I am always fascinated by mountains. I love mountains. They speak so much about life (will share another time). I have climbed a couple very low ones which took about an hour to reach to the top. The highest that I have climbed was Lochnagar, 1155m high, here in Scotland. The climb was tough but the mountain top view was absolutely stunning. But here I’m excited to introduce to you the most beautiful mountain in South East Asia, none other than Mt Kinabalu of Malaysia.
My dear friend Anna, had just fanned my love for mountains when she told me she is going to climb Mt Kinabalu again. It has been my dream. I’m still keeping my dream alive to reach to the top one day, hopefully next year.
I knew Anna when I was teaching in the kid’s church. She was only about 12 years old then, pretty and shy at that time. But today, she has blossomed into a confident and gorgeous lady, graduating soon as a Geologist from Universiti Malaysia Sabah. I am just so proud of her!
When Anna shared with me her amazing Mt Kinabalu expedition photos, I immediately asked if she can be my guest blogger to write a blog post for me. Her answer was an instant ‘YES’! ” 2 days later, I received her interesting article and photos! I was totally amazed and inspired as I know she has a lot of studies and assignments to cope with. I really appreciate her friendship.
The following is what Anna wanted to share with everyone. Please enjoy.
I am Anna and I’m a final year student in Geology at Universiti Malaysia Sabah. The climb up Mount Kinabalu is done yearly by the final year students of my programme. I am so happy and proud of myself to conquer the tallest peak in South East Asia, Mount Kinabalu, in February this year. The original intention of the climb is to understand and apply the knowledge of Geology on the formation and characteristics of Mount Kinabalu but we treated it as a getaway and had plenty of fun.
I love the climb so much that I’m going again this May. When Mary asked me to be her guest blogger, I was just too happy to say ‘YES’. I can’t wait to share with everyone about the climb and the beauty of Mt Kinabalu. I hope that one day you will take the chance to experience it yourself. People all over the world, young and old have made it to the peak. I met a Japanese who was 70+ during my climb!
Mount Kinabalu is the very first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Malaysia and is the tallest mountain in South East Asia. The mountain itself is located at the northeastern part of Borneo Island or more precisely at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah; a state in East Malaysia.
There are three routes up to the mountain:
A. Via Timpohon Trail
B. Via Mesilau Trail
C. Via Ferrata Trail (The World’s highest via Ferrata Trail and Asia’s first via Ferrata Trail)
As a first timer up the mountain, I took the Timpohon Trail as it was the cheapest trail available. The rate I paid, as a Malaysian student, for the climb was RM300 (about £60). That included the fees of all sorts: accommodation, transport, mountain guide and meals. It is more expensive for normal climbers. The price varies according to seasons, type of accommodation and nationality. The climb takes 2 days and 1 night. You should consult the travel agent beforehand.
The advice given by the mountain climbing authorities is that you should consult a doctor before you try any climbing but for my own opinion, you know your body better than your doctor so if you intend to climb, know your body’s current fitness level and prepare yourselves mentally. Honestly, after experiencing the climb, it’s not so much of the physical that mattered although it was a given bonus; it was the mental that played the biggest part in achieving the climb. It was all about telling yourself that you can do it and most importantly talk to all the climbers there although you do not know them. They give GREAT emotional and mental support that drives you to climb faster up the the resthouse. Just a simple ‘hello’ or ‘how was the climb?’ would give you the satisfaction and anticipation to take a sneak peak of your destination.
Once you have decided that you want to climb the mountain, the first thing to keep in mind is that you would want to carry as little things as possible up the mountain. Otherwise you can pay the porters to carry your stuff up at the rate of RM4 per kg per kilometer. Some of the most important stuff you need are: a 500ml bottled water (you get to refill your water every 1km climb), chocolates or fruits for energy boost (although I did not eat any of mine since water was all I needed), headlamps, proper climbing shoes, winter clothing including windbreakers, headache/ altitude sickness pills, waterproof gloves and waterproof plastic (for your camera just in case it rains). These mentioned are the things you MUST bring and you can add on if necessary.
It took me 3hours 30minutes to climb 6km to reach the Laban Rata resthouse (altitude of 3272.7m above sea-level). Initially the climb was relatively easy but at the final kilometer to the rest house the air was thinning and breathing became slightly harder. The photo below shows the type of trail.
Depending on individual fitness level, some even took up to 12hours to reach the rest house. But my advice is to reach as fast as possible because dinner is served between 5pm to 7.30pm and you do not want to miss it. I reached the rest house at 3.30pm. Reaching early gives you plenty of time to take lots of pictures. Here is the picture of the resthouse.
