Mt. Apo

Mt. Apo (Kidapawan - Magpet trail)
Major jump-off: Kidapawan City, North Cotabato
LLA: 7°0′30″N, 125°16′33″E, 2,956 MASL
Hours to summit / Days required: 10-11 hours / 3 days
Specs: Minor Climb, Difficulty 7/9, Trail class 3

Mount Apo is a large solfataric potentially active stratovolcano on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. It is the highest mountain in the country and overlooks Davao City-40 km northeast, Digos City-25 km southeast, and Kidapawan City-20 km west. Its name means "master" or "grandfather". Apo is flat topped, with three peaks, and is capped by a 500 m wide volcanic crater containing a small crater lake. It is a source of geothermal energy, but the date of its most recent eruption is unknown, and none are verified in historical times.

Mount Apo is one of the most popular climbing destinations in the Philippines, and the summit is easy to reach. The first recorded climb was on October 10, 1880 by a party led by Don Joaquin Rajal. On May 9, 1936, Mount Apo was declared a national park by President Manuel L. Quezon. The mountain is home to over 270 bird species, with more than a hundred that are endemic.

Climbing Mount Apo is a good workout. It’s not a technical climb, but don’t underestimate it. Take a good rain coat and a small tent because it rains a lot and gets very cold at night. Hypothermia could be a problem if you get soaked and don’t have any dry clothing to change into. Mt. Apo possesses the widest spectrum of environments, and provides an experience for mountaineers that lives up to their expectations from the country’s highest.

The Kidapawan trail, one of many trails, will take you first to Lake Agko. From there, you will have to cross Marbel river in an unforgettable adventure: you have to cross the river several times by walking through coconut logs without anything to hold for support! Even here, lichens cling on the rocks, and very tall trees rise to the sky. The threat of sudden flashfloods, emphasized by the strong flow of water, will remind the intrepid hiker that he not climbing an ordinary mountain.

After three hours of river crossing, you would reach the first campsite, at the Mainit Hot Springs. Here, there is a small pool where you could dip; the water is hot and very soothing. You must reach this campsite before 1500hr, because the next campsite is already Lake Venado, 5-6 hours away. Between the two campsites is a thick forest which you have to cross. Here, two ‘killer trails’ are upcoming: the ’87-degree’ and the ’90-degree’ trail. Each taking around 15 minutes, these trails are known to have taken their toll on climbers. As of 2006, ropes are in place in the ‘90’ to make it a little bit safer.

Mt. Apo

After the difficult ascent, the next landscape is the swamp that heralds the proximity of Lake Venado. This is where many Mt. Apo trails intersect. If you will recall, this is the lake which claimed one hiker in March 2007. It is very cold, and also very serene, surrounded by pines on the north, and the peak of Mt. Apo from the south. The peripheral areas can be used for camping. During summer, Bagobo tribesfolk would also camp here and put up stalls. You could choose to camp here, or proceed to the summit.

Water is available at several places along the way so taking a liter water bottle along should be enough. Carrying extra weight will make each step harder. Most hikers take three days to make the round trip from the starting point near the Agko hot springs. If you are in shape and want to push harder you could complete the trip in 2 days or less.

Suggestions for climbing Mt. Apo:

1) Concentrate on making yourself comfortable rather than being the fastest climber. Dry clothing and comfortable shoes will really make things more pleasant.

2) Be sure to take rain gear – I prefer ponchos to pants and jacket combos.

3) Take a small tent or tarp.

4) If you want to free yourself up for taking pictures – hire a porter for 200 pesos plus food per day. (5USD) Why not help out the local economy a bit?

5) Check in at the tourist center in Kidapawan where they will organize a guide for you at the cost of 500 pesos per day.

6) Have the guide cut a light walking stick for you or crack out the new telescopic one you got from the sports store!



Mt. Apo itinerary via Kidapawan trail

Day 1
4:00 PM - Arrival at Kidapawan Tourism office / Registration / Orientation
6:00 PM - ETD for Lake Agco resort (Brgy. Ilomavis) via Skylab aka Habal-habal / Jump off point / Arrange guide
7:00 PM - Dinner / socials / Dip in the hot spring

Day 2
5:00 AM - Wake up / prepare breakfast and packed lunch
6:00 AM - Start trek / Marbel river crossing
7:00 AM - Start assault to Ko-ong creek / campsite
11:00 AM - ETA Ko-ong creek / lunch
12:00 PM - Start trek to Lake Venado
2:30 PM - ETA Lake Venado / set camp
3:00 PM - Explore the area
5:00 PM - Prepare dinner
6:00 PM - Dinner / rest for early assault

Day 3
3:00 AM - Wake-up / eat some breakfast
3:30 AM - Start assault for the summit
6:00 AM - ETA Summit / explore, picture picture...
7:30 AM - Descend to Lake Venado
8:45 AM - ETA Lake Venado campsite
9:00 AM - Late breakfast / Break camp
10:00 AM - Start descend to Ko-ong campsite
10:45 AM - ETA Ko-ong campsite
1:00 PM - ETA Marbel river / Lunch
2:00 PM - Lake Agco resort jump-off / Lunch again / Relax, enjoy the resort.


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