Philippines Travel

My Not So Successful Story Of Climbing Mt. Pico De Loro

Have you climbed Mt. Pico de Loro? Sure you have, well at least most of you did. In fact, you probably went beyond the parrot’s beak and climbed the Monolith. It feels good right? To reach the mountain’s summit, such a rewarding feeling, that after all the hustling you were able to make it. That after almost giving up—and of course you didn’t because your pride is on the line—there you are, in the summit, taking Facebook-worthy selfies. Oh, what a feat, what a joy, and what a f*cking relief! Now you can go home and tell your friends about how hard the climb was, maybe add a little something and tell them you met a little accident and almost died, and then tell them how the mountain taught you to be strong and determined and now you can take whatever challenges life throws your way.

So yeah? You conquered Mt. Pico de Loro? Then you’re one lucky bastard and I envy you. Because like you I climbed the mountain, the difference is I didn’t climb the Monolith because, to begin with, I didn’t even reach the summit. So what you are about to read is not a success story. And do you know what’s even more funny? I organized this trip.

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But first, let me tell you how this trip came about in the first place. I’m a member of this Facebook Group called Day Dreamers. One French guy posted that he was planning to climb Mt. Pico de Loro. I have a close friend from the office (from my previous company) who told me that she found the French guy attractive. And I, the friend that I was, decided to “help” by organizing the trip. Besides, I have friends who also wanted to climb Pico de Loro, so this would be hitting two birds with one stone, 1. I get to organize a trip with my friends 2. I create a venue for my friend to meet the foreign guy.

What’s the significance of this story? Well, nothing really, except that the friend didn’t show up. Yep, the reason I created this trip, to begin with, didn’t attend. Of course, I got mad at her, but we’re okay now and now she knows better than to do it again hahaha..

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Anyway, so that’s how it came to be. I arranged everything, from finding people who would join to hiring a service van. It was bound to be an epic trip. Incidentally, it was the first Day Dreamers trip, which made it all the more meaningful.

Lakbaykada represent!
Lakbaykada represent!

Even those who climbed the mountain before decided to join, such as Laarni, Jon (jontotheworld), and Jerny (thejerny). Personally, I wouldn’t climb the same mountain twice because it would be like reading the same book or watching the same movie again (which I don’t normally do), but I was glad that they joined because they made this trip more fun.

We started the hike at around 7 in the morning and there were many hikers that day. The path is pretty established so no chance of getting lost. And I’m not sure why but I found this climb fairly easy because in my previous climbs, I was always out of breath, pretty much how Hazel felt when she climbed Anne Frank’s house. This time, I climbed like a boss, barely skipping a beat, even going ahead of others. If we stopped along the way, I’d just wait for everyone to gather then as soon as the last person catches up, I tell them, “Let’s go.”  

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The reluctant climber, Cai of Travelosyo
The reluctant climber, Cai of Travelosyo

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Maybe it helped that the weather wasn’t stifling and that the trail is dry and not too steep. Before this, I considered my Mt. Mabilog climb to be the hardest in a sense that the air was too thin so it was hard to breathe and it was also too hot that it felt like I was being roasted alive.[Conquering Mt. Mabilog]

Two hours later we reached the camp where you can see some stores and other hikers taking a break. We rested there for a bit, had halo-halo and pancit canton, and of course took lots of photos before we set off to the business of reaching the summit. The view at the camp was amazing! 

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I looked at the parrot’s beak and thought it was beautiful. I was impatient to get it done and over with but my friends were still busy with their photography so I had no choice but to wait. When at last it was time to continue the climb, it didn’t take me long to realize that I wasn’t prepared for the challenge ahead.

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The slope towards the beak is ridiculously steep, the angle is about 45 degrees.  And you’re supposed to climb it sans any climbing equipment, not even any trees to support you. It is dangerous because one wrong step and you’re gone. It doesn’t help that the trail has become quite slippery, not because it’s damp but due to the fact that the soil was too dry and loose.

This is where I started to become real scared for my life. Not even the beautiful view of the sea on the side could calm my nerves. And there were too many climbers; too many people climbing up and too many people descending. My mind was on overdrive.

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Jon successfully climbs Pico de Loro for the second time
Jon successfully climbs Pico de Loro for the second time

On our way, you’d hear people from the top screaming, “Rocks!” Soon after you’d see loose soil and rocks tumbling down the slope and you gotta be real quick at dodging them. You can see in the picture just how real the struggle is. The people are practically crawling on their way up. I searched for some motivation but the people around me were all scared too.

