Sunday, February 03, 2008

Low's Peak

I just got home last night, with two absolutely busted knees, sore ass cheeks and painful leg muscles. But I knew I had to do this above everything else. The last four days I spent in Kinabalu Park, wrestling with the mountains. And now I'm here to brag about it. Heheh..


The Initial Climb
There were 7 of us. Saty, Zamri, myself and four of Zamri’s colleagues (Zack, Azmy, Zahid and Aiman).

We began at 9 a.m. that Friday morning, starting off our journey from the Timpohon gate. We were told by John, our guide/porter to reach Laban Rata, (which was located about 6 kilometers away from Timpohon) no later than 5 p.m. that day.

Laban Rata is the temporary lodging place for climbers of Mount Kinabalu to rest and prepare themselves for the next climbing chapter to the summit. The trail up to Laban Rata varies in its level of difficulties. The first four kilometers were mostly about climbing up tree roots, steep stairs and muddy grounds; the typical rainforest trail which proved to be the most icky part.

Saty and I moved together at all times, while the men shot up the trail quickly. Zamri stayed close to us as much as he can. Every kilometer or so, there will be a shelter provided for climbers to rest and recharge, berak and kencing if necessary, walaupun it’s a bit ewwwwwyyyy…Up till the third kilometer, Saty and I were the most corot, hiking up one step at a time like a grandma.

We had our lunch at the fourth kilometer shelter because it rained. Our packed lunch was provided by the resort. It consists of three slices of cheese sandwiches, a tiny fried chicken, two spring rolls, a hard boiled egg and an apple. Apekah itu lunch? Kami nak nasik!!! Tapi ape boleh buat, we had to eat that, or die of famine by the ravine. I only ate two sandwiches and a spring roll. Saty hardly ate, everything in Sabah seems to taste weird to her except the seafood.

The fifth kilometer was the most beautiful and Saty and I found it to be the easiest. We have left our group of men after the third kilometer shelter to be on our own. The men were snails towards the end. We kept our pace, slow and steady, stop whenever we feel like it, but never more than 2 minutes. The hiking poles we brought with us prove to be very useful during the climb.

The last kilometer, hati sudah ade sikit panas. Mainly because the beautiful and easy trail ended and we were on stony grounds with loads of trees around. The map told us that there will be one final shelter before we will finally reach Laban Rata. Tapi jalan punye jalan, tak jumpe-jumpe jugak that particular shelter. Our legs were already tired and mood pun dah hilang because we have been walking for close to 6 hours. We dragged our feet up a little more and soon enough, we saw a glimpse of a building in front of us. We were crazily glad when a porter who walked by us at that time told us that we were already in Laban Rata.

Zahid and Azmy arrived 15 minutes after us. The rest followed by about 2 hours later. In Laban Rata, we settled in the hostel, as in berbaring-baring dan bertido-tido, giving our bodies what they deserve before we begin again for the peak after midnight. We woke up at 6 p.m., had dinner, slept again and woke up around 1 a.m. for the climb.

The Summit Climb
The summit is 3 kilometers away from Laban Rata and the guide told us that the climb will be more painful. We started off at around 3 a.m. We had our headlights (lampu angkat taik) to walk in the dark. It was 8 degrees Celsius in Laban Rata and we could not imagine how cold it will be up in the summit.

Even though we have rested, we realized that fatigue has not really worn off our legs. The first kilometer was truly hard for all of us. Zahid was the only one in our group to shoot up first while the rest of us were left struggling behind. Saty had numerously expressed her intention to turn back and retire. In the darkness and amidst other climbers that whizzes by, I lost Saty, and was on my own with Azmy and Zack. Zamri and Aiman, was nowhere to be seen. They were lagging far behind and would probably catch up with Saty soon.

Further up, the air gets thinner, and after one hour walking on stony forest grounds, the hard, cold mountain granite stood before me. It was getting harder to breathe. As climbers one by one grab the rope and swing themselves up the granite slopes, I thought about Saty and wonder if she did turn back after all. My lampu angkat taik is already out of battery and the spares are with Saty. Pandai kan pegi hiking bawak bag share-share..I panicked a little bile mengenangkan macamane aku nak climb around the edge of the mountain without my headlights. But to my surprise, Cik Kering (Saty) rupe-rupenye was just 5 minutes away from me. While I was busy wondering how to survive for that climb dengan takde battery, takde air and takde power bar, tibe-tibe I heard somebody called me, “Nanah!!”. Oh ok, that was Saty alright.

