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Kinabalu Challenge – Part 2: The summit & the end

Laban Rata was so cold. The toilet was outside the room & there was no heater. And it was drizzling most of the time. The wind was strong & super cold. I didn’t shower for obvious reason. I wore the thermal base-layer I bought from eBay & it worked great. The only thing that is still not enough was the glove. The alcheapo universal traveller glove I bought years ago failed to warm my hands.

At 2AM we woke up & getting ready to summit. This time I need to carry my own bag & all the camera gears. Only by 3AM everyone arrived & Azri gave the briefing but Ramin chipped-in with some demoralizing notes. Things like, you must reached Sayat Sayat (the last check-point) before 4AM & must summit before 6AM. Should reach Timpohon Gate before 4PM or else he will charge extra. Haiyyaa….Such warnings resulted in few of us failed to reach even Sayat-sayat & dR Ali was prevented from going beyond Sayat-sayat based on his late arrival the day before.

I am not sure whether there was any strict enforcement or official statement about timing. But I believe that guides are responsible to ensure that everyone is safe. If the guides don’t want to take the risk, they will create a lot of fuss. I saw many guides who motivated & helped their climbers. Many guides were helpful & friendly. Not Ramin though. We met a doctor from Queen Elizabeth Hospital who was the last to arrive at Low’s Peak. Her guide make sure she reached the summit. We knew she did that when we met her at the airport before we boarded our plane home.

The most difficult part was the 200m ‘cliff hanger’ style trek…he he he. With nothing can be seen below us, walking one-by-one using the rope on a small trek really scary. That was the trek just before Sayat Sayat.

Alhamdulillah I managed to reach the summit. I didn’t perform well. Stopped many times. I simply didn’t have the energy to move fast. Then I stopped at KM8.5 at about 5:30AM. I prayed Fajr prayer there. The weather was not great. There was still a glimpse of orange colour at the horizon but no sun. I kept on shooting. Took out my tripod for the first time. Did some bracketing. Shooting mostly the sunrise from Donkey Ears Peak & some views of South Peak.

After more than one hour there, I moved slowly to Low Peak.  Firdaus, Zahari, Ruslan, Rosdi, Izzat & Ustaz were already on their way down. I met Husni along the way & together we summit the highest peak. We were so happy being able to reach the peak. Posed for few photos but cloud are coming fast & started to cover summit. At about 8AM, we started to descend. We met the doctor from QE when we were about to leave Low Peak.

Together with Husni, slowly we walked down the mountain, occasionally using the rope provided. When passing Sayat Sayat to the ‘cliff hanger’ route….I realized that it was not as bad as what we thought when coming up. Somehow I didn’t feel the scare of height anymore.

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By 10AM we reached our room & quickly packed our things & went to the rest house at Laban Rata for our breakfast. At 11AM we started our journey to Timpohon Gate. I was tired & the pain slowed me down. I reached the gate only at 4PM.

Kinabalu Challenge – Part 1: I saw, I came, I conquered…and now I am limping.

The very first word I wanna saya here is alhamdulillah! Meaning thanks to almighty Allah for being able to climb Mount Kinabalu to its highest peak, Low’s Peak (at 4095.2m above sea level). Before I carry on, is Kinabalu the highest peak in SEA? Some said, it’s the 5th. Not 1st. You can read this blog. :) Well…if you want, you can quarrel about it…but I don’t want… :)

On Monday’s 17 Jan 2011, 10:45PM, my wife sent both me & my friend, dR Ali to Kolej Matrikulasi Pahang in Gambang. I met all of the team members for the first time except En Zahari whom I have met few days before during a TT (teh-tarik) in Taman Sepakat. Apart from me, dR Ali, En Zahari…..the members were Husni, Ruslan, Izzat, Firdaus, Ustaz (not sure his real name, but we called him Ustaz Mawar eventually…wakakaka) and the cheerful Haziera. We went to LCCT in a van. We reached the airport at about 5AM and we met the rest of the group few hours later. They were Tuan Zaidi (the ex-deputy director for KMPh, who is now the director for KMJ (Tangkak)), Puan Zurina & En Rosdi.

We boarded the AirAsia flight on time & reached KK at noon. We went for lunch & solat before we bought some food for the journey. We stayed at Kinabalu Park, a beautiful hillside resort, which is where Timpohon’s gate located, about 50km from KK. We stayed in Grace’s hostel. I thought the rest of team members knew each other well even before the project, but I was so surprise to know that many of them rarely talk to each other before this. Well, they seemed like they have been good friends for ages, cracking jokes almost all the time!

On day 2, we got up very early in the morning…some even woke up & got ready by 2AM!! Ha ha ha! We went for our breakfast & then straight to the registration. We met our guides, Ramin & Azri for the first time. And immediately went to Timpohon’s gate.

We started trekking at about 9AM. Detail description of Mount Kinabalu expedition are available in many websites already. I’ll put up some photos when I finished uploading them.

