How I Conquered Climbing Mt. Apo

How I Conquered Climbing Mt. Apo

A few years ago, early in December, I’ve been thinking about hiking Mt. Apo to disconnect myself from society. It’s the fact that I haven’t experienced trekking in my entire life. I like outdoor activities, but trekking is not one of them yet.

View of Mt. Apo from Sitio Paradise

Mt. Apo locally known as Apo Sandawa is the highest mountain in the Philippines with an elevation of 2,954 meters (9,692 ft) above sea level. It is considered as the grandfather of Philippine mountains and is located between Davao City and Davao del Sur province.

I could still remember the day when my best friend asked me when I made a decision to climb Mt. Apo. “Sigurado ka na aakyatin mo ang Mt. Apo, besh?” With no hesitation, I said yes. I was very fortunate that my best friend was a tour guide in climbing Mt. Apo. I borrowed most of my trekking stuff from him; bag, cook set, sleeping bag, tent, you name it! haha! As a starter, I got tons of How to’s, Not to’s, and lecture-tips when hiking. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t only apply in trekking Mt. Apo but in all aspects of mountain climbing. 

Our Traverse trail is from Digos, Kapatagan to Lake Venado, Kidapawan City. It is one of the many trails you can take in reaching Mt. Apo’s summit.

Day 0 – 4th of December

We took a bus from Sandawa Terminal, Davao City to Kidapawan City. Since it was a Do-It-Yourself Climb, we went straight ahead to the office of Tourism to process our permits and registration fees. After we gathered all we need from the tourism, we rode in a small van heading to Kapatagan. We then took a habal-habal for another ride bound to Sitio Paradise and made arrangements with the porter-guides.

We hiked from our porter/guide’s place going to the jump-off for 40mins. Ooh Boy! I was not happy about it. Like literally, I was not enjoying my hike! I was not comfortable and the weight of the bag was heavy for me. * the tent made it heavier! * But, when I took a glance from where we left. Seeing the view paid it off. While hiking, there were a lot of things running in my mind and I was having a mixed-emotions.

When we finally reached the jump-off based. Sitio Paradise really felt like a paradise for me, at long last, I was able to remove my backpack. LOL. I was astonished when I saw Mt. Apo’s Boulders from Sitio Paradise, it left me amazed and speechless. Hence, deep down I was having second thoughts. The previous 40-mins hike was way far from what I am about to face the next day.

We had the whole night to rest. I had the whole time to contemplate. As I observe the community and see Mt. Apo from afar, I was taking my time to grasp it all in. When the moment finally kicked in, I then realized, I was already out of my comfort zone. I was not complaining but my mind was flowing with negativity. The heat was just about to set fire, but I was trying to get a pile of water to cool it off. I didn’t know how coward I was till I was in the situation.

We chilled and had a videoke to pass the time. Our porter-guide’s friend tagged along with us the whole time. As we slowly break the night’s solemnity, I was being tested. The guy approached me if he could be my porter. I was tempted to say yes, but at the back of my mind there were voices saying no. haha!

I am a curious person. I am not adventurous enough, but I like outdoors. I am willing to try anything but at that moment as a first timer I was not physically ready. I had zero preparations for the said hike. It was an out of the blue decision just to get away sometime. Unfortunately, I had to say no to the porter. In that moment I had the opportunity to hike Mt. Apo and I had no idea when will I be able to climb that mountain again. So why not take chances, right? I was at the edge of knowing myself and my capabilities on this kind of activity.

Day 1 – 5th of December The Excitement begin! woot!

We left the jump-off at 6AM. The first two hours were very uneasy, I had to deal with my heavy backpack again. My friend and our porter-guide’s bag was bigger and heavier so I had nothing to complain about. As we trek along, I was getting comfortable and started to enjoy the moment.

Top View in Camp Goody-Goody

From open-wide sunny trail, the thrill just began when we entered the mossy forest. It was such a great delight to be in a forest for the very first time, everything felt wondrous. We arrived in camp Goody-Goody around 10:30AM to get a quick rest.

The Mt. Apo Boulders (From L – R, Our porter-guide, Ish, and Me)

As we almost reach the boulder face, the sulfur smell was bearable at the moment. I giggled like a little child kindled from the excitement of how simply amazing the boulders are. Almost there!

Mt. Apo Summit (Photo taken the next day)

After few hours of hiking, we finally reached the summit! We arrived around 2:34PM. How can I forget? It’s the very first time I stept on the Philippines highest mountain’s peak!

We pitched our tent whilst eating our snacks! Never in my entire life I appreciated snacks so much after a long tiring day. LOL. We had the whole afternoon to relax. I was relishing every moment I had, gazing at every part of the peak.

A few minutes later, the weather started to get colder, the visibility is dropping down to zero. We prepared and cook our food for dinner. Went back to our tent and we rested all through the night.

Lake Venado

Day 2 – 6th of December See you next time, Mt. Apo!

We left the summit around 9AM. Traversing to Lake Venado. It is an endorheic lake located at the foot of Mt. Apo in the province of North Cotabato. It is also known as the second largest lake in the Philippines after Bulalacao Lake of Mount Tabayoc in Benguet.

Descending was the easiest and fun during the hike. Except for the part where I got almost drawn away from the river trek. haha!

We arrived at the exit trail around 3PM and we directly went to Kidapawan’s Terminal going back to Davao City. We had our summit celebration a few days after the hike together with our few friends who weren’t able to join us due to scheduling restrictions.

It was a blazed trail experience whilst I was at a crossroads. Going out of your comfort zone can be hard as you imagine, but being in the moment, taking your best shot in every step is worth it. I slipped a few times on the muddy path. I got knocked and scratched by the branches I haven’t noticed. I fell, when I took a leap. It was an uneasy trek, but it didn’t make me frown. Instead, I laughed, I got up, and I continued. Because, I know I was not at my destination yet. When I finally reached the summit, it didn’t just end up there. It changed me to thrive more because the journey doesn’t end there. At some point, life does the same thing. Whether we are in our comfort zone or not, it’s a matter of how we deal and appreciate the things that come into our lives.


Jen ツ Longing for the sound of the waves and solemnly hear the mountain’s whisper at night. 🌟

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