Mount Kinabalu, Sabah Borneo

An outdoor adventure travel

Part 1

Mount Kinabalu Sabah Borneo at 4095.20 meters is the tallest peak in Malaysia and South-East Asia.

The idea to climb Mount Kinabalu was thought up during one of our family trip to Cameron Highlands. It was while we were clambering up and down the hill in Ee Feng Gu Honey Bee Apiary farm, Kenny's girlfriend, Lian Wan commented that she had climbed Mount Kinabalu and was thinking of doing it again. I had always wanted to climb Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, the tallest peak in South-East Asia at 4,095 meters, and one of the easier mountain summits to ascent. So I jump on the opportunity for an outdoor adventure travel and said I was interested. Before I knew it, my wife, Lena, her sister Lindy and her friend Kar Hoon were all interested and joined in on this expedition together with Kenny and his girlfriend.

We slated our climb in July 2003. For six month before the actual ascent we tried to improve our stamina by going to parks nearby our houses doing some running and walking exercise on a regular weekly basis.

After we had arrived Kota Kinabalu, we headed to Kinabalu Park and put up a night there. Though it might cost a bit more to stay there at least we didn't have to rush to Kinabalu Park in the early morning and had a good night's rest. Kinabalu Park was a nice place and though we had no choice to go anywhere, their restaurant and facilities were very good giving a very relaxing ambience to it's d├ęcor.

The next day we got up early all excited to attempt to climb Mount Kinabalu. There were six of us in our small group of 2 guys and 4 girls. We made a bee line to the Park Ranger head office to pay for the necessary fees and to hire our compulsory guide and of course porter to carry our luggage! A word of advice here for anyone who plan to climb Mount Kinabalu, don't try to be stingy and try to carry some of your own stuff to save money, give them all to the porter. You need to break down your clothing and necessities into smaller lighter packages to save on porter fees. But don't try to save money by carrying it yourself. You may feel fine initially, but gravity is your enemy! Halfway through the journey you will find your tiny backpack which was light initially become as heavy as bricks!

Jimmy Ginzos, our guide and his porter friend, both of Dusun descend, had been doing this for years and they have no problem at all carrying all our heavy backpacks, each of them carried two big backpacks - one on their front and one on their back! While we could only muster our little waist bag with a bottle of water. Hah!

We started our ascent at 9 o'clock in the morning from Timpohan Gate located near a power station at 1829 meters above sea level. The initial trek along the crest of a narrow ridge was easy enough, with the gushing sound of a nearby stream flowing from Carson's Falls. We covered the first two kilometers of the total six kilometers distance to Laban Rata fairly quickly in an hour. The air was refreshing and cooling and thanks to the some light drizzle the night before has also made the path somewhat muddy and slippery. We were all in good cheer as we made our way up the path.

After the initial two kilometers did we begin to feel the strain of fighting against the gravity as the path began to climb. A series of steps formed out of tree roots did help out a little on the climb. That's when some of us who initially tried to carry backpack decided to pass it to our porter. Our porter was smart enough to slow down their pace and walk together with us. It seems some of the guide and porters for other groups never wait up for them and just moved on non-stop direct to Laban Rata. Hey we all don't have feet as light as feathers! So when you hire your guide and porter do request them to walk along with you and your group. In case you need to get something from your packs or to pass over your other light backpack which was beginning to weight like a ton, you are able to do so.

The path to Laban Rata is wide and easy to walk. Steps both natural and man made are makes for an easier ascent for the visiting tourist. However, even with the wide path and man made steps, it is still not an easy task! After the first two kilometers the struggles began as we place our feet step by step going up the path. Ah, there are many shelters located strategically along the path where you can take a rest. Mountain water is channeled into pipes along the way where you can refill real natural mineral water for drinking if you dare!

And what is an outdoor adventure challenge without the rain? Yes, halfway through, a light precipitation began and we had to break out our raincoats. This is where the cheap disposable raincoats came in handy. It was light and easy to carry and use. Despite the drizzle our shirts began to get soak not from the rain but from our heavy perspiration from the vigorous exercise. With every step taking us higher and higher, the climate became cooler to colder. No thanks to our wet shirt soak with sweat coupled with the off and on going drizzle, we began to feel colder.

On the way up it rained, we took a rest in one of the shelters. Kenny looked tired and terrible while the rest of us were cheerful though it was wet.

Kenny, being obese has to struggle much more carrying his own excess body weight. No passing the extra pounds to the porter! And the girls? Kar Hoon was looking rather pale probably due to the colder climate, and my wife and her sister Lindy was beginning to grumble and say why on earth did we have to take up an adventure vacation and challenge of climbing Mount Kinabalu in this miserable damp and cold weather?

Only Lian Wan and I was forging ahead trying to reach Laban Rata as soon as we can and the thought of getting ourselves dried up and resting in the heated room was a comforting thought.

And then there is this thing called gravity. Argh! Climbing up a few steps at time pulling our heavy bodies up and then having to stand there motionless for awhile to rest and catch our breath. Nope, it is not the air was thin, the atmospheric pressure is fine and no breathing apparatus is required. It's just that Newton's law of gravity is really playing havoc and pulling our body downwards all the time!

As we move along the ever ascending path, we could see the natural plant life and fauna types start to change from montane oak forest to mossy plant life where the tree looked petrified from their gnarled and twisted trunks loaded with mosses, ferns and orchids. We also saw the copper leafed Rhododendron with its orange blossoms which was pretty abundant here. We didn't stay long to admire the surrounding as we had to keep moving. Each of us moved at a different pace and would meet up at shelters for some rest.

Laban Rata, what a sight for sore eyes! Glad to have made it to the resthouse for some warmth and a nice hot shower.

When we finally caught sight of Laban Rata rest house looming over the mountain face, we were cheering in our hearts. Even to cover the last few hundred meters distance to the resthouse, we still had to pull ourselves step by step before finally stepping into the warm confine of the rest house. It was nearly 3pm when we step in tired but glad to have finally reached Laban Rata resthouse. So the six kilometer trip from Timpohan Gate to Laban Rata reaching a height of 3353 meters altitude took a total of about six hours to achieve.

We rested as best as we could after cleaning ourselves up, and dried our wet clothing and shoes by placing them near the heater. The aroma of mentholated deep heat ointment wafted through the room and throughout the rest house too as not only we but other groups applied generous amount on their sore leg muscles.

After a simple but satisfying dinner, we all retired early to our rooms to sleep and get ready to wake up early at 2am in the morning.

Continue at:

Mount Kinabalu Sabah Borneo outdoor adventure travel, part 2

Posted on 2-Dec-2006

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