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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mt Kinabalu for the 4th Time-Day 4

The alarm was set at 1.30AM? I can't remember, but it was raining rather heavily for about an hour before our alarm rang.

I'm sure most of our thoughts were whether we could venture out and brave the cold rain. Maybe some of us were thinking "YAY, can sleep in". I had the latter thought. Terrible me!! :D

Those who woke up earlier boiled water to make hot drinks.

Francis brought maggi mee and shared with a few of us. It was delicious of course. Everything taste much better on a mountain top. :P

The kitchen at Gunting Lagadan is equipped with cooking facilities and there are sufficient cups, plates, bowls and cutleries. If you look closer at the picture above, there is also a wok at the bottom of the cupboard. :)

I would say, Gunting Lagadan is now our preferred choice of accommodation. We can cook & boil water for bathing. I heard that there was no hot water to shower in Laban Rata.. like for almost a year??

The lead guide came at about 2.30AM. It was still raining but not as heavy. He told us that there was a possibility that we could not continue our hike to Low's Peak. Some of us were crestfallen by the news, others were elated and promptly went back to sleep. The guide explained that it has been raining heavily for about 2 hours and even though the rain seemed to be lighter now at Gunting, the mountain top was still flooded with rain water. He showed us a picture of how the flood looked like on his mobile phone. He said he would make his decision by 3.30AM whether or not to lead us to the peak.

We had about 40 minutes to kill. Some went back to sleep, some hung around at the hall and others went into the room to pray.

The moment we finished praying, we could hear someone shouted, "The guide said it's okay to go now". Praise God!! :D

So at 3.30AM (thereabouts), 34 of us left for the Peak.

It was drizzling very lightly and we had our raincoats on... but not for long. It was more tiresome to walk with a raincoat, so many of us took it off.

My 4th Kinabalu climb and this was my 1st time enjoying the hike up from mid-point to the Peak. The last 3 times I was in a very bad shape. This time, I was able to encourage some of my fellow climbers.

At one point in time (It's all so vague now, I don't know which point :p ), it got really warm. I was with SH at that time. I asked him to take off his thick jacket and stuff it in my backpack. He didn't bring a backpack and so I made him stick close to me because it would get chilly again later and he would need his jacket.

Above picture middle right - 7KM marker before reaching Sayat-Sayat (5.08AM). Rach was nearby so we took a picture together. It looked like it was snowing but nah.. it was drizzling very lightly.
The 4 pictures above was taken using SH's camera. I didn't want to take mine out from my bag for fear that it might get wet.

Each of us had to register at the Sayat-Sayat hut. We had to show our name tags (given out to us when we register at the Park) to the Park personnel. Without the tags we cannot proceed beyond the hut.

After about 20 minutes (estimation) after the Sayat-Sayat hut, it started getting cold. My gloves were wet making my fingers numb. I had to constantly move and wriggle my fingers.

The never-ending walk was really LONGGGG to some of us. I thought I would struggle at this stretch but I was doing fine. SH was finding it difficult. I understood how he felt. I stayed with him until at 8.3KM where we met up with Messner. Sirdar was way behind and I didn't see him until at about 8.3KM too.

6.48AM - Reached the 8KM mark. SH and I met a few of our climbing friends in the never-ending stretch. Kang Bee who was so gung-ho the day before was feeling really tired today. She didn't have enough strength to smile. One of the guides saw her state and held her hand. The guides usually look for people (especially females) who are slow and who find difficulty in getting to Low's Peak. They will hold their hands and encourage them. Many of these climbers are very grateful towards the guides.

Never-ending stretch, with only a rope as a guide to Low's Peak. It was a misty morning.

7.14AM - We met up with Joel after the 8km mark. He didn't look good. I made SH and Joel walk at least 10-15 steps and let them rest for 30 seconds. I did this repeatedly.

South peak and Low's Peak. The mist didn't clear until we got nearer to the 8.5km marker.

St John's Peak. Sirdar caught up with me from behind and at the same time I saw Messner some hundred metres ahead welcoming the climbers. It seems Sirdar was way behind with Swee Leng, but she turned back just before the Sayat-Sayat hut. Sirdar made sure that a guide was there to accompany her back.

Joel - suffering from indigestion or something. I "passed" him to Messner and was told later that he vomited and was able to complete the climb without much difficulty.

The mist cleared at this point. We could see St John's Peak and South Peak so clearly.

