The trek to the country’s highest peak is on, a local tourism official said Friday.
“All is set for the opening of the country’s highest peak, Mt. Apo, for the annual October trek,” Marife Pame, Kidapawan City tourism officer, said.
“It is expected to draw local and foreign mountain climbers,” she said.
As this developed, the tourism office has opened six trails to the mountain top.
These trails with available climbing guides are located in the towns of Magpet, Makilala, and the city of Kidapawan.
Closed for climbers for over a year, those who want to reach the peak would have to undergo a series of orientations and training.
“Our priority is the safety of the climbers and the preservation of the peak’s flora and fauna,” Pame said, adding that previous treks led to destruction of the environment.
“Some climbers have shown no concern for whatever is left after the journey... cans, plastics, among others, that could affect the flora and fauna,” Pame said, adding “months ago when volunteers trekked the mountain and gathered litters, garbage and destructive things left by previous climbers.”
According to Pame, each trail is guarded by forest guards to ensure that no illegal trekkers can climb the peak without undergoing proper orientations and briefings as to the do’s and don’ts while on top of the mountain.
Pame said Civilian Volunteer Organization (CVO) members will be stationed at the baseline and in Lake Venado to guarantee the safety of the climbers.
An identification card bearing the signature of respective tourism officers in Makilala, Magpet and Kidapawan will be issued to the climbers for recognition and to avoid delays when passing the various trails up to the mountain.
“We are doing this for accounting and proper recording and make sure that climbers are properly oriented before allowing them to climb Mount Apo,” Pame said.
Pame also warned illegal climbers passing the trails in Davao del Sur from trekking the mountain and will pass the MMK trails in going down that a penalty of P500 awaits them.
“If they could not pay, we will not allow them to go down the mountain using our trails. They must use the trails in areas which they use as entry point in reaching the peak,” Pame explained.
She said successful trekkers will be given certificates of climb as proof that they really conquered the country’s highest peak during the October trek.
To date, some 300 trekkers coming from various towns in North Cotabato and neighboring provinces of Bukidnon, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, and Davao del Sur, including some foreigners, have already registered to join the October climb.
Mount Apo normally hosts up to 5,000 people every scheduled climb.
Pame advised those who are interested to participate in the historic and annual trek to get in touch with the tourism offices of Kidapawan City, Magpet and Makilala towns