Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Zambales Triple Traverse - Cinco Picos, Dayungan, and Bira Bira

If there’s a time that I told myself “I had enough of mountains” it was after this climb. When we climbed and traversed three mountains in three days. Our initial plan was to take Mt. Cinco Picos and Mt. Balingkilat traverse to Nagsasa Cove but all of a sudden we were directed to a really different route. Instead of climbing two mountains, our patience and endurance were  tested by three. The story goes this way...

This is a birthday celebration (climb and swim event) for two members of SoLE (Society of Lost Explorers), Samantha and Jojo. The group was initially divided into two smaller groups, 5 will go directly to Nagsasa Cove while 10 will climb Mt. Cinco Picos and Balingkilat traverse to Nagsasa. On the very day itself, 4 from the 10 climbers backed out because of some injuries and discomfort. Since I already programmed myself about the climb, I know that the only option I want is to push through with it. Along with 5 other gentlemen, we heed our call for adventure.

The group parted ways in Subic, Zambales. We, the climbers took off from the bus while the beach bummers went directly to Iba, Zambales where they took the boat to Nagsasa Cove.

From Jollibee Subic, we chartered a tricycle to bring us to an Aeta settlement called Sitio Cawag, the jump off of the climb. We went to the chieftain’s office for registration and to secure guides.

Chieftain Balosbalos contact number is (0999) 549 7210)
Guide/s and Porter/s: Kuya Ruben Atanacio (0919) 211 6232
            Kuya Robert Cabalic (0912) 978 3438
            (another one I forgot the name and no contact number)

*Registration Fee is Php60 per head. And the total cost for guide and porter is Php2,400 for Cinco Picos and Balingkilat. We paid the same price for Cinco Picos and Dayungan. The Mt. Bira Bira, guideship and fees will be discussed on the latter part of this article.

FIRST DAY (Cinco Picos)

9AM when we started our trek. Trekking Cinco Picos during the day, especially when the sun is boasting up from the sky is suicide. Believe me, it was really hot and the trail was exposed all throughout. Whenever we see shades, we took advantage of them and rest, then we had to move nimbly until we see another shade which is really rare.

Remains of bush fires and wildfires 
We reached the summit of Cinco Picos quarter before 4PM and decided to stay at the campsite through the night.

When we settled ourselves at the campsite, and while talking with the guides, they told us about Mt. Dayungan. They said, it is a beautiful mountain but only few dared to climb it since most prefer the mountains that have already been explored and known to most. In fact, our guides said “only hunters climb that mountain” but I learned from google searching that there were at least two groups who’ve been to Mt. Dayungan. We suddenly felt the excitement of going through the challenge of the said mountain especially when they said that it is possible to traverse it to Nagsasa Cove, where the rest of our group was waiting for us. So we all agreed to take Dayungan instead of Balingkilat.

*Mt. Cinco Picos is best to take when you want to traverse to Silanguin Cove. Guide fee is Php600. If you plan to traverse to  Nagsasa Cove, just take the Balingkilat Traverse to Nagsasa. Guide fee is Php900.

SECOND DAY (Mt. Dayungan)

View of Mt. Dayungan from Mt. Bira-Bira
We woke up early. At 3AM in the morning we braved the chilling breeze of the mountain and prepared our breakfast then break camp right after. It was already past 5AM when we started our trek from Cinco Picos through Mt. Dayungan, hoping to reach Nagsasa cove around 2PM.

The first few minutes of trekking was okay; no immediate assault. Although it was dark and we can hardly see the trail, we preferred this time of the day than yesterday because the cool breeze made the trek easier. It is a common knowledge that taking the trail of rolling hills under the scorching heat of the sun is more exhausting and tiring as compared trekking it at night where the cold air caresses the mountaineers skin.

