Monday, April 1, 2013

Mt. Apo (Talomo-Apo Traverse) | Into the Highest

From January 17 to 28, I went to Mindanao to celebrate my 21st year. I scaled some of the highest mountains in the country, visited an island and explored its wonders, stayed in some cities and discovered how each differs from my hometown, Manila. It was a 12-day long journey - fun, exciting and crazy.

Summary discussed in this link: Mindanao Mountain Madness

Mts. Talomo-Apo Megatraverse makes up the first leg of my epic adventure. For 4 days, we were inside the wilderness of these mountains, survived all the elements that pounded and tested us physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually. A one of a kind adventure, certainly an experience to be treasured.

This post discusses the second part of our Talomo-Apo Megatraverse, comprising days 3 and 4 - from the time we escaped the wilderness of Mt Talomo and reached Mt. Apo's Lake Venado, assaulted and set foot on the highest peak, and finally descended via the Kidapawan Trail.

If you haven't read the first part, here's the link: Mt. Talomo | Struggle to Success   


Day 3 - January 19, 2013

The strenuous effort we've been exerting  in the past 3 days has begun to take its toll on me both physically and mentally. The pain in my lower extremities is the demon that tries to dishearten my eager spirit. Almost every minute, I was asking myself the questions, "when will this end? are we there yet? why am I doing this? should I still push for my D2K climb after this?

But then, all of a sudden, I heard my friends joyously screaming, "Lake Venado, Lake Venado..."

The name of the famous lake (probably the highest lake in the country) is like a bolt hurled to me by the gods, I was fully charged in an instant.

behind those greens is Lake Venado. Sa wakas, nakarating din kami.
It was around 2 PM, out of happiness and excitement, I rushed the last few meters to Lake Venado. Miraculously, the pain and weariness that pushes me back were all gone. We jumped endlessly, thanking God that we survived Mt. Talomo. Parang nakakita kami ng Yamashita Treasure sa sobrang tuwa. (Note: Whatever I'm writing in this paragraph are an understatement of the gladness we felt upon reaching Lake Venado).

Although it was so gloomy in the vicinity of Lake Venado, the fact that we're now facing Mt. Apo, the mightiest of them all, simply makes me the happiest person at that point of time.

gloomy Mt. Apo and Lake Venado, sigh, but still happy that we made it here
The original plan was to assault the highest summit right away, but since Mt. Apo looked very forbidding at that time (syempre ayaw naman namin umakyat sa summit na parang nagpa-1x1 picture with white background lang) we settled on postponing the assault to the next morning, hoping that by then, the weather would be favorable. And thus, the whole team spent the rest of the day relaxed and stress-free.

here's our makeshift community until the next day
many preferred to wash up their muddy shoes and clothes at the lake before anything else...
some opted to clean their teeth... something I did not do until we reached Davao City again..
Note: sometimes in the mountains, the harsh environment would deprive you from being hygienic
others chose to talk and share their fun and memorable experiences in Mt. Talomo. 
but as for me, well, it's picture-picture time!
I've never seen everyone moved pretty slow in the past 2 days.

Day 4 - January 20, 2013

The following morning, aaaarrgghhhh! it was raining so bad again! My hope of seeing the Philippines from its roof crumbled. From that point, in my mind, I was already scheduling a revenge climb.

around 6 AM, the team was prepped and ready to assault Mt. Apo's summit, even on a very bad weather condition

We started moving at 06:30 AM despite the weather so unfavorable. Clearly, the possibility that the gray sky will open up was as thin as a hairline.

Thirty minutes into hiking, the rain and wind intensified, temperature dropped so fast. It was terrifying.

All the elements conspired against us, the howling wind was deafening, the violent rain was piercing, and the temperature was really immobilizing. Mt. Apo became so cruel during our assault, it's as if we're battling our way to get inside a bastion full of defenders, almost or totally impossible. This continuous battering of nature made two from our team submit - a wise but painful decision.    

It would've been easy to assault the summit from Lake Venado only if the god of weather was on our side. It was like an assault to Tarak Ridge, steep but not really a technical climb.

smile pa rin ako kahit sobrang giniginaw na
we were shivering the entire time we're doing the assault. grabe talaga.
It was still raining, or should I say storming, when we arrived at the summit campsite at around 08:40 in the morning. It was so very cold so we gathered and sheltered inside a small cave (the one with a gotto) while waiting for the rest of the team for the final assault.

It was no joke, the temperature up there during that stormy morning was extremely excruciatingly freezing, even colder than Mt. Pulag I think.

Mt. Apo showed no mercy even during the final assault. The might of the combination of rain, wind and cold temperature, aka storm, never collapsed. We stopped somewhere to see Mt. Apo's crater, I saw it once, did not bother taking a picture, or even having a second glance (sobra sobrang lamig na kasi talaga).   

hiding behind the natural wind breakers
Then at exactly 09:17 AM, we reached the highest peak in the country. Woohoo! success. Although reaching for it was quite a disastrous experience, still, that's Mt. Apo, the highest, the mightiest, the roof of the Philippines. To stand on top of it is something to be really proud of.

me at the highest summit
should be back for the summit view.

them at the highest summit
heartbreaking summit, but still very happy
We would end up like a frozen turkey if we stayed any longer, after only about 5 minutes, we began descending the mountain. I probably ran it back to Lake Venado. I did not care if the trail was really muddy nor I stopped to rest my weary body. Gutom na gutom na ako, all I want was to get back at our campsite the soonest.

