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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Climbing Gunung Ledang / Mt Ophir the 2nd Time

I'm amazed at myself. Now before you say that I'm going to praise myself, hear me out first, ya.

4th of October 2008 between 5.30-6.45pm, I told myself I will NEVER climb Gunung Ledang again. At that time I was descending from the mountain and my poor feet got brutally tortured .

The email from Messner for this Ledang climb first came out on Apr 20th, 2009. I was hesitant to put my name in because my feet reminded me how much they suffered from the last climb. Sirdar, who co-organised this climb with Messner said he had already put my name in the list of climbers. I thought to myself (ignoring the cries of my feet), okay, I will climb Ledang again.

So at 3AM, 23rd of May, 2009, I woke up to get ready for the day. I was coughing so badly the whole week, that I had some thoughts of not going for the climb. In the end I went, not because I was the Treasurer for this climb, but because I knew my cough was not that bad.

We met at Kemayan Square at 4.15AM, and left at 4,30AM for Tangkak, Johor. There were 22 of us from Seremban and we met up with the KL group at a coffee shop not far off from the Tangkak toll.

We spent about 45 minutes here. Too much time wasted I would say. But then, we were all so excited to see each other, some of whom we met for the first time.

We left the shop at 6.20AM and reached the park at 7AM.

There were so many cars and people. We quickly got our bag packs out from the car and filled out the "rubbish" forms. We had to declare what we have in our bag packs, pay RM20 deposit and at the end of the day, the park authorities would check to see if we had what we declared earlier on. Each missing item costs RM5.

The "rubbish" form looks like this. Rachel was appointed to collect the forms and RM20 from everyone.

Food, utensils, mini stove, harnesses, rope were all distributed to some members of our team and Steve offered to carry the 30-meter long rope.

The park base where we registered our team.

I was made the treasurer for this climb and while I settled the various fees with the park authorities, the team had a warm-up session.

A group picture before we got all hot and sweaty. There were 36 of us in this climb.

Briefing by Sirdar, meeting of the 4 guides and introducing ourselves. Most of us don't know everyone.

8.02AM - Off we went. We started very late, probably due to the size of our group and also because there were so many other groups.

There were LOTS of steps leading to Check Point (CP) 1. More than 700 steps, the last time Rachel counted. Someone said that these steps would be a welcome to you when you descend from the mountain.

We reached CP1 at 8.22AM and CP2 at 8.39AM.

The trail was relatively easy, but we stopped many times to catch our breath.

9.12AM - We reached CP3. We were way at the back of our group. There was a funny plant here which grows out of a round-soil thing.I have never seen this in the previous climb, but I guess at that time I was concentrating on reaching the summit and didn't bother to look around.

The arrows Sg Segi Tiga (Triangle River) and Kolam Gajah (Elephant Pond) marks the 4th CP.

PeterK, one of our sweepers (Sweeper is a name we gave for the person who was designated to be the last in line of our climb) was no sweeper at all. He was most of the time ahead of us.

Between CP4 and CP5, the path changed from uphill to downhill. I didn't like it because it meant I had to make up for it later when I climbed up again. :(

10.40AM - Yay! We reached CP5. 3 more CPs to go. Sirdar said he was here at 10AM and had a good 40 minutes of rest while waiting for us.

We didn't stop long because we were behind time.

The trail gets harder after CP5.

10.55AM. This is the famous KFC. Killer for Climbers or Killing Field for Climbers, whatever it stood for I agree with it. It got very steep from this point onwards.

I gave up my (probably) 5 kilo bag pack to Sirdar who was already carrying 3 bags which probably weighed more than 15 kilos. I could hardly lift myself up and needed to use my hands to help lift up my legs. I was in a bad shape. The last time I climbed this mountain, I carried my bag pack all the way. This time, I knew I could carry my bag and still climb, but we were pressed for time and I knew that my bag would slow me down.

Without the bag pack, I could go a little faster. Soon, we reached CP6. The time was 11.42AM. We took an hour to reach CP6 from CP5. The KFC was really killing.

Soon we came to the caves. Aunt Chris leaned against the cold walls of the cave and wanted to stay there forever.

A little help from Sirdar was needed for us short people. We reached the 2nd cave at 11.54AM.

