MT. BATULAO

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MT. BATULAO
Nasugbu, Batangas
Jump-off point: Evercrest Golf Course, Nasugbu
LLA: 14.0408 N 120.8011 E 811 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 1 day / 2-4 hours
Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 4/9, Trail class 3 with 60-70 degrees assault

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BACKGROUND
The cool and arid clime of Mt. Batulao is a pleasant escape from the tropics. The moment you alight from the Crow bus at Evercrest Golf Course – the jumpoff – you will feel the same coolness felt by the visitors of Tagaytay. And this temperature will be with you all the way. Batulao is the only mountain in the region where you can wear jackets at high noon. You have to. There is no tree cover throughout the climb. On sunny days, this paradoxical blending of heat and cold, on dramatic, sometimes steep landscapes, with forceful winds that make the cogon grass dance, forming beautiful waveforms across the slopes, earns for Batulao the distinction of being the most spectacular of the mountains in Batangas.

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Even its name draws from a spectacular origin. Every yearend, the sun sets right between Batulao’s two peaks, creating an image of rocks surrounding a disc of red light. In Tagalog, this phenomenon of “Bato sa Ilao” (Illuminated Rocks) became abbreviated to “Batulao”. Although this happens only in the last week of December, Batulao’s charms throughout the year are more than enough to make it among the favored mountaineering destinations. Access to the mountain is easy; just take the Nasugbu-bound buses from EDSA cor. Taft.

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The trails are initially rough roads, then transition to paths that are well-maintained, taking you up and down, up and down, at first gently, and then the slopes will be more pronounced later. After around forty minutes of trekking, you will encounter a hut, fondly called ‘Mini Stop’ where buco juice is sold for P20 each. 500 meters beyond this hut is the fork between the two trails to Mt. Batulao’s summit.

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SPECIAL CONCERNS
During the cool months of December-February, jackets or long-sleeved shirts have a dual purpose in Batulao: they protect you from the chilly morning temperature, and shield you from the sun’s UV rays. Avoid garments that easily stain with dust, for Batulao is arid. During the rainy season, however, Batulao also gets humid, so wear clothes according to your comfort. Also, during rainy days, the portions of the trails could be severely muddy — preparing accordingly. In all seasons, however, long-sleeved clothing is still advised.

For the old trail, some would advice wearing gloves during the final ascent to Batulao’s peak, but it would depend on the hiker’s grip and convenience. For the new trail, gloves are not needed nor recommended.

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Boy guides, aged 8-17, wait for mountaineers by the highway; you can secure their services for a range of prices but PinoyMountaineer.com recommends P300/day. Don’t worry much about the ‘child labor’ aspect as these kids are able to go to school on weekdays; they do the guiding on weekends as their part-time job.

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You can save time by taking a tricycle from the highway to the end of the road – about a 20-minute trip that costs P100/tricycle ride. You can also get their cellphone number to fetch you on your way back. At the small village that you will pass by foot or trike, you can buy food and water. A local ice cream is also sold.

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At Camp 1, P20 fee is collected; a similar fee is collected at the New Trail campsite. Take note: If you want to two different trails up and down, you must pay P20 on both sides.

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There are no immediately accessible water sources throughout the Batulao trail but guides can access further sources, 30 minutes away for you on either trails. For dayhikes, 1.5-2 L water is advised. Cellphone signal is present throughout the climb.

(Thanks for this Article Gideon Lasco)

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