Bohol Eagles Mountaineering Society (BEMS) members have been to popular peaks like cuernos de negros (Mt.Talinis), Mt. Kitanglad in Bukidnon, and Mt. Apo in Davao among others. But, nature never ceased to amaze these enthusiasts as it has offered divergent sceneries and wonders from one mountain to another.
Last November 3, 2008, BEMS members Engr. Robert Rio, son Robert Nelson, Climaco Bernales, Elmer Pizarras, spouses David and Elina Vicoy , and Oliver Arcillas (author), embarked on a four – day trip to Camiguin with the intent to conquer its pride – Mt. Hibok – hibok. O.N.E. Cebu founding member, Aldinson Esto, joined the group.
Mt. Hibok-hibok, also known as Catarman is one of the seven volcanoes in the pear – shaped island of Camiguin, popularly known as an “Island Born of Fire’. It is also the most popular considering its history of a string of eruptions, which can be dated back in the early 1800’s until the mid 1900’s. Its 1951 eruption was the most devastating based on the number of human fatalities and extent of damage to property. Although it remains active, it has no signs of activity except for the hot springs and steam vents, which constantly show its volcanism.
Climbing Hibok – hibok is quite challenging. You can reach its crater by two different routes. The Ardent trail, which is shorter but rather technical, as it requires a bit of bouldering skills and physical preparation as the cover of the trail is minimal and altitude gain is quite rapid. The Yumbing trail on the other hand, was longer with lots of sharp turns and twists, but covered with thick vegetation- thus more refreshing.
Pre – climb preparation
Judging by its terrain, the climb to the crater is only a day trek but like all major climbs, the group took sometime to huddle with the guides, prepare equipments, distribute loads and psyche- up as we intend to camp by the crater lake and the next day, traverse towards Ardent Hot Springs Resort, which is situated in the other side of the mountain.
Climb proper (day 1)
It was 5:00 a.m. When we got up for the big day. David and Elmer prepared breakfast. We left for the rendezvous point to meet our guides and from there we start our ascent to the crater. The trail is covered with a dense forest and is decorated with moss, hanging root systems and flowers endemic to the place. After tackling a 12 – swerve zigzagging trail, we reached the DENR shack, a ramshackle wooden structure, which used to be a shelter for DENR personnel. After a few minutes rest, we moved on and reached the crater at 11:30 a.m. We set up the campsite and shared lunch. After a hearty lunch of edible fern leaflets with sardines and noodles, we surveyed the place and took a dip into the ice- cold lake in the crater. Fog sets in as early as 2:30 p.m., so we hasten our preparation for dinner. We had dinner early and lights off at 7:00 p.m. as nothing was visible in the thick fog and the temperature dropped rapidly.
We prepared breakfast early and broke camp at 8:00 a.m. Then, we left for the peak at 9:00. At the summit, the view was indeed magnificent. The vaunted white island contrasting the surrounding blue waters; mount Timpoong looming at the opposite side – and even Bohol and the shape of northern Mindanao can be visualized. Reaching the summit is really satisfying. After an hour of climbing, traversing a knife-edge, and hurdling loose rocks, breathing the air of freedom on top of the mountain and some photos are but a fitting reward. Although, our photo ops in the summit was short we have no regrets, as we’re still half of our trek. As most mountaineers would say, the descent is half of the danger in climbing mountains. So, we clambered down the rocky, steep slope of the other side of the mountain, which led to the Ardent Hot Springs. After an hour of twists and turns, we reached ardent hot springs where we had lunch and a post-climb muscle-relaxing treat immersed in a 39° C pool. We learned from our guide that, only few among the barrio folks were able to reach the summit of Hibok – hibok. So, it’s safe to say that we were privileged for taking time to appreciate nature at its best. The downside of such trip though, is the failure of our group to roam around the lowlands for other magnificent sites of this mystical island called – Camiguin.