1st Summit: Mt. Apo

masl: 2954, the highest peak in the country

location: located between Davao City and Davao del Sur province in Region XI and Cotabato province in Region XII

jump-off point:Sitio Pluto, Bansalan,Davao del Sur

status: succesful summit assault w/ great weather at the peak, would love to scale again using a different trail

april 2012


the crater


Mount Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines..the highlight & final leg of my 16-day solo backpacking Mindanao,the first summit I reached to launch my “formal” mountain climbing adventures.

So why Mt. Apo, the highest? I thought, if I can summit Mt. Apo, then I can conquer all Philippine mountains. Also,I have to befriend my fear if I were to conquer all mountains. It’s a kind of personal motivation for me really.

My desire to scale Mt. Apo came when I first visited Davao City, my very first in Mindanao, a month before my solo backpacking. I actually notice that climb/adventure events are very common in Mindanao, and I realized later,that’s because there’s so much to explore in Mindanao, not to mention it houses the highest peaks in the country and yes, there’s so much mountains! I’m really glad I made my trip here otherwise, I’ll be forever blinded by the concept that Mindanao is a dangerous place to visit,just how normally the news portrays it.

This was the reason I was so strict with my own IT coming down from CDO,because I can’t miss this highlight.

So with a bunch of friends I’ve met during my 1st Davao trip, we joined this Mt. Apo climb event and closely in contact with the organizer.

we left Davao City on a bright wednesday night, got on a pasenger van headed to the town of Bansalan,where the event’s registration area is located.

we reached the municipal hall of bansalan at around 10.20pm,settled at its main entrance area to catch a good sleep for the climb the following day.

I remembered waking up at 4am, excitedly prepped up my things.

by quarter to 10am, 2 dump trucks, carrying 80 climbers on each and a small truck carrying 30 fellow climbers, left bansalan municipal hall,bound for Sitio Pluto, our jumpoff. I realized we were almost 230 climbers that will attempt Mt. Apo that day.


our ride


part of the vast plantation of coffees, cabbages, carrots, unions & cauliflowers


sitio pluto




just trekked past sitio pluto



more produce


main ride at sitio pluto



It took 1 & a half hours to reach sitio pluto, situated in a foggy, cold, agricultural rural area where people produces carrots, cabbages, unions, cauliflowers and coffee, where their main transportation is horses. the place is so simple, the kids are beautiful and has red cheeks.

from here,it took us almost 4 hours of trekking hills before reaching our first camp to settle during nightfall.

In Camp one, I had a taste of real camping and an almost unbearable freezing cold! Although I’m used to freezing cold temperature in the office with years of my call center job ( where people are working on winter clothes) , I have never expected the cold up in the mountain that I swear made me awake all night long because I was seriously shivering for the very first time of my life.


at camp one


Came day 2,we’re bound to camp 2 and left at about 8 am and trekked for almost 5 & a half hours . The trail was more rigorous, though a lot says it was already an easy trail. I can’t imagine what’s then the difficult trail but I would love to try it next time.

we settled at a foot of a hill, almost at the neck of Mt. Apo, and about 2-3 hours  to summit. As expected, the temperature almost got doubled at night time and yes, made me awake again all night long. It’s just a good thing that we always arrive at campsite early so I always catch an afternoon nap to get enough rest.









lake jordan



Day 3. We assaulted the summit by around 5.45am. I can honestly say I crawled up with all my might just to make sure I won’t fall and I was at the mercy of grasses and thorny wild berry shrubs to hang on my dear life on this really, really wild adventure in my life! There was even a part we’re we have to really kiss the wall boulders and hang on tight on installed ropes to prevent from falling into the ravines.

I was very much conscious about the steep trail but everytime i rest,the view from above are just awesome, that its literally breathtaking!

It’s really worth the great effort to push my limits, to think it was my first, and I ambitiously scaled the highest one!

Also, I enjoyed much picking and eating sweet wild berries along the way.


the peak view from camp 2


sunrise on summit assault




shrubs of wild berries are common along the trail



our campsite ( lower left corner) viewed from above




can’t get enough of this view obviously; our campsite at the foot of a hill while at the back of it is Lake Jordan



ripe wild berries



Finally, I was able to reach the crater of Mt.Apo after almost 3 hours.  Yey! Then still had to climb up a bit to the summit!

It’s really amazing up above the highest place in the country,one of a kind great experience or should I say, once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

The peak was almost perfect, with an awesome weather, with clear view down below and a sea of clouds on some sides, a sight I can only behold while on board a plane.

We stayed on the peak for almost an hour and had our lunch there. How I actually wished to camp on the summit but we’re due to backtrail and must reach UM campus in Bansalan before nightfall, where a reggae gig awaits us, a common socials in Mindanao after an organized adventure event.

I will never forget this great experience. I knew this was just the beginning. and yes, the mountain changed me =)








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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Greg
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 17:08:11

    hi mam, may contact number kayo ng guide nyo gusto ko i try tong bansalan trail ngaung sept. thanks


    • emmthepinaytrekker
      Sep 05, 2013 @ 14:44:25

      hi Greg.my apologies,just read ths now.it was an organized climb event so I personally dont have the guides’ contact # but il give u Mam Dayrin’s #,she’s 1 of the officers ng mountaineering org sa davao.09219648920. PM at facebook of any progress ha? hav fun in Apo! ^_^


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