Conquering Mt. Apo: A Thrilling Adventure to the Philippines’ Highest Peak

Embarking on an exhilarating journey to the summit of Mt. Apo, the highest peak in the Philippines, was an unforgettable adventure guided by Albert Gabriel of With 15 years of experience, Albert is a seasoned professional who expertly led us on this challenging yet rewarding trek via the east side of the mountain. This trek, tailored for advanced and experienced trekkers, features an elevation gain of approximately 2,000 meters above sea level (MASL) and spans a distance of 13.7 kilometers from the trailhead. It promises breathtaking views and unforgettable memories.

Our adventure began on May 11, 2024, at 6:00 AM when we met at our hotel. By 6:15 AM, we were on the road, heading to the jump-off point in Sitio Baruring via the Digos-Kapatagan Road. At 8:10 AM, we arrived in Kapatagan, where we purchased a pack lunch and had breakfast before continuing our journey. By 9:00 AM, we reached Baruring, sitting at 1,141 MASL, and began our trek. With Albert’s expert guidance, we made steady progress, reaching Colan by 9:30 AM and Tumpis by 10:00 AM. We enjoyed our lunch at Baskan E-Camp and continued to Tinikaran Camp 1, arriving at 4:00 PM. After pitching our tents and having dinner at 6:45 PM, we settled in for the night, with lights off by 7:30 PM.

The next day, May 12, 2024, started early with a wake-up call at 2:30 AM. We had hot drinks and a light breakfast at 2:45 AM before beginning our ascent to the summit at 3:00 AM. The trail took us past steep trails up to the Mini Rock Tower where we had our main breakfast of egg omelet the continue to Gabroq E-Camp, and Botoy’s Ridge. By 8:00 AM, we reached the entrance to the boulders and continued to the Old Crater . With Albert’s expertise, we finally reached the summit on the Davao Side, at 2,934 MASL, by 8:41 AM, just in time to enjoy the clear view of its surroundings and took some photos. Few minutes after we began our descent back to the campsite at 9:00 AM, having some snacks along the way. Just before we entered the jungle, we saw the Majestic Philippine Eagle soaring above the tree lines over Sta.Cruz area which my guide Albert informed me that it was the only 3rd time he saw the eagle in the wild since 2008 when he started guiding people to Mt.Apo . This breathtaking spectacle that embodies an impressive wingspan which this magnificent raptor glides effortlessly through the air and its powerful wings beating in rhythmic grace as it ascends to the heights of the forest canopy. Also , we encountered a troop of Philippine monkeys at the entrance to the boulders and we quickly pass them for they seem to be aggressive but did not go near us. We arrive at the campsite by 12:30 PM for lunch and a short siesta. After breaking camp at 2:00 PM, we descended back to Tumpis, reaching Baruring by 6:00 PM. We then headed to Kapatagan, and finally returned to Davao by 9:00 PM, concluding our incredible adventure.
The trek started with a scenic farm trail traversed by the Bagobo Tribe, the indigenous people residing at the foothill of the mountain. As we progressed, we navigated through a lush jungle trail, rich with diverse flora and fauna, showcasing the natural beauty of the region. The final ascent involved a rugged boulders trail, which added a unique element to this climb, distinguishing Mt. Apo from other mountains in the Philippines.

Given the demanding nature of this trek, Albert ensured I am well-prepared and equipped with the necessary gear, including appropriate trekking footwear, weather-appropriate clothing, camping gear, sufficient food and water supplies, and safety equipment.

This trek to the summit of Mt. Apo offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the natural splendor and cultural richness of the Philippines. The combination of challenging trails, breathtaking landscapes, and unique cultural encounters with the Bagobo Tribe made this adventure an unparalleled experience for seasoned trekkers.

“Had the most fun summiting the highest point in the Philippines—the stratovolcano Mt. Apo in Davao at 2,952m/9,692ft. There was a jungle, mud trail, boulder face, forest full of ferns, Eagle, wild monkeys following me after lunch, lots of sulfur vents, some hot springs, and more.”

Article by :
Jessica Marie Butnariu of Romania

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Japanese Seasoned Trekkers Scale New Heights at Mt. Apo

On January 22, 2023,, Dream World Travel and Tours in collaboration with the Yamatakaze Team of 13 senior citizens from Japan, achieved a remarkable feat as two female trekkers, Ms. Chisiho Okada and Ms. Hiromi Matsumoto, became the oldest foreigners to conquer the summit of Mt. Apo at the age of 79. This awe-inspiring accomplishment showcases the indomitable spirit and determination of these seasoned adventurers.

Ms. CHISIHO OKADA in Mt.Apo @79
Ms. Hiromi Matsumoto in Mt.Apo @79

The Yamatakaze Team, composed of passionate mountaineers aged 60 and above, embarked on their journey to the Philippines with a shared love for mountains and a desire to explore new heights. Their trek to Mt. Apo was part of a larger adventure organized by, an organization dedicated to promoting adventure activities while prioritizing environmental conservation. believes that age should never be a barrier to pursuing one’s passions and exploring nature’s wonders. Their commitment to sustainable tourism and community-based operations perfectly aligned with the Yamatakaze Team’s values, making it the ideal partner for their expedition to Mt. Apo.

