7.30.2015

Mt. Kaybigas - Mt. Tilos Traverse



For the past months a small town in Batangas has making noise as a haven to a number of newly discovered mountains. A few climbing peeps I know have already visited the town of Lobo to climb Mt. Tibig, its neigbhouring peaks clusterly known as the Lobo Circuit, Mt. Banoi, and then Mt. Tilos.

Recent news of a planned mining activity had threatened the mountains in this part of Batangas. The same dreaded news was the reason that I jumped in excitement to see Sir Jojo Geronimo and the rest of Team Push it! were planning to conquer one of the peak (or two?) in Lobo before the planned excavation will put into action. So without hesitation Rose and I signed up to join their journey to Mt. Tilos.

Team Push it! is based in Cavite, my home province; so assembly would start in Cavite which is very convenient for us. The plan is that we will be taking a private vehicle that will fetch us near our home. While another vehicle will travel to Macapagal Boulevard to pick up other climbers coming from Manila.

 Breakfast before the climb.


The two van met when we reached Lobo Police Station, where we made courtesy call to the police department and initial registration. We then continued to Malabrigo, a small coastal barangay in the southern tip of Batangas. This will serve as the jump off point of our climb. Malabrigo is very reminiscent of Anilao, Batangas; where a thriving lush green mountain and a line up of dive resorts in the stretch of a coarse sand beach, rich in marine biodviersity is being  separated by a concrete road.

Woodland trail.
We took a short stop at a carinderia near the jump off point to eat breakfast and buy our packed lunch. We also seek permission from the barangay and secure our guides here. After everything was all set up, we commenced the trek.

What we don't know, was that the climb would be a circuit like traverse starting to summit Mt. Kaybigas  then across Mt. Tilos and descend to a different trail. It is also remnant that the place is rarely being climb by mountaineers as local guide organization was not yet developed, and trails were still not established. We were accompanied by Kuya Noel and other two residents of Malabrigo who already crossed the mountain twice or thrice. We even find Kuya Noel needing to cut down grass just to make way for us to pass.

Mt. Maculot from afar and ther coastline of Batangas.

The early part consists of an easy stroll in a scarce residences and agricultural land before developing into a forested woodland. The historical Malabrigo lighthouse and Batangas coastline during the early phase of the climb can also be seen. The second part of the trail is a slight ascend on a grassland where cattles are being gazed, then followed by a 60-70 degree assault on a clearing with panoramic view of Verde Island, Mt. Maculot and Lobo coastline. At the top of this 70 degree assault, beyond a grass plateau is the summit of Mt. Kaybigas, which offers a view of Mt. Lalayag, its monolith comparable to Pico de Loro's , and the summit of Mt. Tilos.

Assault before Mt. Kaybigas' summit.

At the summit of Mt. Kaybigas, appreciating the view

We commenced the trail heading to the summit of Mt. Tilos, again into a woodland where the trail becomes somehow concealed. Our guides had a hard time finding the correct path, and for a moment we were lost. After an hour we were able to find the trail (or make a new one) heading to the highest point of Mt. Tilos. The way to the peak became challenging, requiring a bit of scrambling in large boulders of rocks and overgrown roots, and to add the shrubs that Kuya Lito need to clear to make the trail passable. A few more meters and we found ourselves in the forested peak of Mt. Tilos.

The forested summit of Mt. Tilos
There was no clearing on the summit but this is not the main attraction of Mt. Tilos. Beyond the vegetation, on the way down are clusters of boulders in cogongrass field that offers a scenic view of Verde Island, Malabrigo beach, and the rest of Mt. Lalayag. This part of the trail is one of the best place to take pictures, but is also one of the hardest, requiring full scrambling and jumping between two boulders. There is also a part where sliding down in cogongrass is required as there are nowhere to place your hands for support.

Boulders at Cogonan.

Traversing the boulders in cogongrass field.

Once we passed the cogongrass, it was all smooth sailing from there. It was just a long walk along a very slight ascend and descend into a forest and agricultural plantation of pineapple, mangoes, and tamarind. The only challenged we faced during this time was that our water supply started to run out and there were no water source along the trail. The trek ended on a concrete road leading to Brgy. Malabrigo just a few meters where the climb started. Some of us also visited the lighthouse near the barangay before heading back to the jump-off point.

Picture taking at the boulder.

It took us a total of eight hours to finish the climb, but a plunge in Malabrigo beach is a great reward at the end of a very challenging trek. We washed-up on the carinderia and had dinner in Batangas City before we head back to different parts of Manila and Cavite.

Last pit stop before the end of the hike.

Mt. Kaybigas and Mt. Tilos has a lot to offer, including a great panoramic view, verdant flora and unique landscape; this is also a very challenging and technical mountain that adventurers would definitely enjoy, specially considering this is just a minor climb. On the other hand, Barangay Malabrigo is not yet adapt or aware of the potential of Mt. Kaybigas and Mt. Tilos  as a prime climbing destination. I am in two minds with this, whether it is better to leave Mt. Tilos this way - pristine and unspoiled; or to see it develop as a sought after destination mountaineers would enjoy and appreciate. Not to add the possibility of this mountain getting ransacked from an impending industrial excavation.


Got reunited with elementary friend, Bobit. We have not seen each other for a long very time. Good to see childhood buddy sharing same passion for mountain climbing.
Team Push it! and friends! Thank you so much for letting us join your climb!
Special shout out to Sir G. and the rest of Team Push it for the wonderful adventure! See you again on the trail!

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