9.12.2006

Hell on Knees: The Story of Mt. Kinabalu

I vaguely remember climbing Mt. Whitney. At 17, my attitude was - whatever my Dad wanted me to do, I did not want to do it. I thought that it was too hot, too cold, I was too tired, the pack was too heavy, the hill was too high, the tent was a pain to set up and I had to sleep with my brother who kicked, snored and talked in his sleep. And above all, it was HARD. Then I got to the top, took a long look around and realized that it was all worth it. The pain of the journey was worth the sense of achievement at the end. This is what spurned me to climb another mountain (ford every stream...).

Mt. Kinabalu, located in Malaysian Boreo (Sabah) is the tallest mountain in SE Aisa, standing at 4095 meters tall, which is about 13,500 feet. Mt Whitney is about 14,500 feet tall. So it should be about the same right? No. Somebody forgot to tell these people about the beauty of switchbacks. So instead of a winding trail up to the top, there is a path STRAIGT UP. I looked at the map, saw we were going to be hiking about 6 km the first day and thought, 'eh, no problem'. Riiiiight.. I was so tired by the end of those "easy" 6 km. The second day we got up at 2 am (I know, earlier than some of you guys go to bed!) and hiked up another 3 km to get to the peak in time for the sunrise. It was well worth it, but the temperature at the top was about 4 degrees C, which is about 38 degrees F. It was bloody cold! And we got up there faster than we thought we would (I didn't know I was in such great shape! ha!) so ended up having to wait for about an hour for the sunrise.

After the sun rose and we took the obligatory photos, we hiked back down to the midpoint, had breakfast and then hiked back down to the bottom again. I always thought hiking downhill was so much easier than hiking up... It is easier on my heart and lungs, but surely not on my knees! Today (the day after), I can barely walk on a level surface and forget about stairs (and of course our hotel is up a long flight of them!)

So once again, the climb was hard, but "the end justifies the means". The view from the top was spectacular and I have now hiked my second tallest mountain ever! And my dad didn't even make me do it!

Miles Hiked: well, 18 km, so about 11 miles
KM gained in Height: from 1500 to 4100, so about 2600...so, about 9500 feet...
Body parts totally wasted: Legs, gone. Knees, can tell when it is going to rain. Abs for some reason, sore. Feet, surprisingly good.
Snacks eaten in two days: about one Ton

Next up: Pulau Sipidan, one of the number one dive sites in the world!


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