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Ascent of Mount Apo on 2018-12-31

Climber: Eric Gilbertson

Date:Monday, December 31, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Apo
    Location:Philippines
    Elevation:9692 ft / 2954 m

Ascent Trip Report

Dec 29
I flew out of Singapore in the afternoon and on the flight the pilot announced there had just been an earthquake off the coast of davao, Philippines. Luckily it was far enough offshore that it had no major effect on the city.
I landed at 630pm, quickly made it through customs and took a taxi to the dcounter dormitel hotel.

Mt Apo requires a permit that i had read was complicated and difficult to obtain without help from someone on the ground. Also, since 2016 there is a quota of 50 people per day on the summit. This means it is important to secure a permit as far in advance as possible.
For these reasons it makes sense to pay a guiding company to arrange permits. They can also arrange transportation to the trailhead.
I paid about $200 usd for a 2day trip with Albert Garcia of mt Apo climbs. This included a night in a hotel before the climb.

Dec 30
I met guide Voltaire at 5am and we took a taxi to a bus stop, then a bus to digos. There we loaded onto a motorcycle and rode to kapatagon to eat breakfast at a small restaurant. Everything is very cheap in the Philippines with breakfast only 50 cents.
We continues up rough 4wd dirt tracks to baruring, then started the hike.
Roy joined us and we there hiked up to the village of Celun around 830am where a ranger checked our permit.
From there we passed through another village where a horse was being butchered then entered the jungle.

The trail was steep and muddy but luckily it didn’t rain. By noon we reached camp 1, apparently way ahead of schedule. Instead of camping there we continued higher. We passed many other hikers descending but we were the only ones going up.
We soon entered a dry streambed then crossed above treeline. We ascended steep talus slopes and saw a band of a dozen monkeys running around.
By 4pm we reached the highest water source and set up camp at the white sands camp 300ft below the summit.
Voltaire said before 2016 you could camp at the summit and there were even vendors living up there. There averaged 700 people per day on the summit, which was not sustainable. So in 2016 the rules changed to restrict camping locations and enforce a quota.
We ate pork and rice for dinner then went to bed as it started raining.

Dec 31
We got up at 4am and were moving by 445am.
The trail was steep but we made it up to the first summit by 515am, just in time to enjoy an amazing sunrise over the Pacific Ocean nearly 10kft below us.
After 30 minutes we hiked around the rim to the true summit. There was a yellow wooden sign on top proclaiming an

elevation of 10,331ft, though I think the true elevation is actually 9675ft.
We continued to one other summit that had a sign on top even though it was obviously shorter. After admiring more views we headed back down. We packed up camp, then quickly hiked back to Celun and the trailhead by noon.
The round trip hike was only 14 miles and 6500ft gain, so would be a perfectly reasonable day hike if you can figure out how to obtain a permit and transport to the trailhead. Though camping does make it easy to see sunrise from the summit, which is pretty amazing.

We took a motorcycle back from baruring and saw many other motorcycles riding up. Most had at least 5 or 6 people crammed On! It was new years eve and everyone was traveling to be home with family.
We made it back to digos, then caught a bus and taxi back to the hotel by 3pm.

I was still recovering from a cold I’d caught in Papua New guinea a few days earlier and hiking at altitude certainly hadn’t helped that endeavor. So I rested at the hotel the rest of the day and went to bed early. I slept in the next morning then caught an afternoon flight out to my next highpoint destination, Palau.

Link to full trip report and pictures.
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