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August 22nd 2013: Flew Silkair to Kota Kinabalu. Magesh and I arrived at Kota Kinabalu’s airport and got picked up by our pre-arranged transport directly to the Park HQ. Much as I would like to save money by staying outside the Park, we needed an early start, hence the stay at the Hill Lodges. This was nice but just so overpriced. The following morning, we packed what we needed to go. Fortunately, Mountain Torq, operator of the world’s highest via ferrata on Mt Kinabalu, and also owner of the Pendant Hut sponsored much of the on-mountain logistics!

Our strategy was not to break any time-based record, and as such, carried more than what most 1-Day climbers normally have: I had a light frameless backpack, 3 light alloy trekking poles (one was a spare), 2.5 litres of water, high energy snacks comprising mixed nuts, various cereal bars, a few GU gels. Other items were  a full set of rain gear, one light warm layer to wear at night, a super light 240gm down jacket from Uniqlo, headtorch, batteries, a weather proof

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Magesh and me at Timpohan Gate , 730am Aug 23rd 2013 The summit trail map is in the background

Canon D20 camera, my Blackberry phone and a small ziplock containing First Aid stuff and meds. Altogether, perhaps the pack weighted about 6kgs, a large part of that was the water. There are water tanks at each of the seven rest stops en route to the summit but these are filled with untreated mountain run-off water. not wanting to take that gastro-intestinal risk, I  took bottled water instead. as mentioned, the idea behind the climb was to do a self-supported , porter-less climb, including spending a night onthe mountain at Pendant Hut (3280m) after the summit. After a quick breakfast on eggs, potatoes, a drink, we registered with the Park headquarters, whereupon we met our assigned guide. As someone who normally eschews such aids, I was less keen on doing such straightforward ventures with a local “guide” but since the death of a teenager who got lost and died of exposure in 199, things have changed at Kinabalu National Park. Every hiker/climber needs to wear an ID tag, and strict checkpoints need to be followed so the park tracks the number of people going up and coming down.

Magesh is a fit 34 yearold professional trainer, and he’d been kicking my butt for six months with a training programme that included strength work, core work, and specifically, lots of exercises aimed at strengthening balance and one-legged stance strength; ny long term weakness. A less intense programme in 2012 resulted in one of my best-ever post disablity performances on the 6000-metre virgin peak climb, Sangay Ri, in China in Sept 2012.

My typical weekly training regime would comprise:
- high intensity circuit training for strength or strength endurance ( x2 per weeek)
- one 30 minute hill run
- one staircase climbing session x 45 mins
- one Bukit TImah local hill climbing session x 2 hours
- one “other” session comprising yoga, P90X, or stretching

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A 10-minute. rest at the patio of the Laban Rata hut at 3200m. You can see my orthotic device in my boot, and the neoprene substitute “flesh” for my atrophied right ankle

We started at 7am, with a quick ride in a van with a couple of other climbers to the beginning of the Summit Trail at Timpohan Gate ( 1866m). From here, it would be a thigh-busting 2250 metres or so of vertical height gain to the 4095m summit.

We left at 730am, making a quick start and working up a sweat in a few minutes. Mentally, I knew of the list of shelters along the way that were the landmars of the summit trail, each one progressively higher. MOst trekkers would climb with a guide and porter, or go realy light to make the top and return to the base in around 10 hours. We opted for a different approach. Knowing that the trail wouldbe wet and slippery after the typical afternoon downpour, and hazardous with my disability, a one-night stay at Pendant Hut was planned, and though important, the time taken to summit was less of an issue. After all, this was in all probability the first mobility-impaired ascent of the peak!

To be continued…..

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