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Published: December 18th 2009
So a couple of days ago I set out to climb Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South-East Asia at 4095m. It is a relative easy mountain to climb if you are in good shape, because you don't need professional equipment to reach the summit. It still requires 2 days to do it, though; you can't just drive to the top!
I thought it would be a challenge and decided to sign up for it, although I haven't been doing a lot of sports lately, so I'm not in great shape. But I packed up my bag with the necessary gear and made my way to the Park Headquarters (HQ), located at about 1600m. I spent the night at the HQ and met my guide Safrey the next morning, a nice guy who also competes at the yearly "Climbathon", a sprint to the top of the mountain! More on that later.
So here's the plan: after a short bus-ride the climb starts at the "Timpohon gate", at 1866m. You then climb 6km (4-6 hours) to reach the Laban Rata Station at an altitude of 3300m, where you spend the night. The next morning at 3am, you climb up for
another 2km (or 3 hours!) to reach the summit in time for the sunrise. After that, you get back down to Laban Rata for breakfast and then head back to HQ again that same day.
It was about 8.30 when I started. The first 100m you go down a little, but then the only way is up, like an endless stairway. The trail is quite good, although you have to watch your steps carefully. Every kilometer, there is a shelter so you can rest and keep dry from the rain if there is any. Luckily, I didn't have much rain.
The first 4km went quite well for me, but the hardest part was yet to come. The last 2km were very steep but there is also the altitude. Breathing becomes much more difficult at high altitude, which makes it even harder. This is where I was getting into trouble and the last kilometer I had to stop every few steps to catch my breath. I got to Laban Rata in the end, after a 4,5 hour climb in total.
I crashed into a chair feeling exhausted and started to get sleepy. After a while I also started
to get a headache. I checked into my room (a dorm I shared with 5 others) and now was feeling more and more miserable, also getting nauseous. I tried eating some chocolate and drinking water, but it didn't help, so I just rested. In the evening the nauseousness won, and I had to throw up. Ahhh, that was a relief... felt better but not stronger. I had lost my appetite and hadn't eaten much and was still very tired. The climb was scheduled to start at 3am, but I was now sure that I wasn't going to make that. All my symptoms were clear signs of altitude sickness, and going up another 700m is the last thing you should do... :-(
But I got out of bed at 2.30am anyway, still feeling nauseous, and wished my roommates good luck with the climb. I threw up once more and went back to sleep...
I woke up again at 5.30 to see the sunrise from Laban Rata. Wow, that was amazing! I didn't come all the way up there for nothing... and I was somewhat relieved to see that I wasn't the only one who got left behind sick not going
to the top.
At 7.30 I met up with my guide again and I proposed that we start the descent. I still wasn't feeling any better, so I figured that descending was the best thing to do.
That helped and as I descended, the nauseousness and headache slowly went away. I was still very low on energy though, and the descend was hard on the legs. Once again exhausted, I arrived back at HQ. I was disappointed for not reaching the summit and I would have loved to have conquered that mountain and had the magnificent view from up there, but at least I had tried it and given it my best. Well, my best at the time, because with a little more training, I might have done better, although altitude sickness at these heights can happen to anyone.
While I was climbing the mountain, I saw porters going up, carrying 40kg of supplies for the Laban Rata Station. Even construction materials were brought up by hands and legs. And I got a lot of respect for my guide as well, who told me he participated in the yearly "Climbathon". This is a race to the summit AND
back, totaling over 17km! This year's winner was a Spaniard in 2 hours and 40 minutes, but my guide Safrey got in 9th in 3 hours... Last year he finished 5th! So he must have secretly been laughing all the way, seeing me struggling going up, and making it only to Laban Rata!
Back at HQ, I made my way back to Kota Kinabalu: I was in need for some pampering so I checked into my nice 4-star hotel again and poured me a hot bath and enjoyed the view.
After that, I got myself a good Thai foot massage. Ouch, those legs are hurting!
Still recovering now, but in two days, I'll be diving in the east of Borneo! Much more relaxing! I have caught a cold though, so I hope that won't get worse and keep me from diving... Oh, by the way, I'm spending X-mas HERE
! :-D hmmm, judging from the Dutch news, you all be having a nice white X-mas. Mine will be in the white sand ;-) Anyway, anywhere, enjoy the holidays and Merry X-mas!
Tot: 2.418s; Tpl: 0.051s; cc: 22; qc: 107; dbt: 0.064s; 2; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
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