This climb was a very interesting one. Pico de Loro is one of the all-time favorites of mountaineers, even for veteran climbers. The variety of trails, views, and environment is one of it’s trademarks, plus of course, the main attraction – the parrot’s beak. The same word that lingers in my head from pre-climb till now. I never got to climb the parrot’s beak, in fact only four of our friends managed to conquer it. Slippery stones and fog made it impossible for most of us to do the beak… Okay I have to admit, my weight was one of the main considerations. So, I will have to call it a prospective rematch in the near future. Until then, it will be a part of my subconcious mind’s unfinished business list.
Our group assemebled at the overpass infront of Baclaran church along Coastal Road. After several minutes of waiting for the latecomers, we boarded the bus bound for Ternate, Cavite. Joining us are first-time climbers from STI Jnard, Richard, his brother Randy, and Estre’s brother Naldz. It was a riot inside the bus as the group instantly connected via jackass personalities.
After a 2-hour bus ride, you will arrive at the Saulog Transit terminal. A herd of trycicle drivers who phd’d in turfing will greet you and try to convince you that there are no jeepney routes on that road. Two minutes later a jeep will pass by. You have two options, 1) pretend you’re stupid and take the trycicle @ P125 per head, or 2) be smart and rent a jeep to Magnetic Hill for only P500 (we were a group of ten, so that’s only P50 per person).
We took option 2.
Litterally Magnetic Hill
Aside from being smart and saving money for renting a jeep, you will get a free tour guide if you get lucky enough and get to rent Sir Johny’s jeep. He was the former DENR engineering head in Magnetic Hill in the 70’s. He gave us free trivias with how it was at Magnetic Hill in the 70’s when they did mountain surveying. We learned that it was called Magnetic Hill because it was actually magnetic.
Driver: Pataas ba ito o pababa?
Tope: pataas po
… then when we got to an uphill road
Driver: ito, pataas pababa?
Tope: Pababa po
Mang Johny now releases the break and puts the gear on neutral, then the jeep started going back uphill as if we were rolling up. Cool stuff.
After a couple of minutes we reached the DENR registration site where you need to pay P20 per head. Then we head of to the jump off. The jump off is a few minutes road walk from the DENR registration site.
At jump off, we deciede to take a quick lunch before we start the trek. Our baon changed the idea of a quick lunch, quickly into a feast. 2kg chiken caldereta and 1kg, pork adobo. While feasting, I would say not less than 70 mountaineers passed by on their way up to the mountain. We realize that after the previously rainy weeks, a lot of mountaineers are taking the opportunity to climb in a perfect sun shiny day as that day. We quickly geared up for the trek as we feared that we won’t have a spot at the campsite.
The Pico de Loro trail is very accomodating, thanks to the comfort of the trees protecting you from the heat of the sun. Although most mountaineers prefer to do night trek to avoid the heat of the day, that shouldn’t be of concern when trekking Pico de Loro.
You will enjoy the trek and love the environment for the first 30 minutes. Beautiful trees are common attraction, and sometimes if you’re lucky, you will see wild monkeys playing on tree branches. After a couple of minutes, you should reach the bascamp 1, which is still on the flat part of the mountain foot. Here resides locals who require a P20 registration fee. In return you can fill up your bottles and bladders for water supply. Another 30 minutes and you should reach the actuall mountain foot. You won’t miss it because it will be a significant spot where you will realize that there’s no way you will reach the summit without climbig uphill. So cardiac mode begins.
Pico de Loro is only less than 700 metres above sea level. Just almost as high as Mt. Talamitam and Daguldol. However, the estimated time to summit is greatly different because of it’s straightforward trail. So, expect straight uphill climb going up to 50-60 degree angles. Unlike Mt. Daguldol’s 6-hour trek to a 700 MASL height, which means that it has a long subtle climb, this one is all-attack.
Basecamp 1 (water source)
You will at times feel that you’ve wasted efforts in climbing when some trails go downhill just to get to the mountain foot.
Downhills approaching the mountain foot
Oh and just incase you feel lost – you aren’t. It is just a single trail and there is a big sign that says which way to go.
Just incase you forget where you are
At the entrance of the summit, you will be greeted by bamboo groves. Most mountaineers prefer to establish camps here due to the unpredictable winds at the summit basecamp. The summit isn’t really a summit, it is actually a basecamp fronting the chunk of land sticking out of the mountain which is the actuall summi which doesn’t have enough space on it to accomodate tents. The basecamp on the other hand is a wide area with a subtle downhill mountain edge – a place you do not want to play around with specially at night after downing a couple of shots to counter the temperature and winds.
