Friday, June 5, 2015

THE VERTICAL BIVOUAC OF BUKIDNON: The First in the Philippines

It was 8:30 pm when I finally hit the finish line. Yes, I stepped on the final ledge 150 meters high after hours of ascending on a rock cliff. Overwhelmed. Fulfilled. My heart gradually returned to its normal beat. Midway, while swinging in the dark, the thought "What if the rope gives up?" happened to cross my mind.



The White Rock Cliff of San Jose, Quezon, Bukidnon is undoubtedly a great outdoor adventure site. 


Underneath the rocky wall is a Blue Water Cave perfect for a cool dip. Please read THE BLUE WATER CAVE OF QUEZON, BUKIDNON. 

  
The wall before the descending trail going to the cave is a rockclimbing site. The highway bridge is even a great spot for rappelling. Please read ROCK CLIMBING AND RAPPELLING IN QUEZON, BUKIDNON. 

 
And the White Rock Cliff facing the national highway is a picturesque perfect for a photoshoot backdrop.

YES, JUST A BACKDROP... until I experienced VERTICAL BIVOUAC! Never did I know that the beautiful formation is also a site for an ultimate EXTREME adventure--- the first and only in the Philippines!
   

VERTICAL BIVOUAC is a temporary encampment on a high vertical plane, little sheltered or unsheltered. El Capitan Rock Formation in Yosemite National Park, California is famous for this outdoor adventure. 

I'm envious watching photos of climbers swinging along ball-squeezing heights and resting on daredevil's crevices or in shelters hanging on nauseous cliffs. Doing the same was just a dream... until I joined vertical bivouacking with the mighty men behind Quezon's Ecotourism (Vince, Jboy and Donnie) and the man behind this extreme adventure, Mark of Adventure Technology Outfitters. And the site is right here in my home province. 

Aside from the men who developed the adventure site, I am so lucky to be one of the first vertical bivouackers, along with Gian Carlo and Sheila Mei of http://adrenalineromance.com.

The rock wall and the 3 major ledges.

A closer view of the bivouac ledge

A more closer view of the bivouac ledge.




Before reading further, here's a video taken at the bivouac ledge:


Upon arriving at the site at around 1:30 pm, I shared a sumptuous meal with Vince, Jboy, Donnie, Gian Carlo, Sheila Mei, Mark and his wife, Donna.

Jboy then showed me where we would head later and spend the night. The ledge has a terrifying height of 150 meters. 
A distant view of the rock wall

I asked "So how do we get there? Do we need to trek behind the cliff to get to the top and rappel down the ledge?" 

Jboy replied, "No, we have to climb from the base of the cliff up to the final ledge through single rope technique. Don't worry, there are two stop overs--- the first ledge and the transition ledge before heading to the bivouac."

I started to worry. "So will it take an hour to finish the course?"

Vince butted in, "One hour is too short. Our trial ascent was finished by 1:00 am."

"HUH? Is there any other way?"

Donna insisted, "No, you got to undergo the ascent."  

Grin carved their faces.

Terrified, I prayed hard while looking at my phone with a photo of my wife and my little boy.

Being armed with sophisticated climbing gears frightened me more because it meant take off. After briefing, we proceeded to the base of the cliff. Both nerves and excitement showered upon me. 
Vince briefing the climbers
 
Gears attached before take off

HERE ARE MY BEYOND INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCES:

1. ASCENDING THROUGH SINGLE ROPE TECHNIQUE
By 3 pm, equipped with sophisticated gears--- harness, cow's tail (lifeline), helmet (with headlamp), ascender, chest croll and gloves, we started ascent through a rope that can sustain a 1.2-ton tension. Afternoon is the best time to start ascending to avoid dehydration. At first, I found it hard to ascend. My knees were shaking. My heart pumped fast. When I got higher, my feet and hands established coordination and I enjoyed the upward motion. The bouncing motion of the rope, however, terrified me. While ascending in the middle of the dark, the thought of a broken rope and an uprooted bolt freaked me out. I was certain that would never happen, though. I victoriously reached the bivouac 5 hours after take off. That includes rest and re-belay (rope transfer) between ledges. By 8:30 pm, I finally stripped off my ascender and chest croll.     
At the base of the rock wall