Our first destination for that day was Laban Rata, 3272 m above sea leavel, or 6KM from Timpohon’s gate. Average expected time to reached Laban Rata was 7 hours. Along the way, the trek was clean & well maintained. There were altogether 7 shelters on the way to Laban Rata. There was water supply (untreated though) at all shelters.

(Source: Sutera Harbour)

When we started the journey, it was already cloudy & then drizzles at about 12PM. No really heavy downpour though….alhamdulillah.

I travelled using my Deuter Futura 32L with Puleme’s camera insert. I brought my Nikon D3, Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8 lens, Nikkor 105mm f2.8 VR and my carbon fibre Feisol 3442 Tournament’s tripod with a Photoclam’s ballhead. The whole bag weighted 13KG. I used a porter. In fact Azri, one of the guide also served as the porter. The fee was RM8 per KG up to Laban Rata. I think I made a wise decision using a porter to carry the bag!

So I travelled light with two trekking poles & a waist pouch carrying my wallet, phone & Leica D-Lux 4 point & shoot. All the pictures during the journey was shot with D-Lux 4.

The journey was pretty tough actually. Steps and rocks were mind & mental challenging! The shelters really helped a lot. No need to carry a lot of mineral water. One can refill at any shelter. Summit trail is very very clean. Even the toilets were all in good condition. Cleaner than any Indonesian trails I have been. I feel very proud of that!

The last KM was hell for me. It took me almost 90 minutes to complete 1.5KM, below the average of 30-45 minutes per KM before. I eventually reached Laban Rata at 3:01PM. About 6 hours not considering 1 hour wasted when waiting Azri to bring my bag for me to get the raincoat.

The thin air made everything worse. I feel so sleepy, headache & easily tired. The first thing I wanted to do was to get to the bed & sleep. And I did just that. We were given Panar Laban Hut, which as another 100m climb from Laban Rata Resthouse. The weather was wet & so so cold. I took off my rain jacket, bumped into the bed immediately & slept. Later Azri arrived with my bag. I cleaned myself. Skipped the shower (no heater!!) & performed Zuhr & Asr before I went for dinner at 6:30PM. I met Zahari, Ruslan, Firdaus (who arrived at 1PM), Husni, Izzat & Ustaz. En Zaidi, Puan Zurina, Haziera & Rosdi were just arrived. But not dR Ali! I was told that he took pictures along the way, and knowing Ali, I didn’t worry but when I saw the guide in the coffe house & no Ali, I became worried. The guides promised to search for Ali after their meal. They did that I believe at 8PM. At 8:30PM, I was already in my bed when Ali called me. And at about 9PM Ali reached our room. Alhamdulillah.

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We slept early that night. Second part coming soon.

Mount Rinjani Adventure: The report! – Part 2

We spent quite some times up on the rim. I shot at only 2 different spots. It was too cold for me up there. I am not sure how cold the temperature was but I guess diffinitely less than 10C.

There were many people camping up there. I guess not less than 30-40 campers.

The scenery…..as I told many times…..so so beautiful. It worth all the pains & suffers. The roaring of erupting volcano is another great experience.

The Mount Rinjani & the Mount Baru emerged from Segara Anak Lake

The Mount Rinjani & the Mount Baru emerged from Segara Anak Lake


After spending about 3 hours up on the rim, we descended to our campsite at Post 3. We then realized how beautiful the landscape was. The savanna filled with Edelweiss! Subhanallah. I didn’t use my SLR but just my P&S as the trek was rather dangerous for me to hold my 1.5kg D3. It took us only 1 hour to reach Post 3.

The savanna

The savanna

The fog has come

The fog has come

We rested a while at Post 3 & had our ‘brunch’ (breakfast & lunch) there. As usual the local coffee & rice with ‘benang’ (which is instant noodle actually). Frankly speaking, I don’t like the food.

At about 11:45AM, we made a move down the mountain. We reached Post 2 in about 1- 1.5 hours. And rain started to pour down. We waited some times for the rain to stop but when there was no sign of stopping, we just moved ahead. Me, Abah, Pahat, Emran & Nizam (the members with spectacle in the group – we were called “kumpulan kaca mata”) lead the descend. We reached Post Extra in 1 hour. I prayed Zuhur & Asar here. This was when I was separated with Abah & Pahat. They want to pray at the basecamp.

We reached Post 1 in less than 1 hour. And then immediately proceed to Pintu Rimba. We stopped quite a while at Pintu Rimba. Had few bottles of isotonic drinks and the owner of the stall provided us with free bananas and hot coffee! Wow!

I reached Senaru basecamp at about 4:45PM. Slightly under the estimated time to descend, which is 6 hours. I don’t have problem going down especially when there is a porter to carry the load. At the basecamp, Abah was already sleeping & Pahat was cleaning himself. I was a great relief to be able to complete the journey.

Will I go to Rinjani again? Maybe. I am not really eager to repeat the journey as I already have the photos with me. Will I summit to the peak of Rinjani? Maybe…not. :D

By 6:00PM everyone was already at the basecamp. Everyone cleaned up & immediately after Marghrib we travelled to Ikka’s house. We stopped for dinner & the look of satisfaction emerged from everyone’s face!

That night I slept like a baby!