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Climbing Pico De Loro in Cavite

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Ternate, Cavite

Major jump-off: Magnetic Hill, Ternate

LLA: 14° 12.855 N; 120° 38.785 E; 664 MASL

Days required / Hours to summit: 1-2 days / 2-5 hours

Specs: Minor climb, Difficulty 3/9, Trail class 1-3

Features: Distinctive spire at the summit, forests, scenic views of Cavite

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Pico De Loro: The monolith

Never in my life did it occur to me that I could climb a mountain.

I would say that the experiences of people who tried it inspired me to step out from my comfort zone and try something new. I was hesitant at first, and I think we all were, but you can’t be afraid of what you don’t know. I said yes just six hours before the call time.

The first step of the journey is to get to the location. We took the bus going to Ternate Cavite from the Coastal Mall. It cost 87Php and took 2-3 hours. We contacted a Nomad from the neighborhood to pick us up at the drop off point. It is advised to have a contact person, since some tricycle drivers might charge you for more for the ride to the jump-off area which is at the DENR (75Php about 30 minutes from Ternate). DENR jump-off is where the trail starts.

 

Here are the things you’ll need to survive.

  • Food. Lots of food.

The first thing you need to know about the location of this climb is that it is far from normal conveniences. Unlike other mountains where there are villagers or stores nearby to supplement your need for shelter and/or food, in Pico De Loro, there are none. This is the first challenge I encountered as a first timer having only packed a few easy open canned food and some extra clothes in a backpack.

My saving grace was my experienced climber friends who brought up more than enough for all of us. This is a common courtesy if you’ve been invited to join a climb, they will be the host and you will be the guest. They brought up some mini cooking items (stove, casserole, frying pan, spatula and butane for the stove) as it is preferable to have your food prepared than having lots of canned goods that can weigh you down.

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It is like having a tea party in the woods, but with fire, real food and live bears (just kidding). Water is vital unless you’re willing to risk dehydration before finding the nearest stream of water or e-coli if you’re daring enough to push your luck with stagnant water. Bring at least three liters of water for yourself, and some extra liters for cooking and washing. Lastly, a gentle reminder to take only photos and leave nothing but footprints.

  • Proper clothing.

You’re going to climb a mountain. This is not a field trip that you can rely on your trusty sneakers and jeans. Go prepared. Gear up with some sporty clothes, those thin and stretchable non-cotton clothes that are light and easy to dry and the right shoes too. If this is your first climb, you can actually buy rather than borrowing from your friends for a one-time-only use, because believe me, this won’t be your last. Pack your jacket, towel, hat and some clothes to change into. 

  • Shelter and survival kit.

These include your tent, sleeping bag, flashlight, first aid kit and camera to capture nature’s beauty and take selfies on top of the mountain. We did a night trek for us to witness the sunrise, so a flashlight is a must.  

  • Courage, though you might find your courage in Pico De Loro.

The difficulty level of the mountain is classified as a minor climb 3/9, 1 being the easiest, 9 being the hardest. Being my first climb and at night, I am quite surprised that this is considered a “minor climb.” Our first stop is on Kuya Rey’s kubo (nipa hut), where you will sign up for the climb. You can either pay for the registration by money or food, but they all prefer the latter.

Pico De Loro is known for the weird scary noises you hear at night, and the urban person that I am is alarmed that they consider it normal and not spooky.The trail is sometimes confusing that we thought we lost the trail several times because we couldn’t find some trail marks. This is why we weren’t able to make it to the the camp and we had to set up our own camp in the middle of the woods.

We continued our climb in the morning and left our bags in our tent (not advisable) because the trail gets steeper and steeper and carrying large heavy bags would be a difficult and dangerous task for us first timers. We didn’t make it to sunrise and realized that the camp was still a long way ahead from where we set up our own.

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The journey to the peak is no joke. One mistake on where you grasp or step would mean that you’ll come rolling down the slope. We crawled and almost hugged the soil, and there’s no turning back now. Once there, the peak is incredible. It was so amazing that you actually stop breathing for a second or two to appreciate the beauty of nature and realise that you’ve achieve something wonderful. When you think it’s all over, there’s still another challenge (optional) that you have to face. The monolith.

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You might find your courage in Pico De Loro. The monolith is like a really huge pillar of invincible rock standing just in front of the peak, waiting to be ventured. It is practically rock climbing. Though there were ropes to support you on your way up, I’ve watched enough Hollywood movies to give me some crazy idea that I will end up falling to my death. Unfortunately, I didn’t find my courage on my first climb, but thankfully some of us did.

  • Determination.

Nothing good comes easy. You need a strong will to continue and not give up. Know your goal and use it

to inspire yourself to keep going. Just imagine how it will feel to be on top of the world when you accomplish this. All your hardships will have paid off by the beauty of nature, knowing that you’ve made it to the top.

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My take on this is that this is my first and I don’t want it to be my last. Pico De Loro is a good mountain to climb on for novices. Not easy, yet not impossible for beginners. I would definitely come back to set my feet on top of the monolith.

 

 

Author: Allan Aaron Francisco

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Photos – all courtesy of the author

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