Thursday, September 8, 2016

Climbing Mt. Kinabalu: An Adventure (Day 1)

My eyes flew open and the first thing I saw was my phone. 6.11am. I stared at it silently, taking in the thundering sound outside. It was pouring and I couldn’t help but think back to those two days I spent being drenched 80% of the time—and I missed it.


We started our climb on a Friday. Having checked the weather forecast, we were expecting a storm, especially since it rained all day the day before; Instead, we were greeted with clear blue skies and happy looking climbers, all excited to start the trip. We had some breakfast, picked up our lunch, and stuffed everything in our bags. Joe arrived and introduced us to our guide, Ramzilan. He would be the one to take us up and down the mountain as well as carry our bags during the trip. With everything sorted, we headed out to the Timpohon Gate.

 Bright and sunny start to Day 1!

Ramzilan briefly explained the trail to us and laid out some ground rules: be respectful of the forest, don’t make too much noise, and stay on the trail. At about 9am, off we went. With a total lack of training and conditioning, I was SUUUUPER slow, stopping for a few second every few minutes to just catch my breath. But Ramzilan stuck with me as Jehan hurried on ahead, and I just held my tongue from complaining. I signed up for this myself, after all.

I don’t remember how far in we were exactly but it was early on into the trail that we came to a clearing. On the left was a gorge, the old ruined trail visibly hanging on the sides; Straight ahead a stretch of steps and then, a clear, breathtaking view of the majesty herself.
earthquake ruins           

first glimpse    

When we reached the top of the steps and looked behind us and were astounded by the view, yet again. I remember thinking that if for no other reason, this has already made whatever pain is to come worth it. We stopped to take it all in as we “allowed” porters to pass by.


My plans to snap the climb pretty much died some point after that as my phone conked out and wouldn’t switch itself back on, but we continued the journey and stopped at the huts for no more than two minutes each as we had to keep time and make sure we reached Laban Rata by 4pm because Jehan made a bet with her friend that she would. When we got to Layang-Layang, it was almost 12pm. We sat and had our lunch: an apple, a fat sandwich, a hard-boiled egg, a chicken wing and some strawberry cookies. I only had the sandwich, apple and cookies and saved the rest for later, knowing I’d definitely feel peckish after dinner.

We loaded up on heat rubs, refilled our water bottles and powered on; And by powered on I really mean whine and question our life choices with every step. You see, the first 4 kilometers from Timpohon to Layang-Layang was—while not an absolute breeze—quite bearable. The final 2 kilometers from Layang-Layang to Laban Rata, not so much. The trail was steep and the landscape changes rapidly from green to red rocks and alien like tress, to slippery boulders.

 no turning back 

Believe me when I say, my previously speedy sister had slowed down considerably, especially as it soon started to drizzle. At some point she was the one asking “whose bright idea was this?!” to which I could only reply “YOU, you idiot!” We spent the next three hours pestering Ramzilan on how far we’d gone and how much more distance we had to cover and what time he thinks we would reach Laban Rata. Needless to say, Ramzilan quickly found his friends and walked further and further behind us, keeping his distance to escape the harassment.


After all our whining, we finally reached Laban Rata at 3pm sharp, an hour ahead of our target time and we couldn’t have been happier. We checked into our room at the Laban Rata guesthouse, showered in freezing cold water, changed into clean clothes, and waited for dinner time.

we're here! (THANK GOD!)


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