Throughout the trek, Ms. Okada and Ms. Matsumoto, and their group of senior citizens exhibited exceptional physical fitness and mental fortitude. The challenging terrain of the jungle and boulders did not deter these resilient women from reaching the summit. Their accomplishment not only showcases their personal triumph but also inspires a global community of adventure enthusiasts, regardless of age, to chase their dreams and explore the beauty of nature.

The successful summit of Mt. Apo by Ms. Okada and Ms. Matsumoto highlights the remarkable achievements that can be attained through perseverance, proper preparation, and a deep appreciation for the environment. Their journey serves as a testament to the transformative power of adventure and the importance of preserving natural treasures like Mt. Apo for future generations.

Also, their achievement serves as an inspiration to all, reminding us that age should never limit our ability to pursue our passions and conquer new heights. They have left an indelible mark on the mountaineering community and have become shining examples of what can be achieved through dedication and a love for adventure.

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Reflection of a Mt.Apo Hiker

It’s been a month since Mt. Apo and I’m currently in quarantine for COVID and I have plenty of time so let me tell you about the experience. Little stories are in the captions of each photo. All jokes aside, Mt. Apo was an incredible experience that each climber will have uniquely. My experience was a bit chaotic but it was also an exercise in learning to calm down. It challenged me physical but it also showed me that most my perceived limitations are mental limitations. #teamkaladkarin

Mt. Apo was a dream trip 13 years in the making. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to reach the summit and lay on Mt. Apo’s crown. The obstacles and challenges that got in the way of this adventure almost stopped me from going. That includes kidney surgery just two months before summit day! 26 of us were on this epic Mt. Apo Expedition with a support team of 24 (I think). Daghang salamat for making this dream come true, Team Kaladkarin. Tita Marissa @Gasfi Gigs and Ms. June @Queen Sebastian were the first ones to bring climbing Mt. Apo into my consciousness in 2010. Tita Marissa has had a carved trekking pole in the GORSH van since 2009. The pole was in the van until Kuya Chris picked us up from the airport in March 2023. It was a constant reminder for the Bucketlist item we were fixated on. Ms June is Davaoeña and I’ve spent so much time in Davao with her. From beaches to farms, little hills and islands. Mt. Apo was our “Where to next?” Even if our families thought we were crazy for even thinking of it. Ferd Garcia became an amazing inspiration and put the necessary pressure on us to actually go. It was constantly: is Mt. Apo open? Can we go? He flew here several times since 2018 hoping for a chance to climb Mt. Apo. Rica and Divine came along and started getting us to get in shape with their workout routine videos early on. They also gave lots of great advice for better movement and breathing on the trail. Tomas was the best training and hiking buddy I could ask for. He had the most useful advice like trusting my boots, stepping a certain way, use a bonnet to keep your ears warm and nibble on Snickers at every stop. AND he has a cool drone: Dr. Ricky Pecson, Jona, Aisa, Kuya Chris of GORSH and of course and everyone there were such gracious hosts! They handled logistics flawlessly and kept Team Kaladkarin well fed. The MAAP Boys/ Influencers promised they would take lots of photos and videos and keep the good vibes rolling with lots of laughs. The AMOSUP Bundokeros were great Kaladkarins. They knew what they were doing. Through out the trip they either cleared the way or swept the trails when needed. They even brought Bimby along! Then there was the rest of the Kaladkarins who open-mindedly and open-heartedly accepted the invitation to do something beyond their comfort zones and heeded the call of our “promotor”, Tita Marissa. A huge shoutout to Sir Gab, Albert Gabriel of and his massive 24-man support team. @Ponce and the gang of guides, porters and logistics staff for keeping us safe for 3 days and 2 night on Mt. Apo. Thank you Mom & Dad for always being so supportive and for praying for our safety. Thank you Pam for a lot of my gear! The 3L Hydration Pack was awesome! Photos from Team Kaladkarin and Sir Gab. Little stories are in the photo captions. I’m on quarantine for COVID today so the captions may be a bit more colorful for my own entertainment. Click on the album name “Mt. Apo” to view in chronological order.

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Mt.Apo Hiker

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Mt.Apo Adventures goes to Rinjani

One of the highest mountain in South East Asia is Mt. Rinjani towering 3702 MASL which is ranked next to Mt. Kinabalo (4,095MASL) of  Malaysia. Climbing this mountain is also in the bucket list of trekkers that visit Indonesia same as Mt.Apo in the Philippines.

Sembalun Trail
The amazing view of Mt. Beru and Segara Anak as seen while trekking down from the summit of Mt. Rinjani

Last April 2018, organized a climb to this mountain scheduled for 3 days traversing from Simbalon and exit to Senaru Trail.

Mt. Rinjani Trail Head
The view of Mt. Rinjani seen from Simbalun Trail Head

The group was composed of a British Lady , Italian Guy and myself together with two locals which serve as our guide and porter.

On the fist day , we were picked up by the van in our Hotel in Kota Mataram and brought us to Senaru base for a breakfast an briefing. After we were transported to Simbalun to get our permit then start the trek afterwards.

