Tuesday, June 10, 2008


It all started by a friend, Khidir, who invited me for a Mount Kinabalu expedition in class one day, and being an adventure junky (I think I am), I completely agreed on the invitation. Thinking about my dad who has dedicated most of his adult life to his career at his clinic, he deserved a break out from the shackles of his daