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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Climbing Gunung Nuang

Warning - This is the longest post I have ever written...

Name of Mountain - Gunung Nuang
Location - Hulu Langat, Selangor
Height - 4898ft.
Length of hike - about 9km
Level of Difficulty - 5th toughest mountain to climb in West Malaysia

Some would say that Nuang is an easy climb. Most people would say that Nuang is a tough climb. Some used Nuang as a training ground for higher and more difficult mountains. Some climbed Nuang because they wanted to meet the challenge - to climb the 5th toughest mountain in West Malaysia. Others go for the sake of their friends. Others like me, were encouraged to join the climb and to be one of the select few who made it to the top.

Now that I'm safe and well, let me tell you my story.

First and foremost, I NEVER had the intention of joining this Nuang climb. After the Ledang climb 2 months ago, I wanted to hang up my hiking boots. It was such a shame because I bought a pair of Timberland hiking shoes just before my Ledang climb. To put my shoes to "rest", just after using them for only one time, I would have thrown away RM378.

After climbing Ledang, the organisers, Messner and Sirdar started talking about climbing Gunung Nuang. I think it was during the dinner we had in Tangkak the day we climbed Ledang. Two days after the Ledang climb, Messner sent out an email on organising a climb in Nuang. I must say, that was a good move on his part so soon after the Ledang climb because everyone was excited. 61-year-old Aunt Chris had her fun in Ledang and was gamed for Nuang. I shook my head when I read all the emails coming through my mailbox. Everyone, except me, was excited about climbing Nuang. After RW's horror of Nuang in Jun 2007 and Jimbo's account in May 2008 (and the negative stories of some who were in either one of the two groups), I told myself... NO, I will not even think of climbing Nuang.

A week before the climb, Messner was on MSN and his opening line was "your Aunt Chris is doing Nuang this Sat. How about this niece?" I chatted a while with him on the general topic of climbing mountains (he did Angsi the day before) while he continued to press me for a "YES" to climb Nuang. Feeling cornered I gave him 2 conditions - 1) I have to exercise at least 4 times before the climb and 2) If it doesn't rain the few days before the climb. His reply was "wah alot of conditions....more than what a lawyer will put in a contract.." I saw Sirdar online too and he too was persuading me to join the climb. I told him that I was not fit and didn't think I should go. I also told him of the conditions I gave to Messner.

Yesterday was my decision. It didn't rain the whole week and I guessed both Messner and Sirdar were secretly glad that I would be joining them for the climb. I went to cell meeting last night and requested prayer. I told them of my fear of leeches and also ask them to pray for fine weather.

Since this was a last minute decision, I only finished packing after the meeting. I slept at about 12.35am and woke up slightly after 3am. Usually before a climb (or a vacation) I find it hard to have a good night's rest. This time I slept soundly and felt refreshed after the 2 1/2 hours of sleep.

The climbers in Seremban met in our usual place - Kemayan Square at 4am. There were 10 of us and we left in 3 cars.

We met the 7 climbers from KL at Nuang. There were 4 new climbers this time (We always meet new people in every climb).

All of us arrived on time and Messner and Sirdar briefed us on this climb. It was so dark that Messner had to turn on his car headlights. (A note to anyone who wants to start off early next time - bring a big battery-operated torchlight)

We started our journey at 6.43am. Some started earlier because they didn't have to use the restroom.

We were told that we had to walk about 5km on a never-ending boring road. 22 minutes into the journey, I stated panting. Sirdar generously offered to carry my about-5kg bag pack which I gladly gave it to him. There was no discussion of "porter fees", otherwise I would be very broke. :)

At 7.16am, I saw some other climbers taking pictures of this hut. Being a busybody, I stopped to take a picture of it too. (What I really wanted to do was to stop and rest. Taking this picture was just an excuse :)).

7.29am - A break at one of the rest areas. The never-ending boring road is just like Bukit Kepayang's.... only thing is - you'll have to walk 4km extra.. and probably take 5 times longer to reach to the end.