The organisers - Sirdar, Messner and me. :) We never had our pictures taken together on this mountain. :D

I love this picture. In my previous climbs I never had the opportunity to take many pictures of the last 200metres. I was either too tired or too lazy. This time I was "well" enough to take a few good shots and this is one of them.

Met up with some of my climbing members who were descending.

Another shot at the peak.

View of St John's Peak. Some of my friends were climbing behind me.

8.36AM - Finally reached the peak. YAY!!! Yup, we were kinda late, but then, WE ARE ALWAYS the last to reach the peak. We had the Peak ALL to ourselves. This was one of the reasons why we didn't mind being the last. If we were here.. say.. at 6 or 7AM, lots of other climbers would chase us off from the peak, so that they can take photos. You see, the summit of Mt Kinabalu is NOT a plateau. It's a jagged peak. Only a few people can be there at any one time.

Francis made maggi mee and hot soya bean for us. It was a good experience. Oh by the way, his maggi mee got cooked because he used a THERMOS flask to store the hot water.

We were at the peak for about 25 minutes.

Descending. The mist came back after we left the peak.

9.33AM - 8KM marker.

10.07AM - Hey, we can see the Sayat-Sayat hut. :)

Sayat-Sayat Hut. We stopped here for like 10 minutes.

10.51AM - 7KM marker. Yup after Sayat-Sayat is the rope section.

11.29AM - Reached the end of the rope section. We waited for each other so it took a bit of time here.

11.43AM - the 6.5KM marker.

12.08PM - We finally reached Gunting Lagadan. We (probably 8 of us) were the last, so we roughly check if any of our belongings were left behind at Gunting. The day before, we made arrangements with the guide to help us carry our stuff from Gunting to Laban Rata. Early this morning, we told Amy and Kelly to make sure that all of our belongings were out of the room by 10AM. They were quite fit and we knew that they were able to make it to the peak and back long before 10AM.

Gunting Lagadan. I never had a chance to take pictures of this hut yesterday.

Descending to Laban Rata. Pendant Hut is on the left.

Ahhh.. I felt so relieved when I came in view of the Laban Rata Resthouse. I was dead tired and hungry. I missed the PAID buffet breakfast but then it didn't matter. The 8 of us ordered set lunch. I can't recall what I ate though. It cost about RM6 per person I think or was it RM12? LOL. Can't remember.

I remembered getting irritated at Sirdar just before lunch was served. He kept wanting to discuss something and he was a few tables away from me. I was trying to pack my thick jacket and all the other unwanted stuff into the bag for the porter to carry down. I told Rach to ask him to WAIT!. I was really very very tired. I could see that both Messner and Sirdar were exhausted too. Messner and I found it difficult to register the questions that were asked by our fellow climbers. We were like in a daze. I think Sirdar was tired, but I could see him talking with the others.

After lunch I settled the porter fees with the guides (they double up as porters too). I was so tired that I even with my mini calculator I couldn't add properly. In the end I copied their figures down onto my sheet of paper and paid them accordingly.

Now, Sirdar had made arrangements for the 3 of us to have a short nap in one of the huts. We were in no condition to descend. The hut was about 200mtrs (??) after Laban Rata.

We napped for an hour and left the hut at about 3.05pm. Believe me, that 1 hour was just enough to regain my energy. I felt refreshed.

It was drizzling when we were about to leave the hut. Now, many of you know that I take a longer time descending. The first time in Sep2007, I took about 5 hours to reach the Timpohon Gate. Then probably 4 hours plus in Jul 2008 and Jan2010.

This time I thought I would reach the gate by 7pm. I was a bit worried because both Messner and Sirdar were fast "descenders". Furthermore I wore my Columbia sandals instead of shoes. The last few times I wore sandals too but they were more sturdy. The Columbia sandals were quite flimsy but Thank God it didn't break while I was running down the rocky not to mention slippery path.

Messner had to ask me to slow down because they couldn't catch up with me. Actually they were too busy talking. They stopped at the 2nd hut-Villosa Hut for a coffee break. I thought they were taking a bit too long for a coffee break. They were discussing something. My mind was just to reach the base before dark. In the end they asked me to go down and try to catch up with the other climbers. We received news via our ham radios that one of the guys were not doing well.

4.09pm. A brief stop at the Layang-Layang hut. I caught up with some of the climbers here. I reminded them that they had only 2 hours of daylight to reach the base. They responded saying that they targeted to reach the base at 6pm. Hmmm.... I thought. I excused myself and continue running down the path.

