STA. CRUZ, Davao del Sur -- As the trekking season comes nearer, the local government unit (LGU) asked the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) to increase the number of climbers allowed to visit Mt. Apo.
The present number of climbers allowed to visit the country’s highest summit at a time is at 50 persons per trail per day. This was implemented since 2017 as a response to the 2016 forest fire around Mt. Apo’s peak that lasted over two weeks.
Julius Paner, municipal tourism officer, said while regulating trekking activities helps to preserve the mountain and prevent similar massive fire, the carrying capacity of the Sta. Cruz trail can still be expanded.
He added that the “50-limit” rule, or a maximum of 300 climbers per day is only a small number with the six trails of Mt. Apo combined.
On April 12, 2017, PAMB lifted the “indefinite closure” but imposed the limitation policy to prevent another fire after the March 2016 incident.
Paner proposes that 100 climbers per day or a total of 600 individuals passing the six trails of the municipality is still manageable.
He also said that trekking is a low-impact ecotourism activity, which can potentially help the local economy, as well as the livelihood of the 110 porters and 70 tour guides of the municipality.
The LGU is also preparing for the scheduled Mt. Apo Boulder Face Challenge, and Mt. Apo Sky and Vertical Race on April 18 and April 25 to 26, respectively.
But Paner said they limit the number of runners, mostly European and Southeast Asian, for the Boulder Face Challenge to 50 and 100 for the two-day out-and-back Sky and Vertical Race.
Mt. Apo trekkers may climb the country’s highest peak via its six trails: Kidapawan, Makilala, Magpet in North Cotabato; Digos, Sta. Cruz, and Bansalan in Davao del Sur.
Meanwhile, Kidapawan City tourism officer Joey Recimilla disclosed on Wednesday in a phone interview that a new trail going to Mt. Apo is set to be opened in March.
He also noted that Davao City has ordered its “indefinite closure.”
“We have set up our new trail because the old one was damaged after the series of strong quakes in Mindanao, so we’re still working on it,” he said.
Recimilla clarified that climbing to Mt. Apo is safe amid the series of tremors. (Orlando B. Dinoy)