Mt Damas + Ubod Falls - Latest Overnight Hike Itinerary, Budget, What to Bring and Prepare

Climb Date: August 2017. Our target is to help those who will climb Mt Damas by 2018. Since this page is the latest review you'll probably end up with, our group, "The 360 Tanders" have come up with a unique experience in hiking one of Camiling Tarlac's most dreaded major mountaineer's dream climb. Very few have attempted to camp and go overnight and in our first visit here using the Papaac assault route, I believe you will never find yet any overnight attempts with complete guide and review based from our experience.

No experience will ever be the same without this guide that we have for fellow mountaineers. Our supposed next destination will be another rarely hiked mountain - Mt Pullol of Nueva Vizcaya and hopefully, we can find a way to join this climb with one of our other bucket list - Mt Pulag.

Sea of Clouds at Mt Damas Summit During Overnight Climb

What to Prepare for Mt Damas Overnight Climb and Camp from Brgy Papaac Trail - Tips On What to Bring

What's in it to climb Mt Damas with literally no preparation? Overnight? Yes! and no regular day trip for the young, aggressive, restless, uncanning and uncaring. With just the traditional search via online for data that will help us in our mountaineering journey to climb this jewel in the North, we got all set in less than a day's packing. No itinerary yet we are off for an overnight assault with one of the major climbs in Central Luzon. we wanted to find out what this mountain had compared to others. We wanted to find out while we are there what surprises and wonders Mt Damas had in store for us 4 - Kap Nando, Wewe, Noel and Me (Samboy Palaboy). All of us is either completely retired or semi-retired. Noel is the only one who had a regular day job while the 3 of us are all PAL.

Knowing Mt Damas Before an Overnight Climb

Reading from the reputation of this wild Philippine mountain, I came to seek first for people who are either living there or have been there. A few calls with a guide named Kuya Romy (whom I found out later is also 47 years old like me) made my day. A few blogs reviews of the reputation of this mountain and of course, a read from www.pinoymountaineer.com is of great help. I immediately got so excited urging Noel and the rest of the 360 Tanders to prepare and pack and tell them what to bring. I have listed some of them below. But first let us get to know what Mt Damas is all about. See mountaineering data for this awesome mountain below.

MT. DAMAS SPECIFICATION:

  • Location: Camiling, Tarlac (We didn't take the easy one Dueg Jump-Off)
  • Major jumpoff: Brgy Papaac, Purok 7, Camiling, Tarlac
  • Alternate jumpoff: Dueg Resettlement, San Clemente Tarlac
  • LLA: 685 MASL (if you think its height makes this an easy climb, you are wrong!)
  • Days required/ Hours to summit: 1-2 days/ 4-5 hours
  • Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 6/9, trail class 1-4
  • Features - rock rapel / river trek hike / steep bamboo ridges ( be prepared for a 45-60 degree ascend and descend) / lucerne grass with sharp edges (talahib) / uneven and slippery river stones for 1-2 hours / slippery mud during rainy season with 45-60 degree ascend and descend trek trails / rare water source (30 minutes to 1 hour away) during summer months / small summit flat area / lots and lots of unnoticeable cliff along trails 

Terms and Meaning: Just for the sake of others who don't know yet what some of the above abbreviations mean and their role as the new way of classifying mountains.

  • MASL - this means Meters Above Sea Level
  • LLA - this means Latitude Longitude Altitude

1st Stop Over in a Hut Just Before the 3 Hour River Trek

What to Prepare for Mt Damas Climb?

Be Prepared for the 60 Degree Bamboo Ridge Assault in Mt Damas which Adds in Making It A Major Climb

Physical Condition:

You have to have very strong knees and legs to conquer this major climb in Mt Damas. I had my chiropractic doctor align my hips so my knees will be stable before I did this climb. It is highly recommended but do it with caution. If you are experiencing upper or lower back pains and you intend to go overnight with lots of heavy lift on your shoulders, don't climb this mountain! Go for the day climb instead and be sure by 12:00 noon at the latest that you will be off to a descend back to the brgy registration before lights went off in the sky. It is dangerous to trek the river at night. 10 bypassers in our camp near the summit went by at 4PM and they failed to make it to the river with literally nothing on their back and shoulders. They had to sleep in river stones and wet soil for their arrogance and disrespect of Mt Damas.

