If I had to start from the beginning, this adventure recount will never finish because there is so much to tell. Let's just begin by saying I've always wanted to conquer Kinabalu Summit and I have been saying that for ages... but between the financial meltdown, the emotional semi-breakdown, and the disappointment of having the plans continuously ruined years back, it kind of felt like one wish-list slowly going down the drain and me losing the heart to ever do it. Until my boss -- bless his heart -- invited and might I say also add pre-arranged for him and me to be included in an expedition organised by our Sabahan counterparts. He has been noting that few FB status I keep putting up about wanting to climb the mountain but having no one to do it with, and so here I go thanking him virtually for not giving me any chance or time to back out of the deal. Knowing me, thinking too much about it will result in me not going ever. And knowing my boss, giving it out as an order will ensure that I agree and therefore go. Besides, it was CHEAP!
The whole 20-strong team... can spot me?
Too wordy for an introduction? Brace yourself.
That was one heck of an adventure! Considering that I didn't do any proper training (like climbing, hiking the smaller bukit etc) beforehand, and me not exactly in tip-top condition with the extra curves recently gained, I would have to say I did very well for myself. Very well indeed. My training consisted of a whole 2 months of evening after-work jogs (only when it didn't rain), weekend jogathon with the nieces, and constant stairs climbing routine. And breathing exercise, kinda like that pre-labour breathing method.
Impressively reliable brand... last minute Adidas
My other time were spent getting the gears ready... and boy they were all new! Hiking shoes, hiking bag, headlamp, gloves, windbreaker, and band aids. The only items I recycled from the previous botched up climbing plan 4 years ago was a snow cap, a pair of cargo pants, and a pair of sports bra.
See? We're good to go! The rest were all emotional readiness and some mighty prayers to help me through the whole trip.
My guide weighing my bag... all 6kg of it...RM8 per kg one way
It was an 8.7km distance climb all the way up, with a height of 4095.2 metre above sea level, and a temperature of 0 degree and below. It was breezy all the way, sunny at some points, but the weather was perfect, clear skies all around, and not a spot of rain. Halleluyah! The mountain used to be higher, but recent survey by the responsible agencies noted that the mountain is lower and slowly depleting. Check your recent Climbing Certificates the last 3-4 years to see what the height was then.
Here, chronicling every kilometer I stepped foot on:
The boss insisted I modelled at every km i conquered...and ...
7km onwards was scaled at pre-dawn...
The first 6km up to Laban Rata was a breeze. I was the first four from my group to arrive at Laban Rata, where we would be staying the night before the dawn climb. Wait... Let me rephrase that. It wasn't really a breeze walk per se... there was some instance where I kept stopping to catch my breath and sometimes used every opportunity to look for an excuse to stop. Oh did I mention we hired a porter to carry our stuffs? That probably explained the 'breeze walk'.
Chilling out with the two regional bosses at Laban Rata ...
And part of the reason was because there were mobile phone coverage all the way up! Haha... talk about constant communication with the one who holds your affection, that's enough distraction to actually forget your cramp muscles and out-of-breathness!
Sigh... what would we do without technology? Can you spot me?
I shall not brag too soon because by the second part, all 2.7km more to the Summit, I almost cried. The early morning climb at 2.30am was something I was told over and over again to get mentally ready for, but I didn't take it seriously until I found out why. First of all, I couldn't get any sleep prior to that, what's with the cold and the tired muscles that just screamed for attention. It was so cold up there where we stayed (Gunting Laganan, I think it was called) that all I could do was wash my face and gurgle instead of brushing my teeth. Nobody even showered I bet.
My guide, Joe, accompanying me while I took a breather coming down...
Secondly, I slept on the top bunk of the hostel that I shared with my boss and the other boss (yes, it's sharing basis, so if you're particular about sharing rooms with males, don't bother. People do it all the time up here.) I dont sleep on the top bunk all that well... I kept getting a feeling that I'm so high I might fall down. Plus, my roommate below me kept twisting and fidgeting, and the tremor... oh well.
And thirdly, a normal body is conditioned to be resting and sleeping at 2.30am, not scaling the summit! So imagine exercising that early, your body would be revolting and your mind would be screaming mutiny! Of course you're bound to suffer some sort of crazy emotional crap meltdown telling you that you can't do it. I half cried and almost gave up. We were walking in pitch darkness in tandem, with only our individual headlamps as guide. Steep all the way. I had running nose although I didn't have flu. My fingers were numb from the cold, so were my nose and tongue.
It was a miracle of prayers that I managed to reach the Summit by sunrise and by 7am sharp, I touched the Peak of Mount Kinabalu. Wohoooo!
Watching the awesome sunrise unfolding before my eyes ...
And you know what the biggest challenge was? GOING DOWN THE MOUNTAIN... I said I almost cried and survived climbing up. Well, this is the part where I should say I almost weep and broke my knees climbing down! It was the worth sort of little hell... because although it was fast and it wasn't tiring at all, but it was taking a horrible toll on the feet, the leg muscles, the knees, the joints, and especially the toes. Every time I saw stairs I cringed. The gaps between the steps were big and high -- funny I didn't notice them when I was climbing up -- sometimes I braced myself jumping down. And each time I saw flat land ahead, I whooped with uncontainable joy. It was really painful to watch. Hahaha.
"Oh God, THAT's what I've been climbing this early morning??"
There were some ahmois behind me who kept saying "I hate stairs, I hate stairs. If I see another stairs, I will scream!" Me on the other hand, kept thinking, "Oh God I'm developing my Beyonce legs!" Thank God for my porter and my guide (that we hired individually) were always beside me to cheer me on. Cute some more those two, small-sized and strong, and kept me distracted with small talks and conversation on telecommunication towers and community broadband centres and such. Apparently that little climb was nothing to them.
And after reaching ground level, I was awarded a Colored Certificate! (Which I cant show you here) as proof of my endeavor.
An hour later and for the next few days, I suffered facial skin breakout, nose skin exfoliating, sunburns, a pair of crampy legs, and walking around Kota Kinabalu town like an 80-year-old woman on crutches. I bet she -- whoever she is -- could walk faster than me up and down the stairs.
And so... Summing it up! There you have it... One Wish List checked off!
One for the album! Boss and I braved the cold weather to show off our office jersey...
NEXT WISH LISH COMING UP!
P/s: picture of Blackberry and Sony Digicam quality only. And in random order.