Town enforces new rules for climb to Philippines' highest peak

At 3,144 m, the dormant volcano of Mount Apo is the Philippines' tallest peak.

DIGOS CITY, Philippines - The municipal government of Sta. Cruz town, Davao del Sur province, said it would limit the number of climbers to Mount Apo using the Sta. Cruz trail.

Julius Paner, Sta. Cruz tourism officer, said limiting the number of climbers to 250 persons using the trail in the town was mandated by an ordinance that seeks to reduce the damage of human activity to the mountain.

Trekkers that will ascend Mt. Apo through the Sta. Cruz trail will have to pay P500 each and fill out forms at the town's tourism office, said Paner.

In Digos City, Edgardo Elera, city tourism officer, said a search and rescue team would be on standby during the summer climb.

Digos hosts the Kapatagan trail, one of the gateways to Mt. Apo.

Elera said local climbers using the Kapatagan trail would be charged P720 (S$20) each, foreigners, P1,080, and students, P432.

He advised climbers not to transact with unauthorized persons to prevent a repeat of an incident two months ago when 20 trekkers from Luzon were victimized by con men.

Mt. Apo, the country's highest peak, is home to at least 272 bird species, including critically endangered ones such as the Philippine eagle.

There are two climbing seasons in Mt. Apo. Aside from the annual summer climb, mountaineers can also scale the 2,954-meter mountain in October.