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Thursday, 20 December 2012



I arrived at the meeting place as instructed by Jackz (my contact person for the climb) at 7.30am. There was another lady who will join me for the climb. She’s Malay and has a very unique name – Laa Ee. After I parked DREAM in front of Kinabalu Park Headquarters, both Laa Ee and I were driven to the starting point of our climb – Timpohon Gate. Perhaps u might want to know how much do I pay for the climb? Well, last time, it used to be cheap, around RM450 only, but since Sutera Harbour Lodge had took over handling the climbing permit and accommodation up there, the price rocketed to RM800 – RM1000. As for me, I paid RM800 which was inclusive of guide fee, climbing permit, accommodation, meals, transportation to/from Timpohon Gate and certificate.

I had done my strength and endurance training 1 month prior to climb this mountain and I am all geared up to do the climb. One thing worries me though – my knee. I had been suffering from some knee pains every time I climb up the stairs, so frankly speaking, after discussing with my orthopedic; I had my knee injected with mild steroids to prevent any problems during the climb.

Upon arrival at Timpohon Gate, we were introduced to our guide – Joseph, or his Muslim name, Khairul. We were given a briefing on the do’s and don’ts during our climb. I rented 2 pieces of walking sticks (RM10 per piece) to lessen the stress on my knees and ankles when doing the climb.

After warming up and stretching, we started to climb at approximately 9.15am. The earlier part of the climb was easy as ironically, the track heads downhill for the first few hundred metres through some magnificent temperate rainforest. One of the most appealing aspects of the trail was the regular appearance of rest huts every kilometre or so. Each of these had a supply of fresh mountain water to refill our drink bottles. Not so long after we started our climb, it was drizzling so we had to put our rain coat on.

Essentially, the first four kilometres of the trail was quite moderate, compared to the second half of the climb. There was plenty of climbing but most of it is up regular sets of wooden or stone stairs built into the trail. The track seemed quite easy for me and I was tempted to make quick time in the first four kilometres. However, through my reading, I knew that I am far better off to take it a bit slower and conserve my energy at this point bcos the climb up to Laban Rata after Layang-Layang is far more taxing and required some scrambling up some very uneven sections of track.

At this point, I am already way ahead of Laa Ee and the guide (the guide will always be with the last person). I had my lunch at Layang-Layang hut and in the same time watched people descending from their climb, all in their rain coats. I asked them if the rain was heavy up there and they said yes. Most of them seemed in good spirits, but obviously weary. So they should be: they've been up since 1.30am and have already been to the summit and back. Ohh, I'll know the feeling when I head down the mountain tomorrow after my own climb.

By the time I was about to continue my climb, Laa Ee and the guide arrived. I didnt wait for her as I already had enough rest. The section immediately after Layang-Layang was quite contrast to the rainforest trail that I have just completed. The track had quite obviously been carved into the mountain and the terrain changes dramatically. Gone are the tree ferns and rainforest giants, replaced by more scrubby forest and hard, rocky ground with a high clay content. It was quite slippery as the ground was wet, so I hv to be really careful. Anyway, many thanks to my Adidas Kampung which had the best grip and brakes when needed. The climb was unfailingly steep and in parts, required me to almost pull myself and use my hands for balancing as the track took some sharp uphill turns.

After a while, the rain stopped but the weather remained gloomy, cloudy and foggy. This was to be expected when u climb during this time of the year. However, I was amazed with the colourful floras along the trail. I managed to see some wild orchids, wild flowers, etc. It was beautiful.

The last kilometres to arrive Laban Rata were quite painful even though I purposely took it slowly. Perhaps bcos of the low barometric pressure (people used to say it was the thin oxygen, when actually the oxygen amount was the same no matter where, but the barometric pressure was the reason why our muscles could not get as much oxygenated blood on high altitude compared to the low altitude). It was a happy moment every time I saw the kilometres marking. I will definitely screamed ‘YEAYYY’. 