If you smoke, I can only wish you good luck. One of us do and I can really see the humongous difference between him and me in terms of breathing and recovery. You must do at least a daily dose of yoga breathing exercises to maximize oxygen intake during strenuous moments of ascending and descending hike.

Time and Weather is Essential:

If you don't have enough time and the right itinerary for a day climb / tour, this trek is definitely dangerous for you. If you don't have a good weather to expect, never pursue this assault. check weather in the area and call your guide to ask if it rained day before your climb because if it did, you will be off to a challenging assault of slippery trail. It is best to conquer Mt Damas during the months of January or February just before summer time. This way, you are assured there is enough water source and the weather is great. If you plan to go overnight, it is highly suggested to rent a porter for food and water and some of your cooking and heavy stuff. Believe me this will save you a lot of sighs later on.

Must Bring Mountaineering Gadgets / Accessories / Food:

  1. trekking gloves - remember there are lots of "talahib"
  2. trekking pole - (which I bought from Lazada) (BRS Brand) very useful for the 45-60 degree assault and ascend / descend
  3. proper trekking shoes or sandal - I know someone who wore safety shoes and he suffered smashed big toes and dead nails on both feet. If ever you wear sandals, make sure that you have that which covers your big toes with the strap. This will help stabilize your balance and prevent you from slipping in mud and river stones.
  4. stamina food - common in the Philippines are apple, banana, corn, chicken, beans, brown rice, coffee, dried fruits, eggs, oatmeal, walnuts, sun-dried tomato and sweet potato.
  5. waterproof tent - relaxing sleep (no need for day hike itinerary)
  6. tarp and sleeping mat / bag - for floor cover and comfort
  7. any water container / bag - fluid replenishing

Mt Damas 1st Campsite Good for 4-5 Tent Set Up with Nearby Water Source

"SPECIAL THANKS TO BROWN TREKKER FOR THE TENTS AND OTHER STUFF"

360 View of Mt Damas with Visible Sea of Clouds

Photo at the Iconic Dead Tree Near Mt Damas Summit

Commute Guide and Budget for Mt Damas Via Camiling Tarlac Brgy Papaac Jump Off Route

There currently 2 popular jump off points if you want to climb Mt Damas. One is via the Dueg Resettlement area in San Clemente, Tarlac and the other (the presumed much challenging), the Brgy Papaac, in Camiling, Tarlac. Since we used the more daring jump off in Papaac, I will be posting here our own guide and experience reaching Purok 7.

Let me remind you that at this time of writing and hike it is August 20, 2017. Our point of converging is in Pasay, Taft area so we had to see which bus can take us to Camiling, Tarlac. Estimated time of travel is 4 hours if you come from Cubao bus terminal but if from Pasay, it took us more than 5 hours since it's Friday and the traffic is really heavyin EDSA alone.

