Sleep? What sleep? Whatever sleep that we managed to get always feels like it was just a short few minutes nap and that is exactly what I felt again even after going through this routine for these 10 years!
Nevertheless, the excitement from my other friends and the other climbers; some scrambling out of bed to rush to the washrooms, some already in front of the washroom mirrors brushing their teeth, some frantically looking for their misplaced gloves or worst… permit tags (The permit tags that are issued by Sabah Park before the climb must be worn at all times, and is especially needed to get pass Sayat-Sayat, the last checkpoint prior to reaching the peak).
As soon as we had our supper, we were all set. Every groups are asked to gather at the entrance of Laban Rata for a briefing from the guides on the remaining journey. This is where I always expect the guides to ask their standard but very important question, “Is everyone okay? Is everyone fit? No one sick?”. Then the guides would make eye contact with each climber to make sure we are really okay and good to go. This process, although seemingly unimportant to most climbers, is actually very critical to ensure the safety of the climbers as it can get quite dangerous at some points of the climb.
Once the guides were convinced of our good condition, we finally set off into the vast darkness, assisted only by our headlight that lights up our path.
NOTE: Do not let the following pictures fool you into thinking its quite bright throughout this last half of the journey. I must emphasize that a headlight is compulsory. It is pitch black throughout the whole trail before the sunrise.
Pictures of us on the peak. Although it does not seem so from the pictures, it was already raining. The rain is in the form of small tiny water droplets but is many enough to soak us wet! I’m actually taking a big risk taking my camera out to take these pictures.
I feel sorry for my team mates as they did not manage to witness the most magnificent sunrise of their lives. However, in a way, thinking of the positive side to it, this is my first time to experience the peak in such dreadful weather. In all my years of affair with her (Mount Kinabalu), she has never rained on my parade. Oh well, there’s always a first time for everything and I’m happy that I got to experience this. It reminds me that although we’ve been together for 10 years, there are still plenty that I do not know about her!
I recorded the video above with my camera so that you can see with your own eyes exactly how bad it was up there on the summit plateau. My camera Tokina 11-16mm lens went dead after this recording as it was already soaked with water! Luckily I still had my main lens, the Canon 24-70mm F2.8 which I could still use for the rest of the way.
When it rain buckets, many very unique organism tries to escape the big flood. Picture (left) shows an earth worm as long as my whole arm! Just compare the size of my shoe against the size of the worm. Picture (right) shows another kind of worm that resembles a gigantic leech. Just compare the size of the leaf against the size of the worm!
But alas, the sight of this waterfall is always welcomed, for with this, I it means that we are just a few meters away from our end point the Timpohon Gate and the my successful 10th climb of Mount Kinabalu!
Congratulations to myself on my 10th successful love affair with Mount Kinabalu. Some of the most common questions that I get asked is ‘Will I be climbing Mount Kinabalu again?’, or for those are sure I will climb again ‘When will you stop climbing?’, or for the enthusiastic ones ‘Bring me on your next trip!’.
A job well done to everyone of my group members as well. We trained together and achieved it together. However, this will certainly not be the end of our adventures. What started out as routines to train and exercise for Mount Kinabalu will now become our way of life… a healthy life.