I passed a few others long the way- SH, Yvonne, Yee, Dr Moktir, Jimmy, Chris and Joel. I wanted to get past Joel but he was also quite fast. In the end we split from the last group and went ahead.

I slipped and fell at least twice but I was alright. We stopped only once or twice to remove my raincoat and to have a drink.

I did not take any pictures anymore after the Layang-Layang Hut because of the rain.

5.45PM - YES!! Joel & I made it!!!!
The last um.. 2oo meters or so, the pathway sloped up instead of down. Joel and I took 10-15 steps, rested for 10 seconds and then took another 10-15 steps again. We did this a few time before we reached the main gate.

I started counting..between 3.05PM and 5.45PM, I made it in 2 hours 40 minutes!!!! Record time!!!!!!

One of Faustine's van was waiting for us at the Timpohon Gate. There were 13 of us left either still in the mountain or at the gate. 7 or 8 of us got into the van where the driver was instructed to take us to Grace Hostel to wash up.

7.25PM - The last 2 people to arrive at Grace Hostel were SH and Peter. 4 vans had already gone to Gaya Seafood Restaurant, some 1.5 hours away from the Park. The 5th van departed at about 7.45pm. The 6th van left at about 8.30PM or so. We arrived at Gaya Restaurant at 10.17PM. The rest of our team members were ready to shoot off from that place. They were dead tired.

I arrived at the hotel at about 11pm. Fortunately, I had already given a copy of the rooming list to the hotel earlier on and by the time I reached the hotel, most of my team members were already in their rooms.

End of Day 4. :D

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mt Kinabalu for the 4th Time-Day 3

I didn't have a good night's sleep despite of the comfortability of the hotel room. I had so much on my mind. Yup, I'm a worrier. :)

I set the alarm at 5.45AM. Breakfast was scheduled at 6.30AM. We thought of taking a group picture before breakfast but it wasn't possible. Everyone was like all over the place, checking their bags, asking where to put their "left-behind bags" and "bring'along bags". You see, I've made tags for the group to identify which bags are supposed to take up to the mountain and which to leave behind with Faustine (our driver) for safe-keeping. The ones that are supposed to be left behind are blue in colour, and the "take along" tags are in yellow, with our individual names and phone numbers on them. I've also added a small print "left BEHIND" for blues and "take ALONG" for yellows. From previous experience, many climbers got confused with the colours.

Having the tags coloured made it easier for us the organisers to check where the bags were supposed to go. Faustine was also aware that he was supposed to keep only the bags with blue tags.

It was buffet style. The hotel was kind enough to include noddles in the menu. Originally it was just fried rice, eggs, sausages, baked beans, toast, coffee, tea and juice. I asked for noodles and they obliged without charging extra.

I tried to eat as much as I could but it was difficult to eat that much at 7AM. :S

This was the only opportunity we had for a group photo taken outside the Cottage hotel. Yeah, the 45 of us looked like boys and girls in school uniform. :D

7.35AM - We left Cottage Hotel and reached Mesilau Nature Park 15 minutes later.

I went up to their office to get our group "checked in". We were given 8 guides and the main guide gave us a little briefing while KL Chan & David (I think) had the honour of weighing the bags for the porter to carry. On my first trip to Kinabalu back back in 2007, we didn't think of name tags and each of us had to be there when they weigh our bags. Now, with the tags, we just assigned 2 people to do the weighing and recording.

8.24AM - I spent some time choosing my walking stick (RM5 per stick), while Rach went ahead. She was so sure that I could catch up with her.

8.44AM - at the 0.5 KM mark. I was doing alright, but still could not catch up with Rach.

9.06AM - The beautiful view of Mt Kinabalu. You can't see this if you are using the Timpohon trail.

Everyone's smiling here. It was too early to get tired.

9.09AM - 1KM mark. In good time but still no sign of Rach.

9.30AM - 1.5KM mark. I met up with others but Rach was not one of them.

After the 1.5 mark, we found ourselves descending. It was like so steep.

10.12AM - Waterfall, 10.21AM the 3KM mark.

10.22AM shortly after the 3KM mark we came across this bridge called Jabatan Gantung (Kipuyut).

10.54AM - 3.5KM mark. On and off I would see the boys, Yuen and Samuel. They were like talking all the way with no sign of fatigue.

11.07AM - A little snack before we continue on. It got steeper after this point.