After the caves, we went up this long ladder and...

... were rewarded with hot coffee from Sirdar. Not sure why he allowed us to have a short coffee break when we were behind time. JohnNy offered an orange to us, but I declined because I was coughing. Aunt Chris said that this was the best coffee she had in her life. It was only a 3-in 1 nescafe. Oh, by the way, I had a cough drop in my mouth all the time to prevent me from coughing too much. It helped a lot. I brought 3 liters of water this time because I knew that with my cough, my throat would get dry very quickly.

Sirdar contacted Messner telling him that we were almost reaching the rock face.

12.11PM - More ladders to climb before we reached the small rock face.

This was the "Anak Batu Hampar", the smaller rock face. Rach and I climbed up using the tree roots as our foothold.
Johnny taught Aunt Chris how to climb using the rope.

Soon after the smaller rock face, we came across another small rock face which is adjoined to the mother of all rock faces. This time I needed to use the rope. Without my bag pack, I could do it in one go.

This is the mother of all rock faces. There were so many people waiting to climb and some of us were scared. I didn't have a fond memory of this rock face. I remembered there were 3 ropes last year. I used the middle rope while Sirdar and EdwinC were at my left and right, encouraging me. I remembered stopping at every knot just to catch my breath.

This time Sirdar and Messner brought 2 harnesses and a rope. They were not for me. These harnesses were for Aunt Shirley and Aunt Chris. Messner and Steve (the rope man) reached the rock face earlier and set it up before we reached there.

Aunt Shirley went up first, but I was not there to witness it.

Then Sirdar made Aunt Chris wear the harness (and she complained a lot during then) and both of them went up together.

Sirdar knew I had difficulty in climbing this rock face and he said he would come down later to help me up. Oh, this time there was only 2 ropes instead of 3 the last time. I wondered a lot about the rope that was not used anymore.

I allowed another 1 set of people to go climb the ropes while waiting for Sirdar to come down. When the pair went up safely, I decided maybe I should try climbing up myself. I was thinking to myself... Rachel could do it, so why can't I? And when I say Boey, one of the team members, I (think I) asked him to climb up with me... and so we went up together. It was much easier than the last time. I didn't even stop. Boey kept asking me to look behind and enjoy the view, to which I said no, many times.

I made it to the top and was very relieved. Sirdar was surprised to see me, but he went down again to help another team member.

Messner and Steve manning the ropes. Sirdar, halfway down the rock face while wearing the harness which prevented him from falling even when he let go of the rope.

He went down intending to help another team member when he saw a distressed girl from another group climbing and so he helped her up first and then went down again to get the last team member up.

Right after the rock face, we came across the Bonsai garden. I thought Rach and Aunt Chris would be here, but they went ahead without telling me. Someone said, between the mountain and me, she chose the mountain. :(

Sirdar had muscle cramps on both legs while at the rock face. Fortunately, we were well-prepared with a first aid kit.

1.09PM - We reached CP7. It was kinda late and we didn't rest much. Messner didn't want to stop but I asked for a 20 second break.

We walked on and came to a junction where we could turn right (narrow pathway) if we wanted to continue our journey to the summit or walk straight (wide pathway) if we had to refill our water bottles and continue our journey from there. Rach and gang took wide pathway which slowed them by 20 minutes.

The 3 of us, Sirdar, Chan and I took the narrow way and the rest followed Messner to refill their water bottles. We came out from the left side, and Peter and gang from the right side.

It got steeper and steeper. The ropes along the way helped a lot. We began to appreciate the ladders. Made the climb much easier.

1.44PM - At this point, we saw 13 of our members descending. Sirdar and Messner congratulated them. The path was steep and uneven, but they descended like as if the path was smooth and easy.

1.53PM- We finally reached the top.. not exactly the peak, but we saw most of our team members there having their lunch.

We can't say we made it to the peak till we climbed higher. Another 5 minutes and we reached the summit.

Some adventurous youths went going down another ladder at the top of the mountain which led to a lower summit.

View at the top. We were here for a few minutes before we went down to join the group for lunch.

Going down to where our team members were.

Lunch was good. Rach and I brought egg sandwiches. I was so hungry, but didn't eat much. Sirdar brought pita bread, chicken and beef curry and his famous mountain top coffee. I wouldn't mind having some curry chicken or curry beef, but my throat won't allow it. What a shame.