Finally, after 6 hours slow climb to adapt to the altitude, I arrived Laban Rata. It already seemed like a big achievement. I registered my name and Laa Ee’s and took the key to my dorm. It was a 12 beds mixed dorm and since I was the first, I had the privilege to choose which bed I liked. Definitely the one with a window which offered great view.

After a hot shower, I went down to the dining hall. Dinner was not ready yet. The surroundings suddenly looked sooo beautiful when the sun finally thought that he had had enough hiding. Without wasting a single second, I busied myself with the cam, and this were what I got.

While I was having my early dinner (started at 5pm), Laa Ee arrived.  The dinner was buffet-style, and it's amazing how much food I can eat after spending so much energy during the day. Malaysian and Western dishes were offered, so everyone will be able to find something to satisfy their hunger. I helped myself with more helpings as the more I ate, the better to build my energy for the early morning climb to the summit. While carbo loading myself, I enjoyed the sunset view especially the field of clouds. It was like in heaven.

After dinner, I went up to my room. There was no one at the hallway. A girl was running up the stairs. She slowed down when she saw me and I saw her putting her hand on his forehead. Out of a sudden, she fell on the floor right in front of my eyes. I was so shocked, but knowledge and experience had taught me not to be panic. There were just me and the girl at the hallway. I checked her pulse and apply TOTAPS procedure as fast as I can. Since there was no response from the girl, I called out loud, "HELP, IS THERE ANY DOCTOR AROUND? WE HV A SITUATION UP HERE". People from the dining room came rushing and thank god that there was one foreign doctor among the climbers. The doctor examined the girl while I explained the situation to him. After about 10 mins tense situation, the girl came back to consciousness. She said that she was feeling dizzy and want to faint. Altitude Mountain Sickness. She was advised not to continue the climb to the summit. Phewww...

By 6pm, I was already pulling the blanket up to my chin. The whole premise (except the dining hall) was not heated as to save electricity. I was tired and I tried hard to sleep, but I cant. Perhaps adrenaline rush, or perhaps anxiety about whats awaiting, prevented me from falling asleep. Well, the guide had already warned me about this. I supposed the same thing happened to the rest of my dorm mates. They kept turning and tossing in their beds, and going out of the room (without the slightest care to minimise the sound – well, I shouldnt be surprised as they were locals, not westerners whom through my experience, were more considerate). This resulted in me not being able to sleep at all until 2am, when we were supposed to get ready for the final part of the climb.

After having supper, we started again in the darkness of the early morning. It was really cold and the wind was quite strong. I am glad that I had my thermal wear, woollen sweater, a beanie and long socks on, to prevent me from the fierce wind. I also had my head lights on, so that my two hands are free to hold my walking sticks.  I still remember that I was breathing really fast only after 200m of walking. At this point, Laa Ee told the guide that she’s quitting, so I moved on by myself. I had to climb lots of staircases before emerging from the scrub to the rocky plateau that marked the end of the tree line and the beginning of the open rock face, where the magic of the climb begun.

The white rope that accompanies all climbers to Low's Peak begin here with a very steep climb up some potentially treacherous rock faces. I need to literally pulled myself up parts of the rock face here, which can be an exhilarating experience.

The views out over the clouds and the valleys below were simply breathtaking. When I climbed, it was a clear night with hundreds of stars, and the clouds stretched as far as the eye could see, broken intermittently with views down to the forest below. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. It makes all the effort worthwhile and it gave weary climbers just a taste of what's to come. There was no defined trail from this point, as climbers were simply walking, clambering and climbing their way up the sheer sides of Mt Kinabalu. It was vital that I stayed next to the ever-present white rope as it marked the safe route up the mountain. By this time, I had since long lost my guide bcos he was with Laa Ee. A nice Korean guy was my faithful escort. I cant remember how long I hv left Laban Rata when I finally reached the Sayat-Sayat checkpoint, where permits and registration will be checked. Altitude at the last 1.5kms tends to take its toll here. My heart raced and I became continuously breathless as I counted my steps while walking. Rests became more and more frequent. At times, I can only managed 20 steps before I have to stop and rest. However, my body adapted fast, and before long, I can walk up to 100 steps before taking a rest. I was so glad that I didnt suffer even the slightest headache or nausea as AMS was very normal to happen here.

