Wednesday, May 27, 2015

‘I can’t believe I just did that’ - Aussie climbs Mt Kinabalu in Borneo

TACKLING the highest mountain in South-East Asia is difficult and challenging but you don’t have to be an experienced climber to do it.

Mt Kinabalu in Sabah, Borneo, towers 4095 metres above sea level. Its summit plateau is made up of sloping granite slabs and the climb, while not technically difficult, is a relentless upward slog.

Aussie Melissa Findley, 26, from the Gold Coast recently completed the climb and despite a fear of heights and a group bout of gastro, she says it was so beautiful it was almost overwhelming.

“The landscape is beautiful. You walk through lush, green, dense rainforest. You’ll come across swinging bridges, walk on stone paths and gaze at waterfalls. At one point we were walking across a bridge and the clouds enveloped us, it was magical! I felt like I had to stop every moment to take a photo. Every corner we turned was more beautiful than the next,” she said.

Unlike any other mountain on Earth, Mt Kinabalu is twice as high as its Crocker Range neighbour and has a summit made up of huge granite spires. Daunting to look at, the drawcard for most climbers is the reward at the top — a sunrise that is thought to be one of the most beautiful in the world.

Completing the climb with Geckos Adventures, Melissa endured an eight hour hike on day one before a night’s recuperation at a rest house on the hill. From there it was a 2am start to ensure climbers reached the sunrise at the summit.

“This was the most difficult part because it’s pitch-black and you are literally pulling yourself up a rope at times without seeing much at all! I looked around a few times and just saw this magical line of headlights from people climbing around me,” she said.

Mt Kinabalu and the surrounding areas are one of the most important biological sites in the world and is protected as a World Heritage Site. Unique flora and fauna as well as a chance to spot the famous Sabah Orangutans makes it a rare eco experience.