Since it came out in PinoyMountaineer last year thanks to Tarlac-based GAME-NEST, Mt. Damas has always been on my list of must-climb mountains in Luzon. I was intrigued by reports of steep ascents and descents, river trekking, beautiful waterfalls. Fortunately, less than a year after its inscription in the website, I was finally able to organize a climb to this mountain on July 2012 in what would also turn out to be the first-ever dayhike of Damas!
We were accompanied and hosted by members of the GAME-NEST, including their founder Jhong Espinosa, as well as Chad, John, and Emman who served as our base camp coordinator. From Manila, I was joined by my hiking companions Coby and Martin; travel bloggers Adventure Chrissie and Ivan Lakwatsero; Mich, Neil and Raissa; and Iggy who I met in our memorable Kibungan Circuit climb last year (Hiking matters #218).
We left Manila at 0030H, arriving at Tarlac City by 0300H, having breakfast there, and leaving for Brgy. Papaac, Camiling by 0430H, arriving there less than an hour later. The original plan was to hire a truck to take us up Sitio Dueg in San Clemente, Tarlac, which would have cut off 2 hours from our trekking time. Unfortunately, our hired vehicle failed to show up and we had to content ourselves with a longer trek - from Papaac to Papaac, completing a true circuit.
We encountered huts from time to time, however, which served as our rest stops from the heat. We had actually expected a rainy climb, since it's been raining daily in Tarlac for the past couple of weeks (and I actually thought of postponing the hike because of this concern) but it was sunny through the whole climb!