Climbing Mount Apo in '97
Mount Apo got the respect due its stature as the Philippines' highest mountain (2954m/ 9692 ft, active volcano on Mindanao Island in southeast) from us. We came prepared and behaved.
Two pre-climbs facilitated by Expedition Leader Russell Aguinaldo of the Philippine Air Lines Mountaineering Club with the support of other members as Noel Rebuelta, Mayan Gutierrez and operations manager Elmer Cabotage paved the way for a well-paced, well-managed event as planned for 32 climbers and eventually down to 25.
The 4-day trek via Kidapawan starting Wednesday 27 August noontime ending 30 August noontime showed us the grandeur that is Apo. Average trekking hours per day was 4 hours with an average load of 40 pounds to supply us with food and shelter for 4 days in extreme weather.
But it was all worth it. We were treated to a visual feast of flower-lined trail, cool clear rushing Marbel River waters, therapeutic and refreshing Mainit steaming hot waters on our first day. As we ascended to Lake Venado, giant trees wrapped around with moss and the 87º-rock climb welcomed us. It was almost the setting of Jurassic Park.
At the Lake, the sky was clear and the stars were sparkling bright. Highlight to me was the awesome Lake Venado scene at 3 a.m. at a chilling 5º Celsius. Peeping from the tent, you can see fog floating at the lake and the moon topping at the fog-like a giant ice cream float with a white nata de coco on top.
The ultimate of course was the expansive and open peak in bright, unobstructed panoramic view of the whole of Mindanao. At 7:30 in the morning 29 August, we were the tallest human beings on top of the Philippine soil.
All these experiences merely set the stage for the persons in us. And it was the best in us.
Written by Chito Razon
Photo by Norbert Calderon.