Pico De Loro, the Second Time Around

The first time I climbed Pico De Loro was three years ago, back when I was still a clueless newbie at climbing mountains. This is not to say I’m a kickass mountaineer now but my 23-year-old self was a walking disaster even on the easiest of trails.

Pico De Loro in Ternate, Cavite is one of the most popular mountains for beginner climbs. It’s only three hours away from Manila, the trail is fairly easy and the view at the peak is pretty amazing. There is also the challenge/bragging rights of climbing the parrot’s beak, the towering rock formation right next to the summit which happens to be the perfect site for dramatic photo ops.

My 2009 climb was a struggle. It was an overnight climb and most of us had no experience in mountaineering. It took us more than an hour to get to the base camp from the jump-off point in Magnetic Hill and nearly three hours to reach the summit. It was dark by the time we made it back to camp and we didn’t even have our backpacks with us. That was also the first time I got drunk on a climb and ended up destroying a tent pole. I really did mean it when I said I was a walking disaster.

Last Sunday, I climbed Pico De Loro again. This time, I stayed sober and didn’t destroy any tents, thank God. This day hike was one of my training climbs for Mantalingajan and a meet-up with Mac and Jepoi, the two guys who wanted to join the Manta climb.

My friend Allan came along because he’s also a sucker for mountains.

Jepoi was already camping at the summit since his group was on an overnight climb so it was just Allan, Mac and me. We left the jump-off at 8:30am and arrived at the summit campsite after only two hours. I couldn’t believe I managed to go that fast considering it took me four hours to reach the peak the last time I was here. Of course, my legs were shaking and I was breathing like my lungs were on fire but still, two hours! I would’ve patted myself on the back but I was too exhausted to raise my arm.

We hung out for a while at the summit campsite with Jepoi to sort out details of the Manta climb before going up to the peak, which was about five minutes away.

I was not able to go up the parrot’s beak on my first Pico climb. The organizers said it was too risky since the rope that was attached there was of doubtful strength. On my second climb, we didn’t have any rope at all. Allan and I were hesitant to go up the beak because well, we’d rather stay alive. Mac insisted that we check it out anyway and see how far we can go.

Mac, the hardcore daredevil who likes Gary Granada songs and butterflies.

From the base of the rock, there was a narrow, steep path with jagged edges that served as footholds and handholds. It was a test of rock climbing skills, of which I had none. It wouldn’t have been so hard if we had a rope but we were doing it buwis-buhay style so it meant scrambling like crazy and using every bit of upper body strength, of which I also had none. I started to lose my footing halfway through and Mac had to haul me up. Allan realized he loved his life too much to take the risk and wisely decided to stay at the base.

After the tough vertical path which was about three meters long, the rest of the climb was easy, much like walking up a flight of uneven stairs. I didn’t bring my camera so we didn’t get to have our dramatic photo ops but we still enjoyed the view and the satisfaction of finally reaching the parrot’s beak.

We descended via the Nasugbu trail with plans of catching the sunset in Mt. Maculot. The trail was a little harder than the Ternate backtrail, with steep and slippery portions that required careful maneuvering, but it was still fairly manageable. We reached the base after about two hours and met a local named Tyson. I’m not sure if he was named after the boxer it definitely sounds fierce.  He brought us to his house, fed us fresh buko and got us a jeep. I also got to play with his baby and his dogs.

We found out that it would take three hours of travel to get to the Maculot jump-off so we ditched the sunset idea and just went for a side trip to Calayo Beach. The beach was not as pretty or as pristine as Siquijor but it felt good to walk on sand again and wade in the salty waters. Again, no pictures because I was off running towards the sea the minute we got there.

After a satisfying dip, we packed up and made plans to make another side trip to Tagaytay for bulalo. On our way to Nasugbu town proper, our rickety jeep ran out of gas and we were stuck on a highway as darkness set in. The driver’s wife hitched a ride back to the barangay retail stores to buy diesel while the three of us walked along the road hunting for food. We found a store along the highway and feasted on balut, isaw, chicken feet and RC Cola.

