San Clemente, Tarlac
Major jumpoff: Dueg Resettlement, San Clemente Tarlac
Alternate jumpoff: Brgy. Papaac, Camiling Tarlac
LLA: 685 MASL
Days required/ Hours to summit: 1-2 days/ 4-5 hours
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 6/9, trail class 1-4
Information and pictures for this article was provided by Chad Torres and Tarlac-based GAME-NEST hiking club. PinoyMountaineer expresses much gratitude to their group for their support and for making this article possible.
I have now climbed Mt. Damas and I have upgraded the Difficulty level from 5 to 6. The “Special concerns” section has been reorganized, more pictures (and videos) will be added soon.
Looking for a new experience in the north? PinoyMountaineer, through the information and support provided by Tarlac-based GAME-NEST hiking club, is pleased to feature Mt. Damas, an exciting new hiking destination in Tarlac.
Mt. Damas is situated near the border of 3 Tarlac towns: Mayantoc to the southeast, Camiling to the north and San Clemente to the west. The trek starts off at the Dueg resettlement – a relocation site established after the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. Although there were original settlers before the eruption almost half of the population in the community were resettled from the various towns that were hardly hit by the eruption and the lahar flow.
The view from the jump-off itself is rewarding. One can experience a panoramic view of the Tarlac and Pangasinan plains and Mt. Arayat from afar. Despite not having much tree cover throughout the climb, the first 45 minutes of descent through the cogon grass will lead you to a river. From there 30 minutes of river crossing will commence the 3 hour assault to the summit. The trail from this point is not well established but guides can be asked to clear the trail so expect a lot of rest in during the assault. A small nipa hut can be found around 30 minutes before the peak to provide shelter in case of a downpour or strong winds since the summit itself has no pronounced windbreakers.
Once on top, photo ops are excellent which include the Tarlac and Zambales ranges, Mt. Pinatubo, Sawtooth Mountains and Mt. Tapulao (S), Tarlac-Pangasinan mountain ranges (W) Tarlac plains (E), the town of San Jose (SE) and the province of Pangasinan (N).
Mt. Damas may arguably have the distinction of being the most scenic mountain in Tarlac. One of the more exciting highlights, aside from the captivating sunrise amid the morning clouds is the 2 and a half hour descent to Ubod falls. Again, the trail is not well established and the slope gets steeper as you descend towards the river from this point 15 minutes of river trekking will take you to Si-eL falls, (named after the school were all of the first explorers were studying). Another 30 minutes of river trekking will lead you to the 120 foot Ubod falls. From there, one can have lunch and explore the area.
After taking your lunch, backtracking 45 minutes to the river will lead you to a fork, take the left turn and proceed with river trekking, you will have to climb on the side of smaller waterfalls during this 2 hours of river trekking after which you will enter a forest trail leading to another hour of trekking to Papaac, Camilng.
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)
9000 Start trek to Mt. Damas
1345 Summit Mt. Damas!
1830 Dinner / socials
0600 Wake-up call
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
Guides and directions.
Jurisdiction and registration.
Additional notes to consider:
Rappelling down Ubod Falls: A rappel down the 160-feet Ubod Falls is a very exciting possibility. According to GAME-NEST, this would require a very long rope (ideally, 100 meters).
River trekking concerns: The river crossing leg from Ubod Falls to the main trail going to Papaac has raised concerns following a flashflood incident that happened in 2011.
The best option going to the jump off is to hire a jeep from Tarlac City to Canding San Clemente. The two-way trip may cost about 2000 pesos. From this point, accessibility to the jump-off poses some concern since there the route is only serviced by two trips twice a week (Wednesday and Saturday). The jeep leaves Camiling town at 2pm so commuting is not an option not unless you have a 3 day itinerary. Thus, the best way is to rent a jeepney. To the jump off from Canding San Clemente, one-way trip could cost about 1500 pesos. On the second day the jeep will meet you at Barangay Papaac, Camiling and on the way back to Tarlac City.
The people of Dueg Resettlement are very hospitable. The guides’ rates are P400/day. One can prearrange the guide through Manong Jody, one of the community’s chieftains, and also via GAME-NEST (see.
There are no accessible water sources near the summit. The last river before the assault serves as the most accessible water source. Cell phone signal is rather sporadic althroughout the climb.
Note from GAME-NEST: The group strongly adheres to the “LEAVE NO TRACE” policy. It took us 2 years to decide whether to post an article because we would not want Mt. Damas to suffer the same fate as the other popular but polluted mountains.
MT. DAMAS ROUTE MAP
MT. DAMAS ROUTE MAP
Note: This map is courtesy of Raymon Tiozon of AMCI. PinoyMountaineer thanks him for this invaluable contribution.
MT. DAMAS PICTURES
Sunrise viewed from the summit of Mt. Damas
Nice views of the mountaintops near the campsite.
Members of the GAME-NEST hiking club pose for a summit photo.
Along the trail.
Video: Si-el Falls in Tarlac is noteworthy for its unique curve and rock formations that lead to Ubod Falls.
Because of the unavailabity of commuting vehicle to and fro the resettlement. The people of Dueg alternatively use another trail leading to Barangay Papaac. So if you are up to the challenge, you can jump off from Papaac this time adding 2-3 hours from the first day itinerary.
The first climb of Mt. Damas was held in August 1-2, 2009 together with some guests from the Philippine Outdoor Tribe. The first dayhike of Mt. Damas, following a Papaac-Papaac circuit that traversed Mt. Damas to Ubod Falls, was held in July 15, 2012 in a hike that was organized by the blogger and hosted by GAME-NEST (See Hiking matters #282).
Most of the photos used in this article where from the recent climb. We were together with some guest climbers from Noypi Exchange Mountaineer. Pictures courtesy of Sir Kevin Manuel.
Ironically, the jump-off (Dueg Resettlement) and Mt. Damas almost has the same elevation.