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.
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..
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.
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.”
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.