The alarm was set at 1.30AM? I can't remember, but it was raining rather heavily for about an hour before our alarm rang.
I'm sure most of our thoughts were whether we could venture out and brave the cold rain. Maybe some of us were thinking "YAY, can sleep in". I had the latter thought. Terrible me!! :D
Those who woke up earlier boiled water to make hot drinks.
Francis brought maggi mee and shared with a few of us. It was delicious of course. Everything taste much better on a mountain top. :P
The kitchen at Gunting Lagadan is equipped with cooking facilities and there are sufficient cups, plates, bowls and cutleries. If you look closer at the picture above, there is also a wok at the bottom of the cupboard. :)
I would say, Gunting Lagadan is now our preferred choice of accommodation. We can cook & boil water for bathing. I heard that there was no hot water to shower in Laban Rata.. like for almost a year??
The lead guide came at about 2.30AM. It was still raining but not as heavy. He told us that there was a possibility that we could not continue our hike to Low's Peak. Some of us were crestfallen by the news, others were elated and promptly went back to sleep. The guide explained that it has been raining heavily for about 2 hours and even though the rain seemed to be lighter now at Gunting, the mountain top was still flooded with rain water. He showed us a picture of how the flood looked like on his mobile phone. He said he would make his decision by 3.30AM whether or not to lead us to the peak.
We had about 40 minutes to kill. Some went back to sleep, some hung around at the hall and others went into the room to pray.
The moment we finished praying, we could hear someone shouted, "The guide said it's okay to go now". Praise God!! :D
So at 3.30AM (thereabouts), 34 of us left for the Peak.
It was drizzling very lightly and we had our raincoats on... but not for long. It was more tiresome to walk with a raincoat, so many of us took it off.
My 4th Kinabalu climb and this was my 1st time enjoying the hike up from mid-point to the Peak. The last 3 times I was in a very bad shape. This time, I was able to encourage some of my fellow climbers.
At one point in time (It's all so vague now, I don't know which point :p ), it got really warm. I was with SH at that time. I asked him to take off his thick jacket and stuff it in my backpack. He didn't bring a backpack and so I made him stick close to me because it would get chilly again later and he would need his jacket.
Above picture middle right - 7KM marker before reaching Sayat-Sayat (5.08AM). Rach was nearby so we took a picture together. It looked like it was snowing but nah.. it was drizzling very lightly.
The 4 pictures above was taken using SH's camera. I didn't want to take mine out from my bag for fear that it might get wet.
Each of us had to register at the Sayat-Sayat hut. We had to show our name tags (given out to us when we register at the Park) to the Park personnel. Without the tags we cannot proceed beyond the hut.
After about 20 minutes (estimation) after the Sayat-Sayat hut, it started getting cold. My gloves were wet making my fingers numb. I had to constantly move and wriggle my fingers.
The never-ending walk was really LONGGGG to some of us. I thought I would struggle at this stretch but I was doing fine. SH was finding it difficult. I understood how he felt. I stayed with him until at 8.3KM where we met up with Messner. Sirdar was way behind and I didn't see him until at about 8.3KM too.
6.48AM - Reached the 8KM mark. SH and I met a few of our climbing friends in the never-ending stretch. Kang Bee who was so gung-ho the day before was feeling really tired today. She didn't have enough strength to smile. One of the guides saw her state and held her hand. The guides usually look for people (especially females) who are slow and who find difficulty in getting to Low's Peak. They will hold their hands and encourage them. Many of these climbers are very grateful towards the guides.
7.14AM - We met up with Joel after the 8km mark. He didn't look good. I made SH and Joel walk at least 10-15 steps and let them rest for 30 seconds. I did this repeatedly.
St John's Peak. Sirdar caught up with me from behind and at the same time I saw Messner some hundred metres ahead welcoming the climbers. It seems Sirdar was way behind with Swee Leng, but she turned back just before the Sayat-Sayat hut. Sirdar made sure that a guide was there to accompany her back.
Joel - suffering from indigestion or something. I "passed" him to Messner and was told later that he vomited and was able to complete the climb without much difficulty.
The organisers - Sirdar, Messner and me. :) We never had our pictures taken together on this mountain. :D
I love this picture. In my previous climbs I never had the opportunity to take many pictures of the last 200metres. I was either too tired or too lazy. This time I was "well" enough to take a few good shots and this is one of them.
8.36AM - Finally reached the peak. YAY!!! Yup, we were kinda late, but then, WE ARE ALWAYS the last to reach the peak. We had the Peak ALL to ourselves. This was one of the reasons why we didn't mind being the last. If we were here.. say.. at 6 or 7AM, lots of other climbers would chase us off from the peak, so that they can take photos. You see, the summit of Mt Kinabalu is NOT a plateau. It's a jagged peak. Only a few people can be there at any one time.
