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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cover: Picking Our Way To Pico de Loro

Climb Date:  January 22-23, 2011

Novice Climber

I am not (yet!) a climbing enthusiast.  In fact, this is my first real climb, as I consider my first two experiences of mountains as "treks" (Taal Volcano in 2005 and Sagada to Bomod-ok Falls in 2007).  This is also my first camping trip as an adult, and I was worried that I wouldn't like it because of the absence of a toilet, shower, soft bed, nice linens, and all the other things that make life comfortable.  But with the promise of an opportunity to take landscape photos, I gave in.

Pico de Loro
Ternate, Cavite
Major Jump-off:  Magnetic Hill, Ternate
LLA: 14º 12.855 N; 120º 38.785 E; 664 MASL
Specs:  Minor Climb / Difficulty:  3/9 / Trail Class:  1-3

Mt. Pico de Loro is located in Ternate, Cavite, roughly a 2 1/2-hour drive south of Manila.  Forming a group of 10, we boarded a bus bound for Ternate across Baclaran Church.  Upon reaching Ternate, we hired a tricycle for a 30-minute ride to the jump-off point.  We registered at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) compound, and after freshening up and using the toilet, we started the hike to the peak of Mt. Pico de Loro.

Base Camp 1

The climb was relatively easy.  The trail is covered with nice foliage, providing shade throughout the hike.  There are some areas where the soil is slippery, drenched by the heavy rains the night before.  After about 45 minutes, we reached Base Camp 1 where we had our packed lunch.  Tables and benches are available, and the soft breeze of the mountains can already be felt.


After a 30-minute break, we resumed our hike.  We made several stops along the way, maybe a little too many for the seasoned hikers.  Although the trail is shaded by trees, the ascending hike tires the heart easily.  The trail features a few fallen trees, a dry river bed, a few boulders that had to be scaled, some interesting trees and a lot of ascending topography.


We got to the campsite after about three hours of hiking from Base Camp 1.  As our climb was on a weekend, the main campsite where the Parrot's Beak can be seen is already packed with early birds.  We settled for the second best, which is an area surrounded by bamboo trees just below the main site.

As this is my first camping trip, I had to share with my pal's tent.  I didn't know that pitching a tent is quite easy and can be done in less than five minutes!  After settling our packs in our tent, we proceeded to the assault of the peak.


For someone with extreme fear of heights, the assault to the summit was hard.  The climb was steep that you have to be practically crawling on the ground, gripping the grasses on the side of the trail for support.  Physically, this is not a problem for me.  But upon seeing the steep ravines on both sides, my knees began shaking!  It took a lot of convincing for me to proceed to the peak.

Reaching the peak, all the efforts were well worth it.  The view was simply beautiful!  Slapped by strong winds while taking in the 360º panoramic view of the nearby towns and coastlines, one can only be amazed at how good it feels to be attuned with nature.

The Parrot's Beak (Pico de Loro)

Some of my friends decided to scale the second peak, which is the Parrot's Beak -- Pico de Loro itslef.  I decided not to join them, because the trail gets even steeper, and the beak itself -- the phallic symbol for some -- is a monument of solid rock erected at the edge of the mountain!  It took about 20 minutes before we saw our friends emerge at the second peak -- and boy were they proud to be up there!

Sunset from the mountain was breathtaking.  I rarely see the sunset in the city without any pollution dilution, or buildings to cover its golden hues.  We were lucky to have a clear view of the sun getting down.

Camping the Night Away

We had to use our headlamps while going down to the campsite.  The trick is to go down crawling, with your butt on the ground and your hands gripping the grass again for support.  The night was spent consuming our mountain-cooked meals and socializing.


The next day, some of my colleagues went back to the peak hoping to catch the sunrise.  When they came back, they had a sorry look on their face, because the fog was too thick they couldn't see anything!

After breakfast, we packed for our descent.  We were feeling high, maybe because everyone had a good time.  We rested at the Base Camp 1 again to grab some ice-cold sodas being sold by the couple who runs the place.  We also left our trash at the pit.

Getting Lost

We thought we were beating our time of four hours (inclusive of breaks and take 5's) when we went up, so we hurriedly resumed hiking back to Ternate.  Ten minutes later, we noticed that we were walking on a trail that we were not familiar with -- we searched for the right one until we realized that we were lost when two other groups declared that they don't know the way anymore!  We decided to backtrack, and luckily found the right way just after the fallen tree by the dry creek.  We should have turned left towards an ascending trail, rather than going straight on a wide rocky trail.

As soon as we hit the paved road, our knees were trembling from exhaustion!  The ride back to Manila was quiet, maybe because everyone was dead tired.  

It was definitely a great climb and a nice getaway from the comforts of the city!




We also got lost on our way to the summit when we trekked Pico de Loro. But we made it to the right path eventually. It was all worth it especially after scaling the rocky outcrop as well

how long it takes u to reach the peak?thnx

Hi @chuppy ! Sorry for the late reply. I think about 3-4 hours, including the "take 5s" and lunch break :)

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