From that point Saty and I were back together. We scaled the granite slope one after another. In the dark, everything was so scary. Ravines loomed underneath and around us, and the wind was blowing a strong gale over our heads.

At around 5 a.m., we reached the checkpoint in Sayat-Sayat, just a kilometer away from the summit. We have left four of our men behind and only Zahid were ahead of us at this point but he was nowhere to be seen.

The climb ahead of us was only made of granites slabs and stones. At times we would have to utilize the climbing rope and at other times we would have to walk up very, very steep slopes. We heaved ourselves up, not willing to give up just yet. We found Zahid on the way, sitting on a stone slab, holding his water bottle with its broken strap. He said he would have to wait for the other men cause he could climb no further with a broken water bottle strap (he didn’t bring any bag pack for the climb and it will be impossible for him to grab onto those ropes with a water bottle in a hand) We had a bag with us but we didn’t offer to carry his bottle sebab kami tak larat la kan nak menambah beban yang dah sedia ade kat badan..

Saty and I walked hand in hand, walking against the strong wind, taking baby steps only to stop every 15 to twenty steps. During the stop we would either crouch behind rocks, squat on stones or simply lie down on the slopes. Saty said that she could sleep in this cold weather and closed her eyes. I told her not to even try cause she might end up sleeping forever in this cold weather. Our fingers were starting to feel numb, no gloves would be able to protect us from this freezing cold weather. Stalagmite and stalactite sudah mule terbentuk dari hidung. Our hingus were uncontrollable!

A mistake we made was that we were not properly insulated. We had underestimated Mount Kinabalu. I wore two t-shirts underneath Pearl’s flimsy windbreaker, two layers of track bottom, two layers of socks, a pair of gloves and just a newsboy cap to protect my head. Saty had three t-shirts underneath Pearl’s hooded sweater, two layers of track bottom, a snow cap that covers the ears and TWO pair of gloves which were not even equivalent to the thickness of one pair of sensible gloves.

Some 300 meters from the peak, Saty and I made our surrendering motion. We saw few climbers moving down and we decided to follow them. We won’t climb anymore. It was way too cold. We could already see a streak of redness on the horizon when we moved our ass down. We walked down about a hundred meters and saw the men sitting down on rocks and boulders, some of them performing the Subuh prayers. It was about half past 5 in the morning.

When we told them that we were going back, the guide almost immediately told us not to do so. Sangat rugi, kate die. Dekat sudah.., kate die lagi. Tapi, Saty and I said, tak boleh, sejuk sangat. And he said again, takpe sekejap lagi matahari naik panas la sikit. So after a number of coaxing and persuasions, we continued. The last 100 meter felt like the longest 100 meter of our lives. We dragged our feet, I now have an army hammock wrapped (pinjam orang punye) around my head and upper body. Saty now has an extra layer on top of the sweater, courtesy of a mamat Cina yang handsome (another fellow climber yang climbed up with us that morning).

And so finally, we made it up there. All seven of us. Six of us made it together, and our last member, made it too, 15 minutes later. At that time, we don’t look like manusia anymore. Sume dah tak maintain. Take a look..

The Descend
Even when we have reached the top of Low’s peak, the highest peak on Mount Kinabalu, we were not truly happy just yet. Cause we know, we have to face that tormenting road down. And descending is only more challenging than the already rough climb.

Sure enough, the journey down telah membuatkan kami sakit kaki maximum because we had to use our legs muscle a lot more to stabilize and control our movement. Saty and I slid down on our asses when the slope is too steep for us to walk down. At times we repel with rope. Motion yang terhentak-hentak made my stomach felt so bad till at this one time, bile perut aku memulas gile babs punye sampai tak boleh nak berjalan. So, I had to leave some souvenirs behind. Heh…

From the first descend, Saty and I were back in Laban Rata at 10:30 a.m.. We learned from Zahid and Azmy (who got there before us) that the other three men were way, way slower as they have their own issues. Zamri left tons of souvenirs for the mountains, Zack stopped to sleep half way during the descent and Aiman had cramped muscles.

