Kinabalu Vol II

Mount Kinabalu Travel Blog

 › entry 36 of 45 › view all entries

After getting beaten by bad weather on my first attempt to climb SE Asia’s highest peak I vowed to come back and concor it another day.  The opportunity arose because I had some time to kill while waiting my flight to Bali.  I assembled a team of a couple other Canadians in North Borneo Cabin and set off on the familiar route. We picked up a French guy and an American girl at the base to reduce the price of the useless but required guide at the base before starting our two day trek.

The experience was much different right from the beginning.  The beaming sun warranted shorts and T’s rather than rain gear and sweaters.  The trek on the first day was teaming with clear views right to the ocean.  Moral was high as we watched the sun set from the cabin half way up the mountain.

  The clear skies infused excitement since we new that we would be able to reach the summit for sunrise.

I was disorientated when I woke to the buzz of my watch at 2:00 am.  I soon came to my senses and remembered that I was at about 3600m and would scale up the steep slopes to 4095 m before the sun broke over the jagged horizon.  There was a constant flow of tourists already heading up while Val and I headed down to reassemble our team.  We were staying in several different cabins so were one of the last groups to start the assent.

Most of the climbers were locals.  Many of them were quite old.  They were dropping like flies as we marched up the steep steps illuminated by our headlamps.  It was slow moving for the first half hour or so while we made our way to the front of the crowds.

  By the time we got off the steps and onto the steeper slopes requiring ropes the dense crowds were behind us and we could move at our own pace. 

Most people make the mistake of exerting themselves at levels that they can not sustain and need to take frequent breaks.  I have learnt that a slow steady pace with no breaks makes for a faster overall climb.  This technique allowed me to make my way to the front of the pack along with Johnny Toronto.  Being younger and fitter than me he preferred to go faster and stop and wait for me.  I tried to tell him that the slow steadty approach was better in the long run but he didn’t like it.  The competitive streak in me urged me to prove my point.  I distanced myself from him while he was taking a break.

  His light merged with all of the rest shrinking over my shoulder as my mind refused to give in to my body’s growing demands to ease the load on my jelly legs and weezing lungs. 

I never stopped once.  There were at least four occasions when I wrongfully interpreted the moonlight shapes in the distance to be the top.  When I finally reached a very steep section there was no doubt that it was the final leg.  My legs were on the verge of giving as I pulled myself up the ropes at a snails pace.  I could not see any lights ahead or behind me but I refused to take a break.

I was gutted to find a Aussie and his guide already at the top when I got there.  I all fairness I left 40 minutes behind him and reached the summit only 15 after.  Either way I was impressed that I reached the top 3rd out of 217 people including Johnny Toronto.

Travbuddies: Val (Montreal), John (Toronto)

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Mount Kinabalu
photo by: Deats