Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mount Kinabalu – Laban Rata (Part 1)

It’s a 6am wake-up because today is the big day, we start climbing Mt Kinabalu! With our packs ready, we departed from our hostel and headed to breakfast to fuel up for the day ahead. We are issued with our park passes which have our group ID number and our names on them.

We meet our mountain guides: James, Edwin and Soppingu who will be looking after us over the next couple of days.

It is a bright sunny day, with no hint of the rain from the previous night. I sigh with relief, but know that this may be short-lived as it usually rains in the afternoon, if the previous few days are anything to go by.

After breakfast, the bus drives our group from the Kinabalu Park Headquarters to Timpohon Gate, the official starting point of the Mt Kinabalu climb. It is a total of 6km to Laban Rata where we will spend the night before attempting the summit the next morning.

6km. Pssh. How hard can that be?

After checking in with our passes, the offical hike starts… by going DOWNHILL. What? We pass a small pond and Carson Falls and the track quickly increases in steepness.

There are some makeshift ‘steps’ that have been created at intervals, but also a lot of stepping up rocks and carefully finding your footing.

Just under 1km we reach the first hut stop where we stop to catch our breaths. I’m thankful I brought my water bladder along in my backpack which meant I never had to take my pack off to take a sip of water.

In hindsight, I felt a very false sense of security thinking I was already 1/6th of the way to our rest stop for the night at Laban Rata.

The huts provide shelter from the elements as well as some information about the elevation, distance to/from the next huts and the local flora and fauna. Moutain Rats scurry about looking for opportune scraps of food.

There are also bins and toilets at the huts. Having warmed up a fair bit, I remove a few layers and immediately feel better.

Over the course of kilometres 2, 3 and 4 we stop in at more huts along the way which are spaced out at random intervals ranging from just over 400m to almost 1km apart. They became a very welcome rest point and marking sign posts along the way gave me a mental boost to keep going.

Throughout the day, I am passed by porters going in both directions. I am struggling with my 6kg pack but these guys are carrying supplies to and from Laban Rata with what seems like superhuman strength.

The huge weights they have on their backs leaves me in awe as they nimbly bounce along the rocky paths. I never once saw a single porter stumble or falter, which is more than I can say for myself.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Mount Kinabalu – Laban Rata (Part 1)