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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Mt. Timbak - Scaling the third-highest Peak in Luzon

Scaling Mount Timbak was really such a great experience! Meeting with new folks, be inspired by the locals, sharing insights and laughing over silly jokes with the Conqueror Outdoor Club .. it was indeed a meaningful and fun experience that I will treasure forever.
Atok, Benguet

It was 11PM of May 13 when we depart Manila to Baguio via Victory Liner Bus in Pasay. We arrived at Baguio's bus terminal at 5:30 and waited for a couple of minutes before were able to take a FX taxi to transport us to Dangwa Station. I can feel the cool breeze rush through my face  as the cold air blew in through our cab.  It was a 10-15 minutes fx-ride From Baguio Terminal to Dangwa Station and cost us only 50 pesos.

Before we headed to Sagada we took our breakfast first in Cab-atan resto at Dangwa terminal so then we had a short time of getting to know one another. After breakfast we loaded up our things and follow the most common route, the Dangua – Sagada route via GL transit, (Fare: Php80).

Halsema Highway Road

Our bus passes through  La Trinidad. And while some take a nap, I chose to enjoy the scenic views of the Valley and though our bus is moving kinda fast on ridiculously bumpy roads I still manage to take pictures. As we enter Buguias, I saw an endless slopes of vegetables fill the landscape. It was breathtakingly awesome!  It was almost 9:00AM when we reached Halsema Highway. One of the most dangerous roads in the world.

Notice the inch gap between life and death

There was moment of silence, really, as we pass through this narrow and bumpy roads of Halsema Highway. "Bitukang Manok" in Quezon is somehow looks like this but a little bit wider. We reached the highest point in the country's highway system somewhere in Atok, and.. it was awesome! It  gives us spectacular views over a deep gorges overgrown with tall trees and bushes. Hence, looking down really makes me shiver. The  inch-wide gap between the bus and the deep ravine is a matter of death and life! One mistake and we're dead.

It took us about 4 hours to reach the town proper of Atok, Benguet. You don't have to worry cause the bus drivers would  know where to drop you off.
Notice this signboard pointing to the jump-off as you get off the bus.

We arrived at the jump off around 9:30AM and the sun has already set.  It was long paved, steep road to Mongoto Elementary School and seriously every 10-15 minutes we stop to catch our breath and ofcourse to enjoy the scenery.

We're so lucky though because in the middle of that steep walk there was this good soul who stopped on us and offer us a free ride! Yey!

Experience Top Load

We were relieved to unload our things and while waiting for the school key-keeper from whom we can leave the school donations, we decided to eat our lunch.

What I like about the Conqueror Outdoor Club, they're not just fun to be with but they are also into climbing for a cause. As soon as the school key keeper arrived the team handed the lil' donations for the kids and the locals give us a warm smile and we're thankful cause they even offer us the school keys so we could leave our things inside the school as we start the trail.

We rested a bit and dropped our things off inside the school. It was my first time to take a peek on a one-room school. My heart melts. It was a humbling experience just trying to imagine how kids able to survive with their schooling.

All grade levels are placed in one classroom, not to mention some of them have to walk miles just to get to school every day, yeah, I felt my heart stirred.

11:00AM we started the trek. We bring only our bottled water & cameras the rest, we left it in school. About 200 meters after the Mongoto Elementary school, we took a cemented road on the right. Going up there feels-like-I'm-not-in-the-Philippines. I mean, the freezing cold, the stunted trees and shrubs, exotic and unfamiliar plants species and the mist-covered mountains it all looks so quaint!

 Some portions of the trail are cemented  while some are rough & rocky.

Superb View at the Mummy Trail!

A few hours later we reached the Mummy tombs. I was hoping to see the famous mummies, were hundreds of years old where discovered and kept up to the present, but, unfortunately the guide told us that the caves are under strict lock, meaning we are not allowed to see the mummies. :( Taking pictures and videos in the coffins are not allowed too. Sad, right?

under strict-lock

There is nothing much to do on the mummy trail aside from feast your eyes on some of the most spectacular and breathtakingly beautiful scenery of nature, so after awhile, we set off to the mongoto school. we're almost near the camp when heavy rain pours. But it was okay with me, I love running and walking in the rain anyway! xoxo

The freezing temperatures plus the rain that gets us wet makes us chilled. And the minute the coffee was served, I tell yah, that was the best coffee I ever had! At the back of my mind I was really thankful for the caretaker's kindness who let us use the school for our temporary shelter coz if not,  not sure if  I'm able to withstand that long periods of time in the tent in wet and freezing weather.

Some of the team headed off to the summit soon after the rain had stopped. While some, including me because of my aching legs and feet decided to stay and agreed to summit at sunrise where mountains started to glow in the morning light. :)

Sunset view right outside of Mongoto Elementary School.

Though maybe not as spectacular from the views at the summit but for a newbie like me, its breath-taking!
To watch a sunset is to connect with the Divine.

