New Discoveries in Pico De Loro

Less than a month after that exhausting Pico De Loro-Batulao twin day hike, I was back again on the iconic Parrot’s Beak with my regular climbing buddies as well as a couple of new recruits. You’d think after climbing a mountain for the fourth time using the same trail, everything would be familiar and, well, boring. Not at all. Here are a few surprises I got on this laid-back day hike.

Summit

1. The campsite near the summit has a sari-sari store now. It’s not just Batulao and Maculot that have those “7-Elevens” anymore. A 7-Eleven, named after the ubiquitous convenience store, is what climbers jokingly call those makeshift stores on a mountain that sell soda, buko (coconut) juice, halo-halo and other snacks.

7-Eleven on Pico De Loro

7-Eleven on Pico De Loro

The common problem with having a store along the trail or on a campsite is the increased amount of garbage it’ll bring. We could wish all those who climb would be conscientious enough to take their trash down and keep the mountain clean but we know that doesn’t always happen.

On the upside, this micro-enterprise provides livelihood and income to the locals. And I must admit, having a cold Mountain Dew after nearly three hours of trekking is a welcome treat.

2. There’s an easier trail from the summit to the Parrot’s Beak. This is probably not news to anyone who has been to the monolith but it was a revelation for me. Did you know there’s a trail on the left side when you descend from the summit going to the Parrot’s Beak? I was probably the only moron who was not aware of this and who did not notice the very obvious trail.

The Parrot’s Beak as seen from the summit.

The Parrot’s Beak as seen from the summit.

On our climb last month, I headed straight to the rocky area and teetered precariously on the boulders. On reaching the edge, I faced a nine or ten-foot drop to the ground. There were no easy footholds or handholds and there were cliffs on either side. I tried to clamber down but I couldn’t find a foothold and nearly swayed towards the cliff. I promise you I don’t have a death wish. I’m just an idiot who often winds up in situations that involve a serious threat to life and limb.

I was panicking and didn’t know what to do so I sat on the rock and ate an entire chocolate bar to calm my nerves and figure out how to get out of there without breaking my neck. Ed, Fred and Bal were already on top of the monolith while Jet was on the summit taking their pictures. I was stuck alone on that boulder and couldn’t get help. After finishing the chocolate bar, I had a more stable heart rate and was willing to try again. I still couldn’t find a foothold halfway through the descent so I let go of the handholds and clumsily dropped to the ground. I nearly lost my balance but managed to land on my feet safely.

On this climb, Allan, who was with me when I climbed Pico last year, led the way to the right trail. Too bad, I wasn’t able to use my mind-blowing, Choco Mucho-powered acrobatic moves this time to get off a giant rock while avoiding a cliff.

3. Elastic bandages come in handy after all. I’ve learned to always have a first aid kit on a climb, even on a day hike. I’ve never had any occasion to use an elastic bandage though so I don’t always bring one. Good thing I included a couple of rolls in my kit on this climb.

Audrey, a new addition to our group, was experiencing pain on her left knee due to a previous injury and my elastic bandage was put to good use for the first time. Lesson learned: always bring a complete first aid kit. You never know when you’re going to need it. (And while we’re at it, always bring a headlamp as well. You never know when a day hike, no matter how easy, might extend into a night trek.)

Fred, Des, Anna and Chito hovering on an injured Audrey. Full disclosure: this is not a candid shot. Naka-posing lang silang lahat dito.

Fred, Des, Anna and Chito hovering on an injured Audrey. Full disclosure: this is not a candid shot. Naka-posing lang silang lahat dito.

4. The sheer joy of reaching the Parrot’s Beak never gets old. It was my third time to climb the Parrot’s Beak but the stunning 360-degree view on top of that monolith still never fails to take my breath away. It was also a joy to see first-timers rejoicing with pure delight after surviving the rope-assisted portion on the ascent.

Okay lang kahit bumagsak na ako sa Arki! Nakaakyat na rin ako dito! (It’s okay even if I fail in Architecture! I finally managed to climb up here!),” shouted a jubilant climber while jumping up and down and high-fiving his friends.

