Beth, an adventurous young American traveller finds out that climbing one of South East Asia’s highest mountains is a challenging but rewarding experience. In the process she discovers muscles she didn’t know existed in her body and obtains a certificate for climbing to the summit of Mount Kinabalu in the East Malaysian state of Sabah on the island of Borneo. She learns from her local Kadazan guide that the mountain is one of the most important homes for plants and animals with some flora being only found here in the park and nowhere else on the planet. This helps her understand why UNESCO has classified Kinabalu National Park as a World Heritage Site.
At the end of my descent from the 4,101metre high Mount Kinabalu I could barely stand and my legs felt like jelly but that doesn’t mean that every step of the climb up Mount Kinabalu wasn’t worth it. Upon reflection and a soothing and relaxing rest in the heated pools of the nearby Poring Hot Springs, I would suggest that climbing this awesome mountain towering above the rainforests of Borneo should be attempted by those who are fit enough and have done some pre-visit training. However, many of us who climbed had done no pre-climb training and made it the whole way up and back.
Climbing the mist-covered Mount Kinabalu is one of the great adventures of South East Asia and tens of thousands of climbers are attracted each year from all around the world.Climbing the mist-covered Mount Kinabalu is one of the great adventures of South East Asia and tens of thousands of climbers are attracted each year from all around the world. The walk is very well organised and each group is accompanied by a guide from the local Kadazan people. As I was by myself I joined another group so travelling solo proved to be easy.
We were bussed up to the start of the climb and from here on, it was me, the path and the mountain. There didn’t seem to be any pressure to keep up with the more macho types and the guide stayed at the back offering encouragement along the way. For someone like me who only works out occasionally it was demanding but I soon learned to stop regularly, smell the flowers and walk at my own pace.
In doing this I also reflected a little more upon my surroundings and took in the ever-changing vegetation, the small birds flitting from flower to flower, pitcher plants luring insects to their demise and the sheer magnificence of the peak that lay before me. The other thing that impressed me was the silence and that I really felt connected to nature as I walked my way to Laban Rata Resthouse half way up the mountain.
While crazy speedsters run to the top during the annual climbathon, mere mortals like me had to spend two days making the ascent and descent. Nothing ever looked so appealing than the sight of the resthouse in the early afternoon light. I literally fell into a chair in the restaurant and spent all afternoon re-charging my batteries with cups of hot chocolate and plates of mee goreng (fried noodles). Although tired, there was a great sense of camaraderie amongst my fellow climbers.
To be continued....