Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mt. Kinabalu - A First Timer's Experience

*tired face*

Ah, a day of firsts. Two days in fact. First time climbing Mt. Kinabalu. First time standing 4095 metres above sea level. First time where wearing 4 layers of clothing isn't warm enough. First time I'm walking like penguin. Most of the pictures below are from Audrey's camera since I'm not a really diligent photo-taker. The weather was fair for those 2 days. Small blessings because it poured the day before, and some people have dreadful experiences climbing up in rough weather as it can be very cold!

This is where everyone stresses how important and vital your training should be before climbing. Well I'm going to skip that part, because I honestly am regretting it at the moment. I packed 2 warm jackets, 2 tshirts, 1 torch (though seriously the headlamp is better), 2 pairs of thick socks, 1 pair of leggings, a bottle of water, wet wipes and stuff to munch on. You won't really shower there because it's icy cold but boy, did I stink afterwards.

Zendo fixing up my tongkat sakti (they were out of the cheaper wooden ones (RM3), metal ones cost RM40 but it's RM16 to rent from the van drivers)

I went in a group of 5 and a half, which consisted of me, Dyanna, Nova, Noell, Audrey and our magician guide, Zendo, who disappears and reappears at will, but cheerful always. Dyanna, who invited me to join in this trip, has climbed up 9 times already and was practically our guide. Alright, so the trip we took was just for 2 days and a night at Gunting Lagadan, which is located less than 200 metres away from Laban Rata Guesthouse.


I (somehow) managed to carry all 4kg of my stuff up to Laban Rata which is more than 6 km away. At the rest stop (around the 3km mark) before Pondok Layang-Layang, we ate the packed lunches we were given. Imagine my dismay when I found out that I had been lugging an apple, 2 bananas, 2 boiled eggs and 3 sandwiches plus an extra bottle of water for 3 km.

A bunch of guys were bringing down the huge Malaysian flag that was hung up on Aug 1

Climbing up, you'll meet a lot of porters going up and down, leaping easily from rock to rock, in rubber shoes or slippers (our guide was wearing sneakers). Legs of steel, these people. Besides mattresses and gas tanks, we actually watched one guy lift a whole washing machine up! *salutes* Anyway, they would always smile and tell us "pelan-pelan" (take it slowly) but that is not as exasperating as my friend's exclamation of "dekat sudah!" (almost there!) even when we were faaar away from the next rest stop or whatever.

Anyway, the squirrels in Mt. Kinabalu are more like what I think squirrels should look like, not the skinny ones we see here in KK. But they act like rats in all the dustbins, scavenging for leftovers. Super cute rats. The shrubbery and trees were unlike anything I've seen before and they are adapted to withstand strong winds with their bonsai-like branches.


Laban Rata Dining Hall

When we reached Laban Rata, we were greeted by a huge gust of wind. It was 9 degrees Celcius up there. Lunch was delightful, I really appreciated the buffet lunch we had there, it was filling and the hot drinks were heaven-sent! But drink up, because hot food doesn't stay hot for long, as the case was with our soup. :-(

Maggi time!

Gunting Lagadan dorms have blankets, 2 pillows and little wooden bunkbed which is more than adequate (I was expecting something truly horrible with no blankets), toilets (but no hot water) and a kitchen with a stove, sink, pots, kettles and very basic kitchen utensils. So we didn't have to walk all the way back to Laban Rata for supper (maggi and instant tea/coffea mixes!), since the trek up to the top of the mountain starts at the entrance pathway next to the GL dorms. And then...

SUCCESS! The scenery up here just takes your breath away. I also finally saw the actual Donkey Ears Peak!

Okay! So after all that climbing to the peak from 2 am we finally reached Low's Peak in time to see the sunrise at 6 am. AND IT WAS COLD. After a few pictures, I hastily climbed down to seek warmth and only fell on my ass once when I slipped on a wet area. I avoided wetness every chance I got after that episode. My legs were shaking when we reached the dorms again 3 hours later. After packing, we headed down to Laban Rata for breakfast which was delightful as usual. There was a possibility that we might miss lunch so I stuffed my face there.

More much-dreaded stairs going down!

Breakfast! Mmmmmm....

We left Laban Rata at 11 am and we rushed to get down to Kinabalu Park for lunch (it's only from 2-4 pm). Let's just say, I lost the feeling in my legs 3 km later and hobbled like a disabled person for the next 3 km to Timpohon Gate, almost twisting an ankle and nearly falling down really embarrassingly. I now understand why some people never even get halfway up, give up climbing to the peak or have to get carried down the mountain by porters/guides. It is truly strenuous, being as unfit as I am.

Before actually reaching the gate, after all those stairs going down, I was greeted by a looong flight of stairs going upwards. Talk about nightmares coming true. An old guy at the counter kept peering down at me, at my tortoise-like progress and Dyanna was in stitches. But at least she borrowed me her other walking stick so I could hobble along at a slightly faster pace. =_='

After all that rushing for lunch, we made it to Balsam Buffet Restaurant where the employees were pleasant enough to pack lunches for our friends who couldn't come down in time for lunch. I got my coloured printed certificate and that's that. My friend quipped that even though we didn't have much of a stamina, at least we have a lot of mental strength. Heh. :)

My only fault with Balsam is their long flight of stairs to the restaurant! *sorrow*


One thing to cross off the bucket list!

Leave a comment if you found this in any way helpful! :)


Kristen said...

I enjoyed reading your first experience! Talk about an unfit person, I am an example. You rock climb every other day! And me? The most strenuous activity I do everyday is carrying carboys FML. hahaha!! And you made me really wanna try laaaa...

varms said...

I haven't rock climbed for a month!!! Getting expensive... But seriously I do not wanna experience going down Mt. Kinabalu a second time... =_= Go, go, Kristen! Hahhahahaha