We smelled durians along the way. We saw at least 2 people on scooters travelling on the same road as us to collect durians. Sirdar was already thinking of buying some from the locals when we descend. A thought came into his mind and he voiced it out to the bikers. He asked if they could help us carry our bags to the end of the road. The answer was expected. They said that they had to detour into the jungle... or something like that.

I saw my first leech here. I couldn't believe it. The ground wasn't wet and here it was at the start of my climb showing off its long and lean body... like as if it was warning me that I would see more of its kind later... yucky. Aunt Chris was so excited to see one. She had a different picture of a leech in her mind.

8am - Another 5 minutes rest stop before we continued our journey. Messner placed a paper and a pencil here so that the rest of the group could mark the time they passed through here later when they descended.

8.05am. We crossed our first river. My pictures were all blurred. Not enough light, can't blame it on the camera.

Walking along the pipes reminded me of the Angsi trail.

We left the pipes and headed upwards to where the old dam was. The ones I circled were the pipes.

8.18m. This is the old dam. We have nearly reached Kem Lolo.

Durians, durians and more durians. Smelled heavenly...

8.21am - Crossing the 2nd river adjoining the dam. Aunt Chris was determined to cross the river by herself.

We saw some very interesting plants.

8.29am - At last we reached Kem Lolo. It took us 1 hour 46 minutes to reach this place. Crossing the 3rd river. If it had rained heavily today or even the day before, the water level would have risen up to our thighs and we would have had to take off our shoes to cross the river. It didn't rain and we didn't have to take off our shoes.

Crossing the 4th river near the camps. This was where Aunt Chris fell. The water was shallow but she must have slipped on a rock that was slippery. Her shoes and socks got wet but she didn't want to change her socks because she didn't see the point of wearing dry socks with wet shoes.

After Kem Lolo it's upwards all the way. From Kem Lolo to Kem Pacat the ground was orangee in colour. This made me glad that it wasn't raining and the ground was relatively dry.

A fallen tree. It was so huge.

All the way to Kem Pacat, the ground was smooth and uneven. I tell you... if it rains.. habis (gone) lah. One slip and we may end up in the natural longkang (drain) made by years and years of rain water flowing downstream. We took more than 1 hour walking through this ground.

9.54am - Just before reaching Kem Pacat, we saw LKK, Brandon and his friend, Chan. I was surprised because I knew that they were fast climbers. As we got nearer, we saw that Chan had cramps on his leg. Quickly, Sirdar went over and attended to his muscle cramps. Chan was wearing long pants and had difficulty pulling up his pants to where the cramps were. Fortunately Brandon had a spare pair of shorts in his bag and gave it to Chan. With my back turned to them, I started taking pictures of the surrounding trees. I always never see the beauty of the surroundings in all my mountain climbing trips because my goal was to reach the peak and back to the base safely.

Another fallen tree and at 10.17am, we reached Kem Pacat. (Pacat means leech in Malay).

A picture with Sirdar and Brandon. BTW, Brandon and LKK went off without Chan. Chan said that he would walk slowly to Kem Pacat and rest there.

I was here for 37 minutes. Sirdar wanted to wait for Aunt Chris and Messner. The rest of our group left at different times.

Bees everywhere. I don't like them buzzing at me. I tried to avoid them but they kept coming. :(

A bunch of students climbed with us too, but different pacing. It's good to have them. We don't feel so lonely climbing up.

We left some of our water bottles here to lighten our load. (Must remember to write names on the water bottles just in case someone accidentally takes the wrong one). My water bottle was missing when I returned for it later.

Messner left a paper and pencil here for others to record their passing through this place.

10.54am - We left Kem Pacat. Not long after that Jake complained of a back ache and he felt that it was bad enough to turn back. We were kinda sad for him and his dad. Messner prayed for him and told him to sms him when they reached the base.

Continuing our journey... it was uphill all the way to the next checkpoint. This stretch is even harder than the KFC in Ledang.

When I looked up, gosh.. the ground was almost vertical. I don't have long legs and this was a major problem. I sighed so much during this stretch . Many a time I didn't think I could make it to the next level. Fortunately Sirdar was there to help pull me up.

Along this stretch, we met Boey's 2nd son Daniel who coolly overtook us without a sweat. Boey and family had planned to lead a group up Broga Hill and couldn't join us for the Nuang's climb. After receiving Sirdar's distress call a day before the climb, the family said that they would come to Nuang after their hike at Broga. Daniel reported that they reached Nuang's base at 9.30am , almost 3 hours from the time we started. The rest of the Boey family (Boey, Shirley, and 2 other sons, Calvin and young Brandon) said that they would wait for us at Kem Pacat.

12.24pm - At long last we reached the next checkpoint - Puncak Pengasih (Lover's Peak) also known as the False Peak. It was very misty. The air was cool. Sirdar thought that it would rain later but he was wrong.

We saw Jason here. I remembered we kept asking him where Puncak Pengasih was and he didn't know what we were talking about. Then suddenly Sirdar spotted the signboard just a few meters ahead of us and told Jason that this was the Puncak Pengasih, the last checkpoint before we reach the summit. Jason was a last minute recruit for this trip. Sirdar, realizing how weak our team was (only Messner, Sirdar and Brandon had summited this mountain before) managed to persuade Jason to help out. I remembered what Jason said last year about Nuang. His leg muscles ached for 3 days and he would never want to climb Nuang again.

Jason had summited at 11.23am and he came down to check if we needed help. Sirdar asked if Jason could accompany Aunt Chris back to the base. She wanted to turn back after Kem Lolo and both Messner and Sirdar persuaded her to go to the next checkpoint. At Kem Pacat, she said she would wait there for us, but Sirdar made her fell guilty by saying that if she stayed, Messner would have to accompany her too. They told her to climb up to the next checkpoint.

While Jason and Sirdar were discussing about Aunt Chris, we suddenly heard Messner calling out to Sirdar. Wow!! I thought. Aunt Chris made it I was happy for her. It seems she ate only 1 piece of bread and that was too little for a big climb like this. So after gulping down 2 energy bars, she suddenly had the energy to climb.

Together, we continued our journey. Jason carried Aunt Chris' bag and slowly we made our way to the peak. We came across this stone that marks the Pahang/Selangor border.

We rested at Puncak Pengasih for about 10 minutes before we continued on. After Puncak Pengasih we found ourselves descending climbing over the rocks and had to be very careful. We took about 1 hour to reach the peak.

1.34pm - The peak at last. I was so glad I made it to the peak. I quickly smsed Mctc and started snapping pictures. Sirdar started making lunch. He boiled water to make coffee and then later heated some Brahim's Beef Kurma to go with the pita bread. Aunt Chris offered some of her sandwiches too.

And what do you know...we saw Jack and his dad summiting 24 minutes after we did. Gosh! It was indeed a miracle. After we parted ways, they went down to Kem Pacat to rest and suddenly Jack realised that his back ache was gone. So they started climbing up again.

We saw a squirrel too. It posed for the camera before running off. Messner had a leech bite and allowed us to take a few photos before Sirdar gently pulled it off with the help of some salt.

A group photo to show that we made it!! Some had already descended so we don't have an actual group picture of the whole team.

Sirdar and Messner, the two organisers who diligently planned and organised this climb and other previous climbs including 5 trips to Mount Kinabalu. You guys are the greatest. I can't imagine climbing any mountains without you guys. You made the climb more interesting. More importantly, you guys believed that all of us could summit. Thank you Sirdar and Messner.

2.37pm - Our turnaround time was set at 2pm, but we lingered for another close to 40 minutes before leaving the summit.

3.32pm - The Pahang/Selangor marker .

Heading towards Puncak Pengasih.

3.44pm - Reached Puncak Pengasih. We could hear Aunt Chris, but didn't know why she was making so much noise. Later, we found out that Jason had "abandoned" her and she needed help to go down the steep ground. David agreed to be with her and together they went down and were never to be seen again until we reached Kem Pacat.

