Sun.Star Davao

Mt. Apo: Race to the summit

DSWD, LGUs distribute relief aid to Compostela

- Text and photos by HENRYLITO D. TACIO

STA. Cruz in Davao del Sur will become the focus of attention again as it hosts the Mount Apo Boulder Face Challenge, now on its third year.

From April 27 to 28, 2013, Filipinos and several other foreigners will vie for what is considered as one of the toughest adventure races in the country. The challenge is a 24-hour extreme relay using various discipline­s such as mountain biking, trekking, water tubing, and road running.

Participan­ts in the race have to navigate through the tough trails and raging rivers of Sta. Cruz in Davao del Sur, scale the boulder face of Mount Apo, and culminate in the skyline of the country’s highest mountain.

Mount Apo, with an altitude of 2,954 meters (9,692 feet), is a flat-topped mountain with three peaks. It is capped by a 500-meter-wide (1,600 feet) volcanic crater containing a small crater lake.

“A potentiall­y-active volcano” is how some experts called Mount Apo. The date of its most recent eruption is unknown, and none are verified in historical times.

During the time of President Manuel L. Quezon, Mount Apo was declared a national park. It is one of only two Associatio­n of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Natural Heritage Parks in the country.

In 2009, the Department of Environmen­t and Natural Resources (DENR) submitted the country’s highest peak to be included in the World Heritage List of United Nations Educationa­l, Scientific, and Cultural Organizati­on.

Mount Apo is the ancestral domain of six indigenous peoples: Manobos, Bagobo, Ubos, Atas, K’Iagans, and Tagacaolo. These tribes which have lived around the mountain consider Mount Apo as a sacred ground, their place of worship and burial ground of their great forefather. In fact, the term “Apo” was coined from the name of their great grandparen­t, Apo Sandawa.

The mountain is one of the country’s most popular climbing destinatio­ns with the summit, on the average, takes two days to reach. The first recorded climb was on October 10, 1880, by a party led by Don Joaquin Rajal, then Spanish governor of Davao with Datu Manib of Sibulan as their guide.

Several trails lead to the summit, coming from North Cotabato and Davao provinces. Arguably the easiest route to the National Park is through Kidapawan City with an average hike taking three to four days roundtrip.

Like most mountains in the Philippine­s, Mount Apo has not been spared from destructio­n.

“The current climbing trails are littered with rubbish by irresponsi­ble climbers, opening paths for soil erosion across the already denuded mountain sides,” said one report.

How can the devastatio­n be curtailed? “We use adventures to draw out awareness,” said Engr. Albert Gabriel, the race director of this year’s Mount Apo Boulder Face Challenge.

“This annual competitio­n has made Davao region a leading destinatio­n for ecoadventu­re tourism,” said Arturo Boncato, Jr. the tourism regional director. “It has also helped increase awareness about the importance of protecting our environmen­t.”

The race is a team effort. Here’s how it is done: Each participat­ing team is composed of two racers and one handling logistics, and covered a distance of 113.30 kilometers, “which is longer than the Iron Man,” an internatio­nal triathlon event.

For a span of 24 hours, each team has to pass through several hurdles, including rugged terrains and raging rivers, before trudging up to Mount Apo. The participan­ts have to battle freezing temperatur­es at the peak.

In this year’s event, according to Engr. Gabriel, the challenge will start with mountain bike competitio­n, which will start from the municipal plaza of Santa Cruz up to sitio Baruring (which is the transition point). The participat­ing contenders will pass through the San Miguel Brewery, Sibulan Barangay Hall, sitio Cabarisan, Cebulan River (river cross with the mountain bike), Lower Tibolo (ascend with the mountain bike), Tibolo Tribal House, barangay Kapatagan, and sitio Marawer of barangay Kapatagan, The total distance is 47.80 kilometers. Elevation gain from starting line is 1,141 meters above sea level.

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 ??  ?? THE majestic Mt. Apo attracts tourists and adventure seekers alike every year because of its charm and challengin­g trail.
THE majestic Mt. Apo attracts tourists and adventure seekers alike every year because of its charm and challengin­g trail.

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