Climbing the majestic Mount Iraya, Batanes‘ highest mountain at 1009 meters above sea level, was not actually part of my itinerary.
But since my guide got sick the night before, I have nothing to do on my second day in this northernmost province.
Immediately, I look for another guide, someone who is familiar with the trails of Mount Iraya. Thankfully, I got a very capable replacement in Jun Gasilao.
After we drove off to the north end of Basco Airport, we started our climb a few minutes before ten o’clock in the morning.
A challenging trail dawned on me. It was very steep. But my adrenaline rush more than compensated my lack of physical preparation.
In between short breaks to catch my breath, I took the opportunity to take some pictures of its diverse flora.
After two hours, we reached the Shoulder Campsite. We rested to prepare for an even more formidable challenge: to reach the summit.
A 20-minute respite was all I needed for the assault.
To reach the summit, I had to endure the rocky and at times slippery steep trail. Good thing, there were giant reeds to hold on to though there were instances they got uprooted out of sheer force (by my weight and gravity).
In little under 50 minutes, I finally conquered the highest mountain in northern Philippines!
The chilling winds of January were gushing and rushing that made our stay up there all the more punishing.
As we started our descent, I saw two holes of this dormant volcano. Hot air still comes out of it. By the way, the last time Mount Iraya exploded, it was around 1454.
Our descent only took us one and a half hours. And of course, more bruises and wounds! But these did not diminish the so-called climber’s high which had made my January 2010 Batanes trip more fulfilling.
Note: Mount Iraya trek is not advisable to be included in a regular Batanes Tour. But if one plans to do it, he must stay in Batanes for another day as three days will be spent for Northern and Southern Batan Tours and Sabtang Tour.