Sembalun Trail
The 1st part of the trek as we go up via Sembalun Trail

As per our briefing , we will trek from 7-9 hours on that day and camp at the saddle of the mountain t an elevation of 3000MASL (almost as high as MT. Apo summit). The trail at this time is an open one  where you can see the whole mountain from its foot up to the peak and  a very wide grassland (weather is very good at this time). It was very surprising that there were no existing farm after the trailhead which is usually common in the Philippines.

Sembalun Trail
Our Guide and chef prepares our lunch together with other guides

Our group had lunch at the 2nd stop at Tengengean 1,500 MASL where we were served with vegetables , chicken, rice and fruits an at this point I have realized that this mountain has so much traffic during its climbing season because I estimated that there are more than a hundred of us that were on that area for lunch and was almost 1 PM when we continue trekking leaving some of the trekkers behind who are taking a nap. 

Sembalun Trail
Sembalun crater rim Campsite also known as Plawangan II . Photo taken after an hour of rain

Around 4PM just few hundred meters below the saddle, suddenly the rain started pouring and we have to stop for a while to put on our rain gears. The rain continued until we arrive at Plawangan II Sembalun crater rim (2,700m) campsite and we have to wait for our porter to arrive which is around thirty minutes behind an then  to set-up the tents. We were so happy when the rain stopped afterwards but still the temperature is around 5 degrees celcius so its really a must to bring appropriate layers with you climb this mountain. In the camp site the amazing view was bestowed upon us , you can see Simbalun on our left side, the peak of Mt. Rinjani in front then Lake Senaru on the right side with the setting sun while we are enjoying a cup of tea and fried banana served by our guide. That was the best time of the day that after a long trek up, beaten by the rain and cold we were rewarded with a very nice scenery that’s priceless plus the company we had.

Sembalun Trail
Sunset at Sembalun Creater Rim Campsite

Proper gears is very important in trekking this mountain because even its in a tropical island temperature above 2000MASL could reach up to 2-3 degrees Celsius. In the campsite we observed other trekkers using their sleeping bag as a jacket to keep them warm.

That night we enjoyed hot noodles for dinner then went to sleep and be ready for the summit assault the following day.

Sembalun Trail
The scree trail around 300 meters below from the summit of Rinjani

Around 2:15AM on the next day our guide woke us up and served hot coffee and pancake then hit th summit few minutes later.

The trail going to the summit is approximately 4 hours from the campsite with an elevation gain of almost a thousand meter of scree trail combined with some sand and pebbles. We have an advantage  during our climb since it was the first week since it opened from rainy season for the trail is a little bit harder and lesser people already used the trail otherwise you will 3 steps up and 2 steps back due to its soft characteristic like walking in actual sand in an inclined manner.

Sembalun Trail
The treacherous scree trail as you reach the summit of Rinjani

One of the challenge in reaching the summit is when you arrive above 3200MASL elevation because I already saw some trekkers felt sick while trekking up and it goes worse as you go up , some of them are already crying and having a head ache. When I arrive at around 3400MASL I felt sleepy ,same feeling that I experienced when I did Mt. Kinabalu. Good thing I brought power gel with Double Shot Coffee flavor and take it with some water and wakes me up all throughout up to the summit.

Sembalun Trail
Our 1st glimpse of Mt.Beru and the lake while ascending the summit

We arrive at the summit around 6:03 just in time for the sunrise and watch it as it illuminates the mountain and its surroundings giving a magical view that this mountain can offer. Around 6:30AM when the sun is already up we took some photos around like its crater, Mt. Agung in Bali and the Gili Islands then went back down to the campsite.

Sembalun Trail
Sunrise in the summit of Mt. Rinjani
Sembalun Trail
Instagramable site along the trail of Mt. Rinjani summit
Long Tailed Grey Macaque locally known as Kera seen along the trail to the summit

When we arrive the campsite we were served with a nice breakfast served with coffee, then did the break camp and started the descend going to the crater rim following an established trail that was formed like a stairs made of rocks on some parts of it.

Sembalun Trail
The morning view of Sembalun Crater rim campsite
Sembalun Trail
Brekafast after the summit asault

It took us a round 2hours and a half until we reach the crater lake and visited the nearby waterfalls and the hot spring to relax then proceed to our lunch break area near the lake.

Sembalun Trail
Every trekker should pass this steep trail going down in traversing to Senaru Crater Rim from Plawangan II
Segara Anak
Welcome party of Long Tailed Grey Macaque as we arrive in the lake

While we are waiting for our crew prepare our meal, we had the chance to take a dip and swim in the lake and refresh ourselves and explore the lake . Just be careful in exploring the surroundings for there’s a lot of nettle leaf around and its very stingy once it touches your skin.

Segara Anak Camp Site
Photo taken as we arrive in the Campsite of Segara Anak
Senaru Trail
Crossing the exit point of Segara Anak.
Segara Anak
The cool bluish water of Segara Anak an ideal campsite as well as lunch break area
Segara Anak Lake
The 1st waterfalls that flows from Segara Anak

It was around 1PM when we finished lunch and took some few minutes nap before we head our 2nd day campsite at the Senaru Crater Rim campsite 2,461 MASL.The trail is an ascend with the same type of trail when we go down from the other side except to some steep parts when you need to hold to some railings for support . The view on this side also is nice for you will see the summit and the totality of the new crater for Rinjani formed during its latest eruption.