2.31pm. It was time to leave the mountain. We could hear the sounds of thunder quite far away and the sky didn't look too good either.

Another group was descending too. Rach went down very quickly. Soon I couldn't see her at all. At one point, some one in another group sprained her ankle and those at the back of this group, including us had to stop to wait for her. It was a one way street meaning that it was difficult to over take them because it was steep and we were all holding onto the ropes.

After a while our group managed to over take them and we were on our way again.

Some of the pathways were blocked off (including some which we used when we ascended) to prevent us from going the wrong way. We took another route bypassing the rock face and caves.

Aunt Chris was way in front of me and she kept calling out to Sirdar asking him which direction she should take. Sirdar asked her to wait, but she couldn't wait, so Johnny said he would keep up with Aunt Chris and look out for the markers.

Soon we couldn't see them anymore. Aunt Chris was super fit. Johnny had to keep up with her.

More sounds of thunder and soon the rain came. We wore our raincoats (except a few of us who forgot to bring them) and walked in the rain for at least 1/2 an hour. Sirdar called my elder sister asking her to pray for good weather.

Soon, there were only Sirdar, me and Chan who went ahead followed by Aunt Shirley, Steve, David, a younger Rachel, Peter, Brendan, Boey, Calvin and Winnie.

4.51pm - We reached the junction that led us to the original trek. The yellow arrow was where we came out from when we descend and the red arrow pointed to the path we took when we ascended.

We reached CP3 at 5.36PM, CP2 at 6.05PM and CP1 at 6.20PM. The soles of my feet were hurting by now. I wore my new Timberland shoes and it was fine till CP3. It was definitely much better and more comfortable than my Nikes.

The whole climb, Sirdar was carrying Aunt Shirley's bag pack. Right after CP1, Sirdar passed me his felt-like5-kilo bag pack to carry and he asked Chan to carry Aunt Shirley's bag while he went back to help Steve carry the 30-metre rope. Later I found out from Steve that they were at CP2 when Sirdar reached them. Steve later told me that he felt so relieved when the rope was taken off him.

6.29PM - I was so glad to see the steps. It was a long way down... never ending. I was carrying at least 7 or 8 kilos and my feet were killing me. I remembered wishing that I could telepathy Rach so that she could meet me at the top of the stairs so that I could hand Sirdar's load to her. She called Sirdar earlier to let him know that she reached the base at 5.20PM. Knowing that ir was impossible, I willed myself to stop and take my mobile phone from my bag pack so that I could contact Rach. It didn't work either. So I started counting the steps just to keep my mind off my complaining feet.

6.42PM - At long last I could see the park office. I saw some of our team members sitting at a rest area, but no Rach. So I put down Sirdar's bag, got his son to look after it while I called Rach and asked her to bring my bag (clean clothes) from the car and meet me at the park office. I went and declared my "rubbish" and got a full refund. Rach gave me my bag of clean clothes and I gave her my hiking bag and shoes to put in the car.

I went straight to the bathroom... and had a good shower.

Sirdar reached the base at 7.14PM, Steve and Aunt Shirley at 7.28PM and Peter and gang at 7.38PM.

After everyone has showered, we went to a local shop in Tangkak to have dinner. We left the park at 8.30PM, reached the restaurant at slightly after 9PM. There were 23 of us including 4 children.

We had chicken ( I think Thai style), long beans with um... tofu?, pumpkin rice, sea cucumber,

....pork and yam ring, fish and seafood tofu. It was delicious.

We left the place at about 10.15pm and reached Seremban at 11.15pm.

Read my 1st Ledang Climb here.

Read Jimbo's 2nd Ledang Climb here.

Read Rachel's 2nd Ledang Climb here.


Unknown said...

You did very well inspite of the cough/flu. If you come to G Nuang, I will serve you a hot lunch and hot milo/coffee at the summit :-)

Jimbo said...

Excellent narration! :)

Unknown said...

Reading yr account and viewing the pictures made me relive the climb...
Echoing KG, come for G.Nuang climb. Not only will KG serve you a hot lunch and drink, he has also promised to be the Leech(es) exterminator..