It was the third day of clear skies: truly an epiphany at the highest campsite in the Philippines. Although the temperature was a very chilly 5 C when we woke up, we enthusiastically trooped to the very summit of Mt. Apo to see the sunrise. For the Malaysians, the feeling must be similar, if not more profound, with what we feel when we step on the summit of Mt. Kinabalu.
Silence reigned at the summit, and once again I could make out the majestic form of Mt. Matutum in the west, and right at the foot of Mt. Apo, Mt. Tampurong. Then, of course, as a reminder of how long the climb had been, I could also see the peaks of Mt. Talomo, where we had come from. In the northern peaks of Apo I saw some of the other high mountains of Mindanao, and I took pictures of all of them.
Indeed, it was a feast for the eyes, and I always enjoy identifying the different peaks I see from a mountaintop. As I wandered around the high peaks, my companions took to taking snapshots of the glorious moment when they summitted Mt. Apo – a dream for many Filipino climbers, which was made even more fantastic with the achievement of doing the “Megatraverse” from Talomo.
Meanwhile, we had a relaxing breakfast at the summit campsite, and Jhoc Nalda with his able men were there, as always, to provide us with support. Aside from the usual meal, we had some special beef rendang courtesy of our Malaysian friends.
Soon we had to bid the summit farewell, but the challenge was not yet over! We had to descend via the Boulders, with its loose rocks, steep trails, and the threat of noxious sulfuric fumes and it was not to be taken lightly, being a difficult leg on its own right.
It took 2-3 hours for us to descend this route, but had great views along the way. Amazingly, the weather remained benign, and even though the scorching heat was a stark difference from the chilling cold of the night before, everyone was excited to pass through another unique trail.
The view grew more and more spectacular as we went down the Boulders, and eventually we could see the sulfuric vents, with steam effusing out of them. Juxtaposed with the blue sky and the monochrome of volcanic rocks, we truly felt as though we were on another planet.
After reaching the end of the Boulders, Camp Gudi-Gudi was at hand, and from there it was a continuous walk towards Kapatagan. For sure, there were still some parts that were challenging, but it was nothing compared to the dense forest trails of Talomo, so we managed quite well, and we spent the evening in a hotel! The feeling of the wind, as our forward trucker zoomed towards the city, was a relief and a refreshment.
The end! Four days of intense hiking, an interaction with peaks as well as with people: It was truly an unforgettable and epic climb that I will always cherish. To Deeno Lot and all our guests from Malaysia: a big terih makasih for all your teamwork, dedication, cooperation, and patience. Let us climb together again – whether in the Philippines, Malaysia, or elsewhere!
The Talomo-Apo Traverse is truly a difficult climb and I am very glad to have finally done it! Personally, I regard climb as a blessing from God: more than the success of it, I am grateful for our safety. To everyone who joined, you have not only gained two peaks, but my friendship, respect, and fond memories. Till the next adventure!