11.24AM - 4KM mark,
11.56AM - 4.5KM mark - still no sign of Rach.

I guessed I was doing pretty okay. They said that if you are within the 1 hour 1 KM range, you should be alright. I only took 3 hours for 4 KM.

Some man-made stairs, an earth-worm and a hut. :)

12.26PM - We had our lunch here at the Lompoyou hut. Lunch was provided by Faustine. Yummy and so filling. I think rice is good for us Asians. In 2008, we had a couple of sandwiches, a hard-boiled egg, 1 pc of chicken and banana. I was famished by the time I reached Laban Rata.

I took about 20minutes to eat and chit-chat with my fellow hikers. Everyone was still so full of energy. The scenery after the Lampoyou hut was awesome. It's like being in another world or something. :D

1.25PM - the 5.5KM mark. I must have missed the 5KM mark. Rach was nowhere to be seen. I got really tired during this stretch. Many of my fellow climbers passed me by. They were puzzled about my tiredness. I guessed it was because I had to "attend to nature's call" but I didn't because I was alone at that time.

2.14PM - I reached the "Y" junction. I saw a few of my friends here taking pictures. Yvonne, who was slow at the beginning, managed to catch up with me just before the "Y" junction. That shows that I was in a very bad shape.

After the "Y" junction, the KM markers drops 2KM following the Timpohon Trail. I saw Yuen, sleeping while Samuel went ahead. Yuen kept saying that he was sleepy. He also said that the Timpohon Trail was much easier. He used the Timpohon Trail 2 years back. I stayed with Yuen for a while then woke him up.

Samuel was going very slowly too so that Yuen could catch up. I met some of my buddies here at this hut, but they had their rest and were about to continue their hike as soon as I reached them. I did my "nature's call" here and was very much relived. :D

Mrs Annapurna (not her real name) came up just when I was about to leave. She and her husband sick since the day before. I was amazed that she made it this far. I made sure that she was alright before I left the hut.

3.44PM - 5 KM mark. I was still struggling.

3.47PM - I caught up with the boys again. They were talking about songs and were singing too. :)

One step at a time.

Getting closer to Laban Rata. Probably 600metres more. Yuen was feeling really tired.

4.22PM - The last hut before Laban Rata. It's roughly about 500metres more to go. Yuen was so sleepy that he slept on and off.

4.39PM - 5.5KM mark. Yuen was left behind while Samuel went ahead. I was accompanying Yuen now. His bag was heavy, probably 9kgs, but I didn't offer to carry because I was huffing and puffing myself.

5.17PM - Reached Waras Hut. YES!! Laban Rata is round the corner. :D. Yuen and I waited here for a while. Correction - he was sleeping and I was frantically calling for help. I called Douglas (he was already at Laban Rata) to come down and carry Yuen's bag. Douglas arrived less than 5 minutes later. (Told ya that Laban Rata was round the corner). Yuen immediately passed his bag to Douglas and started walking and walking and walking.. leaving me behind.

5.28PM - Arrived Laban Rata finally. I was dead tired... too tired to even scold Rach for leaving me behind.

Dinner was well.. dinner. I couldn't remember what I ate if I didn't snap a picture of it. :P

It gets dark early in Borneo. By 6.15 most of us were ready to leave Laban Rata for Gunting Lagadan. I was like... WHATTTTT .... have to hike up some more. It was about 150meters or so to get to Gunting. My friend, Jyrki kept looking back to see if I was alright. It was drizzling and I was so cold. I was thinking.. if I could just reach Gunting, have a nice shower and hot milo, then I'll be fine.

When I reached Gunting, I did have a shower... but the COLD water from the tap was dripping pathetically. I didn't wash my hair and I think I didn't soap myself. Hey, it was cold!!!! :D. Anyway, I could have hot water if I was patient enough to boil the water. Yes, they have cooking facilities and only 3 (or was it 4?) bathrooms for bathing and it's not an all female bathroom, we had to share with the guys.

The ladies toilets however are separated from the men's. :)

Each room (as far as I know) can fit 4 people. We took 10 rooms from Gunting and 5 beds from Laban Rata. Room number 6 in Gunting had water dripping from the ceiling. Poor Jyrki had to sleep on the upper deck where the water dripped onto his mattress. The people in that room complained to the management but they just shrugged it off saying that it was condensation and they couldn't do anything about it. :(

We had a short briefing and hit the sack by 9PM.