Climbing Mount Kinabalu

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  • Today, my friend Will and I began a two day trek up Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Borneo’s Crocker Range and, at 4,095 metres (13,435 ft), the 20th highest mountain in the world (by topographic prominence) ahead of Mount Rainier and K2.

    I’m not going to try and paint a pretty picture here, in the thick equatorial humidity it was a gruelling trek that began taking a hard physical toll on me very quickly indeed. The track is rocky, slippery in places, steep and uphill all the way. It’s made harder still by the fact that the air begins to thin as you reach higher altitude. Within just a few minutes of beginning the two day trek I was panting like a dog who had just spent an hour playing fetch. My usual chatty demeanor was silenced as I simply looked at the ground taking slow and deliberate steps like some monk on a spiritual quest. Only this was no journey of meditation, it was a five and a half hour sweaty and generally unpleasant ordeal.

    At the end the first day we reached the Laban Rata Resthouse and it’s from here that today’s picture is taken. Looking out across a blanket of clouds at 3,270 metres (10,730 ft) we’re still a two kilometre trek from the summit, but thankfully this is where todays trek ends and we’re able to enjoy some rest and a good meal. I’m not going to pretend I had a moment of contemplation while looking out across these clouds. I was thoroughly exhausted and pretty much just took my camera out of my pocket at pointed it in the general direction of the view then took the picture before going inside to find a drink and a comfortable chair.

    We’ll be getting an early night tonight in a small unheated dorm room with other climbers. At this altitude it’s cold and it promises to be even colder and possibly raining when we awake at 2am ahead of our final 825 meter (2705 ft) climb to reach the summit for sunrise.

    I’m told that I’ll look back on this with a sense of achievement. Right now all I know is that my appreciation for trains and helicopters has been very much sharpened today.

  • 11 comments on “Climbing Mount Kinabalu

    1. ohhh nooo! no moment of contemplation!! You should have enjoyed the view a bit longer after all this hard work: 5,5 hours climb!!!
      Anyway congrats for climbing so high already :)!

    2. I’ll never forget my climb . . I even ‘practised’ on the hills around . . . My legs became like jelly . . . . . but I did manage to get a most majestic view. I’ll send it on one day!

      • Yes, Will really struggled going down. He has dramatically limited mobility for days. I don’t know why, but I was fine. I’m still bummed that I had to turn back from making the summit though, despite the fact that there was zero visibility up there at the time.

        • Having thought about this, it may have been due to the 10KG pack I was carrying plus I did an additional 6km going to the summit and back, then little rest. On that last day I did 11km, 8 of them downhill. It may have also been the running.

          • LOL. Dude, are you still thinking about this? That’s hilarious. Your additional 2k climb to the top (don’t forget I got to 1k of the summit) wasn’t the straw that broke the camels back. And the little run you had there at the end wasn’t the issue either because you were already telling us you were experiencing pain.

            Face facts mate, I just faired better than you in the end for reasons that will forever remain a mystery I suppose. Seriously, don’t let it bug you. Generally, you’re still fitter than I am for sure. Remember what I was like on day 1! 🙂

            • It does annoy me because it makes no sense. I could live with my knees being in pain but the quads and calves make no sense. I shouldn’t have had any pain and you should have had loads. There is no justice 🙂

    3. hi Simon

      I enjoy your photos, it is wonderful, you help me see a beautiful earth from the simple beauty of life. I hope to see your next picture.^^

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