Monday, April 5, 2010

Journey to Conquer Mount Kinabalu : The Climb

This is the Mesilau trail to Laban Rata. Hmm... looks challenging. Can we make it?

My climb pass

16 March 2010
This is the BIG DAY!!! After the buffet breakfast at the Mesilau restaurant, we proceed to the Mesilau Operation Room, where we bought the strong & steady walking stick at RM5 each. We paid porter service, 1kg @ RM9. My backpack is 7kg, so cost R63. Worth it! I had another backpack at 3kg+, which contained water, food, medicine. I am not going to carry 10kg of backpack to the peak. No way man.
The starting point:

Our guides cum porters. The one in red shirt, Jack, is a cute guy :P

We hired 3 guides for our group. They gave us a short briefing before we departed. By 8:30AM, we started our journey. The beginning of the journey is staircase all the way up. After 10-15 minutes climb uphill, I started to feel out of breath. By then I remembered the advice given by my dear friends - Ulai, Lorna, Jefri, CY - they told me : "Walk at your own pace. Go slow. Take your time. Don't rush!" ... So i started to slow down. And I felt much better after a while. I didn't even feel the time past after I walked for over an hour. We met other group of climbers. I started to enjoy my climb, appreciate the nature around me. Amazed by the fantastic view in front of my eyes.

When we started to enter the forest, I noticed that I was on my own, as each of us has different stamina. Some walked faster and some walked slower. I was alone in the forest for 1-2KM. The trail was clear. I was not scared. I told myself to enjoy every steps because that could be the the one and only time I climbed Mt Kinabalu. So I better enjoyed myself.
I didn't really feel tired or hungry at all after walking for 1-2 hours. I saw beautiful waterfall, bridge and some pretty plants in the forest.

Some nice scenes & plants along the Mesilau trail :

cute little T-shaped fern

Pither plant...

I met David along the way. We accompanied each other for the rest of the journey until we reached Laban Rata. I enjoy his company as we both like to take photographs and it was nice to have someone to chat with for such a long walk. Some of the photos I took along the way when i walked together with David:

My climb buddy, David Goh

This is the place where we had our packed lunch provided by Sutera Sanctuary - sandwiches, hard boiled egg, apple & 500ml mineral water.

boh lat...

This is where the Mesilau Trail meets the Timpohon Trail and share the same trail all the way up to Laban Rata

Porter service @ RM9 per kg


I hate this long stretch of yellow road... they seem never ending.

I think towards the last few hundreds meters towards Laban Rata, I started to feel tired and sleepy. I couldn't wait to arrive at Laban Rata, to eat my dinner, take my bath and get some sleep. It was a long day. I literally dragged myself walked uphill and finally there it is: Laban Rata! This is the place where limited accommodations are provided for climbers to stay overnight before embarking the journey to the summit trail. That's why climbing Mt. Kinabalu requires 6 months advance booking. I reached Laban Rata at abount 5PM. Dinner was served at Laban Rata Resthouse, buffet style. The food was not bad at all. We stayed at Gunting Lagadan Hut, which was located 10 minutes further up from Laban Rata Resthouse. After the buffet dinner, I was really tired. Luckily Tan Ca volunteered to carry my backpack and led me to Gunting Lagadan Hut.
Laban Rata Resthouse

Gunting Lagadan Hut is just a wooden hut, with common bathrooms, toilets, kitchen and a number of rooms. Each room has 4 beds. I shared room with Ming Pei, Kenny and Yann. There was hot shower in the bathrooms but we need to take turn to enjoy the hot shower. If someone is taking the hot shower, then next bathroom may not have hot water or even no water at all. After the bath, we stayed in the room for chit-chat. MP told me that before she came to KK, our old friend visited her and shared his climbing experience with her. He climbed Mt. Kinabalu before he had the car accident and he now has no second chance to climb again. So he hoped MP would be able to make it to the peak. We also talked about an old friend who passed away last year. It was very sad and I still get emotional when we talked about this. After the chit-chat, we went to sleep. I was not sure whether I really manage to sleep at all.
The tired looking aunties at Gunting Lagadan Hut...

17 March 2010
We woke up at 1:30AM to get ready ourselves for the summit climb. We started the journey at 2:45AM. Most of us "wrapped" ourselves up with layers of clothing, masks, gloves etc. But less than 10 min from the start of the hike, I started to feel hot & sweaty. I wore 4 layers of tops and 2 layers of pants! It was a long walk in the middle of the night. My RM11.90 headlamp did a brilliant job in the dark. The wind breaker and 2 layers of gloves I borrowed from Ulai & Lorn proven to be so helpful. The wind was very strong. I walked 1 footstep by footstep. I looked up and saw the sky filled with stars. They looked so pretty and seemed reachable! When I looked back, I saw the lights from the Kundasang town. So tiny. And yes, we were standing at almost 4,000m high in the mountain. From far, I could see the lights in KK. Awesome. It was dark, very strong wind. I kept looking down on my own footstep and kept walking. Whenever I felt tired, I refused to sit down and rest. I just stood there, paused, caught my breath, then resume walking. I also refused to look up and see the trail of torch lights from far, as it is kind of demotivate me if I see there is still such a long way to go. So I kept looking down, just pay attention on my RM4.50 "kampung adidas" followed the white rope leading me to way. The wind was so strong that I was "pushed" by the wind twice. Whenever the wind blew, I slowed down.

