10.08.2008 - 11.08.2008 28 °C
Although I was feeling dizzy looking at the seemingly unlimited stretch of palm oil mountains in the back of his truck when the head of the NGO Organization raced through the winding roads from Sakau with his Toyota truck, we did arrive in Ranau in record time. I found a new guesthouse in this quiet town and watched the Olympic Opening ceremony in the tiny television at the restaurant while enjoying my noodle soup late at night.
The next morning, after failing to negotiate a decent price for the minibus (because the bus driver thought I am Japanese) and waiting for it to get full, I arrived at Kinabalu National Park around 10. The quota for climbing Mt Kinabalu is 198 each day and I was lucky to register and climb on the same day after someone cancel and a bed in the lodge was found for the night.
My guide was a young friendly muslim. We walked 4.5 km from the headquarter office to the main gate before I got a chance to have my breakfast, the lunch bag included in the package. The first few kilometer was gently sloped and I was able to catch up with most other hikers. The last km proved to be a bit more challenging with increasing steepness. I took my time and finally arrived at the rest house restaurant at 3100m (6km) where buffet were served to crowds of hungry climbers. We checked into our lodge and slept early, hoping for a good start early next morning for sunrise.
I slept only for two hours. It might be my anxiety or constant footsteps from people going into the toilet opposite our room. Nevertheless, I unwillingly got dressed in layers of thermals and start climbing with my guide at 2:30am. Going up hundred of stone steps in the cold night is not the most pleasant thing for the legs, but with hikers in front and behind me, I was not about to give up although the climb got rougher by the minutes. We used ropes to pull ourselves up the rock surface in the last km. Since I did not pack any gloves, by this time, my fingers were so cold that they were about to break off from my hands. It was at this point that I truly appreciate the encouragement from my guide who took my hands into his, warm them up and almost pulled me through the steep last 200m to the submit (4095m, 8.7 km).
The view was magnificent at the submit of Mt Kinabalu. Although clouds had dimmed the sunrise, the surrounding peaks and rock surfaces are truly memorizing. It almost looks like the surface of another planet. Everyone took their opportunities for photos. I was overjoyed and really glad that the ascent was over.
After almost 30 minute at the submit, I finally start descending. The smooth rock surfaces prove to be quite easy to go down compared to going up. The peaks now reflected the early sun ray and demands more respect. We arrived at the rest house after almost two hours of descent and had a very much deserved breakfast. Then continued to go down another 6 km back to the main gate during when I had some wonderful conversation with my guide about everything from Muslim to pop culture.
Suddenly the rain started coming down when we are almost back at the headquarter, it is a rain forest after all. My knees and feet needed rest, not wetness. I said goodbye to my wonderful guide. Without him, I would probably still be climbing and cursing somewhere on the trail. It must be the magic of Mt Kinabalu and friendliness of my guide that had made this climb possible.
I braved the rain and waited for the bus outside the entrance of the national park to Kota Kinabalu.