I have a night of broken sleep. Not only is it noisy, but apparently sleeping at altitude is difficult anyway. I am awake when Aldrin’s alarm goes off at 2am and Laban Rata is already abuzz with excited climbers.
A coffee and a small bowl of cereal is all I can stomach at this early hour and we make our final preparations for the summit. We set off at 3am and it is cold and dark outside, but thankfully, not raining. There is a steady stream of people heading up to the summit despite the early hour. Everyone has the same idea as we do to see the sunrise at the summit of Low’s Peak, Mount Kinabalu.
The Low’s Peak summit is 2.8km away from Laban Rata and 8.7km from Timpohon Gate where we started yesterday. the climb starts off with a series of steep man-made steps, interspersed with rocky sections. The sections become more rock and less steps as we near the rock face. Because it is still dark out, we see by the light of headlamps. A trail of lights (and James) show us the way.
The Panar Laban rock face is traversed by hanging onto ropes cabled to the side of the cliff. We don’t realise it, but the other side from the rope is an almost straight sheer drop off the cliff. Darkness obscures this fact though so we don’t even know it until the climb back down.
Shuffling along the mountain and pulling myself up the side of the mountain was SO much fun. There were frequent stops at people either tried to work out how to get up the mountain or froze in terror at the ridiculous predicament they had found themselves in.
As I snaked up the mountain, everything got even steeper and the low oxygen environment had me breathing hard and audibly. Just after the 7km mark is the check point where we have to show our passes. If you forget your pass, you will be asked to turn back.
The terrain becomes more even, but is still very steep. I find myself having to stop frequently after what only seems like a few shuffling steps to catch my breathe. The low oxygen environment means everyone is doing the same thing as me though.
I pass several people who appear to be succombing to altitude sickness and feel sorry for a girl I pass who is violently throwing up. Unfortunately, the only cure for her will be to go down to a lower altitude.
By this point, I can see the summit, but it is deceptive as it is still over a kilometre away. After what feels like an age, I finally spot the 8km sign post.
It is slow going up the mountain, but I finally arrive at the base of the summit as the sky is beginning to lighten up. The climb up to the summit is tricky but I finally scramble along and pull myself up to reach the top. I find myself a rock and sit down with a huge sigh. It is 6am.
Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Mount Kinabalu – Low’s Peak Summit (Part 2).