Mount Mayon Trek

Trip Start Aug 29, 2011
Trip End Jul 12, 2012

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Flag of Philippines  , Bicol,
Tuesday, January 17, 2012

After Manila we headed over to the southeast corner of Luzon to Legazpi City. This city is next to one of the biggest volcanoes in the Philippines called Mount Mayon. We decided to do an overnight trek up to the summit of the volcano, which is at about 2400 meters above sea level. I figured it wouldn't be too difficult as last summer we did a similar 3 day trek up Mount Rinjani on Lombok in Indonesia. It turned out to be almost the same difficulty as this volcano is very active and because of that there are no permanent trails up to the summit. This meant we had to do a lot of climbing up slippery lava flows and over loose rock towards the top. It was actually quite dangerous as rocks could easily become dislodged and go careening down the slope towards other hikers. We were outfitted with helmets as well as gas masks for the uppermost section of the volcano because the crater is constantly emitting sulfur dioxide and other less than healthy gases. We were provided with 5 guides for the four of us. Two stayed at the base-camp cooking food, while the other three joined us to the top. A really great group of Filipinos. 
As it turned out, we hardly did any hiking the first day. We got picked up at 2:00 pm and transported to the base of the volcano and hiked up to about 700 meters to the base-camp where we stayed the night...sort of. After a most uncomfortable sleep on a paper thin mattress, we woke up at 3 am to have breakfast and started hiking up at 3:30. The terrain was quite varied, beginning with about 500 meters of jungle before emerging at the more rocky lava flows. As we climbed, the vegetation eventually gave way to pure rock and gravel. Mayon is one of the most perfectly conical volcanoes on earth, which made for some very steep climbing. Going up was quite tiring, especially for the last 200 meters or so when we had to breathe through the gas masks. When we made it to the top at around 10:30 am, the sun had completely broken through the clouds and we were treated to amazing views of the island and ocean far below. The rim of the crater was quite hot and you could actually feel the soles of your shoes becoming fairly gummy. Visibility into the crater itself was quite minimal due to all of the steam coming out of it. We took some triumphant photos at the top before even thinking about how the hell we would get down this steep, rocky mountain. The trek down turned out to be twice as difficult as the way up! It was extremely precarious due to the loose rock, and a couple of my friends ended up with some nice scrapes to the ass and back of the legs after slipping and sliding down several meters on their behinds. We made it back to the base camp at about 6:00 pm with very sore legs, and in my case, a very nasty sunburn on my arms and legs. DOH! Anyway, the experience was really challenging, but well worth it. Enjoy the photos

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