In our group, it was the first time for Chito, Des, Audrey, Karen and Allan to climb the Parrot’s Beak. There were nervous moments on the rope-assisted part but they were tough troopers and I couldn’t be prouder of all of them. Fred was the patient guide who made sure all of us were able to climb up and go down safely. A special shout-out to our Big Boy Allan who, after climbing Pico De Loro for the eighth time, finally conquered his fear and reached the top. Congrats, guys!

Anna, who’s scared of heights, chose to stay on the summit and became our designated photographer but I’m sure she’ll have her glorious moment on top of that monolith on her next climb.

Our group, in colorful shirts, hanging out on the Parrot’s Beak.

Our group, in colorful shirts, hanging out on the Parrot’s Beak.

A couple (the two people seated next to each other in white and blue shirts) was having a nice, quiet moment and we promptly ruined it when we got there. They were a good sport though and gamely joined in the photo ops when Anna started taking pictures.

A couple (the two people seated next to each other in white and blue shirts) was having a nice, quiet moment and we promptly ruined it when we got there. They were a good sport though and gamely posed with us when Anna started taking pictures.

Every mountain, no matter how familiar, can surprise you in a lot of ways. Every climb, no matter how common, can be interesting if you’re in it to enjoy the experience and have fun. Until the next Pico De Loro climb!

Summit photo: Audrey, Des, Allan, Fred, Chito, Anna and Karen.

Summit photo: Audrey, Des, Allan, Fred, Chito, Anna and Karen.

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16 thoughts on “New Discoveries in Pico De Loro

  1. worddruid

    abay kaya pala ang tagal mo nun. I was shouting the whole time kina Bal kung nasan ka at bat iniwan ka sa baba not knowing na wala ka pa sa base nung monolith that time wahahaha

    Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      Yes, nakatengga ako sa kabatuhan nun in silent panic mode. Hahaha! Nahiya naman akong magpa-rescue kaya nagsariling sikap na lang. 😀

      Reply
  2. jebuzinjamonk

    Nagulat talaga ako nun na kwento mo na dun ka sa may bangin dumaan eh meron naman pala kadali dali na way… May addition lang din ako sa discoveries mo, may discovery din ako. This was my fifth time in Pico pero this time ko lang nalaman na meron pala grotto before sa summit. Kaya natuwa naman ako dun, pinicturan ko talaga ung grotto. Nasa FB album ko na…:)

    Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      Di na kayo nasanay, tatanga-tanga talaga ako sa trail. Hehe. First time ko rin na-discover ang grotto kaso di na ako nagpa-picture dahil siksikan na kayo dun. 😛 Kaya di ko na rin sinama dito.

      Reply
  3. jebuzinjamonk

    Di ko makakalimutan sa climb na eto ang tapang & lakas ng loob nina Des, Karen, Audrey, Chito at BigBoy to climb the monolith/parrot beak. Without hesitation talaga! Kinabahan lang ako dun kay BigBoy sa pagbaba, dahil nag ala gangnam style naman sa nervious, but anyhow, he still made it to the beak and down safely… 🙂

    Reply
    1. Tintin Post author

      I know! Di man lang nag-isip. Basta automatic nang aakyat talaga ng beak etong lima. Galing! Kaka-proud naman tayo. Haha, nagmalaki talaga ‘no.

      Actually yung mga kasabay nating group of guys sa summit had no plans of climbing the Parrot’s Beak. I overheard them talking, wala daw silang balak magpakamatay. Sumunod na lang sila after seeing a bunch of girls (kami yun!) heading off to the monolith with no hesitation. Na-challenge ata ang masculinity. Hehehe.

      Reply
      1. liquiddruid

        Minsan, malakas na motivator talaga ang natural sexism ng lalaki, hahaha. (“Kung kaya ng babae, dapat mas kaya ko!”) Ayun ang dahilan kung bakit ako napasubo sa Mt. Iraya. ;D

        But in this case, it was more of not really dwelling on the risks that made me more or less calm about the whole thing… and confining “kaba” and “nerbiyos” on the actual moment and not beforehand. Go lang nang go. Hayahay!

        Reply

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