At 5:30AM, total darkness wrapped the vastness of nature. The cold wind and the enigmatic silence suggested something between a stimulating welcome and a warning of the unknown. A small voice within me was confirming if I was certain about my decision. With steadfast conviction, I conditioned the entirety of my being and ended my inner monologue with the answer, “Yes, I’m doing my first climb.”
Mt. Pico de Loro
Pico de Loro literally means “Parrot’s Beak” as its summit resembles the shape of a parrot’s beak from afar. Mt. Pico de Loro is a dormant volcano and is the highest point in Cavite. It has become a renowned climbing destination for both mountaineers and hiking enthusiasts.
Hiking with Trail Adventours
With majority of the members in our group climbing for the first time, we opted to avail a hiking package (PHP1800/head) from Trail Adventours inclusive of the following:
- Manila – Mt. Pico de Loro Round Trip Transportation
- Registration/Environmental Fee
- Trail Adventours ID and Bag Tag
Coordinators from Trail Adventours were very friendly and helpful assisting us whenever needed. They were also prepared with first-aid kit. As they led the climb, they earnestly shared their trekking stories which I personally find inspiring (as I am always fascinated to hear people unfold their passion).
Even before sunrise, we started trudging our way to the summit. With darkness beaming, I felt we were alone amidst some sort of wilderness. It was like we had the mountain solely to ourselves. Everything began almost easily, trail path was noticeable and straightforward.
It was already a long time ago since I had an encounter with nature like this – probably more than a decade. There was this combination of excitement and skepticism battling inside of me. The excitement was like that of a child being able to fly a kite for the first time. On the other hand, skepticism was mocking the illusion of strength I made myself to believe and rely on.
The short stops we made from time to time served as essential rejuvenating moments for me. I repeatedly told my aching feet, “Almost there”. It was more of a mind-over-matter thing for me. Mind over matter when we had to climb those steep mountain slopes. Mind over matter when the path got unexpectedly difficult I asked myself, “Seriously?”.
After a few hours, we were so glad we finally reached the camp site where we sighted the “Parrot’s Beak”. Almost thinking that was all there was to it, our lead guide instructed us to prepare ourselves to ascend to the summit which according to him will take only around 30 minutes. With a lot more confidence this time, I said to myself, “That will be short and easy”.
It was indeed short but the summit looked almost impossible to be reached! The incline that must be traversed was too damn steep (and I am not exaggerating) I thought maybe I needed some superhero skills to make it. There was nothing we can hold on to for support. Imagine doing a wall climbing without the climbing grips. Good thing the guides taught us some techniques and accompanied us to get to the top.
All the pain and struggles were blown away by the cold wind as my feet finally step onto the summit. As if it was consoling me, the wind whispered to me, “You made it”. The splendid view definitely gave an affectionate welcome. I was in awe. I was in awe. And I was in awe.
Still not over with the thought that climbing Pico de Loro’s summit was such a great challenge, there came the view of the Monolith. A tall rock formation, the Monolith was around 15-minute away from the summit. Seeing the Monolith from a distance, I do not know how to define the word “challenge” anymore.
Climbing the Monolith required a bit of rapelling and an overdose of courage. The guides will be there to assist and do everything they can to help but your own determination is the best thing you’d be able to bank on.
- It is better to start really early like what we did not only to avoid the sun but the crowd as well. At a much later time, a lot of hikers go up the mountain. This means waiting longer to ascend the summit and Monolith (sometimes, longer the climb itself).
- Bring ample snacks and water. Don’t overpack so you can climb easily. Also, there are stores in the camp site selling food and drinks.
- Pico de Loro is my first climb. I have no comparison but I think it is not the most suitable one for real beginners especially those without an active lifestyle.
- The climb is a combination of ascending and descending steep mountain slopes. The trail can get extremely hard after a downpour.
- For a cheaper Pico de Loro trek, you can choose not to get a hike package. You can just get the service of a local guide which is less expensive even when combined with your personal transportation.
- Camping is strictly prohibited.
- Restroom and shower area are available at the jump-off point. For ladies, it is advisable to bring ‘malong’ or ‘sarong’ that can be used for cover in case there will be a call of nature in the middle of the hike.
- Stay close to your group. The trail is easy to follow but they say there are people who already got lost in the mountain.
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