There are several known trails for you to be able to reach the top of the Philippine’s highest peak, Mt. Apo. One of those trails is via Brgy. Kapatagan in Digos, Davao del Sur. For an additional information, Brgy. Kapatagan is known to be the vegetable basket of the region. It is situated about 1,200 masl, but the access going to and from the centre is, somehow, convenient since the road has already been developed into concrete highways. Anyway, going back to climbing Apo, our team decided to take the Kapatagan trail because we wanted to experience passing the volcanic rock boulders and reach the mountain’s sulphuric vent.
We went off from General Santos City at 3P.M. and arrived at Digos Land Terminal at around 4P.M. We also met our mountain guides and porters at the terminal (porter fee is Php400/day). From there, we rented a jeepney (Php 3,000) going to Brgy. Kapatagan. It was already around 5P.M. when we arrived at the Military Post Camp at Sitio Baras (just fronting the way to Camp Sabros) to register. Registration Fees for entering mountaineers are as follows:
Students: Php 400.00
Local Climbers: Php 700.00
Foreign Climbers: Php 1000.00
Sitio Baras Military Post
After the registration, we then headed to the barangggay’s public market and transferred to a more powerful vehicle (Php 1000) transporting us to Sitio Mainit. We did a night trek from Sitio Mainit going to Sitio Paradise (the last sitio of Brgy. Kapatagan), where we had our first camp. We got there at around 10P.M.
Camp Sitio Paradise
Camp Upper Sabwag
Camp Godi Godi
The next day, we jumped off at 7A.M. for a 6 to 8-hour trek going to the next camp site (Camp Godi- Godi). That was the start of our intense forest trek. As expected, the trail was muddy and slippery because it rained the night before. We passed two smaller campsites (Camp Upper Sabwag and Camp Baroring) where we refilled our drinking water. The camps are the last sources of clean drinking water, although, Camp Godi-Godi also has a water source. Our teamleader just advised us to use the water at Godi-Godi for cooking/heating since it is already slightly contaminated with sulfur. The river stream at Camp Baroring is cold and very refreshing, and since we still had enough time, we took the opportunity to plunge and rejuvenate ourselves. We arrived at Camp Godi-Godi at around 1P.M. Since some members of our team arrived two hours later, we decided to stay at the camp for a night. The trail at Boulders’ Phase gets foggy in the afternoon, thus, it will be a risky climb in the cliff portions. Likewise, we won’t be able to enjoy the panoramic views if we will proceed with the trek.
We started going up to the peak as early as 6A.M. the next morning. After 45 minutes of warming up with a muddy forest trek, we already reached the opening of the Boulders’ Phase smelling the trace of the sulfur from the volcano’s vent. The further we proceed, the bigger are the rocks which we need to climb although my fear of falling from a missed step was overpowered by the scenery of Davao Gulf getting amazingly noticeable. We stayed almost 15 minutes in every stop taking as much photos as we could, capturing every angle of the view, and of course, relaxing our legs and arms. As we come closer to the sulfuric vent, the smell of was getting bad (sulfur smells like a rotten egg), although tolerable. For some, the smell tends to irritate the throat, so it is advisable to wear a face mask when climbing at the Boulders’ Phase. Some of us were brave enough to get closer to the vent and take pictures.
80 Degree Rock Wall
There is also another spot at the Boulders’ Phase called Camp Boracay. It is called so because the sand in this plain portion of Mt. Apo seems like that of Boracay’s. Some mountaineers stay overnight in that campsite, however, since there’s no water source, we were told to proceed at the peak’s camp site. The last challenging part of the before reaching the top is to climb the 80° rock wall. There’s no other way but climbing through this wall. It seemed difficult to look at, but, when we started climbing, it was effortless. You just need to be careful though.
After 4 hours of conquering the Boulders’ Phase, we already reached the peak. The chilling wind and it’s strong velocity didn’t even stop us from jumping around like children. It was such a fulfilling adventure overcoming the stressful forest trek, slippery trails, sulfur smell, and the heavy pour of the rain during camp.
There are 3 peaks in Mt. Apo and the Kapatagan peak was measured to be the highest. It is the basis of the 2,954 masl height of the mountain.
There is a wide camp site at the peak of Mt. Apo. The water source in here is drinkable. The temperature especially at night could go as low as 2° C.