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Mount Apo - Davao Travel Guide

It was Holy Week but I wasn’t going to do penance. I was doing something different: I will climb the country’s highest peak - Mount Apo near Davao City. Our mountain guides assured us that we would enjoy it, that it won’t be more difficult than the pre-climbing activities we’ve done. And we are going to follow the easiest trail. But our little group got lost.

The trail, at first, was quite easy. Or perhaps we were just prepared for it after climbing two small mountains the week before. We’ve forgotten how heavy our backpacks were because we were enjoying the view. We paused now and then to take pictures and to collect wild berries. Climbing the Apo is a feat that we will cherish in our old age. We were so intent on berries and pictures that we didn’t notice that night is almost on us. Besides, at such elevations, six pm appears like 3 pm.

Then it was suddenly dark. We veered towards the boulders to avoid the sulfur smoke coming out of the mountain side. But our young guide could not find our trail signs. There were other trail signs and we were not sure which belong to our group and which belong to other groups and which were placed last year, or several years ago. Our mobile phones, which we wrapped in condoms to keep them dry against the Mount Apo moisture, showed no signal so we couldn’t call for help. But it wasn’t losing direction that I was most afraid of. I was most afraid of losing my footing and breaking my leg.

When there was still enough light, the big sharp rocks and the deep crevices just looked dangerous. At night, with only flashlights giving feeble light, they looked menacing. The rocks are not always steady. They shift to one side when you put your weight on it. And I refused to look into the dark spaces between the rocks. They might hypnotize me and pull me into their bosoms.

So we heaved and crawled on four limbs. We jumped and clung for our lives. We leaped from one unsteady rock to another, balancing our heavy loads and shattering our gloves. I was already wearing two gloves on each hand but I could still feel the cold seeping in. For a few moments, I was thankful for my expensive climbing shoes. But for the rest, I was pleading to my angels to guide me. We missed dinner and ate the berries.

Our guide kept us going for almost eight hours. Once I wondered why he was in a hurry. Later, around two am, when we finally arrived at the camp site, he told me that we were lucky it didn’t rain. All of us would have suffered from hypothermia. I just nodded and fell asleep. The next day, I stood at the top of Mount Apo and looked at the boulders. They didn’t look sinister at all.

Related articles : Davao Travel Guide - Lake Sebu - Jack's Ridge - Beyond Taal Volcano - Spelunking

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