…or rather my being limitless…
Like any other plans we were bound to get a head-on collision with a train called ‘Change‘. Yes, the unassuming Mt. Pamitinan which has recently been a nest of my impending rendezvous with my inner fears faded in the dark. A mountaineer friend wasn’t familiar with Pamitinan suggested Mt. Batulao in Nasugbu, Batangas. I heard about it from other friends and their stories were inspiring. So in a heart’s beat I signed the deal not knowing how much of my life I was willing to gamble.
‘Change‘ that hit me head-on definitely did not kill me. I was in for more collisions! The night was beginning to roll when I received a note that “Lele“, our certified mountaineer was sick and couldn’t go with us. After all the excitement and preparations (not that much really!), I was willing to chase the chance – I was going no matter what.
At 4am Matet and I were seated on the second row of a San Agustin Bus bound for Nasugbu. We were armed with our trail food (jellyace, nuts and chocolates), water (2L), Lele’s Itinerary and a ton of courage! We were chasing this chance to summit a mountain 811+ (MASL)meters above sea level!
We arrived in Batulao (KC Hillcrest Golf Club), the portal to the Mt. Batulao jump-off. Lele’s itinerary says to stretch and walk to the real jump-off point. I was too excited last Saturday night that I did not get to sleep. I read blogs about romancing Mt. Batulao. Most of them said to ride a trike to the jump-off. And true enough, it was a good idea to scrap the walking option! The jump-off was FAR from a walking distance (at least from a rookie’s standpoint)! It was a bumpy ride at around six (6) in the morning.
Lesson Number 1 – Ask for a Guide
We registered in the Barangay’s log book for us to be accounted for for when ‘change’ decides to chase us back. No fees were collected so we head on up the hill until we realized that we don’t exactly know where to start and our pride got the best of us…we did not go back and played with our chances…we found a trail! (no idea which trail we followed until probably Peak 5 or 6)
Lesson Number 2 – Do not ignore the bamboo poles
At the registration table, the kid manning the log book offered bamboo poles at P 10 a piece and we declined (it wasn’t in Lele’s itinerary LOL). While we were taking the scenic and rural dirt road leading somewhere, a couple of kids again offered poles and we politely declined (lakas ng loob eh!)
The twin peaks of Mt. Batulao
The Chase Goes on
We followed the yellow brick road! Well, it wasn’t exactly yellow! It was brown with towering talahib on both sides! The trail was well-marked and it would almost be impossible to be lost. It was a rolling terrain…
Doro, The Explorer!
It is not a race. Easy pace…stop and enjoy the view
Climbing Batulao is like life. It’s not always a rolling hill and cool mountain breeze. Sometimes, you get to meet that cliff that will challenge your heart – will you quit or will you get past that steep climb? I grabbed on tight to the rope, scaled the loose ground and lift myself up one knot at a time…because I did not come to quit, I came to climb a mountain!
Yes, I am the king of the World!
There is no other way but forward! Selfi-selfie sa bundok!
Are we there yet? Contemplating on a rock…
It felt good, looking back at the trail we’ve been through. Nobody ever said it is good to simply forget what has passed. What I’ll say is to not forget the lessons of the past and move forward…upward!
Look what we’ve been through!
After about three (3) rope segments we finally made it! Peak 12 from the new trail but more popularly known as Camp 10 from the Old Trail! Regardless of the trail used to reach the summit, we made it! We actually did!…without a (tour)guide! It was about 10 in the morning and we were at 811 MASL (meters above sea level)!
Oh! Camp 10 na…ang taba ko pa din! (I’m still fat!)
Other mountains of Batangas behind us! (sige, squint pa!)
Selfie pa more!
Customary selfies and the 360º view of Cavite and Batangas consumed our time at the summit. It was a fulfilling morning for us. We took too many chances to be at 811 MASL. The feeling fueled our desire to chase more chances…even if it take us higher than Batulao’s Camp 10.
Climbing a mountain’s summit is one thing, descending is another! We intended to have lunch in Mahogany Market so we started the trek down around 10:15 AM. Matet negotiated with the couple we met in one of the huts along the new trail so we can join them when they return to the jump off. They have a guide, Kuya Alex. He led us to another trail which we were thankful of. The sun rays were biting and sucking on our fleeting energy. The lush forest trail was much appreciated. Besides, there were a lot of bamboo and branches to hold on to for support.
When we were going against gravity trying to reach the summit it felt hard and tasking. Going along with gravity would have been easy if we were simply going to roll down the slopes! Reality check: We were not rolling down the hills, unless we want to check-in in a morgue! We then realized how a bamboo pole would have been pretty darn useful! Sadly, regret is always, always in the end!
Going down the mountain wasn’t as easy! Like I said, it could have been mitigated if we listened. To sum up our descent, I managed to slip and gain some minor dermal abrasions on my right knee and some excruciating episodes of muscle cramps (talk about skipping the stretching). I should have known better…after all, it’s kind of the same principle when running!
We finally made it back to the village. I was nearly dehydrated. The locals were kind. They let me down a glass (or make it two) of cold water. We took a shower in a property at the Hillcrest gate before heading off home.
What about lunch at the Mahogany Market? We totally scrapped it when we couldn’t get a ride! We waited, but that chance was something to let go of because we were hungry. We ended up having lunch (err…dinner) at Amber’s Golden Plate in Makati!
How to get there
- Take bus bound for Nasugbu, Batangas – now you have a couple of option (A) San Agustin Bus in EDSA-Taft Avenue, (B) Bus Terminal in Coastal Mall
- Tell the conductor that you are going to Mt. Batulao or just simply say Batulao and they’ll drop you off in front of Hillcrest Golf Club gate
- From Hillcrest gate you can walk to the jump-off or flag a tricycle
- Register in the Barangay logbook
Here’s Lele’s Itinerary that we tried to follow 🙂
Jump-off point: Evercrest Golf Course, Nasugbu
LLA: 14.0408 N 120.8011 E 811 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 2-4 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 3 with 60-70 degrees assault
0330 Meet up at Mcdo EDSA Cor Taft Ave. (dulo ng MRT)
0400 shove off going to Nasugbu (fare is 105 php)
0630 arrival at Evercrest (now KC Hillcrest) and stretching
0700 shove off to the mountain (25 php registration 1.)
0800 Must reach the foot hill
0830 must reach the Fork trail and proceed to old trail
0900 Camp 1 (30 registration)
0930 reach summit and rest
1000 shove off to new trail
1030 Must reach camp 1 ( 30 php registration)
1130 back at Evercrest for wash up (20 Php)
1200 shove off to Mahogany for Bulalo lunch
1300 shove off back to Manila (105 Php)
Total Damage – P 425
- Bus fare from EDSA to Hillcrest and vise versa – P 210 (round trip)
- Tricycle from Hillcrest to Jump-off – P 30 per person (P 60 – round trip)
- Guide fee – P 400 standard
- Buko Juice at Camp 11 (I think) – P 25
- optional, but it was refreshing
- Turon – (P10 a piece)
- Shower – P 25
- Fee in New Trail – P 30
So, here I am… I made some choices. Some were good while some were just dumb. The thing is, these choices made me who I am today and I have no regrets except for the chances I didn’t take. What I learned is, you just have to chase those chances while you can. Who knows, you might end up soaring higher than 811 Meters Above Sea Level!
Chase your chances to the summit! Believe me, it is not lonely up there!