Sunday, September 17, 2017

Special moments on top of Mount Kinabalu

CONQUERING Mount Kinabalu together was not part of Karen Ping Paren and hubby Desmond Ong’s dream list when they tied the knot on Sept 9, 2006.

Both from Miri had climbed Malaysia’s highest mountain in Sabah before but not as a couple – until National Day this year.

Karen, 36, an information technology officer with Curtin Malaysia first climbed Mount Kinabalu in 2000 during her university expedition; while Desmond, 40, a contracting and procurement manager with Sarawak Shell, has done it with friends twice before – in 2003 and 2010.

Their dream of conquering the iconic peak together came true on Aug 31, 2017. In the wee hours of the morning on that day, the couple made their ascent along with Desmond’s elder brother, Christopher, 41, and mountain guide Mohammad Aidil.

Karen told thesundaypost the climb was a real test of grit, especially after the trails were badly affected by the 6.0 magnitude tremor that took 18 lives – including four mountain guides – on June 5, 2015.

Proposal and preparations

Karen said a few months back, she asked Desmond whether he wanted to climb Mount Kinabalu for the third time – but the first with her – to celebrate their 11th wedding anniversary, and he said yes.

Desmond then invited Christopher who loves adventures, two weeks before the climb and he too said yes despite not being mentally and physically prepared and having no experience scaling the country’s highest mountain.

Regardless, their idea was also to prove that with a strong mindset and a good Malaysian-style breakfast, they could make it to the top.

Both Desmond and Christopher were, in fact, physically fit for the climb – except Karen.

“I trained for two months, going for the Canada Hill or Lereng Bukit Staircase Challenge, weekly hiking at Canada Hill, workouts at Core Reactor PT Studio Miri and joining 5km to 10km marathons in Miri.

“Despite my preparations, strict dieting and previous climbing experience, it was a very tough trek up and I almost gave up half way. But in the end, I’m proud we were able to create a special moment by planting the Malaysian flag at the Low’s Peak, the summit of Mount Kinabalu (4,095 metres),” she beamed.

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