This photo was taken about halfway through our climb. You can see that there's less vegetation because of the altitude.
We started to climb at about 9.30am and it nearly killed me within the first kilometre! The steps were as high as my knees! Added to that, my backpack must have weighed at least 7 kg! And because I thought it would be cold (it will get colder higher up in the mountain), I wore my thermal underwear, only to find myself sweating away profusely as I huffed and puffed my way up. Some parts were relatively easy (by this, I mean the ground was fairly flat) and other parts were tougher (when I couldn't find any cracks to put my feet or the steps were really high). During these tough moments, I would tell hubby in my grumpiest voice: "I'm not doing any more mountain climbing!"
But despite my ranting and ravings, the scenery was really, really beautiful, especially when you looked down and beyond and all you see are trees and flowers, and all you hear are the birds and the crickets. I only wished I was fitter and could have enjoyed all these more.
We could see all the other mountains nearby. It was truely a beautiful sight.
I must have irritated the guide no end with my most frequently asked question: "How far more to go?"
Along the way, we met groups who were either going up or coming down. Besides the Caucasians, the Asians were mainly from Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and of course Malaysia. Basically people from countries where mountain/ hill climbing is the norm. Strangely though, there were no handsome young hunks!!! Where were they? I thought I would be able to meet some handsome young men but all those I met were rather elderly, unless you are interested in young teenagers. (Whoops! hubby is going to kill me for this! hehe!)
Laban Rata...one of the only two accomodation at the top. Not your usual resort...
I was never happier when I finally saw Laban Rata, our stop for the night, and if I have the energy, I would have done a little dance. As it was, I could just about drag myself into the hall. By now, it was cold as Laban Rata was 3,353m high. It was about 4.30pm and we've been walking for the last 7 hours. Really all I want to do was to have a cup of tea and a shower.
Well, the tea is not a problem but the shower.... was a slight problem
Because of the dry season, they had run out of water, so they had to pump more water up from down below. So no water till about 7pm and no hot water either. Also, only two bathrooms will be opened, to be shared amongst all the 100 or so guests, both male and female... But the weather was so cold and the water even colder that nobody took their time in the shower. For me, I was out within 10 mins. Ok, I was probably not very clean, but then neither were all the other 90+ people. Nobody is going to bother.
To compensate for the lack of water heater, they had the room heated up and boy, it was really heated up. It was like going from the freezer (after the shower) to the boiling pot (the room). Oh, forgot to say that that they are all dorms (except for 2 VIP rooms which have already been booked). It was 6 people to a room. I've not slept in a dorm for a long, long time. Luckily for us, there was only one other person in our room, which we called the jolly green man, as he was a very big size guy wearing a green t-shirt. Whilst both of us were having a migraine coping with the heat, he had covered himself up completely with a blanket and gone off to bed by 7.30pm. Amazing!
Now that I've done all the complaining, hehe, I can quite safely say that the view up there at Laban Rata is beyond description. Just look at the photo.
Side note 2: we had bought some beer back during our night stay at Kinabalu Park but could not finish them, so we lugged two cans of Tiger (or rather hubby did) up to the mountain and we were determined not to bring them down with us. We must have looked like two alcoholics to the other guests, who were basically having a cup of very safe tea or coffee.
We had our beer after our shower and were in bed by 9pm. We were supposed to set off for the summit at 2.30am, so that means we will have to be up by 1.30am, with about 4 and 1/2 hours of sleep. But it was so hot and stuffy in the room that both of us couldn't really sleep and were up by 1am and went down to the hall for a breath of fresh air. Actually by then, quite a lot of people were already up and about. Considering that there were about 100 of us, sharing 2 bathrooms and 4 toilets, all of us were determined to beat the queue.
By 2.30am, we were all wrapped up in our winter wear and armed with our camera, binoculars, water and a torchlight, we met our guide and set off, together with almost everyone. It would be another 1km to the last control station and from there, 1.7km to the summit. To catch the sunrise, we have to be there by 6am.
It was the hardest part of the whole journey.
Not only was I tired with the 7 hours of hard trekking the day before, I was doing the toughest 1km trek in near pitch darkness. A few gave up along the way. At one part, there was nothing to hold on to except the rope. It was pretty scary when all you have is this little torchlight and you are trying to see where to put your next step, knowing full well that if you missed your step, you would be rolling down the mountain. Ok, before I frighten off everyone, it's actually not so bad when it's daylight but when you are tired, hungry and it's dark... every fear is magnified 100 times.
By 5am, I had reached the last control check point- Sayat Sayat Hut. This was at 3,668.1m and I have been climbing for more than 2 hours. I just couldn't go on anymore. It will probably be one of my few regrets in life...but I told hubby to carry on without me. I'll wait for him at the hut, where there were 3 other girls huddling together.
The hut was really very rundown and it had a musty smell about it. It was also cold but I was too dead tired to care anymore. I fell asleep only to wake up an hour later to find my fingers frozen cold (despite wearing thick gloves). I am definitely not suited to the cold climate!
I could see sunrays shining through the windows. Hurray!!!! Dawn at last! I wonder where hubby was and if he made it to the summit in time....