Mount Lamlam is the highest peak in the island of Guam, making it an inviting challenge to mountaineers, hikers and adventure-seekers from around the globe. It is 1,322 feet high, located in the village of Agat in the southwest side of the island. Mount Lamlam, also sometimes spelled “Mount Lam lam”, is Chamoru for “lightning.” An interesting trivia is that, since Guam is near the Marianas Trench, which is the deepest spot in any of the world’s oceans, the distance between the top of Mount Lamlam and the bottom of the Marianas Trench is the greatest gain in elevation on earth, about 38,300 feet. (Mount Everest is 29,029 feet tall.)
Reaching the top
Mountaineers love a challenge but they never hike without proper equipment. An important tool in any climb is a clear understanding of what lies ahead. A local guide or prior directions are always helpful. The climb to Guam’s highest peak is not that difficult. Anyone desiring to reach the top may do so, but with proper guidance.
A well-known guide all over Guam is Dave Lotz. He has extensive knowledge of the island, having lived in Guam for 35 years and having worked for the Guam Department of Parks and Recreation.
The climb begins at an obvious trail that runs nearly parallel with the Agat highway. The trail is well defined and the ascent is easy. No problem there, you might say. The path then leads through several religious altars inside the woods to the left and a ridgeline of crosses to the right. The crosses are there only on Good Friday. The entire island of Guam has strong Catholic influence since the country was under Spanish control for three centuries. The eerie monuments and crosses actually mean hikers have reached the peak of Mount Jumullong Manglo, 1,263 feet in elevation. This path does not necessarily lead to Lamlam’s peak, but it is the easiest, most obvious and most picturesque route.
The trail then makes a westward turn down into a jungle. There is thick foliage in the area growing on lava rocks. Hikers must pass by gingerly or else they could fall in hip-deep crevices between jagged stones.
Further along makes the trail interesting again as one passes through limestone formations and World War II relics. A few more moments and hikers could congratulate themselves for having scaled Guam’s highest peak.
Alone at the top
Mount Lamlam’s peak is very windy since nothing can obstruct the air currents. Mountaineers get to enjoy a 360-degree view of the entire island, as well as the surrounding Pacific Ocean and Philippine Sea. The summit is actually a tiny lava peak that only one person at a time may stand on. Hikers may take turns enjoying the highest peak, while being careful not to topple off. The winds are so strong it could put anyone off balance.
The highway is visible from the top, and so hikers simply follow that direction. Through the western slope, hikers pass through very tall cane grasses, a few limestone formations, and waterfalls during the rainy season. But people should avoid the rains. The best time of the year to scale Mount Lamlam is from late December through April, which is the dry season.