Senaru Trail
Mt. Beru , a result of Mt. Rinjani’s eruption during the 1990’s. It rose -up in the middle of Segara Anak (lake of Rinjani crater). Photo taken while trekking up to Senaru side from the crater

We arrive at the campsite around 5PM just right before sundown and enjoyed some coffee before we had our dinner. In this campsite we had the meet some people and shared our experiences while enjoying hot drinks and snacks. One of the good experience we had that night is watching the stars over the night sky which are extraordinarily bright while watching the night silhouette of the summit.

Senaru Trail
Nights Sky in Senaru Rim Campsite under a clear weather
Senaru Trail
Mt.Agung and the Gili Islands as seen from Senaru Crater Rim

On the 3rd day we woke up with good weather and a hot drink. This time I explore around the camp site and took some photos around which is totally a different site from the other campsite on the other side of the mountain. We had an early breakfast that time then prepare ourselves to go down and hit the trail going down following the trail towards Senaru village.

Senaru Trail
Summit of Mt. Rinjani, the new volcano as seen in Senaru craterrim campsite
Senaru Trail
Rocky portion along Senaru Trail

The trail going down is following a jungle trail around 30 minutes trekking from the camp site and at this time me and my group are doing some trail running while descending and having some few stops for rehydration and reach the exit point at Senaru village at noon time where we were picked up by our transportation towards the southern part of Lombok where we will relax after the climb and enjoy the beach.

Senaru Trail
The Landsacpe in Senaru side
Senaru Trail
The trail going down to Senaru exit point

The climb to Mt. Rinjani thought me a very important lesson in exploring other mountains which is not to underestimate a mountain for each has a different characteristic both in good and bad ways that would determine the level of enjoyment you will have.

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Age Does’nt Matter in Mt.Apo

Nanjaku Mountaineering Club of Japan

It was early of 2019 when I was contacted by a Japanese mountaineer of the Nanjaku Mountaineering Club in the person Mr. Noboyuki Kihara that his group wanted to climb Mt. Apo on March 2019. Exchange of emails were done and we set the date on March 8-10,2019 with seven Japanese climbers of the mountaineering group via Sta.Cruz trail.

Few weeks before the climb I have asked the details of the trekkers and I was suprised of their age group, they were all senior citezens. The group is composed of four women and three men.

Passing a farm trail in Colan Villge is the 1st experience you’ll encounter in Sta.Cruz Trail

The group arrive on the evening of March 7,2019 and we meet them at Bangoy International Airport , Davao City and brought them to their accommodation in D’Counter Executive Dormitel. On our way to the hotel i already made adjustments on my mind regarding how I will bring this group up when I observed that all of them were senior citizens and right that moment I called Voltaire my assistant guide for this trek to prepare extra number of manpower to assist us and take care of the group for the over-all safety of the group.

Right after arrival in the D’Counter they checked-in directly to their rooms and afterwards we had our climb briefing and collected their climb forms which we will submit it to the Tourism Office of Sta.Cruz including their individual medical certificate that states they are fit to do trekking activity. When i gathered the forms i found out that their youngest member of this trekking party was 69 years old and two of them havent brought a medical certificate but I as a procedure they have to submit and i told them they can get it in a nearby hospital tomorrow morning before we leave.

During the briefing , I explained to them the inclusions of the services that we provide and climb details such as the itinerary and meal plan. As their head guide i opted to decide that we will set camp in Tinikaran Camp 2 where we will there on the next 2 nights while trekking. This will enable us to maximize our trekking time as we ascend on Day1 and give us advantage on a shorter trekking distance on Day 2 as we asault the summit and descend back to campsite as we pass the boulders trail which more tricky so it will be easier for the guests.

After the short briefing we left of our guest for them to take enough rest as I gather my team for the trek as we planned our strategy on how to make this trek safely and injury free for it is our number one goal on every trek. Part of our strategy is to provide additional porters and guides to carry the all our logistics and provide assistance for the trek since our trail to Mt.Apo is far more manual compared to the mountains like Mt. Kinabalu, Mt. Fancipan , Mt. Rinjani and other Asian Mountains that are equipped with railings and stairs. Here guests will really do an actual trekking where they will hold on to some roots or trees or rocks while trekking which give a total adventurous `experience for the visitors.

Jungle trail to Tinikaran Camp 2
Good dinner with the Group

The following day March 8,2019 which is the first day of the trek, we went back to Dcounter pick the guests to conveyed them to Kapatagan (a Bario in Digos City which is the gateway to the East Side Trails to Mt.Apo) and collected the remaining medical certificate. The guest complied to submit the necessary forms but they asked if it is really needed since they are all fit and experienced Climbers an they even show me their picture of their Nepal Treks including high altitude mountains, but I explained that I have to make sure that everybody are Physically fir at that time since its our responsibility what ever happens to them. ( Safety is one of the biggest responsibility that both guests and guide should not forget). Right after few minutes we conveyed them to Kapatagan ( A Barangay under Digos City which is the gateway to the East side trail of the mountain).