We made it to town after the long delay and caught the last bus trip going to Manila. It was a long, cramped ride as the driver was determined to fill every inch of breathing space with passengers. We got off at Tagaytay and finally had our long-awaited bulalo with fried tawilis and the best Mountain Dew I’ve ever tasted.

It was another long walk along the highway in the dark after dinner. There were no more Manila-bound buses from Nasugbu so we had to ride a jeep to Dasmariñas and catch a bus there. Much of the commute was a haze for me. I was already slipping in and out of consciousness because I didn’t get any sleep in the last 48 hours. I got home at 3am, dead tired and about to fall into a coma.

We managed to cram my three favorite activities in one day: mountain climbing, beach bumming and food tripping (and the inevitable commuting mishaps). It was exhausting but worth it. Hands down, this is my best daytrip to date. Much thanks to Mac and Allan, two of the coolest guys I got to hang out with. Here’s to more climbs and crazy side trips!


25 thoughts on “Pico De Loro, the Second Time Around

    1. nagbabasang pinoy Post author

      Hi Karen. Nag-aya ako! Tinext ko sina Jet, Madz at iba pang mga tao na may number ako. Sorry, walang Facebook eh kaya walang public announcement system. 😛 Penge number mo para kasama ka sa text blast next time. Tapos sisihin mo si Jet. Nasa iisang bahay kayo, di ka sinabihan. Hahaha.

  1. Naldy

    What we did was a MakTrav (Makiling Traverse) dayhike as one of our training climbs. It really help coz the trail and vegetation is very much similar to Manta. But had we known better, we would have done the day hike on a full pack load.

    1. nagbabasang pinoy Post author

      Thanks, Naldy. We were actually planning a Maktrav climb this weekend but we learned that the trails are closed at this time. Anyhow, we have about a couple more training climbs to go. Thanks for the tip about going on a full pack load. 🙂

  2. flydaniel

    I am planning to go back to Pico de Loro because I didn’t climb the beak during my first climb there too. Any updates regarding the rope? Any tips about climbing the parrot’s beak? Gusto ko kasi pag-akyat ko ulit dyan, makaakyat na din ako sa beak. Naiinggit kasi ako pag nakikita ko yung pics ng ibang climbers pag andun sila hehe. Yung pagbaba nyo dun kamusta naman? 🙂

    1. nagbabasang pinoy Post author

      Hi Daniel! The rope was no longer there when we climbed the parrot’s beak. You’ll have to bring your own rope or scramble your way up. We did the latter since wala kaming dalang lubid. Maikli lang naman yung medyo mahirap na part, around 4-5 feet siguro. The rest of the way up is easy.

      I wish I could give useful tips on climbing the tricky part but as I mentioned in the post, hinila lang ako paakyat nung di ko na kaya. Hehe. I guess you could enhance your upper body strength and practice your diskarte in rock climbing and you’re good to go. Or climb with someone who could haul you up when the going gets tough. 😛

      Yung pababa nahirapan din ako sa 4-5ft na tricky part so tinulungan ulit ako para makababa. Ayun. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful. Best of luck on your return climb to Pico de Loro and I hope you’d also safely reach the parrot’s beak. 🙂

  3. c0d3r

    Hi Ma’am, akyat kami ng tropa this 23rd (Satruday) sa Pico. 2nd time ko ito…
    nakisama lang kami dati sa ibang group eh. As per info sa isang site, may bagong installed the rope dun, last month lang nalagay. If ever sabihan kita kung anu ang status dun para sa iba na gustong pumunta ulit dun… 🙂

  4. Jeddah

    thank for this Blog..at least may idea na kami for next week climb at Pico de Loro…its my 2nd time after 5years..Makarating sana kami at di maligaw…God bless…

    1. Tintin Post author

      Yung pagbaba sa mahirap na part, ganun ulit, may alalay ng kasama ko. Di kasi ako makakuha ng maayos na foothold kaya inangkla nya na lang paa ko tapos inapakan ko tuhod nya. Ako na ang parasite. Hehe.

          1. jebuzinjamonk

            Noted Kai. If you’re available and willing to sweat it out this January 6, 2013 Sunday, I am planning a dayhike to this mountain. You can joined in and invite other friends. Add me up in my FB acct. Sieg ‘Tron. Thanks, see you then.


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