This was supposed to be a Mt. Tapulao climb, but Jeka’s contact reported that there are soldiers having an operation there and it’s impossible for the mean time to climb Zambales’ tallest. And so, there’s Plan B – Mt. Arayat Traverse at Pampanga! Hardcore’s 4th climb & 1st major.
We arrived at Magalang Town 3AM (We didn’t make time adjustments and still followed our Tapulao itinerary – Zambales is a lot farther than Pampanga). It was still dark and we feel it’s too early to start the climb, so we asked a local resident if we could pitch a tent in their backyard until first light. Our trek started 9AM at Brgy. Ayala jump-off.
getting close to North Peak
We reached the Tower Grounds (North Peak) 4PM. A tower guarded by a police and a dog stands at the north peak, hence it’s name “Tower Grounds”. It serves as the campsite and it offers a beautiful view of the Pampanga River. During our stay at the North Peak, we felt like Arayat is ours, there were no other campers around but us. We also thank God for blessing us with good weather because internet weather forecast said rain showers will occur Sat & Sun. In fact, Saturday, we experienced rainshowers while in trail for not more than an hour but Sunday is Sun-Day!
North Peak, DAY TWO (from left: Me, Jeka, Ivan & Marco)
The traverse will start at North Peak to South Peak via ridgeline and end at Arayat jump-off. The ridge trail isn’t that easy, you’ll start on a steep descent and there are parts where you will need to crawl, rappel & “kiss the wall”… but the most annoying part is the presence of thorny plants along the trail.
Trail signs leaded us to a landslide and it resulted a debate on whether to push through the traverse OR do the traditional climb where we’ll head back to North Peak and finish the trek on the same jump-off point (which is absolutely boring). But Hardcore is fucking hardcore , we crossed the landslide and completed the traverse. Descent on the south part of the mountain is easy.
I remember someone commented in pinoymountaineer.com that he called the town in the south jump off Magulang because people there are “magugulang” (greedy) – the place is originally called Baño. Well, I must agree! They are the exact opposite of the people living in Magalang Town (Magalang in tagalog means respectful).
We rewarded ourselves with pizza
More photos HERE