May 05, 2013

mt kinabalu: a riceless climb

note: regression (2011)

the moment we arrived at kota kinabalu, we noticed that there's no rice. my hiking buddies and i thought it was ok since everyone was on a diet. unlike our previous travels when all of us gained weight due to gluttony, our diets will be sustained. after we had a malaysian dinner at kota kinabalu, madam wong dropped us at the nearest convenience store en route ranau where we'll stay for the night. since there's no rice, we loaded ourselves with loaves of wheat bread, liters of water, canned tuna, and quick cook meals. 

i was asleep the entire trip that i did not notice that it had rained. i was sleeping too soundly that i didn't notice my travel buddy, also a first timer in malaysia, thought a truck was going hit us and panicked but later realized the roads in malaysia are a "keep right" zone. everything was reversed. after our 2-hour trip, we finally settled in our lodge and slept. 

madam woke woke us up at 05:30 and cooked some of our food for breakfast. she's that thoughtful! ranau was colder than baguio. the bad thing though was only one cubicle has a working heater and the water dropped like a little boy's piss that i had to endure a freezing bath. 

our view from the mountain hostel

at 06:30, our guide, whose name i have forgotten, picked us up from the lodge with his personal vehicle. madam wong wouldn't come in since the malaysian government only allowed travel agents to travel for free if hey bring at least  10 climbers. we were only a group of 4 so she stayed to take care of our other stuff. 

because pinoys need rice... lots of rice

the mesilau - timpohon traverse map

as soon as our guide got our id's (with my name printed wrong having my middle name as my last name), we started climbing up at 09:00. we shared the trail with a lot of koreans and two lady singaporeans. we needed to arrive at pendant hut by 16:00 for the feratta training. if we can't make it by that time, mountain torq will forfeit our slots. so we dashed our way up. it was my mistake of putting mesilau first. i should have had timpohon first so we could enjoy the scenery. we walked non-stop uphills and ran on downhills to cut the time. we only took few pictures along the trail that we missed taking photos of the bonsai garden and the wateralls on 4km. 

we passed by a lot of people who were quite surprised about seeing us running with our full packs. most tourists who climbed kinabalu were not mountaineers. if they were, they had two walking sticks. we amazed the people who have seen us walk with none despite our very heavy packs. when a korean asked where we came from and told them we're from the philippines, he said, "oh! pacquiao! philippine is strong!" however others, the japanese, were pissed off after i, a woman they have mistaken as a japanese too because of my facial features, passed by all of them. i was told later by my japanese best friend that in japanese culture, women should always be 5 steps behind the men. obviously, with a strict itinerary, i can't follow that rule and in no way will i submit to chauvinistic traditions on trail!

one of the resting huts in mesilau
according to our guide, these were dead trees which were struck by lightning. the lightning caused a major forest fire in mesilau

at 11:00, we were way too hungry before lunch but we ate our packed meal of wheat bread with peanut butter jelly and tuna. we thought our meal would suffice when extreme hunger struck me at the mid point. i have no idea if i was stricken by altitude mountain sickness but my buddy and i dropped to the mid point gate entrance out of extreme hunger. form the mesilau-timpohon junction, we could have arrived at pendant hut within 2 hours. however, since we're drop dead hungry, we had to conserve energy. we arrived at the waras hut at 13:00. my other travel buddy went ahead and pushed for pendant hut so he could sign us up. sitting next to us at the entrance near waras hut was another climber who was vomiting because of ams. he signified to me that he wasn't fine so i gave him something to eat. when  his buddies came to the rescue, my buddy and i, still craving for rice, pushed baby steps to our lodge. the clouds which passed us by looked like rice which made my hunger worse. 

after 3 gruelling hours of baby steps and rice cravings, we finally saw pendant hut. at that time, my strength was faltering. just a few steps from pendant hut, my buddy said, "i can't push further! let's eat!" like hungry dogs, we devoured our riceless meal. we did not mind if the distance between us and the lodge door was only 6 steps. we were hungry. and just like the tv commercial, we thought of our food as rice. my other travel buddy, probably settled at the lodge already, dressed up with his climb clothes again hoping to get our stuff to help us ascend fast, was surprised to see us eating at the lodge entrance. 

our view from pendant hut
laban rata
we logged in at 16:15. we were 15 minutes late but the mountain torq guys allowed us to join after knowing that we were only hanging out at the entrance. at 17:00, a group of filipinos came who will also join us in walk the torq. the attendant told us that they'd still allow lessons until 18:00. after changing our clothes and had our rope seminar for tomorrow's ferrata, we had our free dinner at laban rata. the buffet meal doesn't taste that good but you wouldn't mind if you're dangerously hungry. yet, still no rice. we retired at our bunkers at 19:00.

sunrise at the peak

everyone had to wake up at 01:00 to prepare for the summit trek at 02:00. pendant hut served our free lunch of wheat bread, peanut butter, jelly, and tea or coffee. still no rice but we forced ourselves to eat a lot since it will be 3 hours to reach the summit. the wot trainer told us that we have to be at sayat sayat house by 8am to start the ferrata

it was still dark when we left pendant hut but you can see the line of head lamps going towards the summit. there are no trails in the summit as mt kinabalu is basically just a large rock formation. the only guide we had at night was a thick white manila rope which we had to hold on to from time to time when ascending too steep slopes.

a few meters from the summit, you can't push further yet as the place is cramped up by climbers. you have to wait for your turn to take a photo of the summit marker. 

everyone taking turns at the summit markers to take a photo

view of andrew's peak from low's summit
my neighbor and climb buddy, ricky, and the south peak
me and the south peak
me at the 4000 masl marker
st john's peak
km markers
the thick manila rope which guided the climbers to the summit

one of the mountain guides

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