2ºC at Luzon's highest peak
- Artemio Dumlao () - January 11, 2011 - 12:00am

KABAYAN, Benguet , Philippines -  – Temperature on Mt. Pulag has dropped to 2-3 degrees Celsius, prompting the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to warn mountain climbers and hikers to take precautions against the chill and respiratory illnesses.

At 2,922 meters above sea level, Mt. Pulag has a total land area of 11,500 hectares and was officially established as a national park on Feb. 20, 1987 by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 75.

It is the highest mountain in Luzon and the second highest mountain in the country, next to Mt. Apo in Davao.

Mt. Pulag usually attracts a lot of mountain climbers at this time of year as the camping season begins and lasts through the summer.

But DENR-Cordillera Regional executive director Clarence Baguilat warned that this may not be the best time for trekkers to go up the mountain since the trees and grasslands are freezing and the peak is much colder, especially during the night until dawn.

“The thin cold air in Mt. Pulag could cause hypothermia and even respiratory failure,” Baguilat said, quoting medical professionals.

However, for those trekkers who want to take on the “extreme adventure” of freezing temperatures to view the majestic scenery from Luzon’s tallest mountain, the DENR advised them to brace up and be ready with thick windbreakers, jackets and warm suits and be sure to keep their bodies warm, especially during the night. 

Since last week, Baguio and Benguet have been experiencing very cold weather. On Wednesday, Baguio registered 9.6 degrees Celsius, the lowest so far this year.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA)-Baguio forecast the chill to continue until February and might even reach a low of 9 degrees as Luzon is experiencing the tail-end of a cold front.

The lowest temperature reading in Baguio was 6.3 degrees in 1961.

More often than not, northern Benguet areas like Kabayan and the rest of the vegetable producing towns experience temperatures two degrees lower than Baguio City.

The other week, the DENR reported bookings for Mt. Pulag from various mountain climbing groups in Manila and other areas.

This week, the Cordillera Police Regional Office is also scheduled to climb the peak. Climbers organized by The STAR photographers team led by Fernan Nebres are also due at Pulag by the third week of this month.

Last December, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson climbed the peak, considered by the Ibalois of Benguet as hallowed ancestral ground.

Singson, according to Environment and Natural Resources officer Ed Flor, wants to concrete the road from Ambangeg in Bokod to the Babadak ranger station and build a new ranger station at the Babadak Station of Mount Pulag.

BABADAK STATION OF MOUNT PULAG BAGUIO AND BENGUET BAGUIO CITY CLARENCE BAGUILAT CORDILLERA POLICE REGIONAL OFFICE CORDILLERA REGIONAL DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES ED FLOR ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES LUZON MT. PULAG
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