Boulder asault early in the morning

We arrived in Kapatagan after 2 hours of travel via chartered van and had our breakfast and bought fresh meat , vegetables and other supplies for the trek and transferred to a vegetable truck as we proceed tot the trailhead in Baruring River

We started the trek around 9:30 in the morning with our guides and porters and all of us were amazed to this group because they were pretty in shape for they trekked up to our campsite that day as per schedule. although they are not as fast as the your groups but they are well disciplined and experienced. They even carry their own personal things except for the heavy ones which they put all in a different backpack for the porters to carry. That day we trekked for almost 8Km from trailhead and had an elevation gain of almost 1200MASL from starting point.

The group went up to the summit by passing Botoy’s Ridge

We ended the day with a hot meal of pork stew with vegetables and rice for our dinner prepared by our camp manager and we make sure everybody is well fed to energize their body for the 2nd day for it will be the hardest part of the 3 day trek to Mt.Apo for the climb to the summit will make you ascend 800 MASL and descend the same elevation with a total distance of approximately 10 Kilometers of boulders trail.

We woke up around 4 AM on March 9,2019 and served hot drinks to the group we hit the trail after preparing the necessary things to bring up such as meals and etc.

Mr. Kihara leads his teammate in the Boulders Trail on the 2nd day their Mt.Apo trek

We arrive the boulders few minutes after in total darkness since it was just around 4:30AM but we had or headlamps. what is amazing in this part of the trail when you arrive here before the sun comes out is that you will be able to see the city lights of Davao and Digos city from th top. right after few minutes we enjoy the sunrise as we go up and had our breakfast along the trail.

Breakfast in the middle of the Boulders
The group went up to the summit by passing Botoy’s Ridge

During this stage of the trek I old my guides and porters to be vigilant and make sure that everybody should not make a wrong step since the boulders trail is steep and some parts are loose and we could not afford any injury. So, we make the trek slowly and surely specially when we reach the steep part of Boto’y Ridge as we go up via Cabo’s peak(3rd highesto f all the 7 peaks of Apo).

Nanjaku Mountaineering Club in the Summit of Mt.Apo
Ms. SADAKUNI FUMIKA and MR. SHIGETOSHI SAKATA both 78 years the oldest to climb Mt. Apo

We arrive the Center Peak( Highest point) around 11AM took some photos rest for a while enjoying the moment and the scenery at the highest point of the country, then we go down to the summit camp site had our lunch break have some hot drinks and took some nap to recharge our bodies as a preparation in going back down to the campsite.

It was almost 1PM when we started the trek back down via the Davao Summit and the old crater then passing the 87degrees trail then back to the Boulders up to Tinikaran Camp2. Slowly but is still the name of the game and we arrive in the campsite around 5AM where we concluded the day with a good meal and took a rest early. Along the trail while we are going down from the summit , we have met groups of trekkers who congratulate them for conquering the mountain and they serve as their inspiration as an outdoorsmen.

Stretching after a days trek from the summit

On the 3rd day, e woke up around 6:30AM had some hotdrinks and breakfast but before we started eating the Japanese guest did their stretching first which is really a good practice . Right after break camp we go back down to the trailhead and back to Davao City having a stop over at Sta.Cruz Tourism Council and meet the its Tourism Officer “Julius Paner” who gave them the certificate as the oldest climber on both male and female who went up this mountain successfully.

We ended our trek having dinner together with the group and my guides in Davao City enjoying each others company for he last time while sharing of thoughts , thanks giving and giving salute to the NANJAKU MOUNTAINEERING CLUB of Japan as the oldest trekkers on record to Mt. Apo and being with them in the mountains is very significant one as a mountaineer .Hopefully me and my crew would b able to reach this age and still enjoy the outdoors.

Kudo’s to the NANJAKU Mountaineering Club of Japan.

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2019 Adventures Beyond Mt.Apo

Year 2019 is a very challenging season for our crew since Mt.Apo was closed for two times. The first time was during summer season from April to September and then on the month of November when Davao Region and North Cotabato was beaten by series of earthquakes.

Both closures affect the greatly on our team since they depend in Mt.Apo as a second source of livelthood, so we opted to explore other mountains such as Mt. Kitanglad (2,899MASL), Mt. Dulang-Dulang (2nd highest in the country at 2,938 MASL) and Mt. Kalatunagan(2,880 MASL), which are the highest mountains in the country. We also scaled Mt. Hamiguitan which is a UNISCO Heritage mountain that features vast variety of Flora and Fauna at an elevation of 1,6,20 MASL.

Every year, we also climb mountains outside the Philippines , and Mt. Fancipan of Vietnam which is the highest in the Indochina Region at an elevation of 3,13 MASL  was the one we trekked for 2019. The climb took  two days 1 night. The trail to the summit is a staggering 8hours trek passing inclined trail with the view of China from a far. Reaching the summit will bring you to a Buddhist Temple where you can see the largest Amitabha Buddha statue in Vietnam. Although people who don’t want to trek can reach the summit via cable car and return down on the same day, but only people who trekked up will be given the medal of success.

