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'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.
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:
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.
1st Stop Over in a Hut Just Before the 3 Hour River Trek
Be Prepared for the 60 Degree Bamboo Ridge Assault in Mt Damas which Adds in Making It A Major Climb
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:
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
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.
Featuring the Majestic and Magnificent Ubod Falls
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:
All in all - Php 7,075 pesos / Php 1,768.75
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.
SAMPLE ITINERARY: (Dueg Jump Off Trail)