The Climb to the Summit

Kota Kinabalu Travel Blog

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At the summit!

The plan was to wake up at 1:45am, put on our still dripping wet clothes, and head off to the summit by 2:30am. Things didn't go quite to plan though ... Debbie lost her head lamp and we spent far too long looking for it. In the end we were the last group to leave at about 3:30.

We headed out (myself, Debbie, Lorraine and Kuintin) in the pitch black. Lorraine made it to the 6km mark before turning back because of the rain. Debbie made it further, and if it was just a matter of fitness I think she may have made it all the way to the top. But the steep steps of the trail soon gave way to even steeper, very slippery granite rock faces where you had to use a rope to pull yourself up. That was all a bit too much for her nerves, and she headed back for a nice sleep-in.

Kuintin was a bit reluctant because of the rain, but the two of us pushed on and before long we were actually overtaking people (albeit only a few). It was tough-going and I wanted to keep stopping to catch my breath, but I kept pushing mostly because I wanted to beat the weather ... I was afraid the rain would suddenly get worse and Kuintin would say we have to turn back. I had some other more unique challenges - the batteries kept falling out of my headlight and dousing me in complete darkness, and the jeans I was wearing as part of my layers of clothes kept slipping down so I'd have to keep stopping to "readjust".

The track soon became all steep rocks, and the first part of this section was the toughest. About a kilometre away from the top I was gasping for air, and started to think I might not make it. Eventually it started to level out though and I could see the mountain peaks. It was actually downhill for a short section, but the very last bit - the climb up Low's Peak - almost killed me!

Still, in the end I did make it, and the view from the top was amazing (the sun had started to come out at that point). At 4100m above sea level I could see all the other peaks of the mountain, and a good section of the rest of Borneo. There was also a spectacular cliff at the side of the peak that seemed to drop all the way back down to the foot of the mountain!

The view didn't last long though, as soon as we started heading back down the thick clouds rolled in and I couldn't see more than a few metres in front of me. The downhill climb was not as gruelling fitness-wise, but it was very tough on my legs and alot scarier (especially seeing as I knew that most of the accidents occur when going down). The rocks were so slippery, and as careful as I tried to be, my foot would slip everynow and then and my heart would jump out of my throat before I'd managed to catch myself again! The very steep part (which hadn't bothered me so much on the way up, because it was so dark that I couldn't see how high up I was) really tested my nerves on the way down because this time I could see everything! I sure as hell clung on to that rope for dear life!

Once back at Laban Rata I was so exhausted that I just wanted to sleep for a whole day, but Kuintin said we'd have only 1 hour to rest, before the 4 of us head off again. Aargh!

I'd kind of had enough of it all by this point but luckily it wasn't too hard. It helped that the weather was much drier, and the only real trouble was just how hard the big steps were on our knees and joints. We just knew that we wouldn't be able to walk the next day. Kuintin was very helpful though ... he let us use his mobile phone to call for a bus to pick us up at the bottom, and he even carried Lorraine's bag for some of the way (I think he liked her!).

We got the shuttle bus to the Promenade Hotel in KK, and were so thankful to just lie in bed and watch TV. It had been an awesome trek though, and we were all very proud of ourselves for making it as far as we did!

One more thing worth mentioning from today was the restaurant where we had dinner. The first thing you see as you walk in is a room full of fish tanks all filled with pretty much every kind of edible fish you'd ever want ... including stonefish (jesus that is an ugly fish - since when can you eat it?). We actually saw the staff bringing the fish in from their trucks not long after they'd caught it. They were so energetic still, that one almost jumped out and escaped! You'd then choose one from the tanks and they'd take it away to the kitchen to serve up for you in 5 minutes or so. So one second it was swimming in front of you, the next it was on your plate. How's that for fresh! It tasted great too!

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At the summit!
At the summit!