Passing a Pygmy Bamboo trail to Fancipan Summit
The Temple View in the Summit of Fancipan

Mt. Apo also hosted the “10th All Womens Climb” via Sta. Cruz Trail in celebration with he Woman’s Month and me and my crew were the one who supported the manpower for the success of this 2 days  summit trek.

Contingents of the 10th All Women’s Climb 2019

Last season also give us the opportunity to work with Mr. Ryan Pyle ,a Canadian the film maker who documents Mt.Apo for his TV Show Expedition Asia which will be aired in Discovery channel on 2020. This our is our first exposure with international film producers (aside from working for other local celebrity from local TV Shows like Ruby Dominggo)   in which Mr. Ryan Pyle and his crew did the dirty works such as directing , setting up the cams and the actual trekking in which me and my crew provides the local knowledge of the area and the logistics for e whole production in the mountain.

Ryan Pyle of Trekking Asia
Filming in Apo Summit with Ryan Pyle

Another significant trek for last year also, is when our group was able to bring the senior members of AMCI group with Ms.Patsy Ayala itself and her behalf Sir Alex Floro together , Bala ,Myong , Ms Zuzette, Kuya Mar, Weng, Double J, Baki and some members which used the Sta. Cruz Via Magpet Traverse Trail.

AMCI’s 2019 Mt. Apo Climb with Ms. Patsy Ayala herself

As our biggest achievement in bringing people on the  highest point of the country(Mt.Apo), year 2019 gives us the opportunity to successfully climb with the Nanjaku Mountain Club of Japan who were  group of senior citizen and seasoned trekker. In this group ,Mr. Shigetoshi Sakata and Ms. Sadakuni Fumika who were both 78 Years Old are the record holder as the “Oldest Climber”  who went to the summit of Mt. Apo.

Mr. Shigetoshi Sakata and Ms. Sadakuni Fumika
Nanjaku Mountain Club of Japan with crew

All in all we have more than twenty climbs for the 2019 despite of the closure due to calamities. Looking forward for  the year 2020, and its crew are looking forward for a good climbing season and we are hoping to see you to one of our climbs.

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Mt.Apo in AMCI’s 35 Peaks

This years Ayala Mountaineering Club Inc. (AMCI)  climb to Mt. Apo is a historical one for the group for they include it to the thirty five 35peaks to be climbed by the group on  August 18-20, 2018 as part of their 35year anniversary celebration.


The climb started with a briefing of the group the day before the climb at D’Counter Executive dormitel where usually houses their guest.

The climb was scheduled for three days  via Sta. Cruz trail on its ascend passing Sitio Colan and MT. Apo Boulderface and descend to the West side via Lake Venado by way of Ko-ong trail and Marble river that will exit in Agco Hot spring in Kidapawan City.

The trek was composed of  27 members of AMCI headed by MS. MARINELLE E. PADILLA together with me and my  seasoned crew Roger Navarro , Voltaire Lopez ,Butch Baylon, Arnold Ajoc, Paul Mendoza, Franklin Ponce and 10 of the local porters.

On our day 1 the group visited the local village of Colan which is along the way to the 1st camp site which is in Tinikaran Camp 1. There we purchased some of our last minute basic supplies like biscuits, soft drinks and rice as a support for the local economy.

Along the way, the group conducted tree planting activity at the entrance to the rain forest which makes them feel more closer to mother nature , then proceed to the camp site.

We arrive at the camp site around 4PM then we set our camp. I have been catering AMCI group on their climbs in Mindanao for more than Ten Years and I’ve known some of their cultures for a while.

The AMCI group aside for being well disciplined as a trekker ,they want to bring luxury to the outdoors and you can observe that on their meal plans that’s is why this group needs more time in preparing their meals and breaking the camps.

On the second day of the climb, the group passed the boulderface which tests the endurance of the group specially the first timers for the trail is exposed and would drain your energy faster as you think. Thanks to Voltaire who attended the weakest member of the trek to successfully reach the top of the mountain and safely arrive in Lake Venado where we set our next camp. During this night the group enjoyed the sumptuous dinner prepared by my assistant Moroy as we call him but his real name is Roger.

On the 3rd day we woke the group early since it would take this group with a minimum of 2 hours to break camp not including eating time since we will be having a long trek going down via Ko-ong trail.

Ko-ong trail is very suitable for first timers since there is a portion if this trial where you need to crawl down and test your upper body strength but its manageable as long as you a lot enough time to it .

The last member arrive the exit point around 6PM on that day and we spend the night celebrating the success the group on a small resort in Agco with sumptuous dinner over a couple of drinks while enjoying the hotspring…


