Continued from my previous post on finally making it to climb Mount Kinabalu. (Check it out here if you missed it!)
Passed by Carson Fall on the way up. This was really early on in the climb…
The weather was kind and it stopped raining about an hour into the climb. Everyone was getting really warm from the physical exertion, so we got rid of the waterproof and warmer layers and started stripping down to our lighter layers underneath. Some were down to singlet and shorts! I’m bad with cold so I was down to a sports top, one light thermal layer and an outer shell.
I was one of the few on this trip who didn’t bring along a “bladder” of water (that’s the pack of water where you can get to it hands-free, via a tube, as my cousin is doing, above); I had planned to just take a 500ml water bottle with me. I am bad with carrying heavy loads and I was determined to pack as lightly as possible on this trip! However, everyone advised me to bring more (they all brought like 3kg worth of fluids) so I brought three 500ml bottles with me. They meant well as dehydration is a real problem; but I really do know myself best, I think. I don’t perspire very much, and I am used to my long runs going for extensive periods without fluids. In the end, I finished just the one bottle! Admittedly, I didn’t want to over-hydrate also because I was hoping to not have to use the bathrooms along the way…not the most savory.
So glad it stopped raining and the sun came out! Finally started to warm up and was down to just my sports top.
Halfway up a mountain, but there’s always time for a fun picture! Here I am annoying Humphrey on his break, lol.
The porters who work the mountain tirelessly, day in day out, are truly the unsung heroes of this place. Animal labour is banned on the mountain (presumably to protect the flora and beauty of the place; I think it’s because animals eat the vegetation and also poop everywhere), but supplies such as food still have to reach the accommodation at the top (for people like me to rest and have a hot meal after a climb). The only way is by porter, and these men and women make the back-breaking climb daily; some with things as heavy as sacks of rice or cartons of condensed milk on their backs.
Some use their heads to support some of the load, as the man is doing here.
Many don’t wear proper shoes – most wear these rubber slip-ons that hardly look comfortable. I chose not to hire a porter and to carry my own load as I felt terrible about a potentially old man (there are young men and women porters, though not as many as there are older men) carrying my load. I still don’t know what’s the best thing to do though; friends have told me that hiring a porter gives them work and a source of much-needed cash. I just personally felt bad about it. Please let me know what you think is best on this matter!
Then of course, there are people who hire a porter responsibly, as my friends did, providing them a proper backpack to help carry up; and then there are people like this clown we met along the way, who had his porter carry up a cabin bag. I mean, seriously…
Nearing the destination here. The scenery was just beautiful and the winds were a welcome respite.
This part was pretty fun as it was all rock. Felt like I was in some computer game as we had to pick the right stones to step on. On our descent the next day, it was a storm (we’d apparently caught the edge of the Philippines typhoon) and this whole area was a veritable waterfall, with water gushing down the rocks. I unfortunately have no pictures as the storm was too crazy, the rain made visibility low and full concentration was needed to step on the right stones without falling (some friends in our party slipped and fell). I was also the only one who had just one, instead of two, hiking poles, so there was no way I could snap any pictures, although I actually liked having one hand free to balance and reach for rocks. Good shoes make SUCH a difference, that’s all I’ll say! So if you invest in just one thing on an outdoor trip, make it the shoes.
We finally hit our (mid-point) destination for the day at Laban Rata!
Our Laban Rata digs for the night!
The temperate climate at this altitude meant beautiful flora.
Marilyn and Char taking pictures of each other…taking pictures of each other!
Starving! So thankful for not just a hot meal, but a hot buffet meal that wasn’t half-bad. Shiok!
I basically conked out after dinner and a (very quick) shower before 7pm.
Woke up at 1am excited to summit! Here’s us packing and getting ready.
Sadly, went out to see a crazy storm of heavy rain and strong winds. I seriously wanted to cry. Was really looking forwardto doing the via ferrata down!!! I actually went to look for the ranger to plead with him to open the gates to let us up the mountain. He was really nice but firm about it and explained that it was for our own safety – it is extremely dangerous to attempt the summit in the cold and rain. Argh! Not meant to be, I guess.
We waited for awhile more before the guides said the weather would basically be like that the whole day. So we packed up, put on our rain gear and started the trek down in the storm. A (small) consolation was that at least that was pretty exciting! No pictures as it was near impossible to not use full concentration for balance and choices (which rock to step on without falling) especially at the higher levels.
We made it down safely in less than 5 hours. While the journey down was easier in terms of exertion as we did not have to fight against gravity, I found going down more difficult as it was slippery and required full mental concentration. My knees were also suffering – I think the next time I may take two poles to put more weight on my shoulders and arms instead of bearing the full impact on my legs (and poor knees!).
Back in KK town, we goofed around, got massages, shopped, ate…and ate some more.
The whole crew back at the airport. Couldn’t have asked for a better bunch to travel with. Thanks Eliza and Isaac for arranging everything! Till the next! (Rinjani, anyone?)