Finally, after walking for 3 hrs from Laban Rata, I made it to Low’s Peak (the summit), 4095m, at 5.30am, 11th December 2012. I was almost into tears, so grateful that Allah finally granted my wish to be up here. The feelings were hard to explain. The experience of seeing the sun rise at this height defies description. It makes all the effort and pain worth it. Half an hour after my arrival, I saw my guide and Laa Ee approaching. It was indeed a nice surprise as I thought Laa Ee didn’t want to continue. We were sooo happy that we both made it after all. The satisfaction was beyond imagination. After taking pics at the most popular sign post and surroundings, we started to descend.

Descending was a lot scarier than ascending. In the beginning, I was only sliding down the steep rocks using my butt. My guide told me that if I were to do like that all the way, than I will only reach Laban Rata in the evening. He encouraged and motivated me to fight my fear and just walked normally down. He helped by holding my hand, and his other hand holding Laa Ee’s. This makes the descending a little less scary, but still challenging. While descending, I felt funny to see aeroplanes flying lower than my standing level. 

I finally arrived Laban Rata after 2 and a half hours walking down from the summit. A nice breakfast awaiting at the dining hall and again I carbo-loaded myself for energy to descend the remaining 6kms. After checking out, I walked with Laa Ee and the guide for the first km, before I sped fast down. Perhaps I was going too fast that I tripped a few times and almost twist my ankle. Below was the timing I made when descending (I forgot to record my timing during ascending):
6km – 5.5km: 20mins
5.5km – 5km: 20mins
5km – 4.5km: 14mins
4.5km – 4km: 25mins
4km – 3.5km: 16mins
3.5km – 3km: 21mins
3km – 2.5km: 12mins
2.5km – 2km: 12mins
2km – 1km: 14mins
1km – 0km (Timpohon Gate): 22mins
Total: 2hrs 56mins

While walking down, I chatted with other climbers whom I met OTW and found out that in the morning when we started our climb to the summit, an elderly Japanese guy who was wearing his shoes, suddenly collapsed and died instantly. I must have walked out from the building when it happened. His body had been taken down using helicopter. Poor soul. May he rest in peace.

Jackz was already waiting for me at Timpohon Gate. After doing a thorough stretching, Jackz sent me to the HQ and handed me my certificate. It felt like winning a lottery to get it. I rode back to D’villa Rina as I had left my baggage there. It started to rain very heavily, so I waited for a while. 

When the rain lessened, I rode on. Distance from Kota Kinabalu Park to Poring is only 32km. Abg Tan had helped me to book accommodation in Poring as I couldnt find any cheap place from the internet. The guest house rate was RM50, which was pretty overpriced if compared to what it has to offer (non-functioning aircond, just fan, and no wifi). Even though I was very tired (by this time, I havent sleep for almost 48hrs), I only manage to doze off around 10.30pm, and waking up many times during the whole night. 


  1. Luv ur story-telling, lots of insightful tips and guidance~ very useful for all Mt Kinabalu aspirant climbers out there.. keep up d gud work, Anita!

  2. TQ Laa Ee....This climb is my best achievement for mountain conquering, thats why must write in full detail :)
    Glad that u find me here!!

  3. I read it for the 5 times!! Hehe..

  4. Good Liza...kasi hafal terus so that u know where is the crooks and nannies :) (ko paham ke apa maksud ayat aku tuuu....hihihi)



Band: NASTIA, Title: ANGGUR (taken from EP 'EKSPRESI')