Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mt. Pico De Loro - Ternate, Cavite - June 2012

I was excited to test the Deuter Aircontact 55+10 and the Apexus Halcon tent- my ever supportive wife allowed purchase- that 2 weeks before the climb, I was already walking our small unit, hip-testing, simulating and experimenting with the load distribution.
Climbing buddies, and couple, Gian and Leo of, invited me once again to climb with them for an overnight hike to Mt. Palay palay, Pico De Loro.
They picked me up on a taxi after my shift and we took a bus at Edsa Crame going Baclaran. From there we held a JL Liner bus going to Maragondon. (P78). One can also take a Saulog bus to Ternate at the same area. These two towns are border to border with each other and tricycles that can take you to DENR are available at most road sides.
420AM-545AM - BUS TO Maragondon
They were kind enough to drop us at the town entry of Ternate and from there took a tricycle(P100) after a light breakfast at one of the road side eateries.(P45)
605AM-630AM - DENR
The road to the jump off is a smooth 15-20 minute refreshing ride. You will pass by the jump off by a few hundred meters to enlist at the DENR office. Here you need to pay P20 as registration fee. You can also load up on some basic needs here. Though not extensive, they have eggs, yosi, canned drinks etc; booze, not so sure. One can also leave a vehicle here for P50 overnight parking, or even leave some of your clean-up stuff so as not to add up to your pack. They charge P5 for bath and dump and P20 to charge your phones. There is no cellphone signal from here.
650AM-Start Trek
The trail is generally shaded. The soil can get muddy when wet yet firm enough to hold steps. The trail is mostly wide and well established with sufficient footings of rocks or tree roots. There are also lots of trail marks of ties and shredded paper. After about 40minutes to an hour of descent and flat walking, you will arrive at the first part of your 6-point hike.
805AM - Camp 1
  • Potable Water Source- Refill, indulge and be refreshed with the available naturally sourced free flowing water here. You may also consider starting the trek with less water then fill up at this camp, to lessen efforts in carrying your pack. This may also be the last place you can find a water source, though some of those we met, confirmed available water source up at the Base camp.
  • There's a bath and toilet shack with free flowing water here as well as shaded tables and a nearby house where a family maintaining the area lives. You need to register again. (P20)
  • Souvenirs, Canned drinks and Buko. At this wide camp site, there are lots of hanged Mountaineer Group tarps. You may possibly leave yours here as well. The recent clean up drive consigned Key chain souvenirs to Aling Yolly but other than that, they also sell T-shirts, head wears, water containers, guyabano, buko, papaya and canned drinks.
845AM-Commenced Trek
From here you can decide to take a 10minute walk to a nearby Waterfall or a less than 5minute walk towards the tail end of your mild trek marked by an Alibangbang tree.
At the falls, You can take your early lunch or have a dip at its blurred waters, if you're lucky enough, as it seasonally dries up.
Alibangbang Park
After your waterfalls side trip or had you preferred to leave it for later, you will come upon a huge tree with butterfly like leaves. One can also rest underneath this tree and on the rocks available as seats. After this point, its pretty much an upstairs climb with roots and rocks as footings, all the way to the Base camp.
4hours Up.
We took our time during the Base camp assault, resting after every 10minutes in the dense forest, just to catch our breaths back.This part of the trail will definitely test your endurance and capacity to further push through. Our backpacks gave us an even harder time. Lucky for Gian and Leo, they have their load distributed. I'm on stand alone and this climb made me re-assess if I will still be pushing for the Banahaw Clean-up/Tree planting on the 23rd of June. But aside the hardships, our radio was tuned into the Pacquiao-Bradley fight crossing fingers at every detailed description of every action.
10minutes before the Base camp is another fork. There is a temporary marker written on a lottery paper saying "PABABA". If you pay attention to the trail signs, there are also tree carvings of what direction to take, and it all points to the RIGHT. There is a shredded paper trail to the left of the fork, but dont take this route as it may possibly be the trail going to the Batangas Nasugbu Traverse.
120PM-Kawayanan and Ridge Campsite (620MASL)
We reached Koala land where lots of bamboos flourish. This is as well a campsite and right after, the Camp site ridge; where a larger clearing is available for Tents to be pitched. Here one can view Mt. Batulao and Mt. Talamitam. The Summit and the Monolith is as well, visible during clear skies. There is cellphone signal here. We had our lunch at the kawayanan but expecting that another Ridge Campsite is up across the Summit area, we took our packs with us during the Final Assault.
Yes, To our dismay, there is no campsite up the summit.
215PM-235PM-Summit / Parrots Beak (695MASL)
You'll enter a thick forest which eventually clears, showing the summit of Mt. Pico de Loro. The final steps before the summit is real steep, either dry or wet as the ground is exposed with few cogon grass remains to step on. Debris of crushed rocks also make this assault slippery so make sure to bring your trekking poles as a third leg and to break your slip when going down.
IMHO, The summit- shaped like a birds beak rationally and contrary to what people term it, should be the Parrots Beak. The 360 degree view shows the South Chine sea to the East as well as Nasugbu Batangas where a tempting shoreline of beaches entices a tired and aching body to do a Traverse.
There is a landing at the end of the summit further exposing the Monolith or the huge slab of Rock Tower similar to Lord of the Rings' Mordor. People call this Parrots Beak. It is quite confusing as some mountaineers even call it Parrots Peak. I prefer to call it Monolith or Toreng Bato. Be warned that scaling this rock requires a not-disoriented mind, proper footwear, good balance and if possible- ropes to assist maintain balance and gravity to the rock footings.
We were back at the Ridge Camp site pitching our tents, chasing day light so as not to cook and eat in darkness. Again, thanks Gian and Leo for the Super Sarap na Sinigang. :)
It was about 26degrees during the night with thick fog covering the view of visible house lights below, heck even the nearby wooden shack at the kawayanan where some other campers are having their socials is dim.
We owned the entire ridge as the bus load of freedom climbers we met during ascent are on their way home. (Left a huge pile of trash up the campsite.). Leo and I, despite the soft drizzles took down a GSM Blue long neck just to compensate for the cold-Leo make-do with Gatorade as chaser and I, with a pack of nuts instead. We were expecting to assault the summit early in the morning but fog, even at 7AM left us visibly constricted.

