Last Saturday, October 11, I and five other friends from Congress Mountaineers fellowship attempted to climb Mt. Pinatubo crater via Porac River. It was a one-day climb up and down, so we traveled light, no backpack. The river has a strong current though, largely lahar (about 20% sand and 80% water). So we have to criss-cross the river several times as the lahar kept "lane change" many times. Peachy assisted by Raymond here in one of those river crosses.
We assembled at the Centris Station, QC around 2:15am. From left: Raymond Asanza, Jun Velasco, Gene Penas, Jun Dumlao, Peachy Dumlao, Jules and me. Jun Dumlao did not join, he only drove his wife Peachy to the meeting place then went home.
Raymond, Gene, Jules and me were among the first group of climbers in the country who first climbed, descended, and traversed Mt. Pinatubo from Pampanga to Zambales in late December 1994, 20 years ago. For some reason, Jun Velasco and Peachy were not able to join us that year.
After breakfast at the North Expressway, we reached Porac (via SCTEX) jump off station around 4:20am. We started our trek around 4:45am, all with flashlights or headlights. The 3/4 moon provided dawn light too. Below, when the Sun has risen, we have walked already around four kilometers.
Gene, our official photographer (all photos here from his camera) and Peachy. Still all smiles, before we started criss-crossing Porac river.
First rest stop, a brief one, and group photo. Raymond, Jules, Peachy, Jun and me. Gene on the camera.
The various rivers from Pinatubo down to Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales still have lots of high walls of sand that have somehow solidified but will soon collapse and become lahar as the water cascades down, ultimately to the sea (Manila Bay, West PH Sea Zambales side).
And there are just too many huge rocks, especially further up. Some rocks are as big as a bus or a cargo truck. The smaller stones and rocks are easily swept by lahar down to the lower parts of the river.
The water or lahar would criss-cross from one side to the other side of the river. Thus, we also have to criss-cross the river several times.
Because it is lahar, about 20% sand and 80% water, it is dense, heavier and hence, stronger. There are small stones that go with the water that hit our feet and legs as we cross the river several times.
Below, I seem to be having fun as I crossed this part of the river.
Jun and Jules are the most fit among the six of us. They walked fast, they can run fast actually but have to wait for us. The two in one of their "wait for us" stops.
We brought only food and water going up. Jules brought bibingka, enjoying his meal here. What a smile Jules, haha.
We have to clean our socks and shoes several times as the sand would enter our shoes and punish our feet. Walking by slipper is fine but it does not give enough protection from the stones, and a strong river current can detach the slippers from our feet. Shoes or tight sandals are preferable.
To be continued. Photos of the waterfalls next.
Mt. Pinatubo Climb, December 1994, January 24, 2014