C20 – Buntot Palos (Jason’s Birthday Climb)
My first climb for the year is for Jason’s big 3-0 birthday. (Still can’t believe he’s 30, he looks like someone in his early 20s).
We met in StarMall Shaw. The attendees include Jason (the birthday boy), Kyt, Jekk, Jem and Badz, and two of Jason’s officemate – Bogs and Tiny.
From StarMall, we rode a jeep bound for Tanay, Rizal, then another jeepney to the town of Siniloan where we bought food and supplies and ate lunch in Jollibee (wasn’t really expecting Jollibee, the purpose of travelling other than to see places is to eat different).
From the town of Siniloan, we rode tricycle to the next town (Panguil, Laguna) to get to the jump off.
By all internet accounts and posts, Buntot Palos is an easy and minor climb. However, due to the rains of the continual rains, the trail is very muddy. This is compounded by the hoof tracks of the horses used by the locals to bring down firewood. It is indeed a very very muddy climb.
Due to delays in meetups, lunch, etc, we started climbing at around 1pm when the itinerary stated that we should be on the campsite at 1130am. It took us 4 hours going up due to the mud. We also met a group of guys who climbed to photograph the falls. They were obviously not mountaineers and came very ill-prepared, one was wearing flipflops. I think one had an injury so he was riding the horse of one of the locals. The guys said that the falls was very foggy and wet that they couldn’t take good pictures.
After four hours of climbing, we finally reached the campsite. It is not near the falls but we could hear the sound of water crashing down nearby. Well, the campsite should have been a welcome sight but it was not. The ground was really wet and that meant pitching tent in muddy ground.
After pitching tent, we decided to go to the falls. Jekk decided not to go to the falls to look after our things (the mountains around Rizal and Laguna have gained a reputation for having thieves).
Buntot Palos literally means “eel’s tail” and it’s probably named because of its shape (can’t see the resemblance though). The falls is located some 30 minutes away from the campsite and involves going down a steep slope. Since it has been raining hard for a few days, the volume of water coming down the falls is really high and current on the rocks and boulders is strong. We had to take extra care not to be swept by the current.
It was getting dark when we went back to the campsite and brought water from the falls for cooking.
Back at camp, dinner was cooked and eaten, hard drink and wine (I brought a cheap Bourdeaux) was consumed and there were lots of chatter. The talks was of a different kind, probably because there were two new persons with us – Bogs and Tiny. 🙂 After all this, we had a very wet night though we slept safe and sound inside our tents.
In the morning, another group of climbers whom Kyt knows arrived. They got lost during the night and camped in another area.
We had breakfast and it was time to break camp and descend. Our tents are wet and muddy that we had a hard time packing them.
On our way down, we stopped by a stream and washed our muddy tents, tarps, etc. They became more wet but at least got cleaned from all the mud.
If going up a muddy trail is difficult, going down is probably as difficult or more difficult. Instead of just letting gravity do most of the work on descent, we had to fight it in order not to slip. Kyt slipped several times, Tiny (with her sandals) slipped a couple while the rest of us also had our moments.
On reaching the jumpoff, we cooked spaghetti for lunch before going back to Manila. In arriving in Metro Manila, we didn’t go straight home but had some drinks in a bar near Shaw (except for Jem, Badz and Bogs). Then finally home for a well-deserved rest.
For this climb, I brought 3 lenses (1 lens was unused), a tripod (unused), a wired remote (unused), 24gb of storage (in 2 SD cards) but only came home with 116 pictures and very few decent ones. The lens got stuck on the camera and it got so foggy in the end that I couldn’t use it until the fog evaporated much much later. My phone (a Samsung SII) got wet inside the tent and broken.
Buntot Pulos is a nice waterfalls but our timing was so wrong (well, it is expected that it will rain since it was the celebration of someone’s birthday). There will be a return but not in the near future, and definitely not during the rainy season.