Towards the last few hundreds meter to Low's Peak, it gets much harder to climb. I was actually climbed with my 2 hands & 2 feets, cannot really walked at all. It was tough. I met Uncle Ee, his headlamp has run out of batteries, so he followed me instead. For every few footsteps, I needed to stop and catch my breath as the oxygen level in high mountain is much lesser. Whenever I stopped, I turned back and shine the headlamp light for Uncle Ee to see his way. Finally, at 5:35AM, we reached the summit of Low's Peak, at 4095,2m. We found a spot to sit down and rest. The peak has limited space as it's very rocky. A lot of rocks there and a lot of climbers too. Later on, we saw the other group members all arrived at the peak. It was very cold. My kept shivering. We sat there & waited for the sun rise. I had tears in my eyes. I was tired, cold, so tough for me to climb to the peak and it was also tears of joy as finally i made it.

By 6:05AM, we witness the sun rise. The sky has a beautiful ray of blue light. I have seen nothing like this. The sea of clouds was so beautiful, it always stuck in my mind now. The view is simply awesome, so undescribable unless you see it for yourself. I was amazed by the beautiful scenery right in front of my eyes.

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The RM4.50 Kampung Adidas rubber shoes which helped me to conquer the Mount Kinabalu. Love it !

By 7AM+, we descended to Gunting Lagadan Hut to pack our bags and went to Laban Rata Resthouse for lunch. We started to descend from Laban Rata at 11AM and arrived Kinabalu Park HQ at 3PM. We used the Timpohon trail when going downhill. So for this trip we covered both the trails of Mount Kinabalu. Timpohon trail is 2KM shorter than Mesilau trail and less scenic. It is mostly wooden staircases to go all the way up to Laban Rata. I didn't take any photos at all during descended as our group could not wait to go home. After we arrived at Kinabalu Park HQ, we had late lunch at the Balsam Cafe. My legs were so sore. We chartered 2 taxi and arrived KK around 6:30PM. By the time I arrived home, I soaked my feet in nice warm water, rubbed lots of Counter Pain muscle cream before i went to bed to have a good rest.

More photos taken from Low's Peak:

My tired look when arrived at Timpohon Gate:

18 March 2010
When I woke up in the morning, I noticed that I had slight sunburn on my cheeks. So I made facial appointment to rescue my face. The rest of the group members went for White Water Rafting at Padas River. Wow! They are like ironmen and ironwomen. After the climb and now water rafting? They spent 1 whole day for the rafting. I met them for a late dinner at Kampung Air at 10PM together with Hai Chuan and wife.

19 March 2010
The group supposed to go for island hopping before they flew back to KL, Singapore and Penang. But they were all too tired for it. Some decided to stay back at the lodge to rest. Some went out for shopping. I met up with them at Handicraft Market. And we had a surprise visit from Yee Peng, who came to KK for a 1-day business trip. What an coincident! It was like a mini Jit Sin reunion at KK that day.

Marina Club @ Sutera Harbour

After they checked out from the lodge, I fetched David, Tan Ca, Ming Pei and Suki to the airports. We dropped by Sutera Harbour for a quick tour at Marina Club. We spent about half an hour for photo taking there. Then proceed to KKIA to send Suki and the rest at T2. I spent the whole afternoon accompany them at T2. We had lunch together and sent them off by 5PM. This trip has been so wonderful and meaningful for me. Thank you all - Kenny, Yann, Ming Pei, David, Tan Ca, Chin How, May May, Mayjean, Siok Yen, Suki, Fiona, Uncle Ee, Paul and Mei Lan, for sharing this unforgettable experience with me.
My achievements ...

Climb again? Sure yes!


Vincent Lee said...

Wow, looks like u hv a great journey and experience! Congratulations!

jjcht said...

Hi Vin, thanks for dropping by. Yeah, it was a great journey. It was physically tough for someone lame in sports like me :P

hannie said...

wow, what great photos you have there. I've used that trail before but was too into climbing that I didn't have time to look at those pretty things on the way. Congratulations! and thanks for sharing!

jjcht said...

Hi Hannie, thanks for dropping by. I took my own sweet time to enjoy the trail. I kept telling myself go slow, enjoy every step coz this could be the only time I climbed Mt. Kinabalu. And it works. haha!

Wendy Yong said...

Nice photos and sharing! Congrats to u! Bring me the next time u go. I also slow de and u gonna motivate me till the peak. Hehe

jjcht said...

Hi Wendy, thanks! Last i heard from the guys in KKIPC plan to climb the mountain March next year. Got discount for Sabahans for the accommodation at Laban Rata. Pls ask Ricky/Alan/Jefri for more info :)