The Ascent of Doi PaNgom

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by ianyonok, May 2, 2014.

  1. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

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    A couple of years ago, I came across this beautiful looking mountain and had the irrational feeling that I needed to climb to the top of it one day.....

    April 2014 and further delaying excuses would not wash......The time had come.

    Doi PaNgom is located about 20klm west of Mae Kachan, in the Khun Chae National Park, in the south of Chiang Rai province. Access is mostly dirt road. It needed an early morning ascent so I headed to Mae Kachan for the night.

    On the way, I passed a cooking stove making village, just east of Phan.
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    Then it was off on a favourite trail through the Doi Luang National Park.
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    The haze had cleared and North Thailand was looking beautiful once again.
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    I stayed at the new H2O Hotel, just north of Mae Kachan, on the 118.
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    Very nice room for 550 Baht and secure parking round the back of the hotel.
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    There is a great seafood barbecue place in the town too.

    Next morning is the big day and the big climb. I had breakfast in the market at 05:30 and was soon on the trail to the mountain.
    Passed many a very low reservoir on this trip.
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    Just wonderful to be out alone in nature on a nice cool morning. The National Parks look green all year round.
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    After an hour or so riding without seeing a single person, I came round a corner and there she is. Dark, foreboding and looking considerably bigger and higher than I recalled.
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    It was about 08:00 when I parked the bike and made a small offering of chocolate biscuits to JaoPor PaNgom. This was clearly the trail head and I was at at an elevation of 1150m. The mountain peak is marked as being at 1507m, so not too difficult....right....?
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    It is fantastic to live on a country where you can just park and leave all your kit, helmet and jacket on the bike, knowing that no-one will mess with it. I would be walking/climbing for some hours.
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    It is a ridge hike to start with.............
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    But soon starts to get quite steep
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    I was pulling myself up from tree to tree here, trying to follow the yellow square markers on the trees every 30m or so.

    There had been some burning in the area but some little wild orchids and flowers were pushing through the earth.
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    The climb was getting steeper and tough going with a loose surface to climb up... but I could see the peak ahead.
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    This part was mountaineering, a three contact point climb up this very steep gully.
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    More to follow............
     
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Gday Ian,
    Good to see you doing this one after our chat in Thoed Thai......this really is a nice one alright. Glad it is you too & not me - you're a fit man alright.
    Those orchids look sensational blooming like that, but I'm more keen to see the rest of the climb....ha ha. Bring it on.
     
  4. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    Well, after climbing up the gully, there was another section with a few small trees to pull up on and then a clear view of the remainder of the climb. It didn't look too far to go.
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    Great view from up here... if a little hazy in the early morning.
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    It was at this point that I lost my bottle. Death seemed quite possible on this steep slippery slope and with no-one around to witness it either....
    The section above was completely open, no trees to pull up on and pure mountaineering. The deciding factor was the crack of thunder in the distance. The GPS said I was at 1423m, so I had climbed up nearly 300m but the peak was still 80m higher.
    I slithered clambered and crabbed back down the mountain. The trail is marked up this point, but must really be for young army recruits, not old farangs looking for a thrill.
    It looks like the approach from the east would be much better and more gentle slope, so, maybe another day...... anyone care to join.....??

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    This wonderful mountain is special because it is a long way from any tarmac road and has few visitors, so there is no stupa or other man-made structure on the top.

    Anyway, time to move on...
    I headed north on the trail, which follows the Chiang Rai-Chiang Mai border. Came round a corner and saw a beautiful Green Vine Snake (mildly venomous).

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    On this trip, I also saw a wonderful Crested Serpent Eagle, a pair of Racquet-Tailed Drongos and a Scarlet Minivet.

    The trail comes out at Kun Jae on the 1150.
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    Feeling a little tired and somewhat deflated, I headed through Phrao and up to Chai Prakarn for the night. The usual stop there is the Saimoonbury Resort. 1000 Baht a night, but a good place with a large swimming pool.
    Found a good restaurant run by a farang named Roger.
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    Saw a new Duke model in Phrao earlier.
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    Next morning off to cross another one off the bucket-list... The "Caution: Extremely Steep" road up to Nor Lae.
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    I was there at 07:05 and the army had just opened the road for a few hours in the morning. They close it during the day, probably due to the possibility of vehicles overheating. It is also right on the Burmese border.

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    Yep..... pretty steep.

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    Past the army camp on the Burmese side.
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    Fantastic view on the ridge road which forms the border.
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    Looking back north across the ridge.
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    The village of Nor Lae is very interesting.

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    From the web;

    "Nor Lae is a recently settled and, in Thailand, rare Palaung village... The Palaung are the latest ethnic group to have migrated into Thailand. There are only a few hundred of them in the Kingdom, living in half a dozen villages in the Fang area, one of which is Nor Lae. They settled in Nor Lae in 1983, having migrated south from the Palaung sub-state of Tawngpeng in the north-west of Burma's Shan State. They are related to the Wa, their language sharing some words with the Wa language. Palaung women wear a predominantly red costume, which can be seen at Nor Lae."

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    All the women had red betel-nut mouths and missing teeth.

    I carried on along the border, but the path was a dead-end. Fantastic scenery.
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    These people were catching Cicada beetles for lunch.
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    I continued south into Angkhang.
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    Wonderful and cool up here. Good place to bring the missus...
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    Next, it was back down the mountain to the 107 and up to Fang, to get the next trail east across to Wawi. Rode through some quite remote villages.
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    Then up to Doi Gart Phee. So, why is this fig tree covered in figs, many of them ripe? I believe because they would have been eaten by monkeys in the past, but there are no monkeys left unfortunately.
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    I was now on the trail northeast across to the Kok river.
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    There had been some rain recently, so beautifully green around.
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    The Kok river.
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    The "Motorcycle Bridge" is looking pretty dodgy these days.
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    In fact, this dodgy;
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    However, a few klms southeast, the new bridge near Ruam Mitr is open.
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    It seems to look quite out of place and is not pretty, but good for the local people I'm sure. There are signs that there will be a tarmac/concrete road all the way along the river on the south side, in a few years time.[​IMG]

    I crossed the bridge and started on the next trail north, across the Lam Nam Kok National Park.[​IMG]

    But realised I was just too tired to go further.... time to go home......
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  5. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Nice report and lovely photo's.

    Thanks or sharing.

    Cheers
    Brian
     
  6. Lakota

    Lakota Ol'Timer

    really nice report. I'll have to check the place out (from the Road) the next time I'm up that way. I'd save the Mountaineering until Winter ;)
     
  7. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Beautiful! Some new places I've never been that have been added to my list- so many trails, so little time! Thank you for the gorgeous pictures and inspiring report! :clap:
     
  8. ianyonok

    ianyonok Ol'Timer

    Thanks guys.
    Winter would be better for mountaineering, cooler and more guarantee of clear views, just that the jungle will be thicker. The very first photo I had taken in February, that would have been a good day to go up.
     
  9. pensionist

    pensionist Ol'Timer

    :thumbup: a big applause for this report and its beautiful pictures! :thumbup:
     

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