Others (under construction)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Climbing Gunung Belumut

I must say, when Messner sent out the mail asking if I was interested in climbing Mount Belumut, I was feeling kind of apprehensive. My health was not in top form plus the fact that none of us has climbed this mountain before made me fearful of this adventure. I told Messner that I would let him know my answer later. In the meantime, I started training. Yes, I've not been actively climbing mountains lately.

One week before this climb, a few friends and I went to climb Gunung Angsi via Bukit Putus. It was a trial climb before the actual big one. Climbing Angsi via Bukit Putus was a short climb, probably took me about 3 hours 20 minutes to hike up and down. Right, for those of you who has been to this mountain before you would say that you only needed 2.5 hours. Seriously, my stamina is that bad. :(

So anyway, I told Messner to count me in. :)

Earlier on, he gave a short overview on this mountain. He said that it was a reasonably tough climb but easier than Ledang. He estimated that we may take 4-5 hours up and 3-4 hours down. I was thinking, this mountain is doable. The timeline is like hiking Angsi via Ulu Bendul.

Messner, as usual, did his homework on what it takes to climb Berlumut. :)

1)We had to apply to the Jabatan Hutan Kluang for a permit to climb. The cost was RM150 per group (size irrelevant) and had to be paid beforehand (not on the day of climb) so that they could issue the permit.

2) We need to have a guide. 1 guide for 25 pax @RM140.

3) A list of names of climbers needed to be be submitted to the Kg Gajah police station for their stamping and to be forwarded to the forestry officer at the Berlumut forest.

Our planned itinerary for the day goes like this : -


4am - meet at 7 Eleven Kemayan Square (later we changed the venue to S2 McD @ Tesco)

4.05am- Push off to Kluang

6.05am- Arrive toll exit to Kluang. This is the meeting point.

6.15am- Push off to Kluang town for breakfast at Kluang Rail Station coffee shop

6.45am-  Arrive Kluang rail station coffee shop

7.30am- Push off for Gunung Belumut. Head towards Mersing. You will see sign board by main road side to turn right. Follow road. There will be signboards all along the way. Until you see a sign board which has been vandalised with grafitti. The correct direction is turn left.

8.20- Arrive base of mountain

9am- start climbing

4pm - back to base. Wash up

5pm - head to Kluang for dinner

6.30pm dinner served

7.30pm- Head for home

10pm - Arrive Seremban

This is how my day started. 

The night before I started sleeping at 12.30am. I tossed and turned trying so hard to fall asleep but sleep was mean to me. :(  My alarm was set at 3am.  I got up from bed and wash up. My eyes were reddish due to lack of sleep and I was experiencing a mild headache. RW was supposed to pick me up at 3.20am but she was early. She reached my house about 3.18am.

We reached McD at 3.45am I think. Yup, we were the earliest. The last person came at about 4.10am. 

We arrived at the Ayer Hitam exit slightly before 6am. While waiting for the other 2 cars to arrive, we went to the public toilet. I was surprised at how interesting this toilet was.Unlike the usual boring 5 sinks in a row against the wall, the sinks and mirrors here were in the middle of the walkway. :)

We reached the famous Kuang Rail Coffeeshop at 6.38am. Apparently the shop only opens at 7am. We were a bit too early.

The coffee shop is strategically located and easy to find. Ask anyone where is the Kluang train station and you will see the coffee shop there too.

We traveled quite a distance from Seremban. About 207km according to google maps. :)

The breakfast at the coffee shop was really good. I had a small packet of nasi lemak, 2 toasts, 2 half-boiled eggs and a glass of milo kosong. (Milo without sugar).

We left the coffee shop at 7.30am and headed towards the mountain. The signboards along the way showed Belumut with and 'r' as in BeRlumut.
We stopped by the police station to get our climbers' list chopped. It was one of the requirements of the park office. 

As we were approaching the mountains (we don't know which mountain exactly was Belumut), we saw dark clouds hovering the peaks. I was REALLY worried. Rain means wet ground. Wet ground means LEECHES. Erkkkkkkkk!!!!!

Dark skies :(

8.24am - AT LAST we reached the base. First things first. We visited the toilets. It was quite disappointing. There were 5 toilets with shower heads and some of them were leaking. The place was certainly not clean. We had to pay the permit fees, at least they should keep the toilet facilities clean, right?

This is the park office.

The 2 guides on the left. Messner gave a short briefing.

A group picture before we got all tired and dirty. There were 19 climbers in our group. A group of Singaporeans were climbing this mountain too. It wasn't until later that I found out that one of them was my fb friend. What a small world. :)

8.54am - off we go... to the unknown forest.

The starting looks just like Gunung Angsi via Ulu Bendul. There is a river on the right where you can soak yourself and let the water run around you.

The hanging bridge.

8.58am - What??? Have to climb stairs too? This is so like Ledang. :(. The good thing is, the steps are not as many as Ledang. Maybe there are 30 steps here, give and take. Oh I don't know, I never counted. :)

All the km markers to let us know how far in we have gone. According to the guide, there are 4 check points and we have to cross 3 mountains before we reach the Belumut moutain. (Belumut being the 4th mountain). The guide told us that it gets steeper after every check point. 

The terrain to checkpoint 1 is relatively easy.

9.34am - we reached check point 1. It also indicated that we were 2km into the jungle. We stopped to wait for the rest of our group to catch up.

Getting steeper...

Distance markers every 200 meters.