There are many guides who were climbing up and down the mountain like they had no sense of gravity. Before the climb, I didn’t see the sense of hiring them because the trail is established anyway. It was only when I tried to get to the summit that I realized their purpose. These climbers know the mountain really well, they are not afraid of it, they know how to climb it by heart. In fact, they were just there looking at us, standing on the edge of the cliff like a parent who is watching in amusement his baby who was trying to stand on its feet. And some of these guides are just kids; really I find them amazing.

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No matter where I place my foot, I slip. It’s gotten so bad I was so terrified to make another move. I looked up and saw that I wasn’t too far away from the peak, I was close, really close, but fear got the best of me. At that point, nobody could help me. My friends who were really good at climbing were already at the peak.

In that moment I stopped and thought about my next move. How important is it for me to reach the summit? If I didn’t reach it, would I regret it? But if I go on, what would happen? If I slipped and no one breaks my fall then I’d be no more. Do I really want to risk it?

Mt. Pico de Loro seduced me and dared me to conquer her. I imagined hearing her laughter when I decided I could no longer do it. Every step I took, the soil is breaking and I was surrounded by people who were made aware of their mortality. I looked up and imagined her mocking me, bruising my ego, hurting my feelings. But I told myself, I must accept defeat. And so I humbly sought the help of a person who conquered her many times, a young lad who was kind enough to help me end my struggle.

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And my friends who made it to the Monolith

Going down was a lot easy with his help. I forgot to ask his name but I was really thankful to him for helping me. I heard my friends wanting to give up when they heard me say that I would. Good thing they didn’t. I felt quite envious of them for making it, but I don’t want to beat myself up for not succeeding.

I’m not sure where I place in the population, I mean the ones who didn’t conquer Mt. Pico de Loro. I imagined many things that would happen when I climbed but failing to reach the summit was not one of them. But the only thing that was hurt was my ego so I don’t want to dwell on it. In life, we cannot win everything. In this case, I didn’t win against Mt. Pico de Loro.

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And I looked at her and still I said thank you. Mt. Pico de Loro has given me a challenge like no other. And I wonder, will I ever see her again.

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Comments (29)

  1. anna

    Great story! I’ve never climbed Pico de Loro but we plan on doing it next time we head to the Philippines. Your story sounds eventful but definitely an experience!

  2. JM

    I think you made the right choice by choosing the safer side. For me it is not worth to risk a life just to be in famous club. Let’s just say that you chose to continue to live and see the other beauties of the world.

  3. krisliemaerilu

    Thank you Marge for inviting me on this event.. ??? It was incredibly terrifying experience.. I thought I wouldn’t reach the monolith but Thank God I did.. It was not an unsuccessful climb for you.. It’s more than reaching the summit.. Giving it a try and thinking of your safety is much more important.. Nice article indeed.. ???

    • Marjorie Gavan
      Marjorie Gavan

      Thanks for coming Krislie and congratulations for reaching the Monolith!

  4. michymichymoo

    I have yet to climb a mountain so I feel your struggle! hahaha!
    I hope you’ll someday conquer Mt. Pico de Loro. 😉

  5. Morgan

    wow! those views are amazing! Mt.Pico de Loro is really stunning. i love your blog, it is so inspiring!

  6. Ferna

    I heard a lot of times about Mt. Pico de loro, been invited to some org as well, I am not an expert when it comes to mountain climbing but I would like to say that I am not a beginner. I’m glad you guys did this, and even though you had a hard time, but you still had a good time, which is merely so important.

  7. Arni

    Your honesty is so refreshing to read. It takes courage to follow one’s gut feeling too, to acknowledge that sometimes it is wise to not push forward or tempt fate at a given moment. Well done in organizing such a trip.

  8. Christina

    Good for you for knowing your limitations. Now if you choose to go again you can be more mentally prepared for the challenge. Maybe your friend can organize the trip this time 🙂

  9. Rowena C
    Rowena C

    It’s good that you accepted that you cannot do things the way you want it to be. It’s a sign of being strong as well. I think I have the same feeling that you have when we went on a cave in sagada.
    It would really freak you out if you can’t find anything that will secure.