  • 11:00 PM - Star Bus Terminal (no available bus and the line is very long. we walked to Victory Liner and the dispatcher told us there is not bus passing through Camiling crossing Hiway. we went back to Star Bus to fall in line. We stumbled upon "patok-patok" or "buraot" bus trying to lure Star Bus passengers to ride their bus since there's no available bus yet. We took our chance there because it is already raining and our backpacks were very heavy. Fee is Php 280 pesos per head on aircon bus. Not sure for ordinary option. But with a 4 hour or longer trip, I'd prefer aircon bus.
  • 5:00 Am - Arrived at Amigo Gasoline Station (drop off to Papaac jump off.  Bus won't pass by in Camiling market as the road is currently closed so we have to take the tricycle from the bus drop off. The driver is nice to offer to take us first to the nearest open fast food canteen where 4 of us ate for Php 270 pesos for breakfast. Early morning market plus grocery cost us about Php 200 pesos for fresh mushroom at Camiling Market plus tomato, ginger, onion, okra, + miscellaneous rekado. Noel brought adobo + rice + hard boiled eggs which according to him costs Php 1000. Tricycle fee from Amigo Gasoline Station for the route to Brgy Papaac registration area + fastfood + market + grocery (stopover) is Php 400 pesos. Bought 3 kilos rice and 1 kilo frozen galunggong for Php 135 + Php 130
  • 6:00 AM - at the registration pay fee Php 25 per head and mountain guide (Kuya Romy  0918-503-3583) Php 1000 pesos for overnight trek + Php 200 tip. Negotiate the fees first. Some guides will charge you more than what is the cost as per barangay prevailing rate. Kuya Romy is the best guide you can get because he had a nice smooth mountaineering rope which eventually you will need for rappelling in the river and along very steep ridges. Unlike others who use the regular carabao rope which is hard to grip and slippery too. Kuya Romy is also a non-smoker which I found useful as 3 of us are non smokers.
  • 6:15 AM proceed with the trek
  • 6:45 AM - stop over at the IP community (Indegenous People of Pinatubo) whom our guide Kuya Romy belongs to. He took his tent and rice for his food even if we have food enough for all.
  • 6;50 AM - proceed to kubo before the river trek (1st stop over) Here you can drink softdrink or coffee or milo.
  • 7:00 AM - river trek for 2 hours
  • 9:00 AM - assault to the bamboo-filled ridges started. This is a 3 hour trek on edgy high inclination slipper muddy slopes up from the river. Be sure to wash off your shoes or sandals before the ascend.
  • 12:15 PM on the 3rd camp site. Here is where you can find the last water source before the summit and is only about 30 minutes away to the mountain top. We camped here the 4 of us and set our tents for overnight and cooking. We don't have time limit and did not make our own itinerary to follow for less stress.
  • 12:30 PM set camp and cook lunch
  • 2:30 PM rest and socialize and reassess
  • 6:00 PM prepare and cook dinner
  • 8:00 PM sleep and retire (raining cats and dogs all night long
  • 5:00 AM prepare and cook breakfast (c/o Kap Nando)
  • 7:00 AM-8:00 AM prepare trek to summit and leave tent and stuff with guide for no heavy lift backpack convenient trek.
  • 12:30 PM lunch using left over breakfast food
  • 1:00 PM trek to Ubod Falls
  • 3:00 PM back to registration area in Brgy Papaac
  • 5:30 PM wash and prepare to go home
  • 7:30 PM in bus terminal at Petron but no bus available so had to go to Amigo Gasoline Station by 8:30 PM
  • 9:30 ride in bus to Manila 
  • 1:30 AM in Pasay while me 12:30 in Balintawak for taxi ride to R. Papa, my home in Caloocan.

Featuring the Majestic and Magnificent Ubod Falls

Complete Budget List Saving Tips for the Mt Damas Overnight Climb

Warning! This is a costly climb for us 4 as we have no limit to our budget. We do negotiate for discounts but later on we found out all of our paid amounts were so worth it and justified. It's up to you to do your own budgeting. I can only tell you where you can lessen the cost.

Costing for 4 People:

  • Tricycle fee from Libertad Pasay to Star Bus Terminal in Tramo is Php 150 pesos
  • Fee is Php 280 pesos per head on aircon bus
  • Php 270 pesos for breakfast
  • market plus grocery cost us about Php 200 pesos
  • baon from Manila - adobo + rice + hard boiled eggs which according to him costs Php 1000
  • Tricycle fee from Amigo Gasoline Station for the route to Brgy Papaac registration area + fastfood + market + grocery (stopover) is Php 400 pesos
  • 3 kilos rice and 1 kilo frozen galunggong for Php 135 + Php 130
  • registration pay fee Php 25 per head
  • Php 1000 pesos for overnight trek + Php 200 tip
  • Php 800 pesos for pack up food before going home 1 kilo fried chicken + 1 kilo chicken tinola + 2 kilos rice (or less)
  • Php 400 going back to Camiling Petron
  • Php 50 pesos for making a mistake not to be dropped off to Amigo Gasoline Station
  • Php 1,120 bus fare for 4 people to Pasay City

