Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Malaysia: Low's Peak of Mount Kinabalu in Sabah (4,095 MASL)

Mount Kinabalu is the rooftop of Borneo and the most prominent peak in Southeast Asia. Words cannot describe how I felt as I stood on Low's Peak, the highest point of Mount Kinabalu at 4,095 meters above sea level. It was a challenge to get up there, an ordeal even. But the view from the top was nothing but breathtaking.

After a previous attempt to reach the summit of Mount Kinabalu last year, I finally conquered the mountain during the Pinoy Mountaineer Mount Kinabalu Expedition 2011. But more than that, I tested my own limits.

This year was extra difficult. Although the weather was expected to be good, the La NiƱa made everything so unpredictable. So on the way up to the Laban Rata Rest House, we had to deal with rain and the resulting slippery and muddy trail. Just like last year, I slowly inched my way up the steep 6-kilometer trail to Laban Rata for 8 grueling hours as we all know I'm not as physically fit as I should be.

That night in Laban Rata, the 30-member expedition was praying for a miracle, that the skies would clear the next day as we made our assault to the summit. Our prayers were answered. We were gifted with a very beautiful morning.

It was another 2.7 kilometers to the summit. Our group left Laban Rata a few minutes before 3 a.m. and nearly missed the cut-off at the Sayat-Sayat Hut. You have to reach the checkpoint at 5 a.m. But thank God we were allowed to continue despite arriving a few minutes late since the weather was relatively good.

Despite feeling weak and having to bear the chilling cold weather, the grandeur of the summit, and a lot of prodding from my friends, helped me inch my way to the top. As promised, I am posting a photo of myself and Gideon Lasco of Pinoy Mountaineer at Low's Peak.

Pinoy Mountaineer has gone a long way since we created it in 2007. It has changed the face and culture of mountaineering in the Philippines and opened the doors even to non-climbers who simply want to have fun and experience our mountains. And we have Gideon to thank for that! The mountains of the Philippines belong to everyone.

I got to enjoy the view from Low's Peak for quite a while. In fact, I had the summit all to myself since me and my guide were the last to make our way down.

As if reminding us that the clear morning was simply a prayer answered, it started to drizzle as we descended from the summit. Then the drizzle turned into a light rain. The rocks started to get really slippery. And there were portions of the trail were I had to hang on to the rope for my dear life as I maneuvered through a steep cliff.

And then, when we thought things were already bad, the sky opened its floodgates and released a torrential downpour that transformed the trail into a cascading stream. So we had to deal with that from the Laban Rata Rest House all the way down to the Timpohon Gate. But no doubt, those few minutes when the heavens opened for us was worth the effort.

Anyway, for more information on Mount Kinabalu, check out Kinabalu Park & trekking up Mount Kinabalu in Sabah. But with the success of this year's climb and to make it easier for everyone who wants to climb Mount Kinabalu, we're organizing the Pinoy Mountaineer Mount Kinabalu Expedition 2012. And as early as now, you can reserve slots by e-mailing expeditions@pinoymountaineer.com.

Thank you to all those who joined the Pinoy Mountaineer Mount Kinabalu Expedition 2011! And thanks to Gideon Lasco, Pam Aquino and Jim Mejia for sharing their photos. For more photos, visit the Ivan About Town Mt. Kinabalu 2011 Facebook album.
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