I had decided to attempt to climb to the summit of Mount Kinabalu (Southeast Asia's highest mountain at 4,095 metres) this time in Sabah seeing that I had given it a miss last year. I went to the Sutera office in Kota Kinabalu and booked a dorm room 2 days later on the mountain for RM522 including 5 meals and the climbing permit. The other costs involved were RM15 for entrance to the park, RM8 for return trip from park headquarters to Timpohon Gate at the start of the trek, and RM38 for the guide (sharing with 3 others).
The day before the trek I caught a local minibus (RM20) 2 hours to a guesthouse just 500 metres from the entrance to the park. The place was in a nice position with good views and cost RM30 for a dorm bed including breakfast. I was sharing the dorm with a german guy Markus, and a couple of Danish girls , Mette and Stine, and that evening after dinner we played some cards for a while. Thankfully they agreed to let me share their guide for the climb with them which saved me from getting up early the next morning and
looking for someone.
The next morning we left the guesthouse about 9am, walked to the park headquarters, registered, picked up our meal vouchers and packed lunch, and met our guide for the climb. Then we jumped into a van for the 5km drive to the starting point at Timpohon Gate (1866 metres). After about 30 minutes of walking it started raining which wasn't too much of a problem considering I had my plastic poncho with me and also there were undercover shelters (including western style toilet) every 500 - 1000 metres. I was impressed with the condition of the track as well as the changing scenery as we made our way the 6 kms to the lodge at Laban Rata. I found the trekking not too taxing because every 1km or so we would take cover under a shelter and have a rest for 10 - 15 minutes. The only time I struggled was the last 500 metres to the accommodation which I believe was mainly due to the altitude seeing that I would be out of breath every few minutes and would have to pause for a minute before continuing. At 3pm we finally we made it to
the lodge (3273 metres) a little wet, sore, and ready to hop into bed for a well earned rest.
We shared the 6 bed dorm with a girl from Japan who had made it up from the headquarters early in the morning in 3 hours, probably helped a little by avoiding the rain. We decided to take an early dinner at 4.30pm. So after filling up on good food for a couple of hours and playing a few hands of cards we retired to bed. I found it very very hard to sleep, mainly due to shortness of breath every now and then. I rose out of bed just before 2am after what seemed like 1 hour of sleep and made my way downstairs to have a look at the weather conditions. It wasn't good, it had been raining all night and still it was raining fairly heavily with a bit of wind as well. People started to come down to the eating hall to have their supper and try to find out from the guides if a climb to the summit was possible. At 2.30am our guide explained to us that at that time the track was shut
due to safety reasons (track being very slippery and some waterfalls that you have to go through) and that if the rain hadn't stopped by 4 am we wouldn't go up. A little after 3 am we heard that a group of 4 had started on their way up to the summit, but had to sign a waiver before they were allowed to go. Marcus and myself were considering to give it a go but after thinking about the lack of wet weather gear and the horrendous conditions, we decided to stay put. The rain finally stopped around 6 am and about 7 am the Japanese girl returned to tell us that she had just come back from the summit. She said the conditions were really bad and could hardly see anything at all at the top. As we were having our breakfast about 9am we talked to a couple of english guys who had also returned from the summit. It seemed that about 10 people went up that morning while about a hundred of us decided to give it a miss.
After taking some photos near the lodge we started to head back down the mountain about 10am.
Ironically on the 3 hour trip back down we had no rain at all, only a few little streams along the path and some mud in patches. Also my legs felt very good and I only had one blister. Once back at headquarters we had some lunch and then all of us jumped into a shared taxi RM25 for the 2 hour trip back to Kota Kinabalu.
I was actually really looking forward to the climb and reaching the summit after my recent failure at getting to the top of Mt Rinjani, and pulling out of the trek to the Pinnacles at Mulu National Park. It seems its becoming a habit of mine.
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