Saturday, April 21, 2012

Conquering Kinabalu

So... Blogger has changed their layout for their dashboard. The blogs themselves look pretty intact so those of you who just read blogs won't notice.  I feel so... sterilized.  Really.  It looks like some kind of sterilized menu.  Barely any color -- though I do like the orange accents.  But, it is neater.  So that's a plus.  Here's a picture attached.


So... It has been literally months since I last updated.  Good lord.  Anyway, in brief I climbed up Kinabalu in the middle of my semester, failed Mechanics & Heat -- climbing Kinabalu had nothing to do with it, honest --, finished my semester break & started my 4th semester.  Oh, & I'm going to be doing a triathlon in July.

Mount Kinabalu was an amazing adventure.  Outdoorsman/woman or not, you MUST try it.  The second morning as you make the ascent to the summit at 0200 hours is one of the most magical parts.  It's so punishing because you're exhausted but the view is so magnificent.  Unhindered view of the starry night.  All you have to do is look back.  You're so high up you almost feel like you're among the stars.  The climb up is no less amazing, especially if you take Mesilau instead of Timpohon.  The change in altitudes, micro-climate, as well as flora is something to behold.  My favorite part is right after a particularly gruelling set of stairs.  You can literally feel yourself ascend from tropical mountainous rainforest to something no short of a garden of willow-like trees.  By this point, you are already in the clouds so at times, you will be engulfed in clouds.  It was always just dense enough to create the sense that you've entered a completely different, more mystical world.  It's just so poetic.

Descending through Timpohon is no less fun.  It is slightly better serviced and less scenic but you do feel the transition in flora better.  Making it back to Timpohon Gate is so rewarding after the tough trek.  Mesilau to Laban Rata -- the halfway point before attempting the summit -- took us eight hours.  The night in Waras Hut at Laban Rata was not easy.  It was very cold, the water was literally numbingly cold & there was no heating.  Not for the water, nor for the room.  Somehow, I slept soundly from 1945 to 0130 when I awoke to get ready.  That sleep however cost me as my legs were hurting to the bone the next day.  I attribute this to the fact that once the you go into R.E.M sleep -- Rapid Eye Movement -- your body & brain start repairing itself.  Being extremely exhausted & not accustomed to the exertion of the previous day, my body needed extra rest but I didn't get it so my body couldn't 'complete repairs' so to speak.

For those interested to attempt Kinabalu, I have some pointers for you.

  1. Make sure you are fit.  This will not only determine whether you'll make it on time for dinner at Laban Rata -- dinner ends at 1900 by the way -- but it will also determine whether you can conquer Kinabalu & enjoy it.  I would say at the very minimum you need to be of average fitness.
  2. Shave those pounds! Not your body weight but the things you bring up.  Forget the shaver & eau de toilette for the gents, & perfume for the ladies.  Bring bare necessities.  A porter will cost you RM80 per 10kg but I find being able to carry most of your things up & down more rewarding.  Otherwise you can carry a shit ton of things, get the porter(s) to carry everything as you speed up & down the mountain.  Where's the fulfillment in that, I say.
  3. As the popular saying goes; "take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints."  I take this to heart.  There are garbage cans along the way at rest huts where you can throw away your food wrappers.  If you finish your food on route, stuff'em in your pockets. That's what my whole family did.  Imagine finding a skittles wrapper your house guest dumped halfway up the stairs to your house.  Bothering isn't it?  Same concept.  Don't be a litter bug.  No one likes a litter bug.
Here the pictures from Kinablu in case you wanted to see them. :) I guess that's all for now.  I'll do my very best to keep y'all updated on my triathlon in July.