The sunrise had already flaunt itself from the horizon when we realized that we’re already taking some gradual assaults. As the morning light embrace the surrounding, the fields turned to gold. We were treated with the beautiful show of nature. From above the mountain of Dayungan we can see the vast West Philippine Sea below, the green rolling hills of Zambales mountain ranges; the view, its entirety is overwhelmingly beautiful.

View of Mt. Balinkilat from Mt. Dayungan
The trail started to become more challenging as time went through. We started crawling through the bushes, jumping from stone to stone, sliding over slopes, and braved the trail-less way up the summit. I remember we went through boulders covered with bamboo shrubs to reach the peak. We started asking ourselves why we had to do this when there’s another way to Nagsasa through Balingkilat. But regret is futile. We have no other option but to push.

Can you see the trail?
A little past the hour of 7AM when we reached the summit of Dayungan. We stayed there for a while, took our lunch, and feasted on the awesome sceneries. I have to reiterate that the view is really majestic, enough to motivate and strengthen us. Enough to convince ourselves that choosing Dayungan is indeed a great choice.
Photo from the summit of Mt. Dayungan
When we decided to push, we knew that the trail would be easier as we are doing the descent. I even thought that we will be able to reach Nagsasa by 11AM. We were all surprised though that the descent has become more challenging than the ascent because there was no trail! Nada! Zero! None! Absent!

The absence of the trail is just one part of the challenge as the downhill was covered by cogon grasses thriving over rocks and boulders! Every step taken should be very careful or you will end up inside holes or your foot will test force with the rocks which can be very painful. There seems to be traps scattered everywhere as you can barely see where your foot will land. One wrong step or you might fall on the cliff. Our patience were tested in this part of the climb. Some of us had already decided to keep mum.

Compared to our initial guess, we already reached Nagsasa Cove past 1PM. Hungry and exhausted, I just ate and decided to take a nap.

We spent overnight here.

THIRD DAY (Mt. Bira-Bira)

So this is where everything went totally wrong. We had already psyched ourselves for a fun and relaxing island hopping trip after two days of agonizing trek BUT!

… we ended up traversing another mountain - Mt. Bira Bira.

Fisrt few minutes from Nagsasa Cove to Mt. Bira Bira
Uphill trail towards the third mountain

Why? Because these boatmen demanded for additional fees when everything was already settled prior to our meeting.

NEVER make business with these people. 
The middleman/coordinator name is Randy aka Bodjie Contact Number is 09093210345.
Since we do not want to tolerate such kind of greediness, we decided to just traverse the mountain. So there, at 10AM we started trekking back to Sitio Cawag.

Mt. Bira-Bira is not as challenging as the first two mountains we traversed but it is also as bare as the rest. The heat, the unpreparedness (especially of beach bummers, they really did not expect to climb) made the trek tiring, plus the fact that we no longer have any food supply.

Our lunch. Shared by 16 people
But everything always come to an end. The supposedly 3 hour climb, we took for 5 hours. We are proud still as we emerged happy and triumphantly.

*If you want to go to Nagsasa Cove and you neither want to do major climb nor ride a boat, just take this trail. Mt. Bira-Bira is an easy climb. There is no standard rate yet for this mountain. We paid the guide 1k (we’re 15).

Mighty Zambales Climbers
From left: Chistopher, Paolo, Jhef, Missy, Earl (JimBry took the photo)

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  1. wheew, I didn't know there heaps of activities to do in Zambales. Thanks for sharing your experience! I might visit Zambales next week. I hope you could also visit my site and exchange links. Cheers!

    Jan Ashlee

    1. Thanks for dropping by Jan. I will definitely include your blog link here in my site. More travels for us. Cheers!

  2. thanks for posting this article.I really wanted to have this kind of activity.. Hopefully soon i can come with your group.

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  4. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I enjoy seeing websites that understand the value of providing a prime resource for free. I truly loved reading your post.

  5. Thank you maam for this article.. I knew it that there's a traverse like this rather than just climbing one mountain at a time.. Next time you'll have a "Crazy" climb please tag me in.. :) Thanks..


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