Monday, June 29, 2015

Walk the Torq at Mount Kinabalu

The 6.0 magnitude earthquake that strucked Kota Kinabalu on June 5, 2015 had not only damaged the roads and other structures in the city, but also claimed the lives of climbers including the young students from Singapore and their guides due to falling rocks at Mt. Kinabalu. It also puts four tourists in the spotlight who stripped naked and urinated at the summit six days before the quake. The Sabah natives believed that this angered “Aki“, the mountain protector, and such disrespect to the sacred mountain triggered the strongest earthquake in Malaysia since 1976.

Seeing a shared photo of a climber face down with blood spilled at the metal rungs in the via ferrata trail tainted the good memory of our climb two years ago. My heart crumbled upon seeing the photos of unconscious climbers on what ought to be a safe and controlled climbing environment.

Since 2007, the Mt. Kinabalu has become a major attraction being the world’s highest via ferrata trail on a steep terrain and also the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. One has to take a short training in the Pendant Hut around 4pm the day before summiting Low’s Peak to experience the via ferrata trail. The enthusiastic trainer, Valerian, who discussed to us the basics of the Mountain Torq activity, was sadly among the fatalities.

Below, I am sharing a good memory of our Walk the Torq moments at this grand mountain. Thank you for the unforgettable experience.

Via Ferrata Climb Package

Our 2013 Mt. Kinabalu climb was arranged by Mountain Trails Tours & Travel. It was our first climb outside the Philippines. We had a stroke of luck to get slots for the Walk the Torq route even though we only booked for the regular 2 days & 1 night summit climb package. Abdul told the driver, Rafael, who relayed to us that there are available slots so they upgraded us for the Walk the Torq route for the descent. Adbul of Mountain Trails was responsive to our emails and provided us the needed information for the climb.

With Mt. Kinabalu climb, you will need to secure a slot for Laban Rata or Pendant Hut accomodation at least 2 months before the schedule, especially during the climb peak season from April to June. Unless you want to day-trek to the summit, which is a cheaper option, but with the required cut off time, you have to hike fast.

Rafael, who drove us, was a funny guy, he cracked some jokes while on the road to the Kinabalu Park Headquarter. He waited for us to finish our breakfast and made sure we got our certificates after the climb. Our guide was Rahim, he kept reminding us to take shorter rest periods to make sure that we get on time to join the walk the torq activity. If we missed the training at 4pm, we cannot take the via ferrata the next day. We were joined by two Taiwanese mother and daughter. Megan’s a sweet daughter who had their Kota Kinabalu trip as a gift to her mother.

One of our climb buddies was not satisfied of our packed lunch because it was only a sandwich with a banana, drumstick chicken and a hard boiled egg. There was no rice of which we were used to in every Filipino meal. It was fine with me though, because a heavy lunch might upset my stomach during a long hike. The great thing was, after our via ferrata training around 6pm, we had a fantastic buffet dinner at Laban Rata Restuarant—the best meal so far while staying in KK.

My Preparation

Mountains are my best source of inspiration. It motivates me to stay fit so I can enjoy the trails, the experience and the rewarding view at the top despite the arduous steep terrains and other obstacles such the muddy grounds, slippery boulders, the breathlessness at the higher altitude and the cold weather.

I prepared for our Mt. Kinabalu climb by running thrice a week in the evenings starting two months before the climb. Also, I cut off on my calorie intake by consuming more green veggies and fruits and less meat for my overall health. With that, I dropped 10 pounds. I felt lighter and stronger for the first time during a climb.

On our way up, it was very inspiring seeing a gray-haired man, above 60 years old with his looks, trudging with his trekking pole. I wish I can still trek mountains when I’m that old. He must have really taken good care of himself.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Walk the Torq at Mount Kinabalu