Donna assists the ascending climbers

Climbers starting to ascend

Jboy is my guide

Trying to take a selfie before reaching the first ledge

Arrival at the first ledge

Midway from the first ledge to transition ledge. Photo by Gian Carlo

Resting at the transition ledge with Jboy. Photo by Gian Carlo

Nearing the bivouac ledge

Arriving at the bivouac ledge


2. BIVOUACKING IN A 150-METER HIGH LEDGE
With harness on, we stayed the night at the ledge with the breadth of around 3 meters wide and 15 meters long. We were overlooking the world below us. Town lights adorn the dark night. Passing vehicles looked like cars in a video game. Amazing thought of being up there blew my mind. We spent the night enjoying our bonding and petty talks. Fogs covered the whole place. Later at night, the moon cast its light. We couldn't sleep until exhilaration and excitement subsided. Good thing, nobody smoked nor brought hard drinks.
The team enjoying the heavenly bivouac. Photo by Mark P Battung.

The team and the evening fog. Photo by Mark P. Battung


3. SLEEPING TO THE SOUND OF MIGHTY PULANGUI RIVER
Sleeping to the natural sound of nature is awesome. It was so nice to sleep to a relaxing breathe of a grand river.
 
My safety strap attached in safety line.


4. SLEEPING UNDER THE MOON
When I woke up at around 3:00 am, I felt the moonbeam right on my face. It gave light on our celestial abode. It took me long to go back to sleep enjoying the wonderful light.
The moon about to set very early in the morning


5. WAKING UP IN THE SKY
I was amidst the sky when I woke up in the morning. Fogs enveloped the whole surround. View of the fogs adorning the already beautiful scenery intensified its beauty. The summit of the nearby karst seemed like an island floating in a vast ocean.
Vince and I. Photo by Gian Carlo and Sheila Mei of adrenalineromance.com






 
6. OVERLOOKING THE EXTRAORDINARY SCENERY
The top view of the adjacent cliffs was amusing. The cliffs I used to look up on were under me. The view of the nearby fields, the hills, the river, the bridge and the highway is so exhilarating added the magnificent ranges of Mount Kalatungan and Mt. Pianggayungan (Lanao del Sur).
The view of the karst blurred by fogs. Other climbers on rest.
 
The karst viewed from the cavern

The bridge, the highway and the rock formation

Mt. Kitanglad Range with Kolkol Range (the smaller mountain) at the foreground.

The bridge, the highway and the Mt. Pianggayungan Range (Lanao del Sur)

The best view is the pack of climbers who braved the challenging ascent

The view of the ropes


7. SURVIVING FEAR OF HEIGHT AND DEPTH
Stripped of choice, I tried to conquer the fear that first conquered me. I had to undergo rope swinging to ascend as far as 150 meters high and reverse it the next day. Did I have a choice?
Ascending from the base to the first ledge

Descending from transition to the first ledge


8. WITH HARNESS ATTACHED THE WHOLE TIME
Safety is every game's first priority. I had a real bonding with my harness for 24 hours, even in my sleep. With harness on throughout the activity is a strict policy
Exploring the bivouac ledge

Resting on the ledge




9. RAPPELLING
The ascent I did the day before had to be reversed. I should do another ball-squeezing swing. And this time, the depth was so obvious. My heart beat faster when Donnie equipped me with a "STOP", added the scream of Gian. I tried relaxing during my turn. The swinging did not endure for long, though, so did fear.   
Mark on lead to the transition ledge

Gian, Sheila and Donna take their turn descending to the transition ledge

Resting on the transition ledge

Waiting for my turn to rappel down the first ledge

Midway from transition to the first ledge


Landing at the first ledge

Mark and Donnie fix the ropes

A brief rest at the first ledge before the final descent


10. FULFILLING SOMETHING NEW
I was so fortunate to be included in the list of first bivouackers on the White Rock Cliff of Quezon. I am among the firsts on the Philippines' first. This is a brand new experience for me. Definitely, VERTICAL BIVOUACKING is one of my best outdoor experiences. 
At the bivouac ledge.