All in all - Php 7,075 pesos / Php 1,768.75

 per head

1. tricycle - you must not rent a full stop over option to fastfood and market and grocery for your Mt Damas climb like we did unless you have heavy baggage. The reason is tricycle only costs Php 200 pesos - Php 300 pesos. But of course since again we are on overnight, we have so much heavy baggage with us 4 so paying Php 400 is really worth your pocket and convenience. It's going to be at least a 30 minute drive from bus drop off in Amigo Gasoline Station  going to registration area in Brgy Papaac. Arrange and negotiate a tricycle back before your assault. Mang Eduardo is our trike driver. Negotiate a cheaper fee because this will be easier and no stop overs and regular price is only Php 200-300 pesos. Make sure the tricycle will drop you off to Amigo Gas Station. It is your best option for a commute because some bus won't stop over or pass by in Camiling Market area or Petron Camiling. We rented Php 50 pesos more because Mang Eduardo only dropped us at Petron. You will save a lot of money and especially time by doing this.

2. food -Always ask for how much it will cost you before finalizing with locals. Call your guide and ask him for a favor to make the reservation of mountain rice (highland rice is delicious) ( I found out there were highland brown rice and black rice in the area) and fish or chicken. Ask favor from your guide to make the arrangements for food you will bring along the trail and buy from locals rather than in the market which eventually you will have to carry along. But if you rented a tricycle like what we did, then buy in the market, it's 100% cheaper there.

Make arrangements with your descend food after your overnight. We had reserved by calling the local who offered cooking food for us after the climb. We've had 1 kilo of chicken tinola and 1 kilo fried chicken and 2 kilos rice (we found out its less than 2 kilos later) which cost us Php 800 pesos all in all. I'm telling you it's worth it for the very hot soup of tinola so I didn't negotiate for a discount anymore. After all the price is for all 4 of us.

You can arrange this early for a discounted price or bring your own uncooked food and pay only for cooking which will absolutely help you save money. Make sure you do your reservation just in case before your climb thru your guide. Again ask for the price as always first if you opt in for bringing your own food and paying only for cooking. Kuya Romy had the mobile number of the local who did the cooking for us. Buy your food at Camiling Market because it's certified cheaper there. Local farmers offer selling fresh vegetables and spices and if you are lucky to find those fresh bamboo mushrooms like we are, be sure to cook them well. They are rubbery by nature but absolutely edible and tasty with rice porridge (lugaw) and okra for morning energy.

Day Hike Sample Itinerary for Mt Damas Via Dueg Jump Off in San Clemente, Tarlac

For this resource we'd like to thank www.pinoymountaineer.com. Otherwise, you can see the best awesomest pictures of Mt Damas from Ivan Lakwatsero's Post.

SAMPLE ITINERARY: (Dueg Jump Off Trail)

Day 1

  • 0500 Assembly at Siesta Bus Station Tarlac
  • 0530 ETD to Canding, San Clemente
  • 0700 ETA, Canding, San Clemente
  • 0730 ETD to Dueg resettlement
  • 0830 ETA, Dueg resettlement(jump off)

  • 0900 Start trek to Mt. Damas
  • 1345 Summit Mt. Damas!
  • 1830 Dinner / socials

Day 2

  • 0600 Wake-up call
  • 0630 Breakfast
  • 0800 Break camp
  • 0830 Start trek to Ubod Falls

  • 1145 ETA, Ubod Falls

  • 1300 Resume trek to Papaac Camiling 

  • 1645 ETA, Brgy.Papaac, Camiling Tarlac

  • 1800 ETA, Siesta Bus Station Tarlac
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