MT. PICO DE LORO
by Ivan Ignacio
The BACKPACKERS do not have a scheduled official climb for the month of May, (to give way for SURVIVOR ZAMBALES: Backpackers versus Guests to be featured in June) but that does not mean that we won't have a taste of our beloved sport; at least for some of us. We got an invitation through BP Conts to guide a group of friends in Mt. Pico de Loro in Ternate, Cavite. The three BACKPACKERS Conts, Heinz and Ivan journeyed through that familiar trail all the way to the Parrot's Beak.
|BACKPACKERS Ivan, Conts and Heinz inside the forest of Palay Palay Mountain Range|
The highway to Ternate which was closed for most of the months last year is now fully accessible. We were able to hop on a direct ride from Baclaran to Ternate via Isarog Bus Lines. From there, we hired tricycles that took us to the jump off point in Magnetic Hill.
Baclaran to Ternate bus fare ~ 83Php / pax
Ternate to Magnetic Hill trike fare ~ 75Php / pax
The overnight climb itinerary had a lot of leeway for resting as we hit the road by 5:30AM ~ a typical assembly time for a Mt. Pico de Loro dayhike. We started the hike at 7:45AM and reached camp one by 9:00AM. Because of the bloated itinerary, we were able to stay there for two hours. Some rested, while the others led by the group's Mommy Judy took charge of the kitchen.
|BP Conts and Claire prepping up for an early lunch|
After a nice brunch, the group continued their pursuit to get to Mt. Pico de Loro's campsite. The familiar trail feature ensued until we arrived at Alibangbang Park where I asked the group to rest and prepare for the assault inside Mt. Pico de Loro's forest.
|Justin and Mommy Judy approaching Alibangbang Park|
|BP Heinz and Jona Chibi resting at Alibangbang Park|
I have lots of memorable encounters inside the forest of Mt. Pico de Loro. Although not as mossy and dense as that of other mountains - it is home to several species of reptiles and insects. A careless hiker might sit down on dry leaves and would later find herself stung by a fidgeting scorpion. But the sights of scorpions and other fauna like geckos, monitor lizards, centipedes and snakes are a testament that the place is alive. It is a habitat that we, visitors need to respect.
|Rod, AM and Kris inside the forest of Mt. Pico de Loro|
Rain poured when we were halfway inside the forest. We reached the campsite by 3:00PM. Because Heinz and I had no sleep, (it was BP Kenji's surprise birthday celebration with the other BPs at the Headquarters the night before), we found ourselves hitting the hay most of the time that afternoon. When I woke up, I decided to have my solitude at the view deck in front of the summit and Toreng Bato of Mt. Pico de Loro. It has been a long time since I first met this wonderful view deck which triggered that passion in me to climb several more summits and appreciate others' view decks and wonders. It was my seventh time at Mt. Pico de Loro and I can not resist each year passing without climbing this special mountain.
|Spending the afternoon alone and in front of the rock monolith and Mt. Pico de Loro's summit|
Rain poured again while I was resting my back at the view deck. Instead of heading back, I secured my camera and stayed there. While it washed away the mud on my feet, I remembered the days when I was caught in awe after viewing the majestic scene for the first time. I remembered my first Mt. Pico de Loro adventure with my high school buddies and other mountaineers. I missed those times when I get surprised by every mountain that I visit in the country. But because I am no longer new in this, my joy and passion continue as I introduce these creations to others who would like to at least try mountaineering.
After dinner, I did not notice that I fell asleep for almost eleven hours! Yes I missed the socials, second time in seventy four climbs, in order to revitalize my lost energy. It has been a week since the stressful but fulfilling SURVIVOR ZAMBALES: Backpackers versus Guests shoot and I only had an hour of sleep before this climb because of a hospital visit and BP Kenji's surprise party. After waking up at quarter to seven in the morning, I asked the group to prepare for the summit assault.
|Good morning Rod, AM and Mitch!|
|Good morning BP Conts and Claire!|
|Chef BP Heinz Logro|
BP Heinz selflessly forego the summit assault to prepare and cook brunch for the group. It was already a late assault brought about by the extended socials of the group that night, well that's okay at least I heard BP Conts had a lot of fun! Until I saw some remnants of v*mit when I walked around, too much fun, I guess? The best time to assault the peak is at early morning so that the sun's heat is still not bothersome. The peak of Mt. Pico de Loro offers a breathtaking 360 degree view but there are no covers on it.
|Me (BP Ivan) and Mommy Judy|
We reached the peak which is the highest point in the province of Cavite. The sun is up in the sky, and the summit insects are already hopping from one grass to another. We came face to face with Toreng Bato and I checked the group if there were people who would like to scale it.
|Mt. Pico de Loro take seven!|
Two people in the group responded to the Toreng Bato challenge - Mommy Judy and Kris. I guided them down the base of the monolith. Good thing that the old rope was already replaced. One by one, we faced the most difficult challenge of Toreng Bato, pushing yourself up and the wall is leaning against you while your other side is facing a cliff. Mommy Judy rappelled up the structure with ease, way to go Mommy!
|Kris going down the base of Toreng Bato|
|Mommy Judy: no sweat!|
|Kris conquering his fear of heights|
|Toreng Bato conquered!|
We descended from the summit and found ourselves munching on BP Heinz' special brunch. Then we broke camp and took off for camp one. When we arrived at Alibangbang Park, rain poured again, and it was stronger this time. We had no choice but to push through with our hike to avoid hypothermia. The group we guided was composed of first and second timers but despite that, we were fast. Good job guys!
|Evidence of rain in BP Conts|
|Justin and BP Ivan|
Mitch, Philip and Danaya
Just like my other Mt. Pico de Loro climbs, this one has its firsts:
|This is the first time I carried Marcelino (big tent) all throughout the climb! Accomplishment!|
|This is the first time (out of 74 climbs) I had a dog in the climb party|
in the pic: Danaya and me!
(Note that the dog in my sixth Mt. Pico de Loro was a local guide dog.)
I'll never get tired of wandering in that familiar trail of Mt. Pico de Loro. I'll never get tired of resting and staring from its view deck and summit. And being true to my promise to visit it at least once a year, this is my (first) visit this year! Thank you BP Conts and Team Jason for the invite!
|Team Jason conquered Mt. Pico de Loro|
|Posing with our official Mt. Pico de Loro 2011 Friendship Climb shirt!|
BPs Ivan, Conts and Heinz
It was November of 2010 when I invited five friends to meet Mt. Pico de Loro. A month after that, The BACKPACKERS was born.
November of 2011, The BACKPACKERS held its first Friendship Climb at no other than the beautiful Mt. Pico de Loro
September of 2012, The BACKPACKERS conquered Mt. Pico de Loro through its traverse trails and found an unexpected company.