Hiking the Formidable Mt. Nangtud: Our Epic Hike to the Second Highest Mountain in Panay and One of the Toughest in the Country | rich'nritch.com

Hiking the Formidable Mt. Nangtud: Our Epic Hike to the Second Highest Mountain in Panay and One of the Toughest in the Country

The iconic ridge of Mt. Nangtud

“Ritch, your location please? I’m now in the bus, I’ll be in our meeting place at around 2:00 PM,” I told Ritch in Facebook messenger. We’re going for a major hike. It was an overcast Friday afternoon of May and a bit late for a normal hiking trip. For the record, it was our second duo-hike together. We’ve just agreed a night before. With quick planning and minimal time to prepare, time adjustments were expected to happen.

“I’m on my way, too,” she replied. Ritchel doesn’t just spend her days behind the desk. She works as a teacher in Malay National High School on weekdays and a certified traveler on weekends. We’ve hiked numerous mountains together including the seven-day exploration in the Aklan mountain ranges from Libacao to Madalag and traversing to Culasi, Antique via Mt. Madja-as. Being spontaneous is what made us instantly complement each other.

May of this year when we conquered Mt. Nangtud, the second highest and one of the toughest mountains in Panay, within two days and one night, a record that nobody has ever done before according to our guide. We supposed to explore a protected area in the Northwest Panay Peninsula (NWPP) for three days but since our permit wasn't settled on time, we had a change of plan and ended up hitting the trails of Mt. Nangtud in Barbaza, Antique. 

It was my second hike to this mountain. My first time was in April which took me two and a half days and two nights (2.5D2N) but I failed to reach its true summit. Upon reaching the false summit, my guide advised me not to proceed given the time and food supply. Besides, it was completely an unplanned trip. Nangtud has two summits, one preparatory summit called EBG (named after the former Governor Evelio B. Javier who first hiked on this mountain) and the true summit which I later learned is only less than an hour from EBG. I could have insisted to my guide if I have known it beforehand.

Some photos of my hike in Mt. Nangtud last March 2017:

Mt. Nangtud requires long hours of river trekking and multiple river crossings.
Some parts of the river crossing are waist deep
The view of Mt. Nangtud mountain ranges from this remote community in the mountains of Barbaza

The famous knife edge of Mt. Nangtud
This is the most excruciating trail of Mt. Nangtud; very long, open, and the sun here could be brutal if you don't make it on time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ritch and I arrived almost exactly at the same time in our agreed place. My bus was from the eastern side of Aklan and hers was from the western side. My previous experience made us decide to complete our hike for 3-4 days. However, while on our way at past 3:00 PM, she was informed by her principal thru sms that she needs to report to school on Monday, giving her only two free days. Late and only have two days left, we still pushed on. We reached Lombuyan, Nangtud's jumpoff, at past 7 PM, hoping that we can still make it for the day. We negotiated with our guide if he can lead us to the first camp site by doing a night trek but he didn’t agree. 

Short of options, we persuaded him to allow us to hike Mt. Nangtud for two days and one night. “Let’s just give it a try. I climbed it before, I think it’s doable. If we feel that we couldn’t make it, we’ll go back. We’ll pay you for the usual three-day climb,” I said to Tay Nito (one of the legendary guides and the father of Nito Jr.). He reluctantly agreed and we made a deal. A very long and fast-paced hike was ahead of us.

It was Saturday the next day, we woke up at 2:00 AM. We did our usual preparations, ate breakfast, and left Lombuyan at 3:45 AM. Hiking Mt. Nangtud requires an arduous journey across multiple rivers with strong currents and along narrow high ridges. It mainly involves ascends to mostly 80- 85 degrees steep mountain slopes. Carrying a full-pack load made it more dragging due to elevation and gravity pull. Despite the difficulty, the breathtaking scenery and the richness of its flora and fauna along the trails definitely kept us going.

We minimized our stops and photo-taking. It was raining cats and dogs when we arrived at the EBG at 5:00 PM and reached the summit at 6:00 PM.

Our descent was filled with darkness, heavy rain, and sound of thunders. Walking in the narrow ridges in a dark night while raining hard was pretty much of a struggle. “We’re like undergoing scout rangers’ training,” our guide commented. We pitched our tents at past 9PM. There were lots of leeches in the campsite which made our sleep uneasy. We left the place at 10AM on Sunday and arrived at Lombuyan at 8PM.

We spent the night at our guide’s house. The dinner was filled with stories of our recently concluded hike. It was a remarkable one. Ritch left Lombuyan at 2AM on Monday and reached Palma, Barbaza at 3 AM, took the van at 4 AM, arrived in Caticlan at 5:40 AM, and reported to school at 7 AM while I left Barbaza at a later time to get our certificates of climb.

Until then, we can't believe we successfully did it. Another full-pack and crazy adventure for us. One for the books! 

Note: 2D1N is not an ideal itinerary for Mt. Nangtud. If not for Ritchel’s call of duty, we would go for a safe three-day IT. Our apologies.

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