Conquering Mt. Matutum: A Journey Beyond the Ordinary

Mandatory pose at the Mt Matutum signage

Born and raised in South Cotabato, Mt. Matutum has always been a familiar sight for me. Its peak towers over the province and the neighboring areas, a constant presence in my daily life. Despite this, I had never climbed it. Before conquering other mountains in the Philippines, I felt it was essential to pay my respects to my local giant.

Mount Matutum is a stratovolcano located in the province of South Cotabato on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. Standing at approximately 2,286 meters (7,500 feet) above sea level, it is characterized by its symmetrical cone and lush vegetation. Mount Matutum is considered a potentially active volcano, though it has not erupted in recorded history. Its slopes are home to diverse flora and fauna, including endemic species, making it a significant ecological hotspot. The mountain is also revered by local indigenous peoples, who consider it a sacred and culturally significant landmark. Additionally, its picturesque landscapes and challenging trails attract adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Eager to take on this challenge, I joined a hike organized by our local tourist agency, SOXLANDER. Initially, I thought it would be a leisurely one-day climb. However, I was taken aback when one of our guides informed us that it was a major climb, indicating a more strenuous journey than I had anticipated.

Our ascent began at 1:30 am via the Glandang trail. The hike started smoothly; the moon shone brightly, filling us with hope that we would reach the summit by sunrise. However, the real challenge began when we reached Bubon, an area with a well that serves as a water source for locals. What was supposed to be a serene moonlit hike turned into a grueling trek through tree trunks, roots, steep hills, rocky paths, and muddy trails—everything you could imagine in a challenging hike.

One of the steep trails

As we trekked through the forest, the sun began to rise, and we still hadn't reached the halfway point. Our water bottles grew lighter, our energy waned, and I felt like giving up. However, my determination to reach the summit kept me going. I sustained myself with nuts, bread, and sips of water, taking rests when needed without pressuring myself.

Tunnels made of root trees

The pressure mounted as 8 am approached, and we were still far from the peak. Determined to finish what I had started, I pushed myself onward. Finally, at 9:00 am, I reached the summit. Standing at the highest point in South Cotabato, next to the iconic Mt. Matutum sign, was a profoundly fulfilling experience. Despite the cloudy weather obstructing the view and the lack of photo opportunities, the sense of accomplishment was unparalleled. We spent about an hour at the top, breathing in the fresh air and savoring our victory.

Top of Mt Matutum

The descent, however, posed its own challenges. Navigating the same treacherous trail we had climbed, the journey down required a firm grip and careful footing to avoid tumbling. The advantage was that in daylight, the trail was more visible, making the descent slightly easier.

Descending Mt Matutum

As we made our way down, I marveled at how we had managed the climb with just flashlights and moonlight. Now, in the clear light of day, the path seemed both daunting and awe-inspiring. Sliding down muddy slopes, swinging through tree roots, and crawling through tunnels formed by massive tree trunks, we pressed on.

We paused for lunch at Phase 1 of the mountain, where SOXLANDER had prepared a hearty meal. Replenished and re-energized, we resumed our descent. By 4 pm, we finally reached the base of the Glandang trail, having spent a total of 14.5 hours on the climb.

Though the journey left us bruised, aching, and dirty, the sense of fulfillment was overwhelming. The physical struggles were outweighed by the experience and the memories we had created. Despite the time, money, and energy spent, the value of this adventure far surpassed any material cost.

The Conquerors of Mt Matutum

If you want to experience climbing Mt Matutum, I think the easiest way is to book with our local tourist guides so you don't need to go through strenuous process of registering, figuring out the location and whatnot. Go head on over at the Facebook page of SOXLANDER SOXLANDER  and you can inquire about their schedule of the climb.


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