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Vince J. Celeste


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Vince J. Celeste


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Mt. Apo: The Boulder Face Trail Adventures

April 29 – May 1, 2018 — The trek I just went to was the most ambitious mountain climbing I have ever thought. And I thought, I won’t be able to make it this month before classes start! Until now as I am drafting this article, I can’t just contain my amazement, my excitement has not subsided yet and I’m still looking forward for another Mount Apo boulder face adventures. This trek was just my third mountaineering activity, just right after traversing Mount Melibengoy via Kule Hunter trail to Salacafe trail last month and backtrailing Mount Matutum last December 2017.

Vinceleste at Mount Apo boulder face
Taken just at the entrance to the boulders.

Day One

Full of excitement, I waited patiently for my trekking buddies at crossing Cogon in Digos City since they were coming from Davao city together with Niel Caspi, his brother Jake and James, our lead-man for the trek. While waiting, another lady trekker arrived and we got acquainted with each other. Miss Lyra is from Tupi, South Cotabato. At least I wasn’t alone coming from the south.

Chasing the sunrise at Mount Apo’s boulder face.

At around 7 am, we’re already eating our breakfast in Kapatagan where habal-habal (motorcycle) rides start which brought us to sitio Baruring where we started trekking going to the next sitio called Culan. From sitio Culan, we passed by vegetable plantations and started to follow a trail leading us through bushes and mossy forest ascending up to the Tinikaran camp. We arrived around 1 in the afternoon. We pitched our tents while our guides cooked food for us (‘Twas not actually included in the package. See how accommodating they were!). it was drizzling already by 2pm while I felt the temperature was dropping. And yes, I was tired but the cold temperature helped me get eased and settled in my own pitched tent between two trees next to Miss Lyra’s tent just near our buddy trekkers’ tents.

The boulder face of Mount Apo
The boulder face of Mount Apo

Chitchats and introductions started to make us feel closer to one another; exchanged ideas on trekking, expectations and insights on Mount Apo’s boulder face the next day were also introduced. We slept early as we’re told to wake up by 3am… a time when temperature might be too low. Fingers crossed.

The group at the crater
The group at the crater.

The Second Day

A night before, I already packed the essentials for the day hike up to the summit: headlamp, jacket, raincoat, extra shirt, my camera and GoPro and lastly, my school uniform and ID. I was so excited to wear them upon reaching the summit as a souvenir photo since I know that climbing Mount Apo is a once-in-a-blue-moon chance for me.

The dream of every Mount Apo trekker
The dream of every Mount Apo trekker: a photo taken at the summit.

Before 4 o’clock in the morning, we were already ascending through thick and mossy forest going up to the boulders entrance. It was also a chance for me to chase the sunrise before the summit. And indeed, I was blest with the beautiful sunrise I have ever seen aside from my first Pacific sunrise at Cape San Agustin in Davao Occidental. We ate our breakfast at the “rock tower” before proceeding to the boulder face of Mount Apo where sulphuric gas were being emitted anywhere on the rocky trail. Had teary eyes and irritated nose while traversing the trail up to the higher ground where the boulder ends.

Lunch break at one of the summits
Lunch break at one of the summits.

After the boulder face, there was a place also called “white sand” that looks like a seashore and with few berry bushes up to the part going up to the summit called 87. I wondered why they call it 87. As soon as we approached the place, I quickly got the idea right away. It was a 87 degrees going up to the summit. After 20 minutes or more, the volcano’s crater surprised us with awe. We took pictures before climbing again up to the crater’s rim.

Just below the 87
Just below the 87.

At around 11am, we have reached the highest peak, the summit of Mount Apo. It was exhausting yet a fulfilling experience for all of us! I was more than satisfied and resolved to come back and climb Mount Apo summit again.

We started descending by around 1pm while the cloud was getting thicker and colder. Before 4pm, we’re already at Camp 1, fixed ourselves and prepared for dinner! I found myself lying already in my tent before 6pm, tired and was able to sleep early.

The mossy forest part towards the boulders
The mossy forest part towards the boulders.

The Final Day

Woke up late at around 7am, I started to pack back my stuff in my backpack while my buddies were already having their coffee outside. Had conversations, serious and not-so-serious topics before breakfast. Finally each one of us started to disassemble tents and quickly fixed ourselves to start the trail back to sitio Culan. We started walking down the trails around 8am and reached the sitio by 12 noon. The motorcycles were waiting to bring us to Kapatagan for lunch. In Kapatagan, Niel was already waiting and I’m sure, he too, was excited to hear our different stories to tell.

The Volcano's crater
The Volcano’s crater.

The bonding, I can say, was intimate. For 3 days, we learned from each other about life in general, about climbing, trekking, and little stuff that we shared with one another. Those activities became part of the Mount Apo’s boulder face adventure; the interaction and moments of laughter made the trek more meaningful. For the duration of the 3-day trek, I can’t say any regret. I am more thankful and grateful for the people who helped me realize this goal: reaching the Mount Apo summit thru the boulder face.

Chasing the sunrise at the rocktower
Chasing the sunrise at the rock tower.

The highest mountain in the Philippines, Mount Apo has an altitude of 2,954 meters above sea level, is a large stratovolcano with many trails leading to the summit.

Souvenir Photo
Souvenir Photo of being an educator.

How To Get There

If you are convinced to face the Mt. Apo boulder face trail challenge, you may need Niel Caspi as your event facilitator. You may contact him through his Facebook account or through the official Facebook page of “The Boulder face Trail Adventure.” – team of mountaineers & guides who organise climbs to promote Responsible Mountaineering, Conservation & Preservation of Mt. Apo. 

This team of well-accommodating mountaineers and guides indeed facilitated a memorable experience that I can always be amazed with. I have explored and had a great fun in mastering Mount Apo that would summarise my adventure which is full of fun and sense of awe with the mother nature that God has given us.

Lastly, I would like to thank and give credits to the following whom I climbed with:

  1. Jacq Anino
  2. Lyra Pelaez Vicedo
  3. Reah Vannessa Talaña
  4. Roliza Sanchez
  5. Mario Dela Cruz Jr
  6. Cristine Joy Anino Bercero
  7. Jap Cano
  8. James Carba Lescano
  9. Niel Caspi; and,
  10. Jake Caspi

More Photo Contributions

Photo owned by Mario dela Cruz, Jr.
Photo contributed by Mario dela Cruz, Jr.


Photo owned by Mario dela Cruz, Jr.
Photo credit to Mario dela Cruz, Jr.


Photo owned by Mario dela Cruz, Jr.
Photo credit to Mario dela Cruz, Jr.

Do you have something in mind to say? Please leave your comments below or you may drop me a message at the contact page of this blogsite.

  • louie pacardo 8:45 pm May 2, 2018 Reply

    Ganda ng photos bro! Iba talaga pag mt.apo experience. My fave mountain pa rin..and the sta cruz trail is my fave too being the most scenic of all. Ayus! More mountains to climb pa!

    • Teacher Vince 9:27 pm May 2, 2018 Reply

      Haha! Salamat po.
      Ibang-iba talaga ang sarap ng feeling pag na-akyat si Apo sir Louie. Sarap balikan soon!
      Sana makasama rin ako sa group nyo 🙂

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