Mt. Ulap – Itogon, Benguet (Climb Guide)

Mt. Ulap, Itogon, Benguet

Mt. Ulap is located in Itogon, Benguet. It is one of the mountains located in the Cordilleras. It can be climbed by the Mt. Ulap Eco-trail which goes through the Ampucao-Sta. Fe Ridge. There are 3 summits/points of attraction to reach: Ambanao Paoay, Gungal Rock and the Summit of Mt. Ulap itself.

For 2017, my goal is to climb 15 mountains or more. As for my first mountain, I’ve chosen Mt. Ulap, not because it is on top of my list, but an organizer offered a trip going there. I grabbed the chance and booked myself.

GOING THERE

Mt. Ulap - Itogon, Benguet
Team Ulap at Barangay Ampucao

There are 2 entry points for Mt. Ulap, one is in Barangay Ampucao and the other one is in Barangay Sta. Fe. The nearest to Mt. Ulap is Barangay Sta. Fe. The event organizers chose Ampucao as our start and to do a traverse going to Sta. Fe.

We arrived around 5 in the morning. We need to take a detour and register first at the barangay hall. There were a lot of people. Our coordinator registered for us while we visit the restrooms and drink our hot chocolate from the vendors selling within the area.

THE ASCENT

Mt. Ulap - Itogon, Benguet

The sun rose higher and we started walking along the concrete road going to the jump-off point.

The first point of attraction that we’ve reached was the Ridge View Point, which shows the view of the mountain ranges around the ridge. You can take a photo while wearing indigenous clothing. There’s no fee but a donation will do.

Mt. Ulap - Itogon, Benguet

While we continued our trek, I remembered my climb in Mt. Pulag via the Akiki Trail: the cold weather, the surrounding pine trees and the great exhaustion that I’ve had experienced in my life. It was my first climb after 6 years and it was a major climb. Looking back, it let me realize the change I’ve been through. Back then, I was not prepared, no physical training, proper clothing, and a different mindset. Now, little by little, I believe that I can conquer anything. It will be hard but it can be done.

Mt. Ulap - Itogon, BenguetMt. Ulap - Itogon, BenguetMt. Ulap - Itogon, Benguet

We did a lot of stops taking photos. I can’t control my urge to shoot because of the beautiful landscape that surrounds us and my companions are always ready to make a pose. We still haven’t reached the summit but we already have a lot of photos. It’s not bad but I didn’t realize that this will cost us.

Finally, we reached the first summit, Ambanao Paoay. It is a vast grassland and a grazing ground for cows. There are a lot of manure around the area, just be careful not to step on one. It also offers a camping site for those who will stay overnight.

Mt. Ulap - Itogon, BenguetMt. Ulap - Itogon, Benguet

Mt. Ulap - Itogon, Benguet
Ambanao Paoay Summit Sign

We continued our trek, now along the ridge. There are a lot of scenic spots along the trail. There’s a 360 view full of wonderful landscapes. We also saw a lot of rock-balancing sculptures. The trail is easier compared to the assault before.

Mt. Ulap - Itogon, Benguet
Ambanao Paoay

Mt. Ulap - Itogon, BenguetMt. Ulap - Itogon, BenguetMt. Ulap - Itogon, Benguet

GUNGAL ROCK-MT. ULAP

We reached Gungal Rock around noon. It was filled with people waiting for their turn. There is a queue for those who want to take a photo on it and we are 32nd in the line. We arrived while the sun is high. We rested while we wait. Then, just a few minutes, the clouds started to cover the view and we didn’t have a good clearing. Instead of waiting and going home late, we took a photo with just having the Rock our background.

Mt. Ulap - Itogon, Benguet
Rock-balancing sculpture near Gungal Rock
Mt. Ulap - Itogon, Benguet
Team Ulap

We continued our trek going to the summit and the weather continued to be cloudy. Part of our group got ahead and we were left behind.

One thing I can’t forget in this trek is this simple yet awesome interaction with nature. After a quick rest, I became the lead. The place is cloudy/foggy and our guide was not there. While walking, I saw this black bird that kept on hopping along the trail and looking at me. It’s like telling me to follow him. It may be guiding us to safety.

