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Pico de Loro January 14-15, 2006

Pico de Loro

Climbers: Fredd, Ian, Chin, Mai, Ice, Edong, Kenneth, Eric, Hazel and TheLoneRider

It was a weekend of options: mountain biking with the UP Mountaineers, Helena's birthday party or climbing Pico de Loro, Cavite's highest peak. It was a tough choice but that's better than twiddling my thumbs on a Friday night. I chose the latter for 2 reasons: I've never gone to a fun climb before (always training climbs) and I've never gone climbing with a group other than UP Mountaineers (UPM).

A Wild Bunch
Except for 2 UPM batchmates, Fred and Ian, I didn't know the rest. This group was loosely made up of freelancers who have been climbing for quite sometime with other mountaineers. Unlike UPM, this climb had no official Team Leader, although Edong, a veteran climber since 1989, provided the general guiding hand. There was no rigid itinerary, no meal planning and no equipment assignment. Proposed itineraries could change depending on group consensus. Packed food was laid out for all to decide which gets cooked for what meal. All this was definitely new ground for me, but it was seamlessly working out well.

climbersThe Trek
We started the trek after being dropped-off along the Magnetic drive in Ternate, Cavite. It was a typical level 1 climb that took us to the nipa hut compression stop until we reached base camp. That took us about 2 hours.

From there, the trek towards the summit was abruptly steep followed by near-vertical rock formations close to the peak. That was the scariest section. The wind was ferocious and there was nothing to stop a fall from the cliffside.

We had to traverse a narrow section that meant a fall if we slipped. We had no harness and no ropes. It was taking a chance. 2 years back, a female climber was helicoptered out after falling from that same spot. Further, there was a rope to pull ourselves up the summit. Careful! The rope is anchored to a small bonsai-looking tree only. The view from the summit was a spectacular 360 degrees. The view alone made the trip worth it...but there were more pleasant surprises. Actually, there are 2 peaks separated by a saddle. Some took the other peak and we were taking pictures of the other from our vantage point.

Kutad Beach
We headed back to base camp and continued our way until we reached the other jump-off point in Nasugbu, Batangas. We top-loaded ourselves to a chartered jeep that took us to a private on-going beach development in Barangay Papaya. It is an ambitious high-end project that leveled a few hills to make way for a road system. The beach-front was flaw-less with fine white sand. There was no beach structure yet at this point and we helped ourselves to the natural amenities. That's where we camped for the night under the full moon.

While others went for a swim, we chased after little crabs and later fried them for that crispy and salty treat. It was as fresh as they come. Edong became the master-digger, having designed a way to dig the bigger crabs out of their holes.

Ending Thoughts
That was the funnest climb I've ever gone to...the scary climb up the peak, the awesome view from the summit, riding the jeep from the roof, camping out on a beach front, chasing crabs for a midnight snack, etc. On top of it, I was with great company who were there for the fun of it. I look forward to more climbs with them and meeting other mountaineers to share the climb with.

I don't think I would have enjoyed myself that much if not for the training I got from the UP Mountaineers. With the mantle of membership, I was at ease to join any mountaineering group and felt confident I could hold my own - not bad for a first flight off the nest.

--- TheLoneRider

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profile rain red view
Pictures courtesy of Fred and Ian

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