The view from the resthouse is just spectacular! The picture below is the view from the balcony. The feeling of being on top of the world was overwhelming and in my mind I was thinking, “If heaven is located within the skies, God has the best view ever known to mankind and this is how it is like watching the world from above.”
After dinner, it is best to rest as early as possible because you’ll have to be awake by 1am in the morning to prepare so believe it or not, I slept at 7pm in my winter clothing because the accommodation I had was unheated. I had a mild headache so I took my headache pills and it was just a symptom of altitude sickness and it was mild symptom because after my body adapted itself, I was fine. I had some friends who had severe cases of altitude sickness where they felt light-headed, dizzy and nauseous and could not continue the climb in the morning.
I woke up at 1am and the ground temperature was at 4°C. This is the best time to look up into the sky and marvel the millions of stars staring right back down at you. The sky was just filled with them and it is like having Christmas lights strung across the entire sky and the only thing I had in mind was “WOW”. Supper was provided at 2am. Don’t eat too much to avoid stomach discomfort. I left the resthouse at 3am making my way up the mountain and it was all dark so headlamps are very important because you want your hands free to hold onto rocks and ropes. I took 2 hours and 20 minutes to reach Low’s Peak (highest peak on Mount Kinabalu) and I arrived at approximately 5.20am. The picture below shows how dark the sky was when I arrived the peak of 4095.2m above sea-level. It was very cold but all that mattered at that moment was “I MADE IT!”
It was so cold up there that I could hardly move because my feet and hands were starting to get numb. I should have listened to the guide when he told me to go slower so that I do not freeze at the peak. The temperature at the peak was approximately -2°C to 0°C and due to the dry season, there was no ice present at the peak. The guide told me that if I climb during the wet season, I would be able to see some ice but I believe it would be slippery if there was ice. The best part at the peak is to see the sun rise, everyone’s dream. At last, the sun rose at 6.15am! It was the most beautiful scene I had ever seen! See pictures on top.
Seeing the beautiful sunrise was worth all the cold because the entire horizon from the mountain was beautiful like there was no end to it. It was a straight orange line when the sun greeted us. At 7am, we started descending as it was getting hot. Low’s Peak is the summit of Mt Kinabalu. The conical background is the shadow of Low’s Peak during the sunrise. The scene was totally phenomenal. I have never seen such awesome beauty before. For your information, South Peak (picture on top) is printed on our RM1 currency note. There are many peaks but Low’s Peak and South Peak are the most famous ones.
The picture below shows my friends and I taking a short break before making our way down the dangerous/steep path.
I was not kidding when I said dangerous. They even have a warning sign there.
Just so you know what kind of climb you are dealing with, here is an overall view of it. The hut is actually a checkpoint to indicate you have arrived safely and there is about 200m to the peak if I am not wrong.
The next picture is the so-called dangerous zone where you MUST hold on to the rope and keep your balance.
My run down the mountain took 1 hour 20 minutes. I rested for a while in my room before heading off for breakfast at 9am. From there it took me 2 hours 30 minutes to get back to Timpohon gate, the place where we started. The scene on the way down was equally beautiful with a change in flora as seen here.
Upon arriving back to the Timpohon gate, transport was there waiting to take us to the Kinabalu Park where a lovely certificate as waiting for everyone who had successfully reached the summit. For those that did not managed to reach the summit, a black and white certificate is awarded depending which level you reached. Here is my name tag and certificate!
On the whole, I did not suffer from any severe muscle cramps. I prepared myself well before the climb. I lead an active lifestyle where I work out at the gym 6 days a week. I also go for swimming, diving and other various activities and as a Geology student, I am always on the move.
The Mount Kinabalu expedition is just such an enjoyable trip. Not only have I learnt a lot geologically, but I have learned the wonders and beauty of God’s creation. I can’t wait to go for my second climb this coming May, this time via Mesilau Trail.
I hope I have inspired you to look at mountains with a different perspective and consider climbing at least one mountain to enjoy it’s awesome beauty.
Remarks by Mary:
I have been greatly inspired by Anna’s post. Every hill and mountain has it’s own beauty. The higher it is, the more beautiful it is. Once you have climbed one, you will never forget the amazing experience. I have a friend who lived near a hill. It takes about 1 hour to get to the top and she climbs it everyday!!! Mind you, she is about 55 years old!
Anna, thanks very much once again for such a beautiful post. I hope I can join you in your adventure one day. You are my inspiration.
Do you like mountains? Have you climbed any? If you have, what is your experience? Please share, add and comment in the comment box below.
Quote of the day……
“Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain. An occasional glance towards the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each vantage point.”
Harold V Melchert
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