We reached the base of the summit, but most of us decided not to climb anymore. We walked on the trail and reached the other camping site. I think this is a better site, there are no cows and the view is amazing. In addition, the clouds are within reach.

Mt. Ulap - Itogon, Benguet

Mt. Ulap - Itogon, Benguet
Climbers going down from the summit
Mt. Ulap - Itogon, Benguet
Camp Site near the Summit

THE DESCENT

The side trip included in the tour package is to visit Baguio City and to have our lunch there. To make it in time and to reach our companions who got ahead, we rushed our descent. Fortunately, the weather is still cloudy and no heat to exhaust us. We stopped at a nearby resting station while thinking if the rest of the group really got ahead or we are the ones who got ahead. Finally, they arrived at the station. They climbed the summit and waited for us there.

As we continued our descent, we saw Barangay Sta.Fe within our view and it’s telling us that it is still far away. Pine trees can now be seen around us and the trail became steeper. I think we saw the burial grounds but we didn’t give it much attention because we haven’t seen the skulls. I’m not sure if this is the one, but if it is, they must have transferred the remains to a more isolated place.

According to our guide, we’ll cross 3 hanging bridges and it will be the sign that we are near the exit point. Finally, we reached the bridges and our legs are now anxious to celebrate. After 3 hours of descent, we finally arrived at the exit point and prepared to return back to Barangay Ampucao to log-out.

Mt. Ulap - Itogon, Benguet

I’ve enjoyed a lot in this climb. I’ve met new friends, saw a lot of beautiful things and been with nature again. The mountains in the Cordilleras are really worth visiting. It will give you the thrill of a challenge when climbing and a lot of wonderful views to appreciate.

Mt. Ulap is now checked in my list and it gave momentum to my goal of climbing more mountains this year. If given the chance to climb it again, I will surely take a step on Gungal Rock and the Summit.

Another mountain conquered and I’m looking forward to the next mountain to climb this 2017. What Mountain Next?

 

Also, check out the story of how I survived Mt. Pulag via Akiki-Ambangeg trail 

 

ITINERARY

TIME
ACTIVITY
12:30AM
Meet-up at Cubao
1:00AM
Departure from Cubao
5:00AM
Arrival at Brgy. Ampucao
6:00AM
Start Trek
9:00AM
Gungol Rock
10:00AM
Summit
11:00AM
Descent
2:00PM
Arrival at Sta. Fe
2:30PM
Wash-up
3:30PM
Side trip to Baguio or Back to Metro Manila

 

 

REMINDERS/GUIDES/TIPS

Going There:

  • Take bus (Victory Liner or Genesis) from Cubao to Baguio City (Fare =  P450.00,  Travel time = 4-6 hours)
  • Take taxi  from Victory Liner Bus Terminal, Baguio City to Center Mall (Fare = P51.00, Travel time = 10 minutes)
  • Ride jeepney (beside Center Mall) bound to Philex going to Brgy. Ampucao (Fare = P50.00, Travel time = less than an hour)

 

Fees:

  • Registration Fee = P100.00
  • Guide Fee = P400.00 (Dayhike) / P800.00 (Overnight)
  • Wash-up Fee = P25.00

 

Power Pack:

  • 2-3 Liter of water
  • Jacket/Sweater/Thermal
  • Umbrella
  • Toiletries
  • Trail Food
  • First Aid Kit
  • Extra Clothes
  • Rain Coat
  • Daypack (For Day Hike)

 

Notes:

  • Since it is now one of the most visited mountains, I suggest climbing on weekdays to avoid huge crowds and long lines.
  • Take caution when taking a photo on the Rock, one wrong move can be fatal.
  • There are reports that they will limit the number of visitors, so before you go there make reservations.
  • Always practice the “Leave No Trace” principle. Don’t throw your trash anywhere!

 

CLIMB DATE: JANUARY 2017

Comments

  1. theintrepidminimalist

    Nice post about Mount Ulap. This is actually one of my favorite mountains in our country. It is very accessible (well if you live in Baguio City) and you can actually relax while climbing, unlike the steep ones. Good luck on your 15 mountains!

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