The Mount Kinabalu is a little bit like the star in South East Asia with its 4095 meters and if you haven’t done it, you won’t get it. We couldn’t miss the hike! And because it is a massive tourism attraction; ascending the mount is a pretty costly activity that you have to prebook months ahead!
It was almost 8.00 am and we were at the Kinabalu national park’s visitor centre for the first part of the trek and there were Chinese tourists by the hundred! They were all well equipped with brand new trekking gear, useless high tech stuff that made them look like professionals and they were bragging a bit like “mountain-trekking-is-definitely-my-thing”.
The guy from the trekking company first checked us in at the park so we could get our climbing permit, gave us our lunch packs, assigned Ade and I a guide, and the trek started straight away. We walked behind Ronnie, the guide with super pumped up calves, slowly. Extremely slowly. Probably a novice’s remark in climbing Mount Kinabalu. Well, we quickly understood why. 6km of steep climbing was waiting for us to get to Laban Rata base camp, and apart from few moments, ascending Mount Kinabalu was clearly just about climbing rocks and super irregularly-sized stairs, from 10 cm steps to half a metre steps… The scenery was pretty breathtaking and varied but it was long and kind of annoying. Especially when the rain and wind started to show up. The sweat got mixed up with the rain, and I couldn’t see a thing!
After 5h of walking, we finally arrived at the base camp. It was welcoming, quiet, but it was freaking freezing. I wanted a boiling hot shower so bad, but obviously, the water was icy cold (we all decided that we preferred to smell like hell). The peace didn’t last long as only a few minutes after, a massive Chinese group joined up at the base camp. Most of the climbers went to bed at 7pm after a long tough day, despite the cacophony made by the Chinese climbers in the common room.
On the next day at 2am, everyone was ready to conquer Mount Kinabalu, head in the clouds after a really short night at the base camp. I looked like a zombie. My legs were still sore from the previous day and I was still angry because of those loud Chinese climbers (they were
talking screaming sooo loud!). It didn’t start well (just like in Mulu! haha). Everyone bundled up and started to join the conga line for the second part of the climb, torch lamps on! The trek was super tough. Actually, the second part was just like the previous day, a series of stairs. We could hear people complaining, suffering, spitting their lungs out and even vomiting.
It was like that for several hours. Ronnie helped me heaps despite the fact that he was super fed up with me, complaining the whole way to the top. You could see it on his face, haha. Ade just gave up on me too, flying effortlessly up the climb, far ahead. Too easy for her, she who actually finished the Mulu Pinnacles trek a few weeks earlier. During the ascension, my legs wobbled, my nose ran like a running tap, my lips turned blue and I had a lot of trouble breathing because of the altitude. After a few hours of stair-climbing, the landscape changed and now had to climb a floor made of granite with ropes. The landscape changed again and it was sublime, despite the fog, the rain and my running nose. We almost arrived and it started to get super duper steep.
On top of the summit, we felt relief. What liberation! That kind of happiness was unique and indescribable. We forgot that we were tired and adrenaline took over, as well as the happy feeling of achieving something that we thought impossible. Do not hope to be the only person to admire the scenery once on the summit, however. There were Chinese climbers absolutely everywhere! Adeline and I struggled to get a ok photo of us without getting it photobombed… This day, we didn’t get much luck as there was no sunrise, only fog. I heard that sunrise over Mount Kinabalu is breathtaking.
At 7:00, after a non existing sunrise, it was already time to go back. Way easier! We had some free time to chill at the base camp before we went all the way back down. And in the end, we both bawled. Me on the way up, Adeline on the way down. The cherry on the top, we met some fantastic people, including Eric the crazy brazillian and Gadiy, the seducer!