Biyernes, Agosto 5, 2011

Mt. Paldingan Climb- My First Exploratory Climb

Binalonan, Pangasinan
Major jump-off: Brgy. Sta. Catalina, Binalonan, Pangasinan
LLA: 600-700 MASL (Still to be determined)
Hours to summit / Days required: 2-3 hours / 1 day
Specs: Minor Climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-2

Rising above the Pangasinan with the other mountains is Mt. Paldingan. Travelers to Benguet and nearby provinces get a glimpse of this mountain on the right side of national highway before the Sison Bus Stop. People from Pangasinan usually flock on the side part of Mt. Paldingan on Holy Week for the Station of the Cross or just unwind on the picnic area during their leisure time.

The usual jump-off point of Mt. Paldingan is Brgy. Sta. Catalina. From here, vast ricefields and views of mountains including Mt. Paldingan will greet the hikers. After the ricefields, hikers will enter a forest. Trails are not established at this point. There is a clear path that leads to housing area and a fence marked with barb wires that leads to Mt. Paldingan summit. From here, the challenge begins which includes barb wire crossings and assault trekking. After the short hike in the forest comes an open space with loose soil. From this open space, magnificent views of Mt. Balungao, Pangasinan and La Union towns will welcome the hikers. After the open trail, the remaining parts of the trail is forest covered with presence of rattan-like vines, spiked palms, other itchy plants, ants, mosquitoes, butterflies and other insects. Part of the forested trail is a path leading to picnic area, the only water source. Going to picnic area is optional as the way to this area does not lead to the summit. From the picnic area, it will take 1 to 1.5 hours to go to the summit. After the forested trail is the grassland area that leads to the summit. Here, spectacular views of Mt. Balungao, Pangasinan areas and La Union towns as well as other mountains (probably the Caraballo mountains) including San Roque Dam could be seen. A traverse to other mountains from Mt. Paldingan is possible but as of the moment, this is not recommended as guides familiar to the trails are needed for this traverse. Since trails to Mt. Paldingan summit is not established, guides usually cut towering grasses and wild plants to make a way to the summit. Waterfalls could be a sidetrip but this is located on the other side of Mt. Paldingan and a traverse is needed to visit the waterfalls as well as guides who know the terrain of the traverse.

(from Manila)

0330- ETA Victory Terminal (Pasay)
0400- ETD Pasay
0800- ETA Flying V Gas Station in Binalonan Crossing; ride tricycle bound to Sta. Catalina
0830- ETA Sta. Catalina; courtesy call to brgy. official; secure guides
0900- Start trek
1030- ETA Picnic area
1100- Resume trek to summit
1230- ETA summit; lunch
1315- Start descent
1515- ETA Brgy. Sta. Catalina; tidy-up
1700- Back to Flying V Gas Station; wait for bus bound to Manila
2200- ETA Manila

Special Concerns:

TRANSPORTATION: To get to Binalonan crossing, ride a Victory bus bound to Baguio City. Ask the conductor/ driver to drop you off in Flying V Gas Station. Fare from Pasay to Binalonan crossing is Php 270. From Flying V, there are tricycles bound to Sta. Catalina. For tricycle to Sta. Catalina, fare is Php 100 for a group of five.

PERMITS AND GUIDES: No permit or prior registration is required although a courtesy call to brgy. Official is recommended. There is no fixed guide fee in climbing Mt. Paldingan but P300-400 is reasonable as guide fee.

CELLPHONE SIGNAL: Signal is present on most parts of the trail.

OTHERS: Snakes could be seen on the area, please prepare accordingly. Aside from snakes, itchy plants, ants, mosquitoes, butterflies and other insects, there are no other concerns for Mt. Paldingan. It is recommended to wear long-sleeves and leggings and bring first-aid kit and off lotions.

CAMPSITE: As of the moment, there are no campsites in the summit or in grassland. Towering grass and wild plants must be cut first to establish a campsite for tents but the ground soil usually have big stones and lumps. The most feasible campsite and only water source is the Picnic Area which is 1 to 1.5 hours away from the summit.

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