Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mt. Apo (Part 3)

The Final Trail Going Down

By Heinz Lopez Alvarez, Jr.

Reaching the summit of the Philippine’s Highest, Mt. Apo, provided each and every one of us the sense of having great accomplishment. After years of climbing mountains with varied difficulties, we were able to see ourselves standing at the topmost peak of the grandest mountain in the archipelago. It felt like we have finally received the trophy as Pinoy mountaineers! And that was the ultimate reason we were able to surpass post-summit assault challenges.

Mt. Apo as seen from the west.
Feeling accomplished and content, we treated those challenges as part of the adventure. We laughed despite the sharp icy temperature. We continued despite the unknown weather that was waiting for us. And we survived the sleepless, extremely cold, and raining night in a camp by the Lake Venado. God is good! The following day brought the prize- a promising weather for us to fully enjoy the adventure along the final trail going down.

Complete by the lake: April, Liz, Ivan, Wilson, Tin, Heinz, Ms. Weng, Clue, Shyne and Louie

Leaving Lake Venado

Thanks to Kuya Omel and his boys for preparing hot coffee very early on that freezing Sunday morning. Because of it, we were able to go out of our tents and prepare for the final leg of our descent. We broke camp after that romantic scene with Louie’s marriage proposal to Shyne.

BP Lead Ivan with Kuya Omel (far right) and his boys
BPs with other Mt. Apo Challengers

As the sun continued to unhide itself from the clouds, Lake Venado became more and more mesmerizing. Its calm water reflected the trees that stood by its west side. And, it’s so amazing to think that it keeps the east side free from trees, so people can camp by it.

West bank of Lake Venado
The campsite by east of Lake Venado

Practicing The BACKPACKERS way, we prayed before leaving Lake Venado. And as I started to trudge away from that paradise, I glanced back to that side of Mt. Apo that’s facing Lake Venado and silently prayed May God bless the people who are part of the team that rehabilitates you…

The Trails

We set our expectations that the trail could be muddy and slippery as it rained overnight. The initial part of the trail was watery, definitely because it passed that area, which becomes part of the actual lake (we thought) when it rained heavier than usual in that part of the mountain. Once passed that, the next part of the trail snakes through mossy forest again, but this time, it’s noticeably going down.

If it was Everyday flowers that inspired us to complete the trail coursed on the east side of Mt. Apo, the trail passed Lake Venado was almost evenly guarded by giant wild ferns. Amazing literally giant trees showed up along the trail too!    
The difficulty of the Kidapawan Trail changes from one particular point in the descent to another.

Staircase to heaven?

There were parts where one wrong move and we could have been falling down the ravine to death. There were times when we needed support from ropes to be able to go down a slippery 90 degrees steep. And, there were couple of instances when we found ourselves in bamboo stairs because they were not trails anymore (at least in our assessment) but cliffs to survive. In those undertakings, we just reminded ourselves with The BACKPACKERS way- work your way slowly but safely.

BP Liz making it down that cliff.
Kudos to Jhun, one of our porters, who literally ported injured BP Tin for 11 hours safely (despite those bravery-disturbing trails) all the way to Kidapawan!  

Camp Coong

We started the descent from Lake Venado at around 8:00 AM. By passed 12:00 NN, we were already enjoying our lunch break in a garden-like camp named Coong.

Ms. Weng loving the charming Camp Coong

Camp Coong has several benches made of bamboo and wood planks. They were actually enough to have us all seated while Kuya Omel and his team prepared our lunch, which we shared with that Fil-German mountaineer and his climb buddy, who we met back in the summit.

A Fil-German mountaineer joined us for lunch.

BP April relaxing moment
Spending a lighter moment with co-Mt. Apo challengers
BP Lead Ivan tried to grab a sleep.
A luncheon session.


Perhaps my favorite, though I admit I felt butterflies in my stomach, was the river-crossing. The group had to cross the same river thirteen times, and when we did, we needed support from our guides because of the strong current.