We didn’t stop for long in Laban Rata as we need to check out immediately and head back towards Timpohon gate on that same day. It was necessary for us to reach down before it gets dark. We had a quick lunch and start our journey down. This final descend totally busted our knees. Saty and I took 5 hours to reach Timpohon (we thought we could make it in 4 hours). We trailed down the mountains like nenek kebayan dengan tongkat. A few porters who pass by us on their way up also pass by us again on their way down. Punye la slow kami ni.. Some of them gelak-gelak and hinted ‘Tak sampai-sampai lagi?’, lady porters would tell us to walk down slowly and carefully so we won’t hurt ourselves, and some even offered to carry us down. Tapi kami dengan gigih berjalan sendiri, tahu…?

Pkl 5 petang. Sampai akhirnye at Timpohon gate. Makan. Head to KK town. Check in, mandi for the first time in 3 days dan tido. Balik KL the next day.

Interesting Bits
Porters are the men and women who transport climbers bags/stuffs and supplies from Kinabalu Park all the way up to Laban Rata. They carry baggage and stuffs on their backs up to 30kg with a charge of around RM 8 per kilo. And they won’t carry if your things weigh less than 15kg. Our guide, John, who is also our porter, left Timpohon gate 2 hours after we left for the climb and he eventually caught up with us during our fourth kilometer. Gile hebat. These porters had huge calf muscles and could make it up to Laban Rata from Timpohon (with all the barang-barang yang berat-berat tu) in just 2 hours! Imagine that! Kami ni berjalan naik paling terror pun 6 jam. Aren’t these men and women amazing?!!!

The wooden hostel/accommodation we stayed in Laban Rata, had wooden bunk beds to fit all 7 of us. Despite the cold weather, water heater for the hostel was only switched on from 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. making it impossible to mandi at any other times. Sebab itulah aku dan Saty tak mandi selame 3 hari. From the day we left KL for KK, sampai la the day we got back to KK town.

Also, the extreme cold weather made it difficult for us to sleep. And the room had this heater that will only be switched on at 8:30 p.m. to 3 am. Once the heater was turned on, there was no way to control the temperature unless you turn the damn thing off. Or else the room will be freaking warm and you will find it hard to breathe. Aku yang mule berselubung sebab sejuk bedi tak boleh tido, by 9 p.m. mule berpeluh-pelih. The warmth woke me and I noticed sume orang pun tengah fidgeting in their sleep. A few had their blankets off, socks off, sweaters off and shirts off already. Funny sight. I turned off the heater.

Makan at Laban Rata was freaking expensive. A bowl of instant noodles cost us RM 9. And any other proper food would cost us minimum RM 15. Kalau nak spaghetti ke macam tu RM 25. Ini bukan 5-star hotel punye café ok, this is hostel café. The ambience and the smell remind me of the Dewan Selera during my school days. Mahal gile. But I think it’s appropriate sebab sume supplies memasak tu was carried up by those porters yang berpenat-penat bawak barang-barang ulang-alik ke Laban Rata tu.





7 comments:

mak kintan said...

sungguh handal ko sis ty, aku ini amat lah tidak adventurous orgnye. mesti aku akan menangis2 bila nmpk ulat gonggok or pacat yg belum pun panjat kaki aku. huhu.. laki aku kata aku yelah org kampung yg lagi KL dr dia..hiks... yeap..mmg betul pun. CONGRATS!!!! anyway..aku pernah sampai kinabalu foothill je 4 tahun lps...hiks.. itu pun aku rasa nk nangis guling2 sbb penat naik bas.. hehe

Ty said...

mak kintan,
aku pun amat takut kpd pacat, gonggok, cicak dan segale. tapi sebab aku dah penat tak hingat sampai kalau kasi aku tido dgn tikus pun aku tak kisah dah time tu. lgpun aku cume pikir nak sampai cepat so aku boleh tido dan berehat2, tak pikir lain dah.

chics said...

wow.that's all i can say

oh plus. i don't think i can ever do that.bunyinya sungguh tormenting

syabas!

Rohana O'Connell said...

well done you!

sarah said...

Wow! Ko sangat hebat la!! The only way for me to see the peak of any mountain is if I'm air-lifted!!

shahir reza ali said...

scuba diving n hiking up mt. Kinabalu are on my todo list, next time i go to Sabah. :D

Ty said...

chics,
you can double how tormenting that sounds and you'll get how it truly feels physically.

ana,
thank you, lady!

sarah,
honestly, i was thinking of u during that hike up. was thinking of asking you if ever go back there again.

shahir,
u better. and i'll laugh my ass off if you take more than 6 hours to reach laban rata. hahah..!!