Monday, March 1, 2010

i came, i climbed, i conquered!!!

My endeavour to climb the highest mountain in the country is an attempt that not only amuses me but also some of my closest friends. Why do i want to do it? Well, probably trying to prove to myself (& some friends) that i am able to do it even at this age. (no woman in her sound mind will tell her exact age...hehehe)

The day finally came (22nd Feb 2010). A group of 36 took two different flights from LCCT to Kota Kinabalu. 11 of us including yours truly took the second flight at about 8.50am. Upon our arrival, we were taken for lunch at Putatan. Had a brief rest and went ahead to Mesilau which took about 2 hrs. We were all tired and and exhausted after travelling the whole day. Almost everyone retired at about 11pm all excited to climb the mountain the next day.

2nd day : After our breakfast at Mesilau, we were taken on a bus ride to Timpohon Gate. We started climbing at about 10am, everyone walked excitely into the tracks and eventually broken up into smaller groups. The day was fine, the sun shining and all of us were ready to climb. The climb was endless although i must say the tracks were easy to follow.

The walking stick that i bought in KL was a major help indeed. I was climbing for about 6 hours and arrived at 4pm at Laban Rata. All exhausted and hungry, i was gulping lunch provided at Laban Rata's restaurant. Unfortunately for some of us, we had to climb another 70 metres to our dormitory at Gunting Laganan. Everyone was too tired to even talk and we retired at 8pm in preparation for the next morning's climb.

3rd day : The dormitory was beaming with energy at 1.30am. With headlights and full winter attire, we started to ascent at 3am. Out of 36, only 26 went up. It was pitched dark and quiet. My climb buddies were Asyeda (Johor), Azizah (Shah Alam), Aishah (Johor), Saloma (Negri Sembilan) and Uzaini aka Ujang (KBS official). Ujang motivated us to move on although some of us almost gave up half way through the climb. The air was thin and we could hardly breathe. I managed to walk/climb 10 small steps and halt to catch my breath. The freezing temperature is not to our advantage.

It was an ordeal that none of us expected. Although we were phsyically fit, we were not prepared mentally. The thin oxygen and the steep almost vertical drop climb were our major obstacle. We climbed the steep cliff holding on ropes for dear life and our legs stepping on small crevices.

Fortunately for me, i couldnt see the narrow steep sided valley (visibility was almost zero), for if i did, i would have not continued with the climb. Heights are not my cuppa.

Climbing the bare granite after the Sayat Sayat stop was another major task. Sayat Sayat is 7km above sea level. With mist and wind blowing, i keep reminding myself to walk 10 small steps, stop and breath. Oxygen is so thin that you look like a fish taken out of a water tank. We stopped to see the sunrise right after Sayat Sayat. Everyone was quiet and mesmerised by the sight of the sun cripping through the clouds.

I almost gave up when i reached 8km above sea level. All my life i've always wanted to see the Donkey's Ears Peak and the South Peak. I've reached my goals and wanted to stop. Ujang changed my mind. He motivated me to carry on up to the Low's peak. Infact, he motivated all five of us to carry on with the climb. We rested for awhile, marvelled at the astonishing beauty of God's creation. Funny thing is, although i am so 'wiped out', i can still managed to put sun block on my face! So vain!!

We stopped to rest , had more chocolates, motivating each other and continued with the climb. 10 steps, halt and breathe, i keep telling myself. Vegetation is almost barren at the top. Although the temperature is freezing, we stopped at 8.5km at the foot of Low's Peak to be greeted by some of friends who are already descending. Ujang, Saloma and Aishah continued to climb up to the highest peak. Asyeda and i continued to almost 40metres more to reach the peak when we finally gave up. Azizah stayed on at the foot of the hill. Basically, all 5 of us made it to the top!!

Dense fog begining to form. I could see worried faces on the guide's face. They hurried us to climb down the cliffs. Suddenly, everything around us changed, it was raining and water falls forming at the cliffs. We had to step on slippery crevices and hold on slippery ropes. The day suddenly darken. Fogs and mist were everywhere. The temperature dropped. Our vision was blurred by the fogs and rain. Our excitement was shortlived. It was a terrifying experience. Everyone was scared and praying hard for safety. We scaled down to safety all wet to the bones with the help of our guides.

We were then told that the weather at the summit are so unpredictable. We consider ourselves lucky and are thankful to Allah for no one got hurt, alhamdulilahh....

We rested another night at Gunting Laganan before descending the next day and took the oppurtunity to take pictures and enjoy the awesome view. Masyallah....looking out to the horizon from Laban Rata is a view i will never forget.

Descending the mountain the next day is a different experience all together. This time around, i managed to enjoy the enchanting view and is less engrossed in trying to walk through the tracks.

Coming down can be more painful than climbing because you tend use more muscle in tackling the steep steps. Your legs can sore easily. Luckily for me, i was walking down slowly and taking my time to enjoy the view.

I stood at the top of a hill in awe with the nature surrounding me. There were diverse array of flora and fauna that changes in nature as the altitude changes.
What amazes me most were porters laden with gas cylinders, sacks of rice, supplies in big sacks for the restaurant at Laban Rata and one carrying a street light pole all the way up to Laban Rata. These porters being man and women are wearing only rubber shoes and scaling the mountain like no body's business. (i dont know how many times a day) They easily outpace us.

All of us came down safely with no casualties. Tired but a satisfied look on the face.

Thank you Kementerian Belia & Sukan Malaysia, esp the Bahagian Pembangunan Sukan for organising this event and giving us this oppurtunity.

I would also like to thank the KBS officials Lidya, Hani, Indra, Ujang and Isa & gang for their committment in taking care of our well being during the event. I love you all!

My heartiest congratulations to everybody

from left : Azizah Ahmad, yours truly, Ujang at the back ( thank you Ujang for all the motivation and encouragement), Lidya (very patient officer in charge), Aishah, Saloma, Indra (an inspiration to us all), and Hani (everyone cant do without)

* Did you know that there is a picture of South Peak on your 1 Ringgit note?

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our very own 'model gunung' Redza Benjamin. He did the craziest thing by taking off his clothes for this pose at temperature -4 ( tabek springg aarr)