Ugis Peak: The Skyscraper of the South

By Sarah Aterrado - August 01, 2016

"Sabi ninyo, minor climb lang?! Umuwi akong lumpo. Minor ha." - A remark I've heard from a few people I met during our recent climb.

How exactly would you define a minor climb?

Even though I started hiking way back 2006, I don't consider myself a seasoned hiker.  I've had years of hiatus so it's no surprise that up until now, I do not know how to distinguish a major from a minor climb. I get a lot of answers from different mountaineers. But I usually take into consideration height and trail difficulty. And I know most people think that way. Kaya kapag sinabing "minor climb", ibig sabihin madali lang. Pabebe. Ideal for beginners.

But I think I got it all wrong.

Ugis Peak, located in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat is not known to many mountaineers. So when I was invited for a fun, minor climb at Ugis Peak, I googled for information but much to my dismay the results didn't give me the answers that I needed except that it rises 930 ft above sea level (I couldn't even verify the source because it seems higher than that). I was empty-handed on what to expect and how difficult the trail would be. In short, the mountain was unknown, unspoiled, and underestimated.
Ugis Peak, Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat
Ugis Peak as seen from the deck where I'm standing on
Knowing it is just a minor climb, I assumed it is a minor climb. We even tried convincing our friends who are new to hiking to join us. "Sige na. Madali lang naman. Minor climb nga eh. Dayhike lang." Although it was a little disappointing that they backed out, a little part of me was glad they did. I didn't know the trek was not advisable for newbies at all. Not that I'm saying it's impossible, but it is difficult.

The Assault
It was raining when we started to ascend at 1pm. And it took us around 2-3 hours to reach the deck. Trekking via Manirub River would have been more exciting since we have to do some river trekking and go up the waterfall with just a rope. However, the weather didn't permit us, so we took the easier trail. The side of the trails were mostly covered with greens. You have to be wary of your surroundings because some trails are too narrow with cliffs that are hidden by the lush flora. Few poison ivies were spotted along the trail too (which actually makes it fascinating). It was an easy climb.
Got drenched by the rain.
Going from the deck to the peak gets a little exciting. The slope going down is steep and slippery. A rope may be necessary for support since slipping is not an option here or you will find yourself rolling down the cliff. Narrow ridges start and it gets narrower as you assault the peak.

The Knife Edge
We're wet and we were welcomed by cold winds. We really couldn't tell if we're shivering from the cold or from the fear that we were trying to conquer. I couldn't describe the feeling while I was treading Ugis Peak's knife edge. I was thrilled, scared, nervous, and at the same time, I felt so alive.

Here's a short video of the highlight of the climb. I'd say, buwis-buhay would be an understatement.

The Descent
The ascent was pretty easy.  The knife edge was scary. One wrong move and you're out. I thought we have already gone through the most difficult and survived. But that isn't the case. The descent was far more difficult than expected. We took another trail with steeper slopes, small streams, and wet rocks that made it longer for us to descend. It was almost night time when we made it back to the jump off. Most of our injuries happened going down. I don't remember the number of times I slipped. I had always exercised precaution because the trail can be tricky but even with a proper footwear and good footing, I was not spared. Maybe it would have been different if we hiked on a sunny day. But no matter, I can say that this has got to be the most technical climb I have experienced to date.

Perhaps the not-so-established trails in Ugis made trekking difficult. Add to that the bad weather that made the trails even more slippery. You need skills for rappelling. So if you're planning to climb there, whether you go river trekking or take the "normal" route, it is a must to have with you a 30-50 foot rope. Otherwise, if you're not Spiderman or a local guide, then you won't be going anywhere. You must know good footwork too (proper placing of the foot because you will be doing a little 90-degree rock climbing). And of course, you won't be able to risk going up (and down) if you don't bring a lot of guts.
Ugis Peak, Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat

Sadly, those are the only details I can give you. We didn't have a lot of pictures because 1.) I probably might be the worst blogger you'll ever meet because I'm too lazy to take photos, 2.) I always find myself clinging on roots, vines, branches, grasses, and whatnot for dear life, so a snapshot is less likely to happen, and 3.) I was living the moment. Charaught!
But we had a shoefie after the hike! Is this enough to show you how much trouble we got ourselves into? Haha :D
But at least, you now have an idea on what to expect there. I might sound a little exaggerated here, but that is how I truly experienced it and I am not sugarcoating anything. Everybody knows that I am a daredevil, pero nanlambot ang tuhod ko dito. I would leave the difficulty and safety up to you because I believe it varies from one person to another. But one thing is for sure, you cannot be reckless no matter how skilled and experienced you are.
Ugis Peak, Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat
Knife edge.

And finally, just like any other climbs, I wouldn't go down the mountain without gaining something. Friends, lessons learned, experience, and a greater thirst for more adventure. And if there's one thing that I should always keep in mind when it comes to hiking, major or minor climb, it really does not matter because one should never ever underestimate a mountain.

Til the next adventure. :)

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  1. Nakuha pa nimo magvideo. You make it look easy. Yawa kasukaon ko magtan-aw. Pero nice one sarj. Wala pay babaeng nakalupig sa imong kaisug.

  2. nakakatakot... nakakalula...

  3. Tinitingnan ko pa lang yung video nasusuka na ako. Tapang mo, girl. :D

  4. I won't trust you when you say the ascent was easy. I just saw the vid and you make it look so easy walking on that very narrow path and that is really really scary. So maybe, what's easy for you is not easy for us.

  5. That knife edge, magfo-4x4 siguro ako diyan! hahaha

  6. Jusmiyo! Video pa lang na heart attack na ako! Pano pa kaya kung sa personal na.

  7. When I was still single, I wanted to climb Mt. Pulag but now that I am a mom, I don't like na. I think, malulumpo na rin ko kahit minor climb pa. :)

  8. OMG, just looking at you walking on that small path, nalulula na ako! I wish we can also try mountain climbing, even just once. It'd be really nice. ♥

  9. I've never tried mountain climbing yet.You make it look so easy!!!

  10. Oh my kakatakot. But I am so sure it's all worth when you reached the peak. I am afraid of heights but I want to climb a mountain too, that's in my bucket list.

  11. You made it look super easy and fun! I'm afraid of heights, and tend to choose easy route every single time. Kaya salute for you Sis your so brave! Hindi ko talaga kaya ganitong climb. Thanks for sharing your experience!:) Can't wait for your ext adventure.

  12. I had just climbed the Peak yesterday, and I thought it wasn't that tough ,since I've done mountain climbing in the past. I was really breathing laboriously while climbing to its peak. Good thing I didn't bring my cousin or else she would definitely cry. So, it was only me and of course my guide.