The highest point in the Philippines is Mount Apo on the island of Mindanao. It is the 99th most prominent mountain in the world and stands at an elevation of 2,954 metres. There are at least three reasons to climb it. The mountain is an active stratovolcano and is considered a sacred site by many local tribes. As I found out later, the trail was quite interesting and the views higher up were beautiful. We left our car at the side of the road, changed and started walking towards the summit. We crossed agricultural fields and a small dam with a metal bridge. The path continued along the fields to the last village of Culan, where we had a cold drink and signed in. Two more kilometres brought us to the settlement of Tumpis where we had a short break next to the local church before continuing our journey.
- Day 1. From the car park at 1140m to the campsite at 2255m in 5h20
- Day 2. From the camp at 2255m to the summit at 2954m in 3h15. Then down to the car park in 6h00 (including lunch brake).
We soon entered the jungle on a steeper slope. The trail passed Camp 1 and Timikaran Camp 2, where there were quite a few people and tents. Timikaran is an endemic species of tree, hence the name of the camp. After lunch and another thirty minute walk we arrived at our campsite where we pitched our tents and relaxed; there was no rush as it was just after lunch and we had plenty of time until morning. Albert suggested we visit Boulders Opening to see active vents. An excellent suggestion and we walked about half a kilometre to the old lava flow where we could hear and see active vents. There was a smell of sulphur and smoke in the air; it was an interesting sight.
A lot of people from Timikaran Camp 2 started climbing up around 1am. Some good songs were playing on the loudspeakers as they passed my tent at 2am. We got up at 4am, had some coffee and soon caught up with all these people. Surprisingly, they hadn’t gone too far. In fact, when we got to the summit we found only a few people, which meant we had passed dozens of teams. Above Boulders Opening there are a lot of sulphur smelling vents. The path wasn’t very obvious, although there wasn’t much need for it. Then there were a few hundred metres of easy scrambling through boulder fields and a reasonably good trails to all the sub-peaks and the true summit.
The summit is marked with a plaque, but on the lower summit we found a plaque with a misleading height of about one hundred and fifty metres more than it actually is. There were a few other people on the top, Albert signed and gave us certificates. It was nice. The views around weren’t bad, but clouds were gathering and soon the visibility wasn’t as good as it had been twenty minutes before.
On the way up we also visited the slightly lower north-eastern summit, then climbed the highest central peak, then the westernmost peak, and finally on the way back we had to climb the southern summit. So we visited four of the highest peaks on the mountain.
On the way down we get caught in a heavy tropical downpour and spend half an hour in the local church waiting for the rain to stop. But the rain stops as quickly as it started and we descend to the village of Culan, where we take a short break with a cold beer and a snack. Very refreshing.
After reaching the car, we change and head back to Davao. Excellent start to the trip, tomorrow before going to Mount Matutum we will visit Puting Bato, the highest point of the Samal Island.