Hiking Mt Purgatory
Popularly known as Mt. Purgatory, the mountain ‘Mangisi got its name due to how the pioneers felt in hiking it. Temperatures drop to zero, with thick vegetation, clouds causing zero visibility and no water source – it is reminiscent of going through purgatory itself and undergoing herculean difficulties to cleanse your soul.
It was my second time climbing it last May 28th. I wasn’t able to get to the summit of Mt. Tangbaw when I first climbed it last year. I promised myself I’d have a revenge climb and finish the series (6 summits – Mt. Mangakew, Mt. Pack, Mt. Purgatory, Mt. Bakian, Mt. Tangbaw and Mt. Komkompol).
Horror of horrors, it rained at the onset of the ascent. It was my first time to go on a major climb in gloomy weather. It may be unnerving but here are some tips for weathering it out there and still have a swell time.
1. Pack light and smart.
Too much weigh from your backpack and fumbling through items while trekking affects your travel time significantly. A great guide on multi-day hike essentials and packing it properly:
You can get a porter, just ensure your luggage is at humane limit – about 15 kilos per porter. Carry some trail food, water and rain gear with you as most porters will ask to go ahead of you so that they don’t break their optimal pace (going long distances without stopping).
2. Double check and bring the right gear such as:
Shoes: If it’s old, retire it. Mt. Purgatory’s abundant slopes are steep, slippery and relentless.
Tent: Check for leaks and always bring emergency patches and glue. Homestays are available at the campsite in Mt. Bakian, inclusive in my SmartBroTrips tour thanks to Trail Adventours so that saved me bag space, weight and worry.
Cookset: Pack securely and have ample fuel. You can also purchase food in the homestays at the campsite.
Utensils: Reusable plastic or metal spoon, fork, cup and plate. Avoid paper ware and don’t overuse plastic to reduce trash which you will bring with you on upon descent. Observe LNT (Leave No Trace) principle right?
Sleep gear: Include a foil type earth sheet and emergency blanket. It helps in keeping out the dampness and billowing cold seeping through the floor cracks.
Headlamp/s: Bring 2 for good measure or extra batteries and test it out too.
Trekking Pole: Especially helpful to increase your speed especially in long ascents and reduces impact on your legs, knees, ankles and feet. It may get some getting used to though.
3. Try to follow the set itinerary to avoid further time under the rain or darkness.
Daylight is a privilege especially in the mossy forests or Mt. Pack and Mt. Purgatory. That way you save on using the headlamps and batteries for later.
4. Bring an emergency kit. Duct tape, straw rope, string, spare trek shoes, umbrella, raincoat, lots of plastic bags (big and small) and medicine should do the trick.
5. Hydrate and manage your trail food. It’s best to bring trail food that you can eat even under the rain.
I brought 2 bags of jelly sticks and 1.5 liters of water. As there are several water sources from Mt. Mangakew, be kind to your lower back.
6. Micro breaks are key. A 5 min. break should suffice then slowly regain your usual pace.
It’s not advisable to take more than 15 min. breaks as your body will cool down. You don’t want that if there’s heavy downpour.
7. Waterproof everything and if you fall short, prepare to improvise.
It sucks to miss out on great shots just because of the rain. Wear plastic after your socks keep it from your wet shoes
8. Mind your breathing.
Stop when you feel light headed or out of breath. If you feel unwell, you have altitude sickness until proven otherwise. A few pumps of Oxycan or sips of water should help.
9. Prepare for blood leeches (limatik) and other wonderful creatures of the mossy forest.
Wear proper clothes, though there’s no leech proof clothing yet. A plastic raincoat can help ward it off too. Use spray-on alcohol once in a while on skin. If it’s raining though, just have the alcohol spray handy with you. Never panic and never yank it off. Appreciate, don’t hate.
10. The ethereal, out of this world and fun vantage points are best taken in gloomy weather. My proof:
I can safely say I’ve made that revenge climb to Mt. Purgatory sweet. It was served cold of course, just as nature intended. Till next time and see you at the trails!
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