Saturday, November 22, 2008

mount kinabalu challenge: day 3

morning call from SP. finally it's time to wake up! we jumped out of bed and got ready for our summit attempt. it's STILL raining outside... dang, we really came at a wrong time! we bundled ourselves in our winter jacket, gloves, caps and ponchos, and turned on our headlamps, and off we go!

see that gal at the far left in the yellow jacket and purple cap? that's yours truly lar! keke...

it was really dark outside, and really cold. before we set off, our team leader, HL, told us that we need to walk in single file and to walk together until we reach the sayat-sayat checkpoint. i was placed at the 3rd position, behind J, who was behind our guide. at sayat-sayat, we would then decide if we want to/can proceed to the summit or to turn back.

so 11 of use set out, leaving one behind at gunting lagadan. one of my roommates, T, who suffered from altitude sickness, has decided to forgo the attempt to summit.

after only abt 15 min of trekking in the dark, i was really short of breath. and because there were people following closely behind me, and also HL had asked us to just follow the line and not to overtake, i was very pressured to keep up with J and our guide, so as not to slow everyone down. but the air was really very thin that i couldn't breathe properly! i felt really faint and began to sweat cold sweat and see stars! so i stopped to catch my breath... and everyone else behind me had to stop too! imagine how stressed out i was! not wanting to keep everyone waiting and also not wanting to pass out when we got higher up, i decided that i'll turn back.

along the way down, i kept contemplating if i should turn around again and try another time... but by then, my teammates would have gone quite far ahead and also the thought of passing out at the cliff made me stick to my decision to give up the attempt. so i crawled back into my sleeping bag and continued my sleep when i got back to gunting lagadan.

there came a knock on my room door... as it turned out, my boss also can't stand the thin air and has decided to turn back. he was walking really slowly that the guide (he's at the 2nd last position, with the guide behind him) said to him, "eh, kalau macam ni, takkan sempat nak sampailah" (at this pace, we would never make it in time). so he just turned back!

around 7.00am (did not look at the watch)
woke up to KC's voice. he was the first of my teammates to come back to gunting lagadan. he was talking so loudly, that i can hear his full accounts to my boss from my room, even with the door closed!

anyway, i learnt that KC and J were the first to reach Low's Peak, at abt 6am. and the weather up there was absolutely hellish! the wind was lashing at them like nobody's business and the rain was practically hitting their faces horizontally! some of those wearing disposable ponchos had pieces of their ponchos torn off by the rain and wind!

by then, all my teammates were back at gunting lagadan and the 3 of us (T, boss and i) got the full story from everyone. all 9 of them managed to reach the summit, with 5 of them (KC, J, A, RC and SP's bf) advancing on to Low's Peak (the highest peak of mount kinabalu). the 3 of us listened in a mixture of awe, envy and relief at their stories - awe at their courage in facing the harshness of the situation, envy that they made it and relief that we were not subjected to the harsh weather and difficulties ourselves!

we packed our bags and went down to laban rata for breakfast. again, the buffet line was not that fantastic. but we needed the energy, so no choice lor! have to eat what was dished out in front of us... but my appetite seemed to be better than the previous night, coz i took a 2nd helping of french toast! haha...

time to descend! it's still raining, tho' more to drizzling. but still cold!

one final group photo before we leave this place... see the
thermometer there with the red dial? it shows 11.1 deg C!

the earlier leg of our descent. statistics has shown that most ppl fall down during the descent! so we had to be very careful with our footing, esp with the rocks so wet and slippery.

anyway, the trek down was more torturous compared to the trip up. it was really really difficult! because we're trekking down the whole time, it's very tiring and really put a strain on our knees. luckily N had advised me to bring along a pair of knee guard, so the impact was not that bad. but our legs still felt like jello at the end of the journey!

along the way, we begin to spread out... and after a while, i'm trekking alone again. the journey down seemed longer than up! i kept expecting to see the end of the trail at every corner, but was disappointed every time. and the rain got really heavy! at first, i tried to avoid the puddles so that i don't get my socks wet. but then the trail turned into a mini waterfall as the rain got heavier. so in the end, i just didn't care abt getting wet anymore. i just put my legs one in front of the other methodically, on the rocks, into puddles, down the man-made stairs as if in a trance.

