So there we were, at the peak, shivering from head to foot in the cold mountain air and rainfall. Ah, Mt. Apo – indeed the grandfather of all Philippine mountains (2,956 MASL) . Halfway into conquering him, we have already had our fair share of shifting landscapes and contrasting trail types. As nighttime bade hello, we set down our full packs and quickly assembled our tent amidst the biting wind. Good thing we had the entire peak to ourselves. We settled for a spot inside a shallow cave and hoped the tent can take the battering of the winds.
Our gracious host and guide Jezer Paro* (+63 918 7819861) is nothing short of amazing. Contacted at the eleventh hour, we were fortunate he was available and agreeable to our 2-day traverse of the Kapatagan (Davao) and Kidapawan (North Cotabato) trails. His suggested plan was to start at the Kapatagan side and climb all the way to the summit on the first day, make camp at the summit area and descend to Lake Venado and the Kidapawan trail the next day. Whereas the usual itinerary takes three or four days for the entire traverse, we opted to challenge ourselves to finish it overnight. Jezer knew the ins, outs and shortcuts of the mountain by heart. With all his tricks, we were able to cut short our ascent by an hour or two. We negotiated the ascent for a total of seven hours and 25 minutes and the descent for a staggering seven and 15.