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Published: April 14th 2010
Worst day of my life! Sam, Eddie and I thought it would be a good idea to take a stroll up to the top of an active volcano that erupted 12 weeks prior. The guide book states "The perfectly triangular cone of Mount Mayon makes it look, from a distance, like a child's drawing of a mountain. But don't be deceived, Mayon has claimed the lives of a number of climbers in recent years. It is the most active volcano in the country and has erupted more than 47 times in the last four centuries. As recently as December 2009 hundreds were killed by mudslides of volcanic ash.... The slopes of Mt Mayon are not as silky smooth as they look from a few miles away. It takes at least 2 days to reach the summit, working your way through forest, grassland and deserts of rock sand boulders, and another day to decend."
Oh, yeah. Great idea. We'll go up and down in a day. No problem. At night you can actually see the glow from the crater at the top of the volcano and it constantly bellows steam and smoke.
There are 3 stages to get to the
Warning - don't get cocky before a climb!
top. Station 1, Station 2 and the Knife Edge that leads to the crater. We later learnt that from Station 2 upwards was closed and impassable! But our driver there personally knew one of the guides so we gave him a bit of cash and he took us to the top.
The climb was in stages and we stopped every 40-50 minutes during the early stages of the climb. Then the higher we got the more difficult (and vertical) the climb became. At around 1200 metres the climb became not so straight forward. We were literally on our hands and knees on the face of the mountain. Every now and again we would turn around and gasp in awe at the view below us.
As we climbed above the cloud level the surface became less and less stable. Going from the slippy surface of recently solidified lava flow the the rubble at the top. With every step giving way and sending rocks crashing down onto whoever was below you. It was hell on your knees, back and neck because you are constantly staring at the ground for your footing. You should be able to see the gradient from
After 5 hours of constant climbing we were at the Knife Edge. The view, had we not been above cloud, would have been spectacular. We were at this point about 150 metres from the crater but the guide wouldn't let us get any closer. Even HE hasn't been to the crater so we took some solace in that. We were sitting there, exhausted, contemplating the descent when all of a sudden the clouds parted for literally 90 seconds for us to get pictures we deserved. It was spectacular! I've personally never seen anything like it. You could see islands for miles! There are 7,107 of them in the Philipines after all!
It was at this point that we received a text saying there had just been a 5.6 earthquake in Manila!!! This hurried us along a bit and we started our descent.
Anyways, climbing down was even WORSE than ascending!! I wasn't expecting that. It took us the best part of 5 and a half hours to get down, sliding part way on our arses. Eddie has no seat left in his pants as he slid pretty much the whole way on his arse!! The
impact on our knees was absolutely unbearable and I wasn't able to move them when we finally reached the jump-off point at the bottom.
We had, however, called the driver in advance to go to the store and fill a cooler with ice cold beers. And I mut say, it was the best tasting beer I ever had in my entire life! No exception. Made even sweeter by the fact that we ran out of water half-way down. We must have gone through 5 or 6 litres each and burnt around 6,000 calories. So we drank 3 bottles of San Miguel and got through a few chocolate bars within the space of 10 minutes.
The climb would not have been possible without our 2 guides Adrian and JR. The latter being an absolute chimp! He did the climb in a pair of broken flip flops and used less than 1 litre of water. And was never out of breath. He'd literally run up ahead of us panting on our hands and knees and wait for 20 minutes. I have a lot of respect for him as he has a real talent but it's such a shame that he
will never make anything of it as the region is so poor.
When we got back to the hotel we had a well deserved shower and a little rest and relaxed by tearing the town of Legaspi a new one after a stern game of King's Cup. Bad idea. And don't ask about the rest of that night cos I'm not too sure what happened! All I know is that it's voting time so at 6 in th morning there were political rallies with blaring music going on outside our veranda!! Buggers.
Well that was our time in Lagaspi wrapped up. We headed back to Manila and went our seperate ways. We dropped Eddie straight at Rugby Training, where he threw up and broke his leg. And Sam and I headed down to Alabang to see Kristine.
Tot: 0.417s; Tpl: 0.02s; cc: 9; qc: 50; dbt: 0.0133s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb