As a Filipino mountaineer being able to step at the highest point of the Philippine archipelago is indeed an achievement. Mt. Apo is known as the Grandfather of all Philippine Mountains measuring 2,954 meters above sea level. Its name resonates in every summit of the country. I am writing this article with pride as I did not just climb the highest mountain of my country; I managed to traverse it!
16 climbers confirmed to my event invitation but only 5 were brave enough to take the real challenge.
|at the registration area|
(from left: Bryan, Mags, Missy, Pao, JimBry)
photo credits: Paolo Albis
Our flight was from Clark and it is a common knowledge among travellers (from Manila) that taking off from Diosdado Macapagal Airport is such a hassle because of its far location. Since we do not want to spend much we took the bus(Php150 per head) bound to Dau, then took an air-conditioned jeepney (Php100 per head) to the airport. We reached Davao airport after an hour and a half air travel.
From the airport we boarded our rented jeepney and took a 2-hour ride to Digos in the province of Davao del Sur where we did the final preparation and bought all the things we needed for the climb. Aster which we took another 2-hour van (Php100 per head) ride to Kapatagan. I thought it was the end of the almost endless riding challenge but we were given a real surprise - 45 minutes motocross ride! Imagine a motor ride (Php350 per head) through the dirt
|the fun ride|
June 13 (Second Day - The Answered Prayer)
We woke up 7AM instead of the planned 5AM. It was still cold but compared to last night it was manageable. The sky was clear and the morning carries a positive air. We then decided to push through. This time there is no turning back. We knew that the typhoon could catch us anytime while on trail but we took the challenge. So by 9AM, while the wind was trying to brush off our confidence, off we went, we started the trek.
The trail was a gradual assault yet bombarded with obstacle relays. I am talking about logs everywhere that were blocking the way. We crossed them like bridges, crawled underneath them, jumped above them, and skipped and hopped at them. We also passed through the thick bushes with almost invisible trails and the deep muddy trails used by horses.
We took our lunch by the river around 11PM and resumed trek after almost an hour. We reached camp Gudi-Gudi by 2PM; and since it is within the forest covered by strong big trees, we decided to spend our second night there. There are no other climbers nor campers so the whole campsite was ours.
June 14 (Third Day - The Majestic Mt. Apo)
It was past 7AM when we left the mossy forest of the Gudi-Gudi campsite. I can say that this day was the most tiring. Aside from obstacle relays, the trail was a continuous assault. However, it was also the most rewarding one because the sight was indeed majestic. Especially when we reached the BOULDERS!
After the boulders was the dead lake, then another assault brought us to the crater and at last, the summit of Kapatagan. We were almost there; almost because we failed. The wind was stronger than our limbs. Standing is a challenge and defying that challenge can mean death. So we contented ourselves to the summit of Kidapawan (not Kapatagan).
|The five brave souls at the summit of Mt. Apo|
Lake Venado was probably the most popular site in Mt. Apo despite the tons of garbage around the area. I do not exaggerate my use of term “tons” of garbage. You will see everywhere plastic cups, bottles and wrappers. There are garbage pits around the area that mess out with the beautiful lake.
June 15 (Fourth Day - The Grand Descend)
Grand because we literally descended in a manner wherein our joints almost loosened off our knee. If ever you have been to Mt. Daguldol and experienced descending it from summit; no not like that, make it 10 times more tougher. From Lake Venado we passed through muddy trails that are full of "boogie" traps, we went down the rocky slopes, we stepped on the improvised bamboo stairs, crossed 6 rivers, and skimmed our way through narrow down steps until after 6 hours we reached Lake Agco which is the Kidapawan jump-off. (Kidapawan is already covered by Cotabato province)
We reached Lake Agco around 2PM. After 2 hours of resting and tidying ourselves we left the resort. I thought we’ll feel the comfort of being back to the city until we took 45 minutes of habal-habal ride and another 3 hours of bus ride from North Cotabato to Davao City.
We spent our night in one of our friends house Samboi. We opted to sleep as we got no more strength to spare.
June 16 (Fifth Day - Home Sweet Home)
The morning came so swiftly. We took our plane back to Manila and viola! MT. APO CONQUERED!
I provided a video presentation below to at least give you a feel of traversing Mt. Apo. I hope though that this will serve its purpose thinking that the quality is forgivable. This is a creation of a noob. :D
* There is now an easier way to go to Diosdado Macapagal Airport in Clark.