10.31am - At Check point 2 and 3km into the jungle. An interesting rock formation is found here and it is known as Batu Bergigi (Rock with Teeth). Danny, Calvin and I waited for Rach and Messner before proceeding to the next level of adventure. 

It gets real steep after the 3rd km.

Suddenly the 'walk in the park' becomes a nightmare as we saw how steep we had to climb.

We parted with Rach and Messner somewhere along these slopes.

With Danny constantly calling out, 'one step at a time', we got through the most difficult and tiring part of the climb. The slopes were steep, between 70-90 degrees and it took us more than an hour to get through this portion. 

At one point there were these tall boulders that seemed impossible to climb, but the guide had already told us beforehand to turn left and climb up when we reach the rocks. I did not take a picture of the boulders when I was facing them but when I reached the top I took a few shots.

More steep terrains. Because of my height, I found it difficult to climb these steep slopes.

12.11pm. We came to a clearing, also similar to the Bukit Botak in Gunung Ledang. This is the false peak. We were told to go left again. One of Jimbo's friend drew a sign on the ground to indicate the way to the peak.

We were told it takes 20 more minutes from the false peak to the summit.

The scenery after the false peak changes. The whole jungle is covered with thick moss. Beautiful! This reminds me of the jungle in Nuang after Puncak Pengasih. By comparison, Nuang's moss covered trail looks much nicer. (My personal point of view). 

At this point, my strength was threatening to leave me. Danny was moving quite fast and I could hardly see him. Calvin was behind me, but I told him to go ahead first. I tried to catch up with them, but I was always 10-15 steps behind Calvin. 

It wasn't long before we could see this rock jutting out and around the corner, I saw one of our fellow climbers on a boulder relaxing and I knew my ordeal was about to come to an end. :)

12.31pm - EXACTLY 20 minutes from the false peak. :)
The group of Singaporeans, along with some of my fellow climbers were resting and eating. The clearing on the summit was small. Fortunately there were only 2 groups climbing this mountain today.

The 2nd picture above shows the whole summit and the boulder in the background should be the highest point.

Limited space on the boulder and we had to take turns to have our picture taken. 

The view from the boulder. This piece of jutting rock is called the Batu Keris.

I met my fb friend, Adrian from Singapore, in this climb. We didn't plan to meet and halfway up the mountain, he overtook me and suddenly turn around and introduced himself. :) Small world indeed.

Oh, RW brought her food warmer containing fried rice.

At 12.56pm, Lawrence was the last to arrive.

We spend some time at the peak and left at 1.23pm. Not everyone left at the same time. Jimbo's group went down first followed by our group - Danny, Cilla, Rach and I. We were all in the same car. The rest of them came down much later. 

Poor Cilla and all the tall climbers had to bend their backs most of time to avoid hitting the trees.

Descending was a torture for me too. Poor Cilla had to wait for me because I was extra careful especially at the steep part.

Good thing it didn't rain, otherwise the ground would have been slippery .

2.41pm - at checkpoint 2. Another 3 km more to go. We rested here for a few minutes before running down the trail again.

3.42pm -Another 1 km more to go.We stopped to drink and rest for a bit. 

Danny and Cilla had it in their head to race and see if they could reach the base in 15 minutes.

3.55pm - They reached the base in 10 minutes and Rach and I, in 11 minutes.

Back to the base. First things first. We went to the car and got our stuff to bathe. Like I've said, the bathroom was dirty and none of us fancy bathing there, but we had no choice. The shower head in my cubicle was not working and I had to use the tap (with a hose, thankfully) located 2 feet from the ground. In other words, I had to squat to bathe. :(
I shouldn't complain much because at least the water pressure was strong. Rach was bathing halfway when the water stopped flowing completely. Cilla had to use an empty bottle and fill up with water to bathe.

And the guys toilet? I don't know what's wrong with their showers but it seems they had to scoop out the water from a big water tank located in the middle of the bathroom. The water in the tank had cigarette butts in it but again  what other choice do they have if they wanted to be clean? :) Oh, I just remembered. There was another choice. You can opt to bathe in the river which was what some of the guys did. :)

The last of our group came out at about 5pm. One of our climbers tripped and fell but fortunately there were no serious injuries.

We left the place at 5.30pm and headed to Kluang to have our celebration dinner. Unfortunately, the restaurant which we wanted to go was packed and we asked for directions for the nearest food court. 

Dinner was at 6.40pm. The food was lousy but we wallop everything because we were so hungry.

We left the food court at 7.25pm and reached Seremban just before 10pm.  It was a long day.

You know, while I was climbing this mountain, I had a sudden crave for sparkling ribena. It wasn't until the next day that I got to taste it. :D

All in, the climb was a good experience. I don't know if I want to climb it again and if I do, I hope my stamina improves by then.

A timeline of my climb :- 

4.15am - Left Seremban for Kluang
6.38am - Reached Kluang Rail Coffee shop
8.24am - Reached Belumut base
8.54am - Start climb
10.31am - Reached Checkpoint 2, 3km marker
12.11pm - Reached the false peak
12.31pm - Summited
1.23pm - Left the summit
3.55pm - Reached base
9.50pm - Reached Seremban

Climb details 
Mountain  - Gunung Belumut, 2nd highest mountain in Johor
Location -  Johor
Height - 1010 meters
Distance to the peak - 6km
Ascend time - 3 hours 37 minutes
Descend time - 2 hours 32 minutes
Checkpoints - 4, but we only saw 2 checkpoints with signboards
Mountain crossing - 3 mountains to cross before reaching the belumut peak. (Belumut being the 4th mountain)