6 months have passed since my Mt. Apo climb and I haven’t written about it. If you don’t know yet, I moved to Sydney, Australia exactly 5 months ago so you can understand how hectic moving to a new place can be, thus, the delay and the silence in my blog. I’ve a lot of catching up to do.
I started my mountain climbing craze in January 2015. To sum it all up, I’ve gone up 9 summits this year – Mt. Pulag, Mt Kanlaon and Osmena Peak to name a few. I wanted to prove to myself (and my muscles) that I am capable of hiking the highest peak of the country. I thought it would be a great way to say aurevoir to the Philippines before I leave it indefinitely. How better to shout goodbye to the place I’ve lived my entire life than 2,954 meters above sea level? I thought it was a pretty breath-taking gesture – literally.
This was by far the longest climbing trip I have ever done. To prepare my body for this trip, I had to enrol in a wall climbing class, I biked every morning and instead of taking the elevator to my office, I took the stairs up 10 floors (Repeat everyday for 3 weeks).
Here is our 5 day Mt. Apo Itinerary for your guidance:
|Leave Cebu to Davao
Check in Lispher Inn Hotel
Dinner/Grocery and Repack Bag
|3:30 am Wake Up Call
4:00 am Jeepney to Marawer, Kapatagan
8:00 am Ranger’s Station
9:00 am Start Climb from Jump off
3:30 pm Arrive Camp Godi-Godi
Set up Camp/ Dinner
|6:00 am Wake up Call
7:30 am Breakfast
8:00 am Break Camp
9:00 am Start Climb (Boulders)
2:30 pm Arrive at Mt. Apo 1st Summit
3:00 pm Set up Camp at Saddle Camp Site
|8:30 am Wake Up/Breakfast
10:00 am Walk to 2nd Summit
12:00 nn Break Camp
1:00 pm Start decent to Lake Venado
3:00 pm Arrive in Lake Venado/Set up Camp
|5:00 am Wake up/ Breakfast
7:30 am Start Decent to Kadipawan Side
3:00 pm End of Climb
4:00 pm Jeepney to Davao City
10:40pm Flight Davao to Cebu
A series of unfortunate events
Like every trip, you try your very best to follow the planned itinerary but like most plans, you always have to give room for error. All 18 of us were now ready for our adventure. We were more than half way through our jeepney ride from Davao when all of a sudden it stopped in the middle of the road. There was something wrong with the engine, which resulted to a delay in our starting point. A dump truck rescued us after a few hours. All 18 of us together with our porters and our guides were cramped up at the back of the truck with our heavy bags and equipment — not to mention, under the scorching heat of the sun, as there was no rooftop. We were all relieved and laughing until our trusted truck got stuck in the mud so our men had to go down to lessen the weight. We thought we needed to be rescued again! This caused another half an hour delay. After our jeepney, Dump truck and tricycle ride, we finally reach the starting point of our journey at 11am (3 hours later than our ETA). We had lunch, prepared our selves mentally and then we were off.
Going to Godi-Godi
the 6-hour climb wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. My friend didn’t even pre-climb nor prepare herself physically yet she was able to trek without any sign of difficulty. I guess mental preparation is also a big factor for the climb. When you know what you got yourself into, then it wouldn’t be as hard and ofcourse, the key is “slowly but surely”—don’t mind the other people who are going faster than you, just go at your own pace. If you have to stop for 30 minutes to rest, go ahead and do it, it’s not a race after all. We were there to enjoy Mother Nature. My bestfriends and I hired 2 people (John and Peter) to carry our bags for us. Call us “arte” but we didn’t want to break our spines carrying bags double our weight. We wanted to enjoy the walk and not dread it so trust me when I say it would be a great idea to have someone bring it for you. Though the day was mostly gloomy, it was still very beautiful.
One of the climbers arrived the campsite 3 hours later because he insisted in carrying his 25 kilo bag.
My sleeping bag was all wet, as I didn’t wrap it in plastic resulting to me sharing a sleeping bag with someone. Its was about 5 degrees and it was freezing, good thing she brought an extra fleece blanket.
Boulders and Berries
Second leg of the climb was crossing the boulders. We walked through huge boulders for 4 hours without any shade. What kept us going was the picking of wild berries along the way. We collected these berries inside a Gatorade bottle not only for our entertainment but also for dessert when we reach the summit. We walked through thousand of boulders and the smell of the sulfur intoxicated our lungs for hours! (Make sure to bring a cover for your nose). We finally reached “Boracay” –named so because of its flat, white sand area. When we finally made it to the summit, we were given just 10 minutes to appreciate the sea of clouds before it became all foggy and gloomy – just our luck! Reaching our campsite was such an accomplishment!
The Saddle Campsite
Our second campsite was the saddle. It is just right at the bottom of the summits of Mt. Apo. We relaxed, shared our camp food, drank like there was no tomorrow, played games and just enjoyed ourselves.
Mindanao has a reputation of being dangerous and I never really thought about it until we woke up the next day. While cooking breakfast, one minute we were laughing so loud; the next minute everyone fell silent as we saw almost 10 armed men walking behind our campsite. We thought they were NPAs and ready to strike for the kill. I have never been that scared in my life. I had a slight panic attack and so did everyone else. I had images in my head of these men demanding for us to all stand in one line as they happily shoot us one by one — gruesome, i know!! Little did we know, that there was an important person climbing and these men were apparently his security. Seriously? Who needs that much security??
View from the Top
The saddle campsite is breathtaking. No technology, no connection to the outside world. You’re just one with nature and it feels amazing. Looking down on where we walked was unbelievable and I couldn’t believe we all made it in one piece. The world is truly amazing when we stop and smell the flowers.
We are now on the 3rd leg of our journey. (No shower for 4 days now). It was time to for our descent to Lake Venado. After the treks we’ve had the past 2 days, this one was such a walk in the park. It was the most relaxing downhill trek. We hiked down for only 2 hours. At this point, I wanted to jump in the lake and take a shower but the water had sulfur.
Our very last night and the most dreadful one. It was raining really hard so the rain water found its way into our tent and semi flooded it. It was freezing cold to begin with and now with the water inside the tent, it made it even colder than it already was.
Time to say Goodbye
4 whole days in the wild and it was now time to do a complete descent and call it a day. Here’s all of us in our only group shot of the entire trip. It took us 6 hours to climb down Kadipawan side. Thankful so such an adventure with such great people to be with.
June 10-14, 2015
Thank you RJ Abalos and Leeya Cerna for the beautiful photos! xoxo