Somewhere between Puncak Pengasih and Kem Pacat, Messner took a fall and cracked one of his ribs. (He found that out later). Sirdar quickly attended to him. Messner laid down for at least 5 minutes. Fortunately the ground he fell onto was flat. This terrain right up to Kem Pacat was very steep and he was indeed fortunate to fall flat on his back.

After a while, slowly, he could move and we descended slower than usual, always keeping an eye on him. I never got a chance to take a picture of him lying down because my camera was in Sirdar's pouch and Messner may not have liked me taking his picture when he was in pain.

We spotted a chameleon too.

5.20pm - Finally reach Kem Pacat. We were greeted by Aunt Chris " Why so long one ah?" and hellos by the Boey family. They were at Kem Pacat since noon and waited for us for more than 5 hours.
We left Kem Pacat at 5.36pm and along the way, Aunt Chris knees were starting to get really painful. She took an aspirin and Sirdar sprayed some instant pain relief thingy on her knees.

7pm - We reached Kem Lolo. Aunt Chris's knees were getting worse.

While we were crossing the river near the dam, David fell. I guess either the rocks were too slippery or he was also tired out from the long hike or both. He sprained his ankle and couldn't move for a while.

Aunt Chris didn't want to stop because if she did, her knees would be more painful. After like 5 minutes or so, Sirdar, Aunt Chris and I started walking, leaving Messner and Boey's family with David. Sirdar was hurrying out to the "never-ending-boring road" because he wanted to check if there were any motorbikes available to take Aunt Chris and David out to the base.

7.39pm - When we reached the start (depending on where you came from) of the boring road, we saw 2 bikes and some (at least 6-7) scooters. Our hopes were raised. When we asked the owners of the vehicles, they had some lame excuse. The bikes did not have lights and there was very little petrol in the scooters.

Left with no choice, we walked on. Aunt Chris took out her torchlight. Mine didn't give out much light, so I didn't want to use it.

After like 15 minutes or so, we heard Messner's voice... and soon we saw the Boeys and David.. WOW.. he was walking steadily with the help of 2 walking sticks. He said that Boey prayed for him to have supernatural strength and he got exactly that. PTL!

We saw some mushrooms.. it reminded me of Enid Blyton and her tales. I didn't come across these mushrooms while walking up this road early in the morning.

Anu Chris' knees were so painful that her pace was so much slower than mine. Soon there was a gap between the first group - Sirdar, David, Shirley (Mrs Boey) and I AND the 2nd group - Peter, Aunt Chris, Boey and his two older sons.

Every motorbike that passed us we asked if they could fetch Aunt Chris to the base. All of them had the same excuse - no petrol.

The first group reached the base at 9.26pm. My knees were hurting and my soles were in a bad shape. I just wanted to take off my shoes and wear my comfy slippers. Imagine, I was wearing a pair of panty hose (someone said that the leeches won't get through them), a pair of socks and another pair of panty hosed-kind-of-material ankle stockings.

A few minutes after we reached the base, we heard from Boey's radio that Peter's team managed to get a biker to take Aunt Chris to the base. It cost her RM30, but she gladly parted with her cash. She must be thinking - What was RM30 compared to a LOOOOOONG walk in the dark? (FYI, my friends who went to Nuang in 2007 and 2008 paid only RM5 per person for a biker to take them out to the base).

I quickly showered and boy, the water was cold, but very refreshing. The bathrooms were quite clean too. Let's see, there were 4 toilets, 2 changing rooms and 2 bathrooms.

Not long after I took my shower, Aunt Chris reached the base. She looked so tired. I helped her carry her bag of clean clothes to the bathroom. Although her bag was very light, I sensed that she did not have the energy to lift even her own bag. I had the same feeling when I was in Ledang last year. I was so tired out, till even taking of my clothes to bathe was a hassle.

10.13pm - About 45 minutes later, Peter and team arrived at the base. He looked tired and worn out. Oh, by the way, there were no street lights near the bathroom or even at the car park, so it would help a lot if you have a big torch light and place it on top of the car.

