We came, we saw, we conquered Mt. Pico De Loro!

Posted on: November 24, 2009

I am updating my bucket list – I went mountain climbing with my colleagues last weekend and conquered Mt. Pico De Loro (in Ternate, Cavite)! It is considered the highest point within the boundary of Cavite and Batangas with a 360 degree view at its summit.

We have been planning this climb (me and my colleagues) for the umpteenth time but it always gets canceled at the last minute because of the typhoon. First time that we were supposed to go for it, Ondoy was already rearing it’s ugly eye in Manila. The second time, Pepeng came and the third time (during the Holy Week), there was also a tropical storm (which was barely felt in Central Luzon). But at that time, I fell down the stairs and was badly hurt so I couldn’t go… so it got canceled again.

And then last Thursday, I was asked (again!) if I’m available to go ‘coz it looked like the weather is showing some mercy. And so, I canceled my PNR fieldtrip with Kuya Rod and confirmed that I’m going with the climb.

I am a novice climber (I don’t even hike!) and I have no idea what to wear and what to bring. Good thing, our guide was pretty apt and provided us with all the details. And since I don’t have anything at all that has a ‘for mountain climbing’ tag on it, I had to invest in a few things like my trekking shoes and my bag (don’t ask!), whichI’m glad I did, especially with the shoes because I honestly think it saved my life! The rest of the things like tent and sleeping bags, our guide was very kind enough to provide.

We were only seven in the group – me, another girl officemate, my two graphic design guys, Kuya Jun and two guides – Henry and Dre (new found friends) =) Since it was a very close-knit group, we kind’a had a bonding moment up there in the mountains.

We left Manila a little past 5am and arrived in Ternate at about 7:30. From the Saulog terminal, we had to take a tryke that would take us to the jump-off point along the Ternate Highway going to Caylabne Bay Resort – a point which they call ‘magnetic hill’ because of the magnetic force that seems to pull vehicles up even if they are in neutral mode. After fixing our stuff (we had to share some load) and a quick prayer, we started the one hour-trek to the ‘Kubo’ – also a refilling station for water and the last chance to take no.1 and no.2 because it also has a (close to) decent bathroom. We also ate our packed lunch (although it was far from lunch as it was only 9:30am). Less than an hour later, we were back on the trail, walking through muddy paths, tree roots, and rough stones. And after numerous take 1’s, 2’s, and 3’s (rest!), we finally reached the camp site a little past 1pm. I was soaking wet… with sweat! I only had barely (probably) 10 kilos to carry and yet, it felt like I was carrying the mountain itself. Our guides probably had more than 25 kilos and they breezed through the trail like hunters.

The guys found a perfect spot right by the cliff, with an amazing view of the summit and the tower. We almost even had an unfriendly encounter with these hikers who honestly reeked of lack of breathing and courtesy (they tried to take one of the spots for our tent without even coughing an excuse! Haay… but our guide said majority of the climbers are really nice and friendly and so that was an odd case. While the boys were pitching the tents, us girls took the time to freshen up for early dinner. What ensued was endless laughing and food trip, picture taking, and discussion about almost anything senseless… hehe. =)

It was probably 19 degrees at the campsite… it was so cold that my head started hurting before dinner. I changed into my jogging pants, put on a warmer, a bonnet and a scarf. We basked on the cold while oggling the magnificent view that was right in front of us. IWith shaking knees and a heartbeat as fast as a drumroll, I perched myself atop a rock that is at the edge of the cliff for a perfect Kodak moment. Too bad, the picture was a little dark.

We had early dinner. Henry, our guide is a really good cook I must say. And I was actually amused by the camping “gadgets” that he had like a portable burner that uses “canned” buthane as I like to call it. Then he has these little pots and frying pan which reminded me of my kitchen set when I was a kid. We had to be resourceful since we don’t have anything but what we brought up there. So, we lived through the wonders of wet wipes and tissues to clean our whatever we were using as plates and utensils. After dinner, the fun part followed – Socials. The first time the guide said this term, I thought we had to go around and greet other campers and to be honest, I wasn’t in the mood for that. Yun pala “socials” simply means getting boozed. The guys brought two long necks of Grand Matador and they made me drink… said it would get rid of my headache and warm me up a little (I was really freezing!) The next thing I know, I was downing the brandy like a pro. It was drizzling and rain suddenly poured down angrily so we had to scamper and fit all seven of us in the guys’ tent which was the biggest among the tents that they brought. Me and Keikostayed in the smallest, while the two guides in the middle-sized tent. It rained for quite a bit so we were trapped there, cramped and wet and just laughing crazily. It was all foggy when we got out and decided to call it a night. We had to get p at 4am to assault the summit before dawn.

Assaulting the summit while it was still dark (and uber foggy!) was extra challenge. We couldn’t see anything except the trail that was lighted up by our flashlights. Our guide said it’s better that we can’t see anything because we wouldn’t want to see what we were trekking on (a steep narrow cliff to be exact!) It was a 15-minute trek that seemed to last hours. Finally, we reached the summit! And there was an odd sign there that had an eye inside a triangle… looked like a cult symbol which the climbers were tring to put down. But wait… this wasn’t the victorious part yet…

Pico De Loro has a tower – a unique rock formation near the summit, which was more difficult to climb because it’s literally vertical and you had to rappel using this flimsy rope to pull yourself up. The steps are so steep and problem with me is my arms are too short so I had a hard time securing my grip on the rocks. As Henry puts it, “If you missed one (grip), we miss you… goodbye!”

Glad both of us girls made it at the top but we didn’t see much because the fog was so thick and the wind so strong that you have to sit down and attach yourself to something solid. The guys afraid that the rope might not be able to hold them chose to stay back. It was an accomplishment! My first climb! My first dangerous tryst and I made it! =)

More pics here.


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