Sunset view from the Summit of Mount Timbak.

Rich, deep like love in beauty without end.

At nagpaalam na si Haring araw : (  I dunno but sunsets make me feel sad sometimes..
Peace... is seeing a sunset, and knowing who to thank.

Mini-calvary at the Summit
At the summit of Mt. Timbak, there are three crosses in which is named as “mini-calvary”. Mount Timbak is also known as Mount Singakalsa (an Ibaloi term which refers to a musical instrument similar to gangsa or the local gong. source: wiki). It was ranked as the 9th highest summit in the Philippines.The group who's summit in the afternoon arrived at six o'clock.

We woke up early the next morning to catch the sunrise at the summit. I actually struggle to get to sleep because I feel too cold. Well I guess most of us don't get as much sleep as we should. For as early as 2AM we are all awake, we had some breakfast while the talks and sharing continued :p An saya!  (Right picture shows how we set up our sleeping bag inside of the school. )

Around 4:30AM when we started off our trek. It was still dark outside.

On the way to the summit, we passed by vegetable farms, it was a beautiful landscape along the way. And as the sun is about to set, we saw some locals tending on their  farms. We greeted them and they were quick to smile and helpful in pointing the directions.

At the summit, we were greeted with a beautiful sunrise.

I was fascinated with the view of rice terraces, Halsema high road and Cordillera mountain ranges together with the cold and foggy weather. I cant'help but feast my eyes on the beautiful view from the mountain peak.  

The sunrise is Gods greeting - the sunset, his signature.

Mount Pulag from a distance, a view from the peak of Mt. Timbak.

We headed down and arrived at the basecamp around 6:30AM. And as I started to pack up, can't help myself but to feel sad. I agreed when one blogger said that "Benguet is the best place to relax and just get away from it all. Coz' it is! People here in Benguet live in harmony amongst themselves and with nature.  Yes they could barely speak tagalog neither fluent in English but they communicate with their hearts.

I met this little girl named Kriscel. Look at those chubby pink cheeks. She is soo cute and adorable! I wonder how this 'lil girl endure the freezing temperature wearing one thin clothes..

So then we left the school at 8:00 o├žlock. Going down, saw some locals tending their veggies, life is really simple in this little farming community. I am delighted by the peace and beauty of this place, and I really wish I could go back soon! :)

Getting there?

  1. From Victory Liner in Pasay we ride a bus bound to Baguio City. Fare: Php 450 (as of May 2011). It was a 5-6 hour trip.
  2. Upon arriving at Baguio City we took an FX ride going to Dangwa Terminal. Fare: Php 50 only. (regardless of how many people you are in the FX).
  3. From Dangwa Terminal, we took Baguio – Sagada route via GL transit. It took us about 4 hours to reach the town proper of Atok, Benguet.  The bus drivers would know where to drop you off. 

*Pictures courtesy of Conqueror Outdoor Club


  1. all breathtaking photos dear!! love the first photo of yours!! it looks amazing!! like your on top of the world!!! xx

  2. Sagada!! naku i'm a graduate of Baguio (SLU) sa sobrang busy sa school never akong nagka-chance to visit Sagada.. kakainis... sana soon! nice adventure!!

    1. hi Ms. Violy, Mt. Timbak is located in Benguet. We just followed the Dangua – Sagada route. From Atok Benguet, 3-4 hours pa po yun Sagada.Thanks.

  3. 2012 checklist ko, makaakyat din ng bundok!.. hehe..

  4. I admire people who climb mountains. I am more of a beach person kasi. Tamad. I love beach bumming, pero yung maglakad at umakyat ng malayo, not for me. Kaya bilib na ko sa'yo at sa iba pang namumundok.

    1. hi "my island trek" why not give it a try, its worth it :) thanks!

  5. I envy you! I could never climb mountains anymore, sad but true. You have to haggle with my neurosurgeon to let me do that ha ha ha. I wish I could still climb mountains. My mountaineer friends say that the feeling at the top is exhilarating. Conquer more mountains! Cheers!

  6. kakayanin ko pa kaya ang mag hiking...i wonder how it feels to be up there after a long walk.

    1. hello janey, why not? the experience is sooooo rewarding.. And once you're on the top of the mountain, the feeling is soO liberating!!

  7. Looks like a lot of fun how to join? =)

    1. hi stacy yes, its a fun-filled experience..
      The conqueror outdoor club are constantling organizing open climb. Everyone are welcome to join. Kindly visit and like their page if you want to receive invites. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Conqueror-Outdoor-Club/124624310936707

      BTW, there would be a "Pulag Climb" this march, you might want to join? thanks.

  8. It looks fun! We're going to Sagada this summer

  9. Ive was here 2 weeks ago..
    I missed the sea of clouds and the glorious sunrise because the February weather was too much!
    I love Mt Timbak! :)


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