14.07.2014 - 18.07.2014 2 °C
I just came back from climbing the highest mountain in Malaysia, Mountain Kinabalu in Sabah. This was my second attempt to climb to the highest peak of the mountain and with lots of help from my mountain guide, Mr Suhaldin, I finally made it this time. No words could express my gratitude to Din who helped and encouraged me throughout my climb to the peak. During the final 2 km of the climb, he helped carried my backpack, took my hand and guided me up all the way to the top.
My journey started when we (me, my aunt and my cousin) finally landed at Kota Kinabalu airport on 14 July 2014 (AirAsia return trip at around RM300) after a detour to Labuan airport due to heavy rain in Kota Kinabalu airport. We landed at Kota Kinabalu airpot around 12.30pm, two hours after the original scheduled landing time. We checked into Promenade Hotel in the town area. After freshening up ourselves, we wandered around the town area shopping and eating the seafood there which was very fresh and cheap compared to those sold in Kuala Lumpur. Night time was spent unpacking and packing our clothes in preparation for our trip to the mountain.
The following day, we began our journey to Kinabalu Park around 1pm and reached around 3.30pm. We stopped by a market along the way. A must try is their pineapple, which was so sweet and juicy….yummy. We registered ourselves at the Kinabalu Park headquarter and checked into our lodge for the night, Peak Lodge 1. The place has a hearth in the middle of the living room, a kitchen, two rooms, a bathroom and a fantastic view of the Kinabalu mountain. We attended the briefing at 6pm at the Liwagu Basement and proceeded to the Balsam Restaurant for our dinner.
I was staying in a room with my aunt and my cousin was staying in another room. We left our room door ajar to let some lights in while we were sleeping. Close to midnight, the door suddenly closed on its own and the two of us who were half asleep had this conversation. Aunt: “Think it’s the wind that closes the door”. Me: “Aunty, you just closed the window before sleeping. Where does the wind comes from?”….silent…..
Anyway, back to our climb the next morning. We headed out to the Kinabalu Park Headquarter to get our tags, sticks (rent at RM10 per stick) and met with our guide, Mr Suhaldin. We called him Din. RM11 per kg for the porter to carry our bags up. After our breakfast and getting our packed lunch, we proceeded to the start of the trail at Timpohon Gate. There was also another woman porter with us who was carrying one of our luggage. She leaded the way and we followed. The guide was behind us. The three of us started off happily along the trail around 8.30am and Din finally caught up with us at 2km after given us a head start. Around the third km, I was walking alone as I couldn’t catch up with my aunt and cousin. Luckily the guide was behind me and caught up with me once in awhile to check on me. The trail although not as much to see as Mesilau Trail but beautiful and scenic nonetheless. Along the way, I chatted with the hikers climbing down and follow others who were also on their way up to Laban Rata. I finally made it to Laban Rata around 2.30pm. My aunt and cousin reached Laban Rata around 1.15pm.
We rested and waited at Laban Rata guesthouse until the dinner started at 4.30pm. One can of 100 plus up at Laban Rata costed RM10.50 but for the effort it took for the porters to bring the food and drinks up there, this is the money that I'm very willing to pay. After we finished our dinner, we proceeded another 200m up to our stay for the night at Panar Laban Hut 1. It was a dorm with six beds. The three of us were sharing the room with three other hikers from Denmark. The washroom was outside of the room and you could imagine us going out in the cold to relieve ourselves. Quite an experience I must say, especially if you have to go during the dark and cold windy night.
We shut out the lights at 6.30pm and try to get some sleep. However, I couldn’t slept well the whole night. The wind outside was blowing so strongly and I scared it would blew away our small little hut. We woke up at 1.30am to prepare ourselves for the final stretch of the climb to the peak.
Din met with us at our lodge and we started our climb to the peak at 2.30am. The journey up was dark, windy and lots of hikers at the beginning of the trail. I climbed and I rested. Climbed again and rested again. The strong wind did not make it easier for us throughout the climb. I got exhausted due to the cold and strong wind. Sometimes I was on all four just to get myself up another step. And then I saw the stretch of the trail with rope and steep stone path. I remembered staring at the trail for awhile thinking “How am I going to get up there with that rope?”. Luckily, Din was beside me reassuring me that I could do it. He took my backpack and urged me to climb. At some point of the rope climb where I felt like I couldn’t climb up another step, Din was beside me and pulled me up. I realised from my last climb in 2008 and now that these mountain guides do not even need to pull the ropes to get themselves up there. I finally reached Sayat-Sayat Hut, the last checkpoint of the climb. After resting for awhile there, I gathered all my courage and energy to proceed with the last stretch of the climb to the peak. All I can say that it was not easy with the wind blowing against me as I climbed. I climbed a few steps and stopped to rest and it continued for another kilometres or so like that. Along the way, there was another guide who took my hand and walked with me the journey up. He left me where the slopes were not too steep. I continued with my stop, rest, breathe and crawl until Din reached me. He kept urging me to go and grabbed my hand to walk with him. It was easier when he walked and pulled me along but even with his help, I also needed to stop him and let me rest awhile to catch my breath. He stopped with me and after a few minutes urged me to go again. He said not to stop for too long as it will cool the body and make it harder for me to get going again. I proceeded after his small steps and kept thinking that I will reach the peak even if I have to crawl on all four to get up there. Din was very enthusiastic about getting me to see the sunrise up there to which I replied that I was happy enough even to reach the peak without seeing the sunrise. Finally after the 8 kilometres, we saw the peak but it was another of those ‘so near yet so far’ location. Another 500m to the peak. Walked with Din and finally managed to reach the bottom of the short climb to the peak. With no more energy left, Din pulled me up to the Lows Peak. My aunt was already waving at me from a distance before I reached there. My aunt was 57 years old and she had so much stamina. My aunt reached the peak at 5am, my cousin at 5.30am and me at 5.50am. I’m so happy to finally reached the peak that all tiredness was forgotten for awhile until we needed to climb back down. Arrghh!!!
I left my camera with Din who helped took most of the scenery photos up there as we began our descent back to Panar Laban Hut. The view was absolutely amazing and breathtaking. As we were going down, I was wondering how in the world we managed to climb up all the way.
We finally reached Panar Laban Hut around 8.30am. Packed our bags and climbed 200m to Laban Rata Guesthouse for our breakfast. After our breakfast, we continued our descent of the mountain at 9.30am. We reached Timphon Gate at 1.45pm. Went back to the headquarters to get our certificates, our remaining luggage which we stored at the headquarters, had our late lunch and proceeded to our hotel in KK town.
All along the way of the climb and after it, I reminded myself not to do this again and has almost wanted to give up at many point of the climb to the peak. If not for the help of our guide, Mr Suhaldin, I would not have reached the peak. My heartiest and most grateful thanks to him if he is reading this. However after I was back home, I ached to go and do it all over again. Maybe next time through the Mesilau trail. Am I crazy???