Pin Your Adventure!

mt kinabalu
Climbing Mt. Kinabalu
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
(Nature Quests)

white water rafting
White water rafting
Gopeng, Perak
(Water Extreme)

eating sago worms
Eating Live Sago Worms
Mukah, Sarawak
(Food Travels)

zorbing
Zorbing
Taman Tasik Titiwangsa, Selangor
(Thrill Seeker)

parasailing

There are so many adventures to be had in Malaysia. The one above is parasailing in KK, Sabah. Some are less than an hour’s drive away from KL. I’ve had so much fun just inside my country that I’ve even forgotten some of the places I’ve been and the things I’ve done.

parasailing boat

This is where a fun app on Facebook comes in – Nestle Drumstick’s Home of Adventure is an avenue where you can submit your best adventures based on four (4) categories – the ones I’ve included at the beginning.

instructions

There’s a search function too and you can choose between East and West Malaysia. I’m going to go to East Malaysia coz that’s where I’m from. I chose somewhere close to Sibu, where I was born, for Food Travels (with a bit of Thrill Seeker thrown in).

sibu

I just need to Pin the location and write a simple description. You’ll need to put in your name, IC and cell phone number so they can contact you if you win. It’s that simple!

This is where I wrote:

The place where you can *eat* live sago worms (grubs) – just pluck off its head and nom away! :D

and then there’s an optional feature to add a photo or video.

Here’s my sago grub eating video if you’re not too squeamish. Heh.

It’s fun to do and best of all you get a chance to win RM 35,000 in cash prizes. The top 10 winners each week will be awarded RM 500 so go on ahead and Pin Your Adventure now! :)

Mount Kinabalu summit – Climbing Lows Peak

lows peak

Mt. Kinabalu is the highest mountain in Borneo. The majestic mountain is also a feature of the Sahah flag and the highest peak is called Low’s Peak,
clocking in at an elevation of 4102 meters. The height of the summit
changes from time to time though, and it’s currently listed as 4095.2 meters.

The climb up began at 0230 hours from the rest house at 3,320 meters
above sea level. We had already scaled the first part of the mountain
earlier and the summit attempt was made after 4 hours of sleep. I was
the only one to reach the top amongst my buddies – one didn’t want to
go and the other gave up half way.

summit attempt

The mandatory guide that was assigned to us woke us up at 2 am in
the morning and I had a quick snack of Pringles and brought along a 1.5
liter bottle of water and several energy bars. The altitude at the
start of the summit climb made the ambient temperature very cold, with
an extremely icy wind chill factor.

I suited up in climbing gear and grabbed a torchlight before
following the guide up the summit at 2:30 am. It is important to wear
gloves as you will need the grip to scramble up the mountain using a
rope and as protection from the rugged granite terrain. The altitude
also makes scaling the mountain difficult and it is important to take
breaths to get used to the thinner atmosphere as you climb up the peak.

dangerous cliffs

The first part of the summit attempt is through rocky terrain and
there are some dangerous areas where the path is narrow and there’s
only a rope separating you from a long fall down the cliff. This isn’t
visible when you climb it as its dark – but watch your step, as some of
the ground is slippery.

km 8

I made good pace and reached the 7 km point with relative ease, so I
told my guide to stay with my friend as he’s moving slower. There were
other groups climbing so I decided to embed myself with the faster
moving groups. It started to get difficult after 30 minutes of climbing
– the weather was extremely cold and my windbreaker couldn’t seem to
keep the cold out. The temperature drops below 0 degrees Celsius at
night and ice forms, though there’s no snow up there.

I started to get altitude sickness again after the first hour and
had to stop frequently to catch my breath. I practically sprawled at
the ground and as I got higher and higher, the more exhausted I got,
and I was close to giving up…except I wasn’t going to give up, so I
just soldiered on and at one point was practically clawing my way up
the jagged rocks by sheer willpower alone.

sayat sayat check point

I finally reached the Sayat Sayat checkpoint (where
you register your summit attempt) and had to take a 10 minute break
there just trying to catch my breath. I don’t usually exercise and
that, compounded by the unfriendly climate and the previous day’s
exhaustion made my summit attempt very difficult. My heart was jack
hammering and I was breathing raggedly, but I was just as determined to
reach the top. :)

steep rocky incline

I could barely feel my fingers due to the cold, when I reached the 8
km point, despite the gloves. I met Connie, a Hash House Harrier from
Kuching who asked me if I was alright when she saw me trying to get
warm in a gully. The wind chill factor is a serious concern at this
altitude – I couldn’t ever shield my face from the wind. I decided to
climb steadily without stopping despite my exhaustion and timed my pace
to Connie’s, who’s more experienced.

scaling mt kinabalu

The next few hours passed with a blur and all I remember is the
sharp rock face and the sporadic flash of light from a torchlight as
the climbers scaled up the mountain. It got to a point where I was so
exhausted, my mind went blank and I just forced myself to keep my hands
and legs moving in the general direction of the summit.

It got better as dawn started to break and I could see the peaks of
Mount Kinabalu. That gave me a burst of adrenaline and I started to
climb with more vigor. I didn’t feel exhausted anymore at this point
(probably coz of the endorphins) and marveled at the beautiful face of
Mt. Kinabalu that is starting to reveal itself.

I soon reached the ridge at the bottom of Low’s Peak (the highest
peak in Mt. Kinabalu) and started scaling up the face of the peak.
There is a rope to guide you through the large limestone and granite
peak – it has a very steep inclination and the final 15 meters requires
unassisted climbing, so rock climbing skills would come in useful here.

dawn breaking summit

I managed to pull myself up the steep face of the peak and finally
got to the peak of Mt. Kinabalu just before sunrise. The dawn was
breaking over the mountain and it’s truly a sight to behold…I was
glad I made it to the top. :)

Here are some photos from the summit:

summit views

Dawn breaks on the summit of Mt. Kinabalu

summit breathtaking

Breathtaking views of Mt. Kinabalu from Low’s Peak

summit clouds

The clouds below the summit – on the top of the world!

victorias peak

Victoria’s Peak taken from the summit at Low’s Peak

me at summit

Lows Peak – reaching the summit of Mt. Kinabalu

connie

Connie Wu, also from Kuching

connie me summit

Connie and me, taken at the summit

summit wire

Low’s Peak – wire to prevent a fall down the peak

summit ice

Films of ice forming at water pools at the summit

summit rock formations

The beautiful peaks of Mt. Kinabalu as seen from the summit

summit descending

Descending Mt. Kinabalu – the mountain has been conquered!

kinabalu

Download: Mt. Kinabalu summit video [sixthseal.com]

mt kinabalu certificate

Mt. Kinabalu is an impressive granite and limestone mountain and is
a sight to behold in itself. The scenic view at the summit of the
highest mountain in Borneo is breathtaking! I highly recommend scaling
the mountain to anyone who’s visiting Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Mount Kinabalu – The Summit Trail

kinabalu drive range

The journey to scale Mt. Kinabalu begins with a one
and half hour drive from Kota Kinabalu to the base of Mount Kinabalu at
Kinabalu Park. There are a lot of scenic views during the ride – the
peak of Mt. Kinabalu is visible at one point.

kinabalu drive clouds

The road traverses through the mountainous area around Mt. Kinabalu
and the ambient temperature cools down noticeably during the ride to
the base of Mt. Kinabalu. The road actually goes above the lower cloud
cover that usually shrouds Mt. Kinabalu, and if you’re lucky, you can
get a magnificent view of the great mountain.

kinabalu park oo

There is an Operations Room at the base of Mt. Kinabalu and it’s managed by Kinabalu Parks, Sabah.
This is where you register your presence (so they’ll know if you fall
off the mountain instead of finding your skeletal remains 3 years later
;)) and get a guide to bring you up to the summit.

kinabalu park wardens

Mount Kinabalu is a World Heritage Site (the first such designated area in Malaysia) and the highest point is Low’s Peak at 4095.2 meters.
It used to be 4101 meters but the summit height seems to change from
time to time, which I find interesting. Mt. Kinabalu is the highest
mountain in South East Asia.

kinabalu park pass

The park wardens at the Operations Room will issue out tags for each
individual – the tag has the climber’s name on it, as well as the date
of registration. There is a short 4WD (SUV) ride to the proper base of
the mountain and that is the point where the climb up Mt. Kinabalu
begins.

mt kinabalu start

The summit trail begins at Pondok Timpohon where
there is a locked gate to keep out non-mountain climbers (the ones
without a valid pass). It is a 6 km climb (6.5 km to be exact) from
here to the halfway point accommodation that we booked for the night.
This is the easy part of the journey as most of the Summit Trail is
relatively well paved.

summit trail sign

This is a photo of me beside the Summit Trail sign
– I was inappropriately attired coz I didn’t know that we had to climb
to the half-way lodge that day. The “walking stick” can be purchased at
the Pondok Timpohan gate for RM 3. It’s quite useful for hiking up
rough terrain. A torch is also essential for the summit climb, as well
as a suitable (enough for you to drink, but not too heavy for you to
carry) supply of water.

summit trail start

The first kilometer of the Summit Trail is relatively tame, with
(usually) well defined paths and a less punishing incline. The flora
and fauna at this point is similar to what you’ll find at altitudes of
below 1000 meters.

km1 kandis hut

There is a rest hut at about 1000 meters from the start of the summit trail – it’s called Pondok Kandis (Kandis Hut) and there are toilets and untreated (read: undrinkable) water supplies at each rest point.

km1 kandis sign

The rest points (huts) have a short description of the place or an
interesting snippet and also distances to the next rest point, both
ways. Pondok Kandis has the distinction of being located “on the
youngest granite pluton in the world”.

km1 pluton

This is a photo of the pluton which is only half a million years
old. I realized the reason Kota Kinabalu is called Api-Api by the
locals then – it’s coz it used to be a volcano.

km1 trail

The next kilometer is more demanding, with more rough terrain and
sharp inclines. The path also starts to become more rocky and harder to
navigate.

km1 sign

There is a Summit Trail progress sign at every kilometer with a
drawn trail path to show the progress you’ve made so far. It can be a
pain in the ass at times. ;)

km1 views

The view starts to become more interesting…the mountain range can
be seen through the trees beside the trail and the ambient temperature
changes subtly as you walk up the summit trail.

pondok ubah

The next rest point is Pondok Ubah (Ubah Hut) at 2081.4 meters above sea level.

pondok ubah sign

The sign states: Moses and ferns grow well in the damp conditions
here and grows luxuriously on the trees here. As you climb the
mountain, the weather gets colder and the soil gets thinner. Fewer and
fewer plant species can survive in these harsh conditions.

moss trees

Sure enough, we saw moss. Moss that grows on trees.

moss furry

Green, furry moss.

moss fungi

White, fungi-like moss.

moss flank

Heck, there’s even moss that seems to grow on the banks of soil that flanks the summit trail…

ferns

There is also a variety of interesting ferns growing along the summit trail as well.

km2 rocky

The terrain on the summit trail gets rockier with rougher edges cut
into the mountain at the 2 km point with a similar drop in temperature
to reflect the higher altitude.

cloud cover

We seem to reach the cloud cover just before the 3 km stop point.
It’s a very interesting experience to watch the clouds float by before
you and into you before dissipating…

pondok low

The next hut is called Pondok Low II (Low’s Hut II
– no idea where Low’s Hut I is) and one notable experience of climbing
Mt. Kinabalu is the friendly people you meet while going up and coming
down. It’s customary to greet fellow climbers with a warm “Hello!”.

pondok low sign

It seems that the summit of Mt. Kinabalu is named after the first
person to reach the highest point of the mountain – Huge Low, 1951.

large ferns

The large (huge – pun not intended) ferns dominate the flora at this point.

fern canopy

The summit trail is covered by a “fern canopy” of sorts, which shades the climber (though at this altitude, it is hardly warm).

fern trees

It seems that the fern canopy is made by fern trees! Jesus, I didn’t know ferns can grow like a tree…

unpredictable path

The trail also tapers off into unpredictable and narrow stone paved paths…

stony ground

It starts to become more challenging to navigate the summit trail at
this point. I was thankful I had the walking stick to avoid unplanned
face first falls into the stony ground.

earthworm transparent

I found an unnaturally large transparent earthworm. I didn’t think it was animate at first…

earthworm retract

…until I touched it and saw it retract into its segmented body length at the contact. It looked like a gross penis.

high altitude fungi

The summit trail keeps on ascending and fungi and other strange plants starts to dominate the plant sphere.

pondok mempening

Pondok Mempening (Dizzy Hut, an appropriately named rest point) lies in the mist shrouded upper echelons of Mt. Kinabalu.

stranger plants

Stranger and stranger plant life forms started to make itself known…

crackers bursting

…and vacuum sealed packets of crackers protested against the
altitude and pressurized, threatening to literally burst. It’s useful
to bring crackers and energy bars (or high energy candy bars like Mars
and Snickers bars) to eat during the climb.

cannabis sativa

Plants that look suspiciously like cannabis sativa was also spotted during the summit climb.

orange fungi

Orange fungi seem to dominate the KM 3 point.

pitcher plants

I also took photos of the pitcher plants that grow here. Here’s a
rather nice looking pitcher plant. It looks like a nut sack (to call a
spade a spade) with its furry exterior and sticky liquid material
inside. This one’s for lolanto.

even rockier terrain

The higher parts of the summit trail starts to become uneven rocky
terrain. I know I’ve mentioned this many times, just think of it as
getting harder and harder the higher you climb up. :p

majestic peaks

The peaks of Mt. Kinabalu is visible as we pass the canopy cover –
it’s majestic, watching the cloud cover roll lazily past, revealing the
ancient beauty of the mountain.

mountain hardy plants

The higher altitude also makes the plants smaller and hardier. The
mountain at the backdrop looks absolutely beautiful. It was tough to go
up the summit trail but the sight of the mountain peaks makes it worth
the effort.

moon rising

The sight of the moon rising as we ascended the summit trail also provides an ethereal quality to the experience…

pondok villosa

Pondok Villosa (Villosa Hut) states that the strong
wind and the poor soil causes the trees to become dwarfed and gnarled
here. It also states that the despite the gnarled and small look that
the trees have, some of them are several hundred years old.

gnarled trees

The gnarled trees are a main feature of the landscape before we reach Pondok Paka.

pondok paka

Pondok Paka (Paka Hut) is the last rest point before the first halfway house at Laban Rata.

dark and lost

It was getting dark and I got separated from the group coz I wanted
to go faster (the others could not climb that fast and were slowing me
down) so I decided to go ahead. It was a bad idea as I got altitude
sickness a little while after that and I got confused, dizzy and sleepy
(!). I had to sit down and I honestly thought that I was on the wrong
path and the chilliness of that altitude would make me die of
hypothermia.

raban rata

I managed to stumble along, hoping that I was on the right path (it
turns out that there is only one path, but it’s hard to tell when the
path is rocky and narrow and I didn’t have a torchlight at night), and
I almost rejoiced when I saw lights at the Raban Rata lodge, except I
was too tired and dizzy and just plain sick (felt like throwing up real
bad).

melanie

It’s thanks to Mel from Canada that I managed to get to the Raban Rata
lodge. Much props to her for guiding me up the right path. It’s just
400+ meters, but having altitude sickness is like having a Dramamine
trip – it just fucks up your perception of spatial relationships. I’m
not ashamed to admit that I feared I had lost my way and gone down the
wrong path before Mel came out with a torchlight from her lodge (a
little down from Raban Rata).

aussie couple

Thanks should be given to the Australian couple James and Emily as
well, for being concerned with my well being as I stumbled into the
Raban Rata restaurant, disorientated from the altitude sickness. They
brought me warm water and offered to bring me to their lodge to rest
while I get used to the altitude. Mel also gave me some herbal mints
(that may or may not work, and I didn’t need to take them if I didn’t
want to) which I took (she must have mistaken my nausea for
apprehension at being given pill like mints from unknown origin, not
knowing that I take pills for recreation ;)) and she offered me some
rose scented aromatherapy thing which DID make me feel better. Cheers!

raban rata buffet

I opted for the buffer dinner (RM 22) at Raban Rata (though I could
only pick at my food) and waited for the rest of my group to catch up
(it took them the better part of an hour). I started to get used to the
altitude and gave my thanks to the friendly and helpful folks there
that night (was too sick to do so earlier).

gunting lagadan keys

I checked into our room at Gunting Lagadan while waiting for the
rest of my buddies to catch up. Gunting Lagadan Hut is located about
500 meters (that’s a lot at this altitude, so I wasn’t raring to go)
above the Raban Rata restaurant and the hut can fit about 50 people in
rooms of 4 persons each (two double decked beds). It’s about 6.5
kilometers from the base of the mountain.

gunting lagadan

I finally took the hike up to the Gunting Lagadan Hut when my friends came up with the guide,

gunting lagadan showers

took a quick (cold!) shower,

gunting lagadan beds

and climbed into the bed with my climbing gear ready for the 0200
wake up call from the guide for the final summit climb at 0230 hours.

I was raring to go. :)

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