i was so dejected and miserable, that crazy and silly thoughts began to play inside my head. "could there be some secret road up that they've been concealing from us, that they used for ambulances in cases of emergency?" "where would the helicopter land if they found me unconscious among the bushes?" "i wonder what will happen if i just crouch beneath this tree and simply refuse to budge?" "are there indigenous ppl on this mountain? are they peeking at me from behind their hiding place, laughing at me the whole time?" i think other than challenging ourselves physically, this climb is also a test to our mental endurance.

finally, i reached the timpohon gate! i'm the 3rd, after kc and my boss. the feeling? well, utter exhaustion and feeling like wanna die! every tiny movement spells P-A-I-N in capital letter! even when announcing my name and number to the guard at the gate (to be ticked off as arrived), i had to take a breath in between each syllable that came out!

and that's not the end yet! we still had to wait for the rest of the team... so we just sat around, feeling miserable and so exhausted! and because we've stopped moving, our bodies got really cold! even though in the shelter of the timpohon gate, we were reluctant to take off our ponchos, coz it acted as an insulation from the cold wind. but the ponchos were so wet and we were dying to get dry! so can imagine our dilemma...

HL arrived and called our agent to tell him to send a coach for us. by then, A, RC, R and wife have also arrived, so HL told the 7 of us to go on ahead to the kinabalu park where our lunch were waiting for us. actually the buffet lunch is from 12.oopm - 4.00pm, so she was worried they would not wait for us. so off we went, leaving HL to wait for the rest.

lunch! we were famished! but all of us attacked the soup first. ah, how good it felt to have something hot in our stomach! the buffet line here was much better than up in laban rata... but we didn't eat much, due to over-fatigue. all we wanted is to get warm and get dry!

HL and the rest of the team arrived at the balsam cafe at kinabalu park. by then, they have closed the buffet line, but i've asked them to pack up the food for the 5 of my teammates. so while they ate, the rest of us went to claim our backpacks from the potters' station and also our stored luggage at the concierge.

departed from kinabalu park to kk town... it's a 2 hour journey, and we slept all the way. i've not had the chance to change into dry clothes, so i had to shiver in the van for 2 whole hours, even with the air-cond turned off!

arrived at Marina Court, an apartment-style accommodation by the sea. we've booked 2 units, 6 to an apartment. after the basic guesthouse of Fairy Garden and the icky lodging of Gunting Lagadan, this is 5 star, baby! :)

and ooooh, my hot shower that night felt like heaven! i nearly didn't want to come out from the bathroom! hehehe...

as J's and T's flight was at 4am the next morning, they've decided not to join us for dinner, but to stay at the apartment to pack-up and rest. so the remaining 10 of us walked over to a seafood restaurant nearby, about 10 minutes' walk away. by now, we were beginning to feel the full effects of our adventure. normal walking were still ok, but when we need to sit down, get up from the sitting position, or lift our legs to step over a boulder, it's pure torture!

we deserved the freshest seafood after all our hard work!

after we've all had our fill, it's time to walk back to our apartment. some time before that, it had began to rain again, after a respite of about 2 hours +. when it's time to go, KC announced that he's wearing his last dry t-shirt and there's no way he's going to walk back in the rain (even though we had umbrellas). and a few of my teammates were also groaning at their aching legs... so A went out to negotiate with a taxi driver, who agreed to take us at RM2/person. so 5 of my teammates (RC, KC, A, and R and wife) squeezed into that taxi, leaving the other 5 of us to walk back in the rain. the taxi driver must be laughing in his heart the whole way... RM10 for a drive of less than 3 minutes!

no, we did not party or meet up to chit-chat after dinner. once we got back to our apartment, we just konked out from exhaustion.

read also:
1) mount kinabalu challenge: day 2
2) mount kinabalu challenge: day 1
3) bestest friend in the world!
4) mount kinabalu challenge: failed
5) updates and such...
6) mount kinabalu challenge