Scaling the Boulders of Mt. Apo - The Highest Mountain in the Philippines

in Mountaineering8 days ago (edited)

Hello everyone!

I was trying not to post about Mt. Apo because I still have a lot of travels before this one, but I saw this small community from @erikah's list of communities. It's time to promote Mountaineering Community. I like that they don't have rules except "behave as if you're in the mountains". If you're a mountaineer, you know what that means. Behaving appropriately in the mountains sometimes spells a difference between life and death.

Another reason I'm posting this ahead is that I have been watching many mountaineering videos on YouTube these past few weeks. There are a lot of answers when mountaineers are asked why they climb mountains, but the most common answer is because it's there. Mt. Everest has claimed more than 300 lives since expeditions began and it is said that more than 200 bodies are still there. Mountains are still there and they're not friendly especially if you're not prepared.

When I was still starting to climb mountains, I often posted on Facebook that I conquered this peak, but as I grow more mature, I realized that you can never really conquer mountains. You just climb it, reach its peak, and then go back down. The mountain is still there, standing as a monument of time. You didn't conquer the mountain, you conquered yourself. As I said in my Mt. Mandalagan post, you will go down a different person from when you climbed up.

There's a lot to chronicle in this climb, especially since I dared to scale the highest mountain in the Philippines and considering it's just my second major climb. My first major climb is in Mt. Kalatungan traverse Mt. Lumpanag/Wiji - the fifth highest mountain in the Philippines. My goal is to climb the Top 5 here in the Philippines and then maybe try the more technical ones.

For now, I will have to skip to this specific portion of the climb - the Boulders. I felt that this community is for my more technical climbs, delving deeper into the details and features of the mountain. Don't worry though, I will still post every single detail of this climb in a different series.

After breaking camp at 2:00 AM and starting to climb to the summit on our second day, we reached the solfataras of Mt. Apo at around 5:30 AM. We had a group photo at the bottom of the smoking part of the ravine which is also the start of the boulders.

Here's a serious pose before the grueling 6 hours of continuous ascent before reaching the summit of Mt. Apo.

As we started to slowly make our way to the steep face of Mt. Apo, the sun was also starting to rise and illuminate the surroundings. That's when we started to appreciate the beauty of the place. Climbing for almost four hours in the dark is extremely tiring. I felt this surge of energy when I saw the smoking solfataras, but with the renewed energy comes a new challenge. The guide told us that the Boulders of Mt. Apo is the most difficult part of the climb.

At first, we were still laughing at ourselves for why we always choose to climb mountains knowing that it will always be difficult. But there's this beauty that no amount of muscle pain can stop me from climbing from one mountain to another. While the scene was magnificent, it was a challenge to continue climbing the near 90 degrees trail.

As I looked back to the trail we just traversed, this is what I saw:

If we just had all the time in the world, I would have stayed in that place for at least an hour and had a timelapse as the sun was rising. Sadly, we had to continue climbing that steep trail until we reached the top of the smoking solfataras. Another moment to take a lot of photos for Instagram.

Mt. Apo is actually a dormant stratovolcano. The boulders, the smoking face of the mountain, and the yellow sulfur deposits are proof of volcanic activity. I was always looking above the trail because I was paranoid of falling rocks. Just imagine, a slight tremor can dislodge some rocks that could trigger a disastrous rock fall. That part was the most dangerous portion of the trail for me.

I was standing at the edge of a deep smoking chasm, carrying a 15-kg backpack, with less than four hours of sleep the night before, but I never felt so alive. I knew it was adrenaline. My shoes and trekking pants were full of solidified mud from the rainy trek the day before. I didn't mind though. It's a sign of survival. As my friends would always say, we were always greeted by rain in the mountains on the first day, but the sky would clear up on the second day.

Just look at the scale of what waited for us. The summit was still at the back of the farthest rock you can see in the photo above. It's a grueling ascent in those boulders. There's no established trail in that part. You just have to follow your guides.

At some points along the trail, you can find sulfur deposits. Some even have sulfur columns indicating present volcanic activity. I just find those yellow deposits interesting. It means we were standing on top of a volcano that might erupt at any time. I was being paranoid, but there were a lot of scenarios playing in my head.

We had breakfast somewhere along the trail and we foraged some berries as our trail food. As we went higher and higher, it felt like our pace was slowing and we took more rest than usual. The bright and sunny morning slowly became foggy. The fog that was below us slowly crept upwards and caught up with us.

