Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia is a beautiful place. Eastern Malaysia is incredible. I went to climb a mountain and find some adventure. Well, I almost had more adventure than I could handle. Going from sea level to 11,000ft in a day and on to 13,500ft within 24 hours can take a toll on the body. I was there to climb Mt. Kinabalu. I had never climbed a mountain before, this looked like a good one to start on. 13,500ft, not technical, but a good hike, I think I could do that.
It was 8.5km from the gate of the park, 8,000ft, to the Summit, 13,500 ft. You climb to 11,000ft on the first day, then rest for a 2AM summit trek that night, arriving at the summit before dawn for the sunrise. I read all about it, what you need to bring, what you don’t, all the tips and tricks to get the best out of your gear and the weight you have to carry. I so wanted to get to the top. Sometimes it is out of your control, your mind may want to get to the top, but your body has a different objective. At that altitude, altitude sickness can set in. The air is lighter and there is less oxygen to breath, just the simple tasks of walking can become very difficult. I just kept hoping my mind and body would be on the same page, in getting me to the summit.
The morning of the ascent is an early one. The guide company would pick me up around 6:30 at my Hotel. This would be okay, if my hotel served breakfast at 6AM. Unfortunately, it started at 6:30. Next door to the Hotel was a 24hr KFC, so that morning I ordered a suspicious looking chicken breakfast sandwich and a coke. Maybe not the best nutrition to start a 6.5km climb but I guess it would have to do. I was supplied with a packed lunch so if I could get to lunch, I could replenish the calories burnt. I had stocked up on some gummies, nuts, and other snacks from 7-11 the night before. And their was plenty of food at the rest point, as long as Malaysian KFC breakfast didn’t make me sick I would be fine.
After about an hour and a half on the bus, with the others picked up along the way we made it to park entrance. By this time, it was beginning to rain a little. No big downpours, but enough to get you wet. We picked up our climbing permits and boarded another bus to take us to the Timphon Gate, the start of the hike. Altitude sickness was already beginning to set in for some in my party, luckily it hadn’t set in for me yet. At the Timphon Gate, the rain fell a little harder and looked like it was at least going to be a wet start. The first half kilometer or so was somewhat downhill, passing a nice little waterfall, but after that it became difficult fast. Steps of natural rocks some 8 to 9 inches high and wood steps that were not level slowed the pace down quite a bit. With the altitude it made half kilometers stretch out for miles, 28 minutes for the first kilometer, 39 for the second kilometer, roughly an hour in and third of the way there. While I didn’t think that I could maintain this pace, I still was expecting a four hour climb. But still 4.5km to go.
Pt. 2 coming Thursday. I promise.