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My Mt. Apo Encounter at ’68

Hiking in and around my neck of the woods is something I do 3-4 times weekly if not more depending on the weather. Apart from this, I have hiked part of the Lycian Way & Babadag mountain in Turkey, the Palestinian desert, Camino de Santiago and in my own province, I have hiked the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, Garibaldi, trails on Whistler and the Wells Provincial Park to name a few. I was prepared for Mt. Apo, or so I thought…
My personal adventure started on the motorcycle ride from the Bus Terminal on ?Digos?
A few years ago in Turkey, I took the risk of a motorcycle lift. The risk was not the trail but hitching a lift from a stranger. So I thought I got this… but the shock of seeing 2 heavy packs plus my own strapped on the motorcycle was just the beginning of the many “Are you sure you wanna do this?” moments. Then, of course, 3 bodies on this narrow-bodied motorcycle! I found the ride exhilarating, to be honest until…the part where the road got rocky with numerous potholes. The ride got so rugged I was sure I was going to get tossed out of the motorcycle and OMG, no one was wearing a helmet. Behind the motorcyclist’s ear I screamed, ” Are you kidding me?” ” What the hell!”  “WTF!” etc I wonder what he thought of me?!
To my relief, we arrived at the dam site( I can’t remember the name of the place) where we started hiking.
Day 1
I so welcome the sight of the villages and the villagers doing their usual daily chores. My impression was how happy the children seem to play with each other in nature. Right then and there I prayed that may this part of the world stay like it is for many more years to come before climate change and technology leave its disastrous mark.
At 32C I welcomed the entry into the woods, it was much, much warmer than what I’m used to. The flora was a feast for the eyes; the fauna’s incessant chatter was music to my ears. I would have liked to linger longer at each “new” thing I see but we were already behind schedule as it is and so had to establish camp at Tinikaran rather than Camp 2.
Tents were set up, the welcome meal amazingly prepared, after a few housekeeping instructions i.e. where to do #1 or #2, it was bedtime. It didn’t take long for me to doze off only to awaken a few hours later by the “Battle of the Musangs”. Man, they were loud! When I peeked out of my tent I saw a pair of yellow eyes glaring at me. I quickly zipped my tent again.
Day 2
After a breakfast of porridge, rice, eggs & tea we set off to another of Mt. Apo’s “reveal”. I was warned that Day 2 would be more difficult and though I’m still moving slow I found Day 1’s heat was more draining than Day 2. Challenging though pulling one’s self through the roots, hopping/climbing in and around the tree stumps, the lava rocks, and boulders, it was “cool”. The sulfur vent, though I found awesome, gave me a headache. I suppose this is the reason I didn’t see any birds flying. I would have run away from that environ if I could. We had lunch at Gabroq E-Camp. It was amazing to see the source of all the lava rocks. The crater didn’t seem big enough to have belched out all those ginormous rocks and boulders but obviously mighty.
We camped out onWhite Sand.
After dinner, Voltaire took me up to the first peak. It was anticlimactic. Voltaire was somewhat disappointed that I was not whooping and hurraying. My reply was, we’re only halfway, we have to descend yet! To his credit, Voltaire really wanted to take me to the second peak but that would mean going back to camp in the dark and I opted out.
Day 3
After a hearty breakfast, we started our descend in the rain the same way we came up. I respected Voltaire’s decision and rationale for doing so because I am such a slow poke. The wet sulfuric rain was stinging my eyes. Back at Gabroq, Voltaire was hopeful..we were doing good time or so he thought. Apart from being slow I was stopping quite often and looking back intently at the sight we are leaving behind. I felt I needed to imprint it in my brain coz a camera would not do justice.
My troubles began halfway down when the agony of my knees started to manifest its age which has been my nemesis on every steep hike. Voltaire was very encouraging all the way. Jun was ready to give a hand and towards the last village, I had to surrender my backpack to Jun. The last hour was terrifically agonizing. And the ecstasy? Seeing MacMac and his motorcycle waiting for us. I yelled, “Am I so glad to see you!”
 I’m glad I went into it blindly because had I seen photos or heard or read something about the trail, I would have probably bowed out because, at 68, my daughter would  have certainly posed the question, “And why are you punishing yourself?”
I would like to thank the professional staff of Mt. Apo Adventures especially Voltaire, my guide, my chef and caregiver; and Jun our porter/sweeper who appeared to be in constant Zen state.
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Mt. Apo’s Oldest Foreign Conqueror

In the past ten years, has brought people to Mt. Apo from all walks of life—of different nationalities, newbies and experienced trekkers alike, and people from all ages.

This year, we made a new record. Ronald Candray, 76, summited Mt. Apo last February 11,2018 making him the oldest foreigner to climb via Sta. Cruz Trail. Together with us were my assistant, Roger Navarro, and two Skykes from Scotland Emma and Calum.

Mr. Candray, was born on April 1941, in USA and is now residing in Sweden. He was an athlete during his younger years. One of his hobbies is trekking the highest point of every country that he visits during the holidays. He still continues to conquer summits around the world to this date.

While enjoying a sumptuous dinner in an authentic Indian resto in Davao to celebrate his climb, I asked him what his secret is in making this possible and he says that it is because he maintains an active lifestyle, good diet and regular exercise.

Ron, at 76, still strong and sharp, conquering mountains with a smile on his face, has inspired me to set a new life goal—that someday, when I reach his age, I could still do the same—to be able to climb this mountain and experience its wonders. No one is too old nor to young to experience the wonders of nature. Conquering ourselves will always be an adventure of a lifetime.

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Mt. Apo Traverse Climb @ 77…

Last March 30 2017, Mr. Tony Olarte, 67, a former guest who did his first climb to Mt.Apo with us last April 2014, made a call asking me to organize a climb for his group of 4 trekkers to do a traverse climb to Mt. Apo.