The basecamp offers an awe-inspiring view of the beak and the summit of palay-palay, The beak is the actual Pico de Loro, but the summit is called Mt. Palay-palay. This is an unconfirmed information but I will update as soon as I finish my research. From the basecamp you can also stroll around the edge towards beautiful rock formations that offer picture perfect moments.
The majestic view of the summit and the beak
wide area to pitch tents, but has rough winds
After a hearty breakfast and a short prayer, the group head on to the attack towards summit. It is a slightly steep attack, just enough to make you feel uncomfortable standing up straight if you have a heavy 60-liter load. The view is beatiful. The Nasugbu beachline on your right, and the Cavite region on your left. At the peak, you should see a faint image of a road that looks like the only road that originates from the other side of the mountain. That road is where you are heading if you are traversing Pico de Loro to Batangas.
View from the summit, just right accross the parrot’s beak
The fog at the summit can be very thick to the point the you don’t see the beak. The fog spoils the majestic view of the beak and the surrounding deep ravines. From the summit, a foot-wide trail with left and right fall is what you have to take to go down to the foot of the beak. For first time climbers this can be very intimidating and the fog offers comfort. Thick fog can give the illusion of being walled in, so this elliminates the intimidation of the depth on both sides while trekking the narrow trail down to the beak’s foot.
Steep descent from the peak to the beak’s approach
Idealy, teams go in batches for pictures. The camera will be situated on this summit which makes a perfect shot when the subject makes it to the beak. The descent to and from the beak to this summit is around 15-20mins.
On the way down to the foot of the beak, you will encounter narrow and steep descents on rocks. A significant 5-metre face the wall descent should be dealt with care. Although generally, this trail is friendly, proper precautions should always be observed specially when climbing with first timers. On another note, climbing the beak would require basic rock climbing skills and a lot of caution. It is never wrong to be modest about deciding whether you are fit to take a particular trail or course.
At the beak, I decided that my weight will not make it easy for me and would put me in a poor stance when climbing it, given the beak’s characteristics. After all the excuses, I called it off and decided to take it on next time – rematch. Four of us made it though. Alhmer, Tope, Jnard, and Ross. Good job!😉
Traverse to Nasugbu
At the foot of the beak, there is a small trail at the side leading to the Nasugbu, Batangas traverse trail. You also have the option to backtrail to Ternate but it is definitely worth it to do a traverse to Nasugbu. We actually did not have any idea where we were going to land at Nasugbu but it was the uncertainty that made it fun and exciting. The trail is obviously not often taken and on most parts you can easily loose your way because of the grass of plants that are growing back on the trail path. Thanks to the trail signs that previous mountaineers left, you will be able to get back on track. You might also need to replace the old markings that may be easily missed. Ribbons and stones are used to mark the right direction.
After a couple of hours, traversing these mountains just seem forever. To the point the you feel you are almost there but just aren’t yet. You feel like you’ve been walking forever but never get any farther. It was almost an eerie feeling. If you have a big imagination, you will definitely know what I mean. The thick trees will trick you, thinking that you’re already near the road, but you will come to several clearings and realize that you are still in high lands. This is actually because you are walking up and downhill, litterally crossing 3 mountains. On a particular clearing after 2 hours of walking from the beak, you will see just how far you’ve walked.
view from a clearing in the Nasugbu traverse trail
Finally, after a couple more hours of walk, the group hit a road in Nasugbu. We had no idea where in nasugbu we were. We waited for a couple of minutes and then a tricycle passed by.
exit point of the nasugbu trail
The driver offered us a ride to the main highgway where we can get a bus to Cubao for P175 per passenger. We though it was outrageous. So we walked the endless road to the highway.An hour passed and we were going nowhere.
from this road, we can see the beak and realize that we badly need a ride now
We ultimately gave up and arrived at a small town. A tricycle driver offered us a ride to the bus station for P50 per passenger. We took it with a head scratch just to realize that it was actually cheap considering the distance. It waaaaas far. So we gave him extra.
We finally reached the bus station and did a quick wash up at Patricia’s place. If you are climbing down the Nasugbu trail, take into consideration that there are no locals to accomodate you for wash ups at the end of the trail. It’s just a bare road. But luckily, there’s a small river by the roadside at the end of the trail that you may use to wash up. And for goodness’ sake, take the tricycle.😉
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Our Akyat Bahaw Gang product shot