While we slowly made progress, I realized that it was the most difficult climb I had so far. I knew we made progress, albeit slow, because the vegetation was receding from sight.

While we celebrate small wins by eating some trail food and sipping some water, we recognized that the summit was still not in sight. It would still take hours to get there.

I started to feel light-headed and I was constantly catching my breath. It was a sign of altitude sickness, but it was nothing serious. We could rest anytime we wanted, but we decided that it would be better to slowly work our way up and have a big rest at White Sand E-Camp. It's the part of the trail where there are white sands, hence the name. But I sneaked rest from time to time to take photos and selfies.

We finally reached White Sand E-Camp after more than five hours of scaling those boulders. From the camp at 2:00 AM, we have already walked more than nine hours and my body's pain indicated I would need to put pain reliever patches all over me.

We were still an hour away from the summit, so the climb was not yet over. But we rested a little bit longer at the E-Camp. I have some interesting photos to share soon.

In case you're wondering, the photos came from different phones that's why they're in different color tones and qualities. We agreed to share our photos, so I guess it's okay to use them here.

I guess that's all for this post. See you at the next one!

Kim Ybañez

Welcome to Kim's small corner in Hive. He is a chemical engineer by profession, but a blogger by passion. He is a wanderlust and an adventure seeker. Join his quests as he visits secluded destinations, climbs mountains, tries new and exotic dishes, and explores his country (The Philippines). He's also a trying hard photographer so stay tuned as he shares his photos and his thought process while creating them.

If you like his content, don't forget to upvote and leave a comment to show some love. You can also reblog if you want to. Also, don't forget to follow him to be updated with his latest posts.


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When I was still young, it is my passion to wonder in the beautiful creatures of God and mountains is one of them. I love hiking, camping and same activities but time and money usually didn't allow me to go on. One time I had a chance to join a hiking to Mt. Matutum. I thought i cant do it because in the phase 1 I almost surrender. On the other side of my mind it keeps on telling i can do it but sometimes my body is saying the opposite one, lol. Fortunately I reached the peak after 8 hours hehehe. That was the highest peak i climb.

Climbing is satisfying and fun too. Keep doing it but keep yourself safe @ybanezkim26.

I heard of Mt. Matutum from my friend and he said he would bring me there, but nothing happened yet. Maybe soon.

Mt. Matutum is located in the Municipality of Tupi, South Cotabato and we are in Polomolok, a nearby municipality.

Oh! I saw some very scenic photos of Mt. Matutum behind a plantation of pineapples. You might have a good view there in your area.

Yes @ybanezkim26 Mt. Matutum can be viewed in front of our small house.

Wow! Would be awesome to wake up early in the morning with that kind of view.

I so agree with your point about conquering mountains. Usually we use this as an expression whenever we are posting in social media like we have conquered the mountain literally and figuratively. After all, we did not really conquer it but we just reach its peak and then go back down the bottom. Same goes with life situations. But what’s more important is to both climb and fall down gloriously.

How I love the mountain shots. More mountains to climb Kim. Have a great day and take care.

People tend to focus more on the altitude rather than the process to reach that altitude. That's why we say we conquer the mountain when in reality, we conquered our previous limit. How many times I felt like quitting midway, but I just continued moving forward because I didn't have a choice. I agree that it's the same with life. We continue to press on forward because it's the only choice we have. Laban lang.

Thank you! I still have a lot of mountains to climb, but I'm taking it slow because the permits are so expensive. 😅

So true, kim and those thoughts from you are so profound. A lot are focusing on the peak but the process in climbing could either make or press us. And we will know when when are at the summit because it is not crowded anymore. In the end, the reality speaks that climbing a mountain is never for the faint heart.

Let us just enjoy every rise and fall. More mountains to climb and more glorious days ahead. Enjoy climbing Kim. Have a nice time. Take care.

Mauwaw man sad ta sa profound. Char2x lang po. 😅

Heheh. Payts Kim. Way char. Basta mao nato sya, profound.

I watched a certain movie and it is all about a team who decided to climb, I think it is a kind of festival every year that they need to reach the top of Mount Everest, I just forgot the title of the movie. but in the end, few of them finished, and almost all of their teammate died, some of them fell and froze.

It takes a lot of courage to do that! you're so brave! Kudos to you and your team.

