Tag Archives: Nikon D3

Operation Yushan

When Remi (or was it Emran??) sms-ed me months ago inviting me & Ali to join their trip to Yushan or Jade Mountain in Taiwan, I was so excited. First time hiking outside Malaysia & Indonesia! I checked my academic calendar & immediately sent my conformation (and only recently realized I saw the time table wrongly!).

So in first week of May, insyaAllah, we will fly to Taipei & climb Yushan on D2.

I studied the trek only recently. We will depart from Tataka Anbu Entrance then walk 1.7 KM to Menglu Pavilion then passing the Entry to Yushan Front Peak after 2.3KM. After White-wood Forest (3002M) we need to walk another 1.8 KM to reach the Great Precipice. Further 1.7 KM hike will bring us to Paiyun Lodge (3402M). But Paiyun is closed for renovation now. Hence we applied permit to go to Yuanfong, located to the south of the Main Peak (the highest peak)! We must reach Paiyun before 2PM, else we need to abandon our adventure. Most people reach Paiyun in 5 hours time. So I suggest that we depart from Tataka as early as possible….maybe even at 5AM. Fajr will be around 4:10AM local time…..so 5AM is a great time to trek. Especially when we know we are slow.

I am not sure which peak the group wanna summit the very next day….

(Map from Creation TW‘s YouTube)

Looking at the route & height I think Yushan is almost similar like Mount Kinabalu. Paiyun is like Laban Rata. But then we need to trek beyond Paiyun and camp at Yuanfong. I was told there is still snow up the mountain and being someone who has no experience with snow…..it scares me!

Here is Jeremy Joslin’s EveryTrail record…

Yushan Trip (Jade Mountain, Taiwan)


EveryTrail – Find hiking trails in California and beyond

I plan to bring only one camera body, well now I only have one after I sold my D300s recently. As for lens, I may just bring one wide angle (either 14-24 or 17-35) and my 85mm. I will bring my Feisol CF tripod & the lighter Photoclam ballhead. For the bag, I may just carry the set inside my Deuter AirContact Pro. I don’t think I want to carry too many bags while hiking.

Wish me luck! Doa for me please….

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.

Ideal bag for outdoor photography

I love photographing beautiful & scenic not-for-usual-tourist kind of places. Been to few jungles & mountains, locally or in Indonesia. Been searching for the perfect bag for ages. I already have a lot of camera bags. All of them are Lowepro. From Nova 4, Off-trail II (sold), Computrekker AW (sold), Inversion 200AW, Computrekker Plus AW, Top-loader 75AW and Primus AW. My favorite at the moment is the Primus but it is not ergonomic & killing my back for a long hiking. For someone with prolapsed disc, this is not good. During the last outdoor adventure up to more than 2000m high Mount Rinjani, I can’t simply carry my own bag, the Primus. I had to rely on the porter to carry all my bags. But I soon discovered than carrying heavier loads with my Deuter Quantum 55-10L, a proper backpack for hiking, seems ‘lighter’ than the Primus. Therefore I believe that a suitable bag matters.

Since then I have been searching for a suitable solutions for such activity. These are few possible solutions:

  1. Use my Deuter Quantum plus Lowepro Toploader (over my chest) – Cons: I find it difficult to descend with huge bag on my chest. It was difficult to see my own step. And the number of lenses able to be carried is limited & I need to use pouches for each lens & put them inside my Quantum. Pro: Easy access to my camera (and one lens) – therefore more picture or else, I will just use my P&S.
  2. Buy Domke inserts & put it into my Deuter Futura 35L. I’ll put the rest of the stuff like cloth, jacket etc on top of the camera. Cons: It will be a nightmare to remove the camera from the bag during the hiking. Meaning less picture from the DSLR. This combo is just meant to carry the camera & lenses from point A to point B.
  3. f-stop bags!! Just found out about this bag & its extraordinary Internal-Camera-Unit (ICU). The ICU serves as paddings for the camera & lenses, and the best thing is that it has special access to all the camera & accessories. However I still need to put down the bag to get the camera. So, I can take out the camera but it won’t be handy. And the major cons is the price! A Tilopa + ICU = USD290. And the courier charge from US to Malaysia using UPS is another USD280!! More pictures of f-stop gears’ products available here.

    (source: http://www.fstopgear.com/now/media/gallery/66-action-shots/139-gerd-riegers-tilopa-setup-20080612)

So for now, I may have to choose Option #1 as I don’t have to spend anymore $$. I just need to descend slowly.

2009-06-13 12-06-04

Me with the toploader when climbing Mount Nuang in Selangor.

Note (June 2010): I have bought more bags including f-stopgear Tilopa which had cost me RM1000 with the internal compartment unit but it is not suitable for deep tropical jungle trekking. Now testing the ThinTank Photo waist bags solution.