Click here for a tablet-compatible pdf copy of this post : VERTICAL BIVOUAC EBOOK


WHY YOU SHOULD EXPERIENCE BUKIDNON'S VERTICAL BIVOUAC:

1. It's the first and only in the country.
2. The gears and equipment used are durable and branded.
3. The Lead Guide is truly an expert in outdoor adventure.
4. The guides are expert in rescue operation and emergency response.
5. It's a challenging and fulfilling outdoor experience.


THINGS TO REMEMBER:

1. Wear comfortable, stretchable clothing.
2. Bring sufficient water supply.
3. Pack light. Do not bring unnecessary baggage.
4. You may bring sleeping bag. Sleeping pads are already provided.
5. Bring trail foods like sweets, chocolates, light snack foods. 
6. The place is comfortably cool. No need for thick clothing.
7. There's a designated area for personal necessities.
8. Ascending and rappelling are done in afternoon and early morning to avoid dehydration (and heatstroke).



PACKAGE TOUR RATE:


Minimum Number of Guest: 5 (4 pax will be allowed on some occasion with adjusted rate)
 

Maximum Number of Guests: 9 (10 pax and above please contact 09178046009 or 09178056009)
 

Local Fee: P6,500.00/pax
 

Foreigner Fee: $200.00/pax
 

A booking and reservation fee of P2,000 per guest is required with your balance upon arrival (reservation fee is non-refundable but transferable)

Inclusions:
• climbing equipment and head lamp
• personal protective equipment (PPE)
• sleeping pads
• hauling bag for your belongings
• camp stove
• paper plates, utensil and cups
• sanitary equipment
• regulatory fee
• park fee
• guide fee




HOW TO GET TO SAN JOSE, QUEZON, BUKIDNON: 

From Davao, take a bus bound for Cagayan de Oro and drop off at San Jose right before San Jose bridge linking to NAPOCOR, Camp 1, Maramag. Travel times takes around 3 hours.

From Cagayan de Oro, take a bus bound for Davao and drop off at  San Jose right after San Jose bridge past NAPOCOR. Travel time takes around 5 hours.

OR take any south bound bus and drop off at Maramag. Take a multicab bound for Quezon and drop off after San Jose bridge.




TO ENJOY THE SAME EXPERIENCE, please contact:

Mark P. Battung - 09178046009
or connect with him on FB at MARK P. BATTUNG

For detailed itinerary, rates and further info, please click KIOKONG WHITE ROCK CLIFF VERTICAL BIVOUAC ITINERARY.



ACKNOWLEDGMENT

Big thanks to Mark P. Battung with his wife, Donna for this big first experience. Also thanks to Jboy, Vince and Donnie for recommending me to be a part of this activity and for guiding us all the way. And to Gian Carlo and Sheila Mei for the friendship and for being part of this memorable experience.


7 comments:

  1. Thank you sir tupe, hopefully via ferrata is next... cheers

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    Replies
    1. wow! looking forward to that. thanks too.

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  2. This is the extreme adventure of a lifetime! Glad to have joined you on this adrenaline-pumping experience.

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    Replies
    1. really a wonderful experience. glad to meet you...

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  3. sir mark, try nyo ko puhon if maka budget nako kuyog sab akong mga mego nga hilig ug extreme adventure..VERTICAL BIVOUAC maka lingaw jud ni ba..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks, glemund. mark will be so glad to have you as guests...

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