Thank you! I just happened to love the mountains so much. The view at the top is just incomparable.

That’s one hard climb! I can’t imagine the pain and the struggle.

Uyyy kim, murag naa koy kaila sa imong photo pero d ko sure. Do you know everyone in the photo?

Sure na diay ko kim! 😂 I saw the same photo in his blog. Kaila mo?
Sya author ni wanderingfeetph
Classmate nako 😅

Ah! Si Junji! Yeah. Kuyog mi nila katkat sa Kalatungan then Apo.

I’ve been trying to get him to Hive. Unta muari na since naa ka 🤣

Maynta mujoin na! Giinvite na nako sila jud pero murag di man interested so wala nalang ko nipush. Maayo kay classmate nimo so makainvite jud ka.

Nitry bitaw kog invite, then waley man hahaha wa na lang sad ko nipush 😂

Di ta mamugos oi. Sa madani lang jud. 😂

It was! But it was all worth it!

Kaila ko nila tanan by name pero wala jud ko kaila nila personally kay joiner rako. Kinsa ana? Sa ila ra man sad ko pirmi mujoin ug climb.

The view is just so breath taking and I realy like that one, yo didn't conquer it but when you go down, you're a different person already because something about you just change. You conquered you greatest enemy, yourself.

This one really excites me but in just one wrong move for sure you're a broken piece. I really loved Philippines.💕

That's why you should always be prepared for whatever will happen in the mountains. The most important is mental preparedness.

Ahhh, I envy watching this photo. Huhu.😔 It is my dream to climb Mt. Apo. Reaching its peak, as the highest mountain in the Philippines spells VICTORY for me. (Sigh). However, thank you @ybanezkim26, for these wonderful photos of your journey. (Murag nag doubt ko na di nako kaya😅, dream pa lang ni ha' haha.) But your reflection that "It's not the mountains that we conquer, but ourselves, our limit, is enough to motivate me to still hold on to one of my dreams. (Who knows, maka-saka jd ko dha) If this happens, I will definitely cry with joy.😭

If determined jud ka musaka kay makaya ra man. Naa easy na trails. Di muagi sa boulders. Don't give up on your dreams. One day makasaka ra jud ka.

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The clouds are below the mountain and you are on top of the mountain. Unbelievable. It was indeed a great adventure for you.

It was indeed one of the most awesome moments I had in my life. I always cherish my moments in the mountains.

you will go down a different person from when you climbed up.

grabe anang morea than 9 hours of walking... with a backpack... I believe it's rewarding to see the world from the peak!

It's always rewarding especially if there's a clearing, but most of the time, it's just fog. Reaching the peak is the ultimate goal, so having a clear view at the top is just a bonus.

Thanks for promoting this. Mukhang magagamit ko to once we go back to hiking 😁
Ang lamig pla tlga sa tuktok..prang winter lang mga outfit 😅..

Yes! Promote natin mga small communities. Excited to see your next hiking post!

Grabe talaga ang lamig sa taas. Kailangan doble ang dalang jacket.

Sa autumn pa maghiking hehe.. Sobra init ng summer dto

Nice sa autumn vibes while hiking oi! Naol

That looks like an epic hike. The view is astounding. It is great that you had some awesome people to do this with.

It was an awesome hike! I'm just a joiner though. I just join people from Facebook. We ended up being friends after the climb. Strange considering I'm an introvert, but my love for hiking prevails.

a great place. suitable for us to climb

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Wow! A great applause to you po. I really adore climbers like you. How I wish I can do the same thing but I guess due to my asthma, I cannot do that at once. So thank you for sharing this po. ♥️

Thank you! Your asthma is severe? Maybe just start climbing hills and low peaks. Of course, have a doctor's consent. Climbing mountains can't really be explained. It can only be experienced. I hope you can experience one day.

Grabeh! Kanindot! Worth it talaga ang pain ug struggle in reaching the peak. Super nice to see the wonders of nature.
Hadlok ko SA heights. Ang osmeña peak pa Lang Gane ako naadtoan unya hadlok ko motindog SA taas. Hehehe

Worth it jud ang view sa taas. Di ra man nuon ko mahadlok sa heights. Basta sure ko na di ko mahulog, mukatkat ra jud ko. 😅

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Nice to read and seeing fabulous landscapes and feeling some envy . missing mountains