Without hesitation I gave him the costing and climb details as to his preferences and we agreed to take the Magpet-Sta. Cruz Traverse trail and set the date on May 26-28, 2017.

The group was composed of Antonio Olarte (group leader), Juanito Braga, Rheyja Lou Cerrado, Vanesa Rein, Ivymar Jean Coyoca and Aireen Cardenas, together with my crew Roy Navarro ad 4 Local porters from the Ubo Manobo tribe. The last two participants were added a week before the climbing date. All of us were looking forward for the success of this climb since Mr. Juanito (Johnny) Braga has just celebrated his 77th birthday last May 13 making him the oldest to climb Mt. Apo via Magpet-Sta.Cruz Traverse Trail.

Our climbing tour lasted for 3 nights and 3 days since we travelled to Kidapawan City the night before the climb and stayed there for the night.

On the first day of our trek, we arrived around 6:30 AM at the trail situated in Tuasuvan Resort, Bongolanon, Magpet which features Bongolanon waterfalls. As per itinerary, we had our Filipino breakfast with steamed veggies, salted eggs ad fish together with rice. We then started the ascent to Bobong camp site after.

The first 3 hours of this trail will really measure your physical strength since it’s a direct ascend to the jungle with steep parts. When we reached Anus e-camp, we refilled all our water bottles and had an early lunch since its already drizzling at that time. The whole group really felt the agony of the trail but it was filled up with joy with the lush flora and fauna along the trail and the guys were very much inspired by Sir Johny who is very much doing fine at his age and the porters who carry the heavy supplies.

Afterwards, we continue to trek up and it already started to drizzle and we encountered rain until we reach Kaipisan e-camp around 3:00PM. We descended to Bobong campsite and arrived at around 3:30PM while the rest of the group together with Sir Toy and the sweepers arrived 30 minutes later, a little bit  tired but still with high spirits.

We started to set up camp and pitched the tents to prepare dinner while our guests enjoyed the water of Bobong creek while washing up. We concluded the day with sumptuous dinner of Sinigang Baboy (pork Stew with sour soup and a pinch of chili) and had a short meeting after for tomorrow’s climb.

The following day, we prepared breakfast at around 4:30 AM and 5:00 AM was wake up call for the trekkers. Coffee and hot choco were served then followed by breakfast. We broke camp and started our trek at 7:30 AM. Our 2nd day trek will end up to 87 degrees campsite passing Kawayanan campsite and Lake Venado where we had our lunch break. The trail on this part of Mt. Apo features mossy forest with rolling up and flat jungle paths with some obstacle.

We arrived in Lake Venado half past noon while the rest of the group arrived 30 minutes later. We took some rest, enjoyed the view of the whole Mt. Apo while having our lunch and did some photo shoots with the guys and continued trekking afterwards since everybody was very eager to reach the summit.

The trail from the lake to the summit is ascending and at this point the whole group feel the stress of going up specially the older members of the group but still decided to reach the summit. The temperature at this elevation starts to lower down so we advised everybody to put on some layers since the temperature will still go down further as nightfall approaches. After a few hours of trekking to the summit the whole group were amazed with the dramatic view of sunset with the whole view of Lake Venado down below. We were lucky to get that view since you don’t always get to see a beautiful sunset from the summit. We were in the West side of the mountain at this time so we experienced this as we go up to the summit which inspired the trekkers.

It was really dark when we arrived at the campsite and we had to go back for the members at the rear specially Sir Johny and Sir Tony. We had to make sure that they will arrive safely. It was already a little late when we had dinner but everybody were well fed, warm and comfortable enough to gain energy for the 3rd day trek which is all going down.

During the last day of our trek, unfortunately, we were not able to catch the sunrise since the weather was not so good. Fog was still covering the peak of Mt. Apo at around 6AM while we were preparing our breakfast and packed lunch. We had our breakfast and broke camp so we can do some peak hopping and descend as early as possible.

Sir Juanito (Johny ) Braga at the summit of Mt. Apo at age 77

We visited the Davao Side Summit and took some photos for souvenirs. At this time, we had a clearing and we saw the view of Davao del Sur and Davao City including Samal Island. The cloud formations were spectacular and everybody had a moment of appreciation for their efforts from all the hardship of going up and reaching the goal to be on top of the highest mountain of the Philippines. The climb was made even made more special and fulfilling that we did it with “The Oldest Climber To Reach The Summit Of Mt. Apo” in the person Of Sir Johny Braga at 77, through the leadership of Sir Tony and with the crew of

After peak hopping, we started to descend to our exit point via Sta. Cruz Trail passing by the old crater, the boulders part of Mt. Apo, Tinikaran Campsites and Sitio Colan. We arrived safely around night time at Sitio Baruring where our vehicle was waiting to bring us to Bario Kapatagan. Then from Kapatagan, we rode a van back to Davao City.

The whole group was exhausted at this point but written on their faces were contentment and self-fulfillment of being able to conquer the highest mountain in the country which not everybody could get the chance and the ability to do.


From the team of, again, our salute and warmest congratulations to Sir Juanito (Johny) Braga for being the oldest Person to Climb Mt. Apo! You will always serve as an inspiration to us! When we’re 77, we hope to still be able to conquer Mt. Apo just like you!

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