• Painting Memories • Past & Present • For the Future •
A Decade of Mount Kinabalu: A Love Affair (Part 1 of 4)
I must confess. I am having an affair. In fact I have been having an affair for the past ten years. In fact, most of my close friends already know about this affair, it is no secret to them. Her beauty and charm has me mesmerized, always wanting to go back for more. This year marks my 10 years anniversary with her. She is none other than Mount Kinabalu.
My group this year consisted of a mix of people from various professional industries. But we all shared one thing in common: a strong determination. It is with that which fueled us for the months of hiking and exercising to get into shape prior to the climb.
Our climb was in December of 2013, a month where climbers would usually avoid since its the rainy season, but that also meant easier opportunity to place a booking (the accommodation at the midway point of the climb can only accommodate up to a certain number of climbers per day, which makes it near to impossible to place a booking during peak seasons). Also, the majority of my climb has always been in December and I have never had any issues on with the rain. In fact, there was only two occasions where there was rainfall, but nothing a raincoat can’t take on.
The few days before the climb, it has been raining heavily and reports from all over the world says that it is the most wettest and cold year ever. Nevertheless, this did not deter us from proceeding with our climb with ‘itchy hands and legs’ and an eager heart.
The buffet dinner served by Balsam Restaurant in Kinabalu Park is simply mouth watering. This is our chance to eat-all-we-want without worrying (too much) about our calorie intake, knowing full well we will be burning it all off the next day.
As routine each time I wake up in the morning of the climb would always be to check the weather outside. Miraculously, from a rainy few days before this comes the most perfect weather we could ever ask for. Perfect white clouds against the blue filled the skies. Immediately I broke protocol and woke the rest of the group from their slumber to enjoy this magnificent view of my love affair. Turns out that the rest of them was already awake! Everyone was excited as the day of the climb was finally upon them.
Picture (left): The bags that are to be carried by the porters are weighed. Pictures (right): The starting point of the climb is at Timpohon Gate, which is around 15 minutes van ride from the HQ.
Within around 3 hours from the start of the climb, we reached Layang-Layang hut. This is the biggest rest area compared to the other huts along the way. This is usually where most people would stop to have a bite at their packed-lunch from the cafeteria. Another advise is to be friendly! Talk to strangers! After all, everyone of them are also struggling to make their way to the top. Everyone comes from very different background and this is a chance to listen to some very interesting stories. We met some a very jolly group of Australians who even took pictures with us!
Out of nowhere, as if you have stumbled upon another hidden world, the trail leads into a green forest. Which is bizarre because at this altitude and temperature, the tropical rainforest tall trees and green plants should not be able to grow here. To many, this is a very discouraging and demoralizing experience as it makes a first time climber feel as if he is back to where he started. To me, this is a sight that I most welcome for it means that Laban Rata (the halfway point accommodation where we will spend the night) is just beyond this greenery.
Nevertheless, the happiness and joy of my group mates easily overwhelmed the wary. Once in Laban Rata, I finally get to experience again the usual once-a-year love-hate bath in really icy cold waters . And I really mean icy cold. Imagine a bathroom floor that pains the soles all the way into the bones of the feet even before turning on the water. Yes, its seriously that cold.
Before long, dinner was served and we all had more than enough. (I’ve always believed that any warm food always taste good at altitude in that temperature). After settling our stomachs, it was time for us to rest and sleep (for those who can). Some people have trouble sleeping as the body is still trying to adjust to the environment and is still trying to settle down. But I would say most people would be too excited for 1 am where the adventure and final journey will begin and as for me ….. united again with my love affair at last!