I LOVE the outdoors. Just this weekend that passed, I made a noteworthy expression of that love as I took the trail to the summit of Mt. Matutum. Together with Team Bundol, I braved the steep slopes of Mt. Matutum to reach its peak, 2,270 meters above sea level in an eight-hour climb through a rocky, muddy, wet, and mossy trail.
Like all first timers (yes, this is my first major climb), I was very excited to climb Mt. Matutum when I learned that everyone agreed to push the climb through. Beforehand, I made a little research about the trail. It is rated by PinoyMountaineer 5/9 in terms of difficulty level and classified the trail as 3. I didn’t know what that meant at the time I read it, but I prepared for the worst, thinking that such a rating was from an experienced mountaineer.
We stayed at Lamcaliaf in Polomolok, South Cotabato the night before the climb where a family adopted us for a sleepover. We were jumping off from Sitio Keumang the following morning, so it was just convenient for us to do so than to travel straight from Alabel, Sarangani Province.
The next morning, we rode a motorcyle to Sitio Keumang (they also call the place Salol). The fare is Php 80 per head, negotiable. At Sitio Keumang, we met the Purok Chairman, whom the locals called, Awad. He asked us for our permit, but as it happens, we failed to secure one. That didn’t dampen our excitement, though. He offered that we pay a higher toll fee in order to be allowed to climb. We paid Php 75 pesos each.
Organizing a Climb
For starters, here’s what you should do. If you want to follow the Keumang trail, secure a permit at the Polomolok Municipal Hall. They charge Php 150.00 per head. If you plan to take the Glandang trail, secure a permit from the Municipality of Tupi at the same price. At Keumang, you will need to pay 25 pesos to the purok treasurer. You will also be required to hire a guide. Guides charge from Php 300-500 each. One guide is required for every group of ten.
After all the talks, we commenced the trek at half past 10am. The first two hours was quite easy. We took our lunch at a house along the way. After which, we resumed trekking across cogon grass-dominated hills that became steeper as we went on. It also got colder and there was mist all over. My legs muscles cramped twice so I had to take some rest.
We reached phase 1 at around two o’clock in afternoon. That means, we’ve been trekking for four hours already. That point, I was told, was just the beginning of the actual assault. To which, I replied, “Whaaat?!”
True enough, from phase 1, the trail became increasingly difficult. It was rocky at first. I had to balance on rocks and occasional moss-covered dead tree trunks. It was followed by an endless uphill climb from that point onward. I had to use my arms to hold on to branches, roots, rocks, stumps, and whatever I could grasp to keep going. Rest period become more frequent.
At around 4pm, it became very cold. Despite the heat due to strenuous movements, I still chilled, especially when I stopped by for a breather. One of my companions, Macky, complained that he was hungry. Biscuits didn’t help. He grew weaker. He used to be the fastest in the group but I could catch up with his pace. He decided to take a long rest and asked if we could prepare something to eat. We all stopped, cooked, and enjoyed warm food.
It took us about an hour there. It was getting darker already so we started wearing our headlamps. The food was very effective in energizing me. Combined with my excitement to reach the summit, I led the group in the final hour of our ascent. The soil was very soft due to decayed leaves, so using my knees for support was not a problem. I reached the peak ahead of the rest. My heart was so filled with joy. At the peak, still trying to catch my breath, I laid on my back, looking at the sky above me. Finally, I conquered Mt. Matutum.
Here are more photos of Team Bundol’s first success for 2012, our Mt. Matutum adventure: