Published: April 2nd 2010March 24th 2010
At the drop off point we started our long 8 km walk towards camp 5 with us is this talkative British woman who never shuts up, even when walking in the forest, the 3 of us were getting annoyed already. It started drizzling but we are inside the forest canopy so we did not get wet totally. The scenery is nice, a few bamboo trees along the way, we crossed 2 suspended bridges to get to the other side of the river. We got tired quickly because of the heat, and humidity, it seems a kilometer here is longer! About 3 hours later we arrived at the camp, ohh we passed the Japanese group along the way, they seem very friendly.
Joseph one of the guides living on camp 5 sorted us out, showed us our rooms and gave us an intro of camp 5, the kitchen, the toilets, the swimming hole, etc. Nice place I thought it would be more primitive, but actually quite good. We were alloted a space for cooking in the kitchen. There with us is a big group of young students(local), maybe 15-16 years old, quite a noisy bunch. They just did the pinnacles and are
very happy to have finally done it and all went for a bath in the river, with their clothes on, girls and boys, I dont know why. Joseph had a headache trying to tell these kids not to get in the house wet, puddles of water everywhere!
My dinner is my noodles, actually for the next few meals it will be, just boil water and you are set. Some gringos also came back from doing the Pinnacles, some were Dutch and told Jane how difficult the condition was cause it rained the night before, it was very slippery and one girl fell twice bruising her palms. The girls look worried. Joseph after dinner briefed us on what to expect for the hike tomorrow, we all then went to bed early to get ready. The Japanese group(6 of them) apparently went out in the torrential rain and had a shower and rain dance! crazy bunch. Lightning and thunder accompanied the rains, it rained heavily for a good hour, we were concerned about tomorrow.. we could not sleep well, the next room is where the kids were and they are so noisy, the girls told them off, also it did not
help the other guy sharing our room is snoring very loudly. Somehow I fell asleep eventually only to wake up to the sound of rain at 5am!
I got up and met Joseph in the kitchen, he told me to wake the girls up and we shall see if the rain stops by 7am, the rule here is no climbing if it rains, very dangerous. We sat anxiously waiting for the rain to stop, but didn't. 6:45 it still pours, then 5 to 7 it stopped but still spitting! Here come Joseph with the bad news, he would not want to take us under these conditions, the girls have the choice of doing it tomorrow if the weather is better but I have no choice, i really don't want to leave camp 5 not able to see them Pinnacles, I leave tomorrow to catch my flight back to Miri, so i talked to Joseph and begged him to take me up there, i told him I am fit and used to these conditions, i will be extra careful, yadda yadda yadda! He thought about it for a minute then agreed to take me. I did not realized that one
the Dutch girls, Susanne and Jane before their Pinnacles hike
of the Japanese also decided to come to do the trek, his name is Kenji and we both braved the circumstances.
It's about 10 minute walk to the official starting point of the hike from camp 5, it was still spitting when we left, The trail is wet and slippy, full of dead leaves, we actually started quick, trying to make up for lost time, our first stop for break is at the mini pinnacle, they call it that because these formations resemble the pinnacles only in miniature, there is a bench there to rest, we had a drink and snacks, about 30 minutes it took us to get there, the next stop is at the 1,200m mark, then at the 1, 800m mark. The trail got steeper and steeper, limestone rocks all over the place, you have to constantly watch your footing, where you put your hand, if you slip you can cut your hands and limbs from the sharp rocks. My legs feel like spaghetti nearing the 1,200m mark, I keep pushing on, breathing heavily, I slipped more than once, luckily tree branches are aplenty, I was able to hold on to them to catch my fall.
We rest every few minutes very briefly then go on again, there is only the 3 of us doing the climb, the foolish ones really!
The trail is steep, and slippery, now i can understand the hesitation on Joseph from the get go, but so far he is impressed at our speed, little did he know me and Kenji are dying, our muscles aching quite badly.
At the 1, 800m mark we stopped for a break, a snack of cookies then started again, Joseph said the next break will be just at the foot of the ladders. Yes ladders as we get higher and higher we needed them to get up them limestone cliffs. Another agonizing hike up before the ladder showed up. I lost count on how many ladders there were, they are wedged between rocks, ropes also are positioned so you can grab on to them to lift yourself up, this took us about half and hour or even less, to me this is actually rock climbing, you have to know where to put your feet and hands to balance yourself, you need to concentrate or you fall.The metal rails are also slippery, I nearly fell twice!
Our hardship paid off when 2 1/2 hours later we caught a glimpse of the Pinnacles! We climbed to this viewpoint to view one of nature's oddities, sharp limestone formations jutting out from the forest they look like sharp teeth or fangs, around them are lush trees, swiftlets flying about on top of them. 10 minutes at the top it started to drizzle again, by then we already taken our pictures, we had our lunch there and rested, we stayed in total 1 hour, by 11am Joseph wanted us to start heading down again.
I was ahead, then Kenji, Joseph is last, he said that is the rule, guide is always last during descent. This is quite tricky, the rails are slippery due to rain and you have to have your back turned as you go down the ladders(you need to face it),our legs were already tired, I felt a cramp coming, but managed to relax before it got worse. it was a challenge trying to squeeze yourself on holes to get to the ladder, we have a totally different view/perspective from when we were climbing up. thankfully the ladders were done now the ropes! I met them both
at the 1, 800m stop, then we proceeded again. I think the next rest for us was the mini pinnacles. The climb down was the hardest on your body, you have to fight falling/slipping from the steep trail, you lose your balance easily as your legs are by now painfully wobbly, I have literally no strength left to propel myself up in case i slip so the only solution, use my bum! Going up I was hands and knees, now hands and bum! I slid myself down on my bum most of the time, where footing is iffy, I sit, i hit by bum more than once on sharp rocks, I worry about bruises later. The tree roots were slippy as well thanks god for the tree branches they kept me from falling down a ravine many times.
On the last leg after the mini pinnacle, I am in pain, my hips were sore, my legs all gone, so I bummed it! literally most of the way. When I hit flat ground I rejoiced! and nearly 3 hours later I am back at the campsite. The girls saw me right away and they left me rest for a bit
then I relate my experience, there were new people that just arrived, the Pinnacle climbers for tomorrow! I told them the difficulties of the hike but this with the present condition (rain) so maybe tomorrow will be better. They all look worried!
I stunk so I took most of my wet clothes and had my noodles for lunch, my boots I left near the steps, when I got back, loads of bees around and in it! They must like the salt in my sweat! I felt a bite on my tummy, when i looked, it was a leech! a tiny one, I caught it in time! Well i hiked the whiole way shirtless, that did not help me really. Then another one on my right knuckle, this one bled for awhile so I have to bandage it. Kenji and I and Susanne went for a swim, and we washed our clothes in the river, butterflies landed on our dirty clothes, also longing for salt. This now we can see if we washed it really well, if butterflies and bees abound near your clothes that means its not very clean yet, so go wash it again!
More people came later
so all in all 3 groups will clumb tomorrow, Susanne and Jane decided to try their luck tomorrow. Kenji and I treated ourselves with fried rice which we ordered from the kitchen, 15 ringgits for a full plate. The kitchen here cooks food in case you did not bring your own but you pay lots. Off to bed at 8pm, tired but could not sleep, adrenaline still pumping. Around 10pm we heard noises, the annoying kids were back, they left eraly this morning to do the headhunter's trail. They were quite loud so woke us all up. Later in the morning we found out that their group waited at the ned of the trail for 3 hours for the boat to show up to take them to the next camp but did not show up so they have to walk back to camp 5! poor lads! proper goodbyes in the morning, wishing the 2 girls the best of luck as they try to get to the top to see the Pinnacles. me and Kenji started walking back to the boat waiting area around 7am, took us only 2 hours this time to get there and we waited 30 minutes, the
boat came and we are on our way back to HQ.
At the HQ I met again Kenji's friends, they all went to the Paku falls while I lounged around in the cafeteria reading papers to kill time. It turned out we are on the same flight back, me to Miri them to KK but same plane. Less than hour before the plane leaves, the Japanese contingent are not ready to get to the airport yet, they are missing on girl. So 2 of them went with me while the reat waited for her to turn up, I think they all got separated during their hike. Anyway we all got reunited at the airport, the kids from camp 5 were all there too. The flight is full, waiting at the gate the Japs passed around shots of vodka and tequila! Love this bunch! They are all roommates on holidays, and Kenji invited me to visit them in Tokyo so me and Susanne will head to Japan in June! I said goodbye to them at the Miri airport, they have to get off the plane and go through immigration before heading to KK.
The famous Pinnacles at
Mulu consist of a series of 45 metre high, razor-sharp limestone spikes that tower above the surrounding vegetation, mid-way up the slopes of Gunung Api. The trek to view them is one of the most popular in the park. But be warned, the Pinnacle Summit Trek is a tough and challenging one. The trail itself is very steep (near vertical in parts) and requires a certain level of fitness.
The Pinnacles Summit Trek is usually done as 3 day/2 night trek although it is possible to do it as 2 day/1 night trek. The first stage is a 1-2 hour boat trip along the Melinau River to Kuala Berar. If the water level is low, the boat has to be pushed over rocky sections so the trip takes longer. Base Camp 5 is a relatively easy 7.8 km walk from Kuala Berar, following flat jungle terrain and taking 2-3 hours. Camp 5 is situated near the Melinau Gorge which separates Gunung Benarat from Gunung Api. There is hostel-style accommodation at the camp, and cooking facilities. The Melinau river in front of Camp 5 is crystal clear and ideal for a swim after the trek from Long Berar.
real hiking begins the following morning. The trail is 2.4 km in length but rises some 1,200 metres from Camp 5 to the viewpoint, passing through lowland dipterocarp forest before climbing steeply through moss forest. Here the trees area a lot smaller and everything is covered in slippery green moss. Limestone debris also litters the trail so trekkers must proceed with care. The last section of the trail is near vertical, with rope sections and 15 aluminium ladders strategically positioned to help with the climb. The vegetation is sparse although orchids, rhododendrons and pitcher plants thrive in the area, and can be seen at the side of the trail.
After some tough climbing you finally come out onto a rocky outcrop where the stunning view provides a good reward for all the effort. The viewpoint area is made up of a number of pinnacles, rocks and vegetation and has excellent views of the silver-grey forest of stone that rises up from the surrounding vegetation. After taking some photos and a short rest and a last glimpse of the pinnacles, it is time to begin the descent back to camp 5 and the second overnight stay.
It is very
Kenji and me still feling good
difficult to put an exact time on how long it takes to trek to the Pinnacles viewpoint. Fit and experienced trekkers should be able to reach the top in 2-3 hours. The not so fit but determined generally take around 4-5 hours. Most people spend an hour or so at the top before coming down. For many the descent is actually more difficult and therefore takes longer, so the return trip can take anything from 5 to 10 hours depending on fitness level.
There are more photos below