  10. Alesha @ NOMADasaurus
    Alesha @ NOMADasaurus

    Good on you for giving it a go. You tried and that is the main thing. Hopefully you can return one day and conquer Mt. Pico de Loro. Next time you will definitely get to the top. You know the track now and you will be mentally prepared. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Kat

    I always recommend hiring a guide because you never know when you need help. The guides can help you carry large stuff, assist you in difficult trails and know which path is best to take especially during and after bad weather. It also helps the locals’ livelihood. Anyway, don’t feel too bad. Just this weekend I climbed Mount Mabilog and almost didn’t reach the summit, and I bet it was an easier climb compared to Pico de Loro. 🙂

  12. Charm Gamboa
    Charm Gamboa

    Don’t feel bad. You have nothing to regret. I can see from the pictures that reaching that part was really hard, even I wouldn’t dare to climb it, literally. But I would like to congratulate you for trying and being courageous. Someday you will have the chance to climb that too 🙂

  13. Darlene

    I’m sure you’ll come back to conquer Pico de Loro in the near future. More often than not, it’s more about the journey anyway, and not just the destination. These kinds of lessons in life (failures, obstacles, and defeat), are necessary for success.

  14. Zwitsy

    Well, there are some things we can’t win but one thing is for sure, at least we did try. On the other hand, you may haven’t successfully reached the peak of MT Pico de Loro without one’s help but what’s matter most is that you try your best to reach it despite the struggle. Sure you still enjoyed your experience climbing at the said mountain.

  15. Sabine

    Hahahha! You organized the trip but you didn’t make it 🙂 well babe! That’s no problem! You can’t have it all in life and you can still be a good planner 🙂

  16. Nica

    AMAZING view! Whenever I see posts like this I always asks myself as to when **goodness** shall I do this. A lot of people would tell me to try this out and really I would push to make it happen this year. That’s OK if you’re plans are not met sometimes it’s really like that. The important thing is you enjoyed the travel 🙂


  17. Karlaroundtheworld | Karla
    Karlaroundtheworld | Karla

    What an awesome sight to behold once you get up top! Sorry to hear about what happened initially with your friend, though I’m sure you didn’t mind it with what you’ve experienced so far with this place. I have to pick favorites and mine is that mysterious long-branched trees zoning to your path, feels weird but I like it!

  18. James

    Your story about climbing Mt. Pico de Loro brings back good old memories when buddies and me were used to climb mountains in the Philippines. It gives me an idea and inspiration to organize a mountain climbing trip next summer.

  19. Clair kelly
    Clair kelly

    Thank you for such an honest account. It began like a disaster but it turned out to be a real experience for you. No doubt you have learnt a lot from this!

  20. Bernadette Angelie Pangilinan
    Bernadette Angelie Pangilinan

    we’ve been planning to climb Mt. Pico De Lora for months now. My friends has climbed twice already and I said to myself that if they can do it, so can I. However, reading your post got me scared ’cause I have always been a clumsy one. As to how my boyfriend would put it into words, I’m too clumsy to climb a mountain.

  21. hannah

    I have the biggest fear of heights, but I mountain and cliff hikes. I also love to be on top of very high buildings, but the moment I look down I poop in my pants(not literally)

    When the friend didn’t show up, I couldn’t help myself, but laugh, because it sounds like something I would do, but you did a great thing by making a trip with the day dreamers group and if it didn’t go the way you planned, you did something memorablI anyway!

  22. Sally

    Looks amazing and completely worth the view!

  23. Jessica

    Pico de Loro has a special part in my climbing adventures. Haha. I climbed it twice: first was like yours and second was I am braver (or more determined, I guess). The feeling was spectacular and definitely lovelier the second time around. Hope you can climb again until the peak. 🙂


    You know what, if I had joined you on this trip, I would have accompanied you and you would know there are two people in the world who decided to skip the peak itself. 45 degrees. HAHAHA, that’s not a good thing to think about, right?

    Pero ok lang. I suppose it is just a matter of getting used to it. Do it again and again and you will reach the peak and one day, go up and down with your eyes closed.

  25. Vyjay

    Sometimes one has to accept defeat to actually emerge victorious. We have to take decisions many a times based on practicality rather than pure bravado. I am sure you took the right decision and should not regret it. There is always a next time 🙂

  26. Sheri

    Wonderful pictures and amazing views! This post is so funny! I have never climbed Mt. Pico de Loro – I hope you do get to back back and conquer!

  27. Berlin

    Thank you for being the good friend and for having the courage to Organize such climb. But more than that, thank you for the honesty. I, too, experienced that when all my friends tried rapelling inside A cave in Sagada while I declined simply because fear was there. I was happy for my friends who tried and happy for myself as well for accepting the fact that i cant do it that time.


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