Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mount Kinabalu’s guides seeking alternative sources of income

KUNDASANG: Since the devastating earthquake last 5 June, quite a number of mountain guides or “malim gunung” have opted to seek other sources of income while waiting for Mount Kinabalu to be open to climbers again.

Mohd Zainudin Robet Abdullah is one such mountain guide who now earns a living working at a vegetable wholesaler in Kundasang town.

The 22-year-old told New Sabah Times that he’s quite happy doing something different from mountain guiding since last month.

“In the meantime, I just want to take a break from mountain guiding this year. There are still a lot of things that I cannot forget,” he said when met at the vegetable stall where he is employed.

He was initially concerned about finding another job after the mountain was closed.

“I am thankful to have found this job,” he said and added that he would return to climbing the mountain again next year to allow his thoughts settle after having witnessed so much tragedy and horror.

Memories of the first tremor from the 5.9 magnitude earthquake are still fresh in his mind.

“I was at the peak helping climbers take photographs when the mountain shook. I thought a huge plane had landed on the mountain.

“Then suddenly rocks and boulders came tumbling down and there was so much dust everywhere. We were all terrified!”

Despite their own fears, Zainudin and the other mountain guides tried to calm the climbers and together with his five colleagues, escorted 13 climbers from the peninsula.

“We gathered everyone at the checkpoint and went to look for water. Many were hungry but there was only water to drink,” he said.