Standing at the Knife Edge of Mt. Ugis Peak

Overlooking Esperanza from the peak of Mt. Ugis

The knife edge, as they call it, is the very peak of Mt Ugis that resembles to the cutting edge of the knife. It is pointed, steep, and high that probably people with acrophobia would not dare to step on. Considering my status as a beginner mountain climber, I would not dare say yes to climbing Mount Ugis if they didn't tell me that it's just a minor climb. At the back of my head, a minor climb is something you don't need to struggle to reach the peak. Well, it's not really that easy. I don't discourage you in climbing the Ugis Peak, but it's not something you should climb without preparation. Expert climbers may not consider it a major climb, but for me, it's a total different story.

The squad

The plan to climb Mt Ugis was a spur of the moment decision. You know those moments when you have abrupt plans that require abrupt execution? This is one of those, and although there were only four of us who committed to materialize the plan by hooks and by crooks, we continued anyway. With the help of sir Michael, who is working at the Esperanza Tourism Office, we got a go signal from LGU Esperanza and he also guided us to reach the peak of Mt Ugis. It is located in Sitio Ugis, Marguez, Esperanza Sultan Kudarat.

Starting point of hiking at Marguez Hot Spring

From the town proper, we hired habal-habal rides up to the Marguez Spring Resort. It was about 15 to 20 minutes smooth ride. We paid around 50 pesos for the ride, thank goodness the road from town proper to Marguez Spring Resort is concrete. From Marguez Spring Resort, we started walking to the Teduray Community. It took us around 45 minutes or maybe one hour before we arrived the community. For me, it was already a long walk considering that the road to the community is an uphill climb. As much as we want to make it a leisure walk, we really can't because we kept on resting every other 10 meters of walk. When we reached the Teduray Community, we found out that we haven't really started trekking the mountain just yet. We met the leader of the community and signed some waiver. We also brought with us a local guide which is a native Teduray. He has a long rope with him and we wondered what it's for.

The assault of Mt. Ugis

So, as soon as we gathered enough energy again and some sprinkles of enthusiasm, we decided to commence the climb. It was already late in the morning when we started trekking. At first, it was just an easy walk for us, but we started struggling when the road becomes uphill. Some land areas in the mountain have been converted into kaingin. There are cornfields and banana plantation in the area, but as we go higher and higher in the mountain, I noticed that the trail is getting smaller and smaller that only one foot per person can step on. Michael told us that we are going to take an easy route to the peak, which is via the Mangirub Falls. I don't really understand what easy trail is he talking about because by the looks of it, it was not really easy.

Stop over at Mangirub Falls
It was lunch time when we finally reached the Mangirub Falls. Just in time before we all collapse because of hunger and heat. It was super duper hot that day, and things changed when we arrived at the Mangirrub Falls. The area was very peaceful because all we heard that day were the birds chirping and the splash of water from the falls. We did play a little in the water and we had our lunch at the big rocks in the area. As of this writing, Mangirub falls has no cottage, no entrance fee and most of all, no garbages. I must consider it as an untapped beauty of nature. How I wish I could stay in that place all day long, but we still have a mountain to conquer, so we left Mangirub with happy memory.

One of the trails

The Mt Ugis peak is still far from the Mangirub Falls. There's still uphill climb waiting ahead and some parts of the route was actually not yet developed. Regardless, we pushed our ass out from the bushes and the forest until we reached the top of the mountain. From the top of the mountain, going to the very edge of the peak was a very challenging trail, and that's where the rope of our local guide came into play. I didn't sign up for that, but I have no choice, I have to risk my life with the aid of the rope just to stand at the edge of Mt. Ugis. It was hot day, the trail can't promise us safety and the only hope we had that day was the rope tied in some random trees in the mountain. It was fun though, dangerously fun!

On our way to the knife edge
Finally, we reached the edge of Mt. Ugis Peak. It's around 1000 ft above sea level. Up there, you can see the whole town of Esperanza and the neighboring city. The area at the peak can only accommodate one person at a time. It is indeed a peak where next to the area where your feet stand is a steep vertical height covered with bushes and small plants. One small mistake could cost one life because once your balance is off, you will see yourself rolling down a thousand feet tall mountain.

The knife edge

If climbing Mt Ugis was a challenge, going down the mountain is even more challenging. We have to use our rope a lot of time so we could safely go back to the town. It was already dark when we arrived at the Teduray community. It was a dangerous but fun adventure. I don't know if I would ever go back to Mt Ugis, maybe someday if there's already a safer and clearer trail up to the peak of the mountain. But for now, I'm already satisfied recalling what we've been through just to conquer Mt. Ugis.