Francis made maggi mee and hot soya bean for us. It was a good experience. Oh by the way, his maggi mee got cooked because he used a THERMOS flask to store the hot water.
We were at the peak for about 25 minutes.
9.33AM - 8KM marker.
11.29AM - Reached the end of the rope section. We waited for each other so it took a bit of time here.
12.08PM - We finally reached Gunting Lagadan. We (probably 8 of us) were the last, so we roughly check if any of our belongings were left behind at Gunting. The day before, we made arrangements with the guide to help us carry our stuff from Gunting to Laban Rata. Early this morning, we told Amy and Kelly to make sure that all of our belongings were out of the room by 10AM. They were quite fit and we knew that they were able to make it to the peak and back long before 10AM.
Descending to Laban Rata. Pendant Hut is on the left.
Ahhh.. I felt so relieved when I came in view of the Laban Rata Resthouse. I was dead tired and hungry. I missed the PAID buffet breakfast but then it didn't matter. The 8 of us ordered set lunch. I can't recall what I ate though. It cost about RM6 per person I think or was it RM12? LOL. Can't remember.
I remembered getting irritated at Sirdar just before lunch was served. He kept wanting to discuss something and he was a few tables away from me. I was trying to pack my thick jacket and all the other unwanted stuff into the bag for the porter to carry down. I told Rach to ask him to WAIT!. I was really very very tired. I could see that both Messner and Sirdar were exhausted too. Messner and I found it difficult to register the questions that were asked by our fellow climbers. We were like in a daze. I think Sirdar was tired, but I could see him talking with the others.
After lunch I settled the porter fees with the guides (they double up as porters too). I was so tired that I even with my mini calculator I couldn't add properly. In the end I copied their figures down onto my sheet of paper and paid them accordingly.
Now, Sirdar had made arrangements for the 3 of us to have a short nap in one of the huts. We were in no condition to descend. The hut was about 200mtrs (??) after Laban Rata.
We napped for an hour and left the hut at about 3.05pm. Believe me, that 1 hour was just enough to regain my energy. I felt refreshed.
It was drizzling when we were about to leave the hut. Now, many of you know that I take a longer time descending. The first time in Sep2007, I took about 5 hours to reach the Timpohon Gate. Then probably 4 hours plus in Jul 2008 and Jan2010.
This time I thought I would reach the gate by 7pm. I was a bit worried because both Messner and Sirdar were fast "descenders". Furthermore I wore my Columbia sandals instead of shoes. The last few times I wore sandals too but they were more sturdy. The Columbia sandals were quite flimsy but Thank God it didn't break while I was running down the rocky not to mention slippery path.
Messner had to ask me to slow down because they couldn't catch up with me. Actually they were too busy talking. They stopped at the 2nd hut-Villosa Hut for a coffee break. I thought they were taking a bit too long for a coffee break. They were discussing something. My mind was just to reach the base before dark. In the end they asked me to go down and try to catch up with the other climbers. We received news via our ham radios that one of the guys were not doing well.
4.09pm. A brief stop at the Layang-Layang hut. I caught up with some of the climbers here. I reminded them that they had only 2 hours of daylight to reach the base. They responded saying that they targeted to reach the base at 6pm. Hmmm.... I thought. I excused myself and continue running down the path.
I passed a few others long the way- SH, Yvonne, Yee, Dr Moktir, Jimmy, Chris and Joel. I wanted to get past Joel but he was also quite fast. In the end we split from the last group and went ahead.
I slipped and fell at least twice but I was alright. We stopped only once or twice to remove my raincoat and to have a drink.
I did not take any pictures anymore after the Layang-Layang Hut because of the rain.
The last um.. 2oo meters or so, the pathway sloped up instead of down. Joel and I took 10-15 steps, rested for 10 seconds and then took another 10-15 steps again. We did this a few time before we reached the main gate.
I started counting..between 3.05PM and 5.45PM, I made it in 2 hours 40 minutes!!!! Record time!!!!!!
One of Faustine's van was waiting for us at the Timpohon Gate. There were 13 of us left either still in the mountain or at the gate. 7 or 8 of us got into the van where the driver was instructed to take us to Grace Hostel to wash up.
7.25PM - The last 2 people to arrive at Grace Hostel were SH and Peter. 4 vans had already gone to Gaya Seafood Restaurant, some 1.5 hours away from the Park. The 5th van departed at about 7.45pm. The 6th van left at about 8.30PM or so. We arrived at Gaya Restaurant at 10.17PM. The rest of our team members were ready to shoot off from that place. They were dead tired.
I arrived at the hotel at about 11pm. Fortunately, I had already given a copy of the rooming list to the hotel earlier on and by the time I reached the hotel, most of my team members were already in their rooms.
End of Day 4. :D
What an adventure! Beforehand, I was worried about joining in the group of semi-pro climbers but obviously I wasn't the slowest one. Next - Kilimanjaro?
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