Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Travelling Geek - Climbing Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu

In the northern state of Sabah, in Malaysian Borneo, lies a range of mountains, accessible to many tourists. A 8km climb from base camp to the summit, climbed over 2 days. 60 year old Japanese women climb it, I was told, you’ll be fine!

This neglected to consider, I’d been travelling for nearly 3 months, and my fitness was not at its best, I had not completed a shred of exercise or monitored the amount of delicious new foods. Nonetheless, I agreed.

We spent some time in Kuala Lumpur purchasing a rucksack suitable for climbing with 2 days worth of clothes, including, almost laughably in KL, warm items. Finding a shop selling woolly hats and gloves in the tropics, is a small mission in itself.

We also purchased some walking shoes, as our packing when we left the UK had anticipated climbing any mountains (more lying on the beach and visiting museums!)

At base camp you see all the returning climbers, joyous from their completed trip and clearly sweating, dirty and tired. You locate your bed for the  night, and eat some carbs from the buffet.

There was very little to do in the evening, it had started to get a little chilly, so we prepared our bags, and got some shut eye.

The morning, is more carb loading, and not too much tea (never know where the next toilet might be, although it turned out there were plenty along the route). We met our guide. These are part of the team of super heroes who keep the mountain going for tourists.

Every small group must have a guide, and these guys walk up and down the mountain two of three times a week. There is also an incredible team of porters, who carry the supplies up to the over-night stop. Everything for the buildings was carried up by men, building materials, mattresses, beds, cooking facilities.

These guys are unbelievable; strong and fit; every time we were overtaken by a porter (a lot!) I felt a little ashamed of my struggle.

The first day is 6kms, starting from the tropical forest, climbing past a mini-waterfall, and then up to a rugged plateau where the cabins sit, just above the clouds on the day we were there.

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