Climbing Mt. Arayat Traverse, Pampanga
Okay. First things first. This is my third climb of the year and now I can finally say, I'm addicted to climbing. There's just something about it that's so addictive. And with this climb, I realized that climbing is more than just the view at the summit but the experience itself. The trail. Meeting people along the way. The I-wanna-give-up-let's-go-back-now moments. All of it. It's just what makes the whole climb worth it.
Two weeks ago, I was invited by a friend to join them on their climb at Mt. Arayat Traverse in Pampanga. Being the adventurer kind of person, I instantly said yes. Plus, it would be nice to meet new friends (I don't know anyone from this climb personally. It was my first time meeting them actually). And so our trip started. Anyways, here's some details about Mt. Arayat Traverse.
Entry point: Brgy. Ayala, Magalang, Pampanga
Exit point: Brgy. Juan Bano, Arayat, Pampanga
LLA: 15.2067N, 120.7441E, 1030 MASL
Days required / Hours to summit: 1-2 days / 5 hours (NP) 8 hours (SP)
Specs: Major climb, Difficulty 5/9, Trail class 1-4 (10kms)
Features: Tropical forest, scenic views of Central Luzon
This traverse, with its difficulty comparable with that of a Maktrav, takes you to the two peaks of Mt. Arayat: North Peak (Peak 1; 1030 MASL) and South Peak (Peak 2; 1008 MASL). Between these peaks is a ridgeline where much of the difficulty of the traverse lies. After 3 hours, its back to the familiar, forested Peak 2 of Mt. Arayat. At the North Peak, which serves as the campsite of an overnight traverse, the view is 270 degrees, and encompasses the Central provinces of Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, and Bataan. The landmark here is the police outpost / tower. On the other hand, there is a viewdeck near the South Peak where a more southern view may be seen. Between these two peaks stand the major geographic feature of the mountain - the 'White Rock' which is visible from Magalang and other towns in Pampanga. Legend has it that this stone was hurled by the mythical personification of Mt. Pinatubo.
For this climb, our budget is Php 700. Call time was 3:00 am at Victory Liner Bus Station Cubao. Don't get confused though. There are 2 Victory Liner stations, one is in Cubao (Southbound, this is where you should go) and the other one is in GMA-Kamuning (Northbound). Unfortunately, it took us around 2 hours before we were able to ride a bus going to San Fernando, Pampanga. We rode a Bataan Transit bus at exactly 4:50 am and arrived at SM Pampanga by 6:21 am. Bus fare is Php 102 (regular) and Php 82 (student). From there, you will ride a jeep going to Magalang. Fare is Php 37. Drop off at Jollibee Magalang (it's in front of Magalang Municipal Hall). You can have your breakfast there first.
Just across Jollibee, there's a tricyle station which will take you to the jump off in Ayala. Fare is Php 120 per tricyle (Php 40 each, 4 persons per trike). Upon arrival, you have to walk uphill to reach the registration area. You will pass the stations of the cross. Registration is Php 20.
The Road to the summit (North Peak)
The secret of perseverance? LOVE. Fall in love and you will never leave him. Hugot Sa Arayat!!!
We reached the White Rocks after 2 hours of trekking. It's a perfect spot to take photos. You'll find a scenic view of Pampanga. From there, we reached the summit after 2 more hours. The summit is flat and it's a perfect for camping. There's also a hut where you can take your lunch.
THE ROAD TO THE SUMMIT (South PEAK)
If you think the trail to the North Peak is easy, wait till you get to the South Peak. This is probably the hardest trail I've had. It's just crazy. No wonder it's a major climb. Time to descend. We arrived at the jump off by around 5:16 pm.
Evelio sleeping on the trail.
The place where the concrete road and mountain trail meets. Brgy. San Juan Baño jump off.
From the jump off, you can choose to walk or ride a tricycle going downhill. Fare costs Php 10. From there, you can take a shower for Php 20 or swim at the pool for Php 70. Based on other blogs, you can ride a tricyle going to the city proper then take a jeep back to SM Pampanga and then bus to Cubao. But since it started raining heavily right after we reached the jump off (there was a storm), we decided to take the offer of a local and rented a van which costed us Php 250 each + toll fee (there were 13 of us)
Portraits on the trail
You know how much I love taking photos especially portraits. Well, why not do it on the trail? Here are some of the shots I took during our climb. (Photography: Justin Vawter, Model & Post Processing: Evelio Barion)
The awesome people I met during this climb. (From left: Aj, John, Evelio, Sarah, Mary Jane, me!!, Er, Jerico, CeeJay, Mitch, Nella, Jayson, Mac and the photobomber lol!)
0300 Assembly at Victory Liner Cubao EDSA south bound.
0400 ETD Terminal
0500 ETA SM Pampanga
0530 Take jeep bound to Magalang
0630 ETA Magalang Jollibee, breakfast, take tricycle to Brgy. Ayala (jump off)
0730 Commence trek
1100 ETA North Peak (summit), lunch
1200 Resume trek, head to South Peak via ridge
1300 ETA Haring Bato
1400 ETA South Peak
1630 ETA Bgy. San Juan Baño, Arayat
1730 Take tricycle to bayan, then jeep to SM Pampanga
1800 ETA SM Pampanga, dinner/snacks/post-climb
2000 ETA Manila
*we based our itinerary from pala-lagaw
Bus from Cubao to SM Pampanga = Php 102 / 82 (student)SM Pampanga jeep to Magalang = Php 37
Tricyle to Ayala (jump off) = Php 120/tricyle (Php 40 each, 4 persons/tricycle)
Registration Fee = Php 20Guide (Traverse) = Php 1500 (Php 120 each, 13 persons) *if you're just going for the North Peak and not the traverse, guide costs Php 800
Tricycle to San Juan Baño = Php 10
Shower fee = Php 20
Van to Cubao = Php 250 each + toll fee
Total Expense: Php 659.00
P.S. I'm still working on the video I took during our climb. It's my first time doing such that why it's taking a bit long. Plus, my summer is filled with travel trips that's why I'm having a hard time to finish it. And by the way, I'll be climbing Mt. Pamitinan with a side trip to Wawa Dam in a bit so expect a guide post about it soon. Here's to more travel adventures~!
Life is too short to live without adventure
- Justin -