Saturday, December 26, 2015

Borneo: Climbing Mount Kinabalu

A couple of months ago, when I was first planning my trip to Singapore and Malaysia, my friend Jade asked me if I wanted to climb Mount Kinabalu with her. After some consideration, I thought 'The tallest mountain in Southeast Asia? Why not?'
The mountain from the Park check-in.
So it goes. Christmas 2015. No regrets, but man, was it hard.
We were so positive and excited at the start.
In order to climb the mountain, you need to book trough the mountain's website because you must climb with a guide and they only allow a certain number of permits a day. There are two main options for the climb: 3 days/2 nights or 2 days /1 night. We went with the latter, slightly  cheaper option.

This meant we had about 6k up to the lodge the first day and then another 3k up to the summit before heading back down the next day. We were lucky to have really good weather. It only rained a bit around lunch on the way up. Considering it's a rain forest, that wasn't too bad. ㅎㅎ. The clouds moved in really fast though. We arrived at one lookout and had a stunning view of the mountain. But then in the time it took Jade to grab her camera, it had disappeared.
My lucky shot between cloud coverage.
Including our lunch break any other resting stops it took us about 4.5 hours to get to the rest point on Christmas Eve. We were exhausted but feeling accomplished.  So naturally, we got out the Christmas Tree. Jade insisted we bring it up the mountain.
Jade and I each with the tree. 
She also brought the hats.

It was only 14h00 and dinner didn't start until 16h30 so we spent the afternoon talking to other trekkers and playing cards. There were other Canadians, some people from the UK, Finland, and the US. A couple groups from Sweden, a Dutch family from the Philippines, and a Korean couple to name a few. It was a lot of fun meeting everyone and I almost didn't want to sleep to further enjoy their company, but morning was coming quickly.


Is that my alarm? Did I even sleep?

Feeling a bit nauseous, I don't really want to eat breakfast. Is this a bit of altitude sickness?

Headlamp check. Time to go. It's dark and cold and there are so many stairs. I hate stairs.

Time unknown. Maybe 3h30... 4h00?
Something worse than stairs: rope. Stairs please come back. After scaling with the rope, we are gasping.  Our guide also starts to tell us we're going too fast and that we should slow down. Fast? Ha. I feel like a turtle.

We were too quick. There are only another 100 or so meters to the top but the sun doesn't rise for an hour. The wind tries to tear us from the mountain. We huddle together next to a large rock and sing Christmas songs to keep us warm.

Toes and fingers are so cold. I'm shivering violently and wishing I was back at lodge. Then guide tells us we can start going again. Back into the wind we go.

Wait for it...
Shabam! The sun rising between a couple of the peaks.
Okay that's good. Time to go. Time to somehow go back down what we struggled up. It looks so much different in the sunlight. Stunning. Inspiring. Deadly.
When clouds are like the creamy design on a mug of coffee...
Somehow arrived back at the lodge. That was hard. And we still have 6k to go. But first, second breakfast.

We leave with the Dutch family and our new UK friend. Jade is in more pain than I, but we push through. Comaderie prevails. Were there this many stairs on the way up? Each step is jarring. Oh! Don't forget to wish Merry Christmas to everyone we pass!

Huzzah! We finished. Can we sleep yet?


Was it worth it?

Love and Hugs.

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