Then by 10:40 AM, we're back again to our camp at Lake Venado. I was so badly hungry that the first thing I grabbed upon reaching our camp were my spoon and plate. As soon as I finished my lunch, I went inside our tent to hide form the chilly winds outside. I did not go outside until it was around 12nn already where everyone was packed and ready again for the long trek down the Kidapawan trail.

resting at Kidapawan trail
The Kidapawan trail reminded me so much of Mt. Makiling's UPLB trail - muddy, quite steep and involved a little scrambling. Its mossy forest was not as thick as that of Mt. Talomo, evidently it's the trail usually taken by mountaineers (most people say that the Kidapawan Trail is the easiest of all the trails of Mt. Apo).

I thought Kidapawan trail would be like that forever until we arrive at Lake Agco (the end point of the megatraverse), little did I know that there will be a series of river crossings (Marble River) near the end. And it was not a simple river crossing for Marble river at that time was raging.

crossing Marble River. Not really deep, but the strength of the current makes the crossing a bit scary
we did more than 5 river crossing, most are waist-deep. 
During our descent on Kidapawan trail, an incident that made all of us feel so worried happened. One from our team, the clown of the group, got lost on the trail. Apparently she took a different trail that branches out from the main Kidapawan trail and reunited with us after more than three hours. She was on the brink of crying when we found her again.

We were joking that if ever we failed to find her, we'll summon a search and rescue team to look for her, including a chopper and a bunch of media people. Then she'll be featured in all the TV programs and her story will be the headline and cover of many broad sheets and magazines. hehe

night trekking
Then night time caught up once again, there were still a few streams and improvised bamboo bridges we crossed before finally, at around 8 PM, we arrived at the highway, the end of our Mt. Talomo-Apo Megatraverse. We did it! Hurrah!


We completed not just a simple climb on Mt. Apo, but the grueling Mt. Talomo-Apo Megatraverse. I may not have seen the summit view I very much wanted for my 21st year, but I was so blessed with something more treasure-worthy than that. It's here that I truly realized that it is not the summits that make up the best and most remarkable climbs, but companionship and experience you share on the trails. 

A few hours after the successful traverse, on a roadside at the very heart of Kidapawan City, we welcomed my 21st birthday.

a humble cake for the debutante.
big thanks to Mam Joy for this wonderful mamon and sperma candle.

Our adventure in Mindanao continued as we head to Samal Island to celebrate the success our our epic climb and my 21st birthday. There, we met a very accommodating resort owner, converted her resort into a big laundry place, entered the city hall for a dose of air condition... these and a lot more in my next blog.

Follow the story here: Samal Island Adventures



  1. ano ba sasabhin ko ... hmmm happy birthday muna ,,, wow im a fan of yours! grabe death defying ung ginawa nio pero nakayanan niyo pa din ... astig tlga yun oh mount apo!

    congrats! next dapat mt everest na!

  2. happy birthday :D

    at dami mo ng naakyat na kabundukan! minsan sama ko. pag handa na ko lol

  3. congrats ;) hope to join one of your climbs...

  4. Aliw naman yung Clown niyo... talagang search and rescue with a bunch of media people and we're thinking about potential TV endorsments of Mother Plastic pa remember... LOL talaga.

  5. What an adventure you had Ivan! You are such a courageous young lad, or shall I say "man" now that you just celebrated your bday? Keep climbing, hijo!

  6. Happy Birthday and congratulations Ivan!
    Great climb!

    Looking forward for more climbs!

  7. Happy birthday to you! I was hanging out in Kidapawan on a work-related assignment and I was hoping to climb Mt. Apo before we returned to Manila. Never happened. Sayang! You just do what you want to do and worry about the consequences later. Sometimes opportunity only comes once in a lifetime. Kaya lang, inggat - unreasonable risks-taking could be detrimental to your life and limbs. Take care.

  8. Nakakatakot but super enjoy ng adventure niyo. I wish makapag major hike na rin ako this year.... Nakakainspire yong ganigawa mo. Thanks ivan!

  9. Inuna kong tapusin basahin ung blog mo kesa sa lunch ko.some name of the places i dont remember but thanks to this blog... next time kakumpetensya ko na sir kuya miting s pagguide pababa, ibng trail..ahaha..super treasure ko tong event na to...

  10. I'm always excited to read other climber's experiences on my favorite Philippine mountain - the weather may have been too unwelcoming but the fact you guys made it up there just shows how you were able to conquer not just a peak but yourselves as well. Well done!

  11. I happen to climb Mt. Apo. Nanghinayang lang ako, solo nyo sana yung peak, kaya lang puro fog. Masarap mag solo picture sa peak with nice clouds as your background.
    Dun ako nanghinayang sa climb nyo.
    At least, nakabawi kayo ng magandang pic sa Lake Venado.
    I'm sure it was still a very nice experience for everybody who joined your climb.

  12. It's here that I truly realized that it is not the summits that make up the best and most remarkable climbs, but companionship and experience you share on the trails.....Agree!!!

  13. ASTIG!!! I hope someday I can climb Mt. Apo.

    My weblog



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