Following my year starter climb in Mt. Kaanducian, Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija, and with the desire to train for a 9/9-difficulty mountain I am challenged to take on this summer, I headed to Lipa Batangas to hike Mt. Malepunyo or Mt. Malipunyo, the highest peak in the province. I spent the previous night in Lipa so we could start the hike early morning. Upon registering in the log book, we found our names to be the firsts this 2019 to scale Mt. Malipunyo; our hike dated January 20.
Attempting to DIY Mt. Malipunyo
As someone who prefers getting lost trying to find her way, rather than just following a guide, I insisted to Peter, my climb buddy for the day who also joined me hiking Mt. Mal-ac and Baawan falls last year, that we skip on getting a guide. I was confident because my trustworthy app maps.me has a recorded trail to the summit. I have solo-hiked the long trail from Batad to Bangaan in Banawe using just the app, as well as other peaks in Luzon such as Mt. Manabu, Mt Talamitam and for me, as long as I have a trail to follow, I’m fine. Peter, although determined that we get a guide, gave in to his stubborn friend, and so we went on our way and started the hike from Brgy Talisay at 7am.
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The beginning of the trail is easy to follow, until an hour later when we reached a dead end. My GPS and maps.me app says that we are on the right trail, but apparently, in reality, it’s all but wild with no trace of any path. With the wisdom of my friend (haha) we decided to head back and find an alternate trail. Since as mentioned, we are the first hikers of the year, I wasn’t expecting any help to come.
We were on the fork which leads to Malepunyo on the right, and to Biak na Bundok and Manabu straight ahead when miraculously, a group of hikers who traversed from Mt. Manabu came on our way. We hoped that their guide Kuya Roel can be our guide to the summit, but then he still has the responsibility to bring down this group; we had to wait if ever. However, an even greater miracle came when another group of 9 hikers came while we are still negotiating with Kuya Roel. They are also on their way to the summit of Malepunyo. So we just went on with the second group. This group of 9 turned out to be 2 groups who just managed to meet each other at the registration. The 5 took a guide, and the other 4 who were faster in pace did not, since one of them has hiked Malepunyo before. The latter welcomed us to join them, thankfully 🙂 #HeavenSent!
The trail to Mt. Malipunyo Summit
At 9 am, we pursued the correct trail from the fork until we reached the river and the falls. From there, we advanced from the other group who had first-time hikers with them, therefore their frequent take fives. Sir Arvin, being the leader of the group who has been to the summit some years ago, was very encouraging. The guide told us that it would still take 4 hours to finish the trail from the fork, but Arvin kept encouraging us that it is quite nearer! He was sure that the guide was giving us a false estimate. There is but one fork after the ecamp: turning left downwards would lead to Tiaong Quezon, and going straight uphill leads to Mt. Malipunyo summit.
Mt. Malepunyo Summit
Indeed, after just 2.5 hours of continuous ascent, with some up and downs along the ridge, we reached the summit at 11:30am. The sky cleared a little bit giving us the warmth of the sun, and a visible view of the surrounding peaks such as Mt. Maculot, Mt. Gulugod Baboy, Mt. Makiling, Mt. Kalisungan, Mt Mabilog, Mt. Atimla, Mt. Banahaw and Mt. Cristobal. Unlike other peaks, the summit view deck is quite obstructed by plants and tall grasses, so one has to step on the rocks to see the view.
We had lunch and rested for 1.5 hours before we started our descent at 1:20pm. By 3pm, we were back at the fork Malipunyo – Biak na Bundok fork, and finally reached the jumpoff by almost 4pm.
How to get there
From Alabang, ride a bus to SM Lipa (110/way). This will pass by Fiesta Mall junction. Alight there and hire a tricycle for 100 pesos to Brgy Talisay. Stop over at the Brgy outpost for registration before finally reaching the start of the trail.
-Depending on your pace, the hike up could take 3-4 hours. Consider starting early!
-The trail is covered in vegetation, with thorny plants along the way. It is advisable to wear arm sleeves and long pants to avoid getting tiny cuts. Also, be careful when holding tree trunks for balance. Some of them are itchy and thorny.
-Before hiking, we read in some blogs that guides cost 500-800 pesos. However, we were being charged 1500 by the guides there. For us it’s too much for a 3/9 day hike so we didn’t avail. Confirm this from the barangay registration. The group of 5pax who hired the guide paid 1000 for his service, while my generous friend tipped him additional 500.
-Despite my initial desire to hike it without a guide, I am convinced that a group that has never hiked it before should get one. 🙂 Contact number 0998-409-4899 (Kuya Mario)