10.38pm - We left Nuang and headed to Semenyih to look for food. Messner was so tired that he allowed Sirdar to drive his Rexton. Jason drove Sirdar's car. It was already past 11pm and we couldn't find any Chinese restaurants open at this hour. So we decided to eat in Seremban - Lobak Food Court. We had our dinner at 12 midnight and I reached home at about 1.15am.

Surprisingly, the next day I was able to get up with minimal muscle aches. I could run up and down the stairs. To me, climbing Nuang was not as tiring as Ledang. Maybe because it didn't rain or maybe because I had so much help from Sirdar. :P

Oh, compliments from Nuang. I took a fall on the "orangee" ground between Kem Lolo and Kem Pacat. My back hit a thin tree stump and gave me a nasty bruise just beside my left shoulder blade.

All in all, I thought this was a good climb. It didn't rain, I saw 6 leeches but none bit me and God's hand was upon all of us.

P/S Read Messner's account coming up soon. (For Messner's article on Nuang, click here)


Las montaƱas said...

nice report! you should try gunung benom or tahan next.

euniceta said...

Um.. no thank you. Imagine all the leeches waiting for me. Not even going to think about it. :P

Anonymous said...

Heh heh, cool bugs! The bee is amazing!

Unknown said...

Great write up! Wanted to know if we need a guide for the hike if I were to go? Is the trail easily traceable?

euniceta said...

Hi Alex, No you don't need a guide, but it would be better to go with someone who has been up before. The weather was good when I climbed Nuang and the trail was clear. I can only imagine how terrible it would be on a wet day.

leonard said...

hi euniceta. is the panty hose effective against the leeches?

euniceta said...

Hi Leonard,
I'm not sure how effective it is. Just to be on the safe side, I wore it for this hike and didn't get bitten at all. :)

Leonard said...

i see. maybe it is really effective. you wear with long pant? does it feel hot?
not sure how others will think if guy wear it with short pant for hiking.

euniceta said...

I hate leeches. I always look where I step next and with someone who offered to be the leech exterminator, I never got bitten again after my first Angsi trip.

Many people say that Nuang is famous for leeches. To play safe, I wore a pair of panty hose. Thanks God the water level was low, and I could cross the rivers without taking off my shoes and getting the hose wet.

Yes, I wear it with long pants. I've gotten used to it already. Heat is not a problem to me when it comes to hiking.

My advice would be, either you wear the hose and long pants or skip the hose, wear short pants and hope the leeches went away on a holiday or something.

When are you going?

Leonard said...

i see. thanks for the info. not sure when going yet. do you have msn or yahoo messenger? can add me?
mine is leonardlim81@yahoo.com for both.

Unknown said...

well done on the excellent coverage!
researching some info b4 i go up there :)

Ammar said...

Great shots man, I have been there and it gave me sweet memories. I did not take any photos and I do regrat that.

Just wondering, why did you not spent a day at camp LOLO, I mean reather that forcing yourself all the way down on the same day. I enjoyed the stay more then any 5 star hotel.

jojas said...

Hi, interesting trip. Do you know how to get from Kuala Lumpur to Gunung Nuang. Is there any public transport to take? Thank you.

euniceta said...

Jojas, I dont think there is any public transport from KL to Nuang. If you write your email address here, I will send you the directions.

dauthuz said...

hei.....thanks for sharing the infos on ur lovely blog....very informative and i've read d comments n yes, was about to ask if i need a guide/ is the trail easily accessible (is it big and sumthing like bkt tabur? straight forward path all the way to the top?).....was wondering how do i get there from carrefour ampang (since i heard 1 of d starting point is from hulu langat)? my email is dauthuz@hotmail.com. Hope to hear from you soon. thanks :D

dauthuz said...

also, would like to ask how much did it cost (did u hav a guide or just went there with frenz?)?

dauthuz said...

also, just wanna know how much it cost u guys (whether u had a guide or not....)?