Sunday, 3 February 2013

High altitude at Mt Kinabalu

We came, we didn't see.... but we did conquer Mt Kinabalu.

No visibility
Definitely British with a Daily Mail poncho
Okay I'll explain, as we wound our way up towards Mt Kinabalu from Kota Kinabalu in a mini bus, the mists descended over the roads and the clouds obliterated the sky. Even at the foot of the mountain we had no idea what we were to climb the following day. At 1600 metres above sea level, base camp was already one of the highest places we've rested our heads and so after some hearty carb loading and a decent sleep we started up this mystery mountain with a guide.

Rain forest
Whilst we had anticipated walking through rain forest to the top we were not pleased to find that it rained heavily for the majority of our four hour ascent to middle base. The terrain was continuous uphill walking over steep steps and rocky paths through rain forest and alpine forest as the torrential rain tumbled down the paths like a waterfall. Despite our trendy ponchos, we were soaked from head to boots and with legs burning and hearts thumping so hard we thought they might explode from our chests, we were not sure that this was fun.

Laban Rata hut
The rest house, Laban Rata, is a necessary overnight stop to acclimatise you to the altitude. It sits, lonely on the mountain at 3000 metres and was camp for another night. This time sleep was not so restful as we were sharing a dorm with a snoring couple, suffering slightly from altitude sickness and had to awake at the ungodly hour of 2am in order to breakfast and then set off for the summit at 3am. Of course, it was pitch black because we were trying to get to the top to see the sun rise but at least the rain had cleared and we were in for a dry walking day. A funny sight seeing dozens of people climbing in the dark with only a head torch to show the way. Whilst the three hours it took us to climb the final 1000 metres was less challenging in the gradient and the terrain of granite rock faces and boulders was a bit easier on the knees, the thinning of the air, freezing temperatures and effects of the altitude made it just as difficult.

Ropes to help you up
Waiting for sunrise
4090 metres is seriously high
We reached the summit of 4090 metres with 20 minutes to spare, not ideal to wait in these conditions so as soon as the sun rose, we dashed back to middle camp for another breakfast.


Clouds below us
Thinking the worst was behind us, we were surprised to find that the true torture came when we spent a further four hours getting back to base camp with shuddering knees, and aching muscles. As we crossed the finishing line, Rob put down his walking sticks, had a little cry and claimed the descent was more painful than the marathon. But of course..... another amazing achievement and fantastic experience.

My face says it all in that moment

1 comment:

  1. Once again you have really challenged yourselves but reached the top - if you'll pardon the pun. What wonderful experiences to look back on when you're as old as me (although after that climb you probably felt as old as me). The orangutans will be a welcome rest after climbing mountains.
    Love Marlene