7AM-Break Camp
750AM-Started Descent
910AM-Alibangbang Park
1005AM-Camp 1
2hour breakfast and recovery
1200PM-Continued Descent
1235PM-Back at DENR

Post Assessment Climb Notes:
  • The Apexus Halcon is heavy. By all means, if I can divide my load, I would.
  • Walking under tree shades and walking exposed to the sun, makes a huge difference in liquid consumption, not to mention added stress to someone carrying a heavy pack.
  • The Aircontact 55+10 distributes weight efficiently to the hips during long walks but having to carry a lot of water (2x1.5L / 3L Gatorade / 2x500ml coke = 7L / GSM Blue) is torture
  • Need to work out back and improve endurance during uphill hikes. Do jogging in incremental durations, possible swimming exercises to improve breathing.
  • Bring that One-Usable-Lens, the KIT and ditch the DSLR Battery Grip to help lighten the load.
  • Hydrate the day before a climb.
  • The New Balance might not be as good as the Merrel, when it comes to tight surface trails as it fits better in between rocks and roots allowing faster descend.
Total Expenses:
  • Taxi share P22
  • Ordinary Bus from Crame to Baclaran P28
  • Aircon Bus (JL) to Maragondon P78
  • Breakfast P45
  • Tricycle P100 (from Maragondon)
  • DENR Fee P20
  • Camp 1 Fee P20
  • Camp 1 Canned Softdrink P40
  • DENR Canned Softdrink P35
  • Bath (Clean up) P5
  • Tricycle P75 (to Ternate)
  • Aircon Bus (Saulog) to Baclaran P85
  • Baclaran to Megamall P26

DENR. Further is the way to Batangas.
Camp 1. About an hour along the Trail.
Mountaineer Group Insignia.
Wide Area at Camp 1 with wooden tables and chairs.
Comfort Room. Divided into bath and toilet.
Our Deuter Packs. (Aircontact 55+10, Futura 42, Futura 32)
Rock Balancing. Clearing before the Waterfalls.
On the way to Alibangbang Park.
Alibangbang Park. Last point before the Base Camp Assault.
Assault trail.

Freedom Climbers.
View at the Base Camp Ridge.

Base Camp Ridge.
A few Meters before the Summit.


Our breakfast at Camp 1, after 2hours of fast descent.
Jump Off. Tricycles waiting for other hikers to go down. and : Photo courtesy of Gian.
New Found Friends. : Photo courtesy of Gian.
Side Notes:
During day dreams, I browse photos of Sir Jay Z Jorges' scaled mountains and branch out to other contacts tagged or related to him. They serve as my inspiration and even though I am not dreaming to achieve the same territories they had gone to, remains a motivation for me in scaling lower categorized mountains. It was brain-numbing to have the pleasure to meet one of the people I look up to in the person of Angela Juarez Decena. Salamat po mam for being an inspiration to us noobies in the hobby. Salamat sa friendship, good times at cam whoring sessions. Regards to the crew.  :)
OVERALL, Pico De Loro is not impossible to scale, evident by the climbers we came across wearing Vans, Sanuk and Adidulas'. /sarcasm. But every one has his own discipline and with that, his own way of coping up with his weaknesses. Being fit does not mean, being lean nor muscular. I've seen a lot of climbers whom if you judge by built, you'll definitely cross out and fail. So calling the shots on what is an easy or difficult climb is not the case here, but how prepared you are in tackling the outdoors; endurance, gear preparedness, determination, the unexpected and mental understanding of why you climb..
We don't conquer mountains, we conquer ourselves. I hear and interpret brag whenever someone who has been in the mountains proclaim that they have conquered it.. Question their intentions, but keep it to myself. We all have our own reasons why we climb. Some eat it for Ego boost, some for fame, some for achievement, some just want to get out and get lost-then find themselves humbled and renewed. I will return to Pico De Loro, as this place offer the natural ambiance that despite the irony, De-stresses a tired body and mind. Just kick everything out and let serenity in. I will be back.
Scaling the Monolith