The action in the river.

Personally, I thought that the death-defying series were all over when we reached a “sayote” (chayote / pear squash) farm. But I was wrong because of the next river crossing that we need to face.

Literally river-crossing.
A foot bridge.
Footbridge is more fun in the Philippines.

The river-crossing by that vegetable plantation was the most dangerous one; not because the water current was intense (and we did not actually touch the water, anyway), but because we needed to cross over that long and high old bamboo bridge that has been partly ripped off by previous flooding.


Finally Kidapawan

Reaching “Lost and Found”, a hot spring private resort, at the end of that very long trail going down Mt. Apo means you have finally hit the rural Kidapawan.

BP Clue and I were amazed when we saw those waterholes on the ground because the water that’s coming out was literally boiling. If only I had an egg that moment, I could have placed it in there for some experiment.

Pine trees and relaxing breeze. They welcomed us to Kidapawan City.

"Reaching Mt. Apo's summit and being able to traverse through, 
along its varied types of trails safely, was a great blessing for us as a Group." 
~ BP Heinz

Photos by Liz Honrade and Clue Fajardo

Revisit these stories anytime...

MT. APO (Part 1)
By Ivan Laurence Ignacio

Mt. APO (Part 2)
By Heinz Lopez Alvarez, Jr.

Mt. APO (Part 3)
By Heinz Lopez Alvarez, Jr.


Mark Nickson Garcia said...

Congratulations to BP's who conquered PHILIPPINES HIGHEST! I really enjoyed reading the adventure from Part 1 to 3. Great job BP Heinz.

I felt the intensity of the bamboo descend and river crossing.

What's next for BP?

Kudos to kuya who carried BP Tin, ikaw na!


Thank you BP Nick!

Sa pagbalik, dapat kasama ka na brother! :)

~ BP Heinz

Tribe Pride said...

Good job folks...Congrats Mamang Kargador, I salute you.

Can I have the number of these group of porter/guides? Would love to hire them for my planned edventure :)

Ivan Laurence said...

Hi Tribe Pride!

Thank you for your appreciation of our three part Mt. Apo experience! You can contact Kuya Omel at 0919-751-5988. Have fun on your Mt. Apo adventure!

~BP Ivan

Albert Salvatierra said...

Congarulations young people and more mountain to climb.. Be a role model mountaineers....
Looking the pictures of Kidapawan trail remind me a lot, very familiar trail, where I used it in climbing Apo.I considereclimbing Mt. Apo is a milestone achievement, where I also celebrate my very first birthday climb.

Byaheng Jologs said...

Good job Bp Heinz...
you did it perfectly...every details..every moments...
I remember the time when we're on some part of the trail...everybody knows it's quite difficult and dangerous...but with you guys, as my trusted group, I don't feel it that way...Di ako nagkamali sa pagsama sa inyo dito...
Ayan...sir Heinz ayan nanaman ako...Alam na....
My support and prayers are always with you guys...

tina_fajardo said...

I love this Tol Heinz! Ang ganda ng pagkakasulat. It completely captured every emotion, every pain and agony, every shout for joy and success. You are truly a distinguished writer!

Superb! So if there is anyone who will call it a boring write-up, s/he just can't connect/relate and it's not a miss on our part hehehe


@Sir Albert: Thank you and I hope that you will be able to climb Mt. Apo again. :)

@Byaheng Jologs: Thank you, Ms. Weng, for the appreciation and unwaivering support!

@Tol Clue: Thank you, i appreciate it. :)

Anonymous said...

counting - that's something I can't do during hikes. Buti na lang at nabilang mo na thirteen pala ang river crossing jan. At wow lang ang masasabi ko, dahil during our time, night trek na kami nung napadaan kami sa ilang bamboo bridges na yan! Awesome talaga! at babalik-balikan ko ang page na 'to to grab some pics... hehehe, wala akong memory ng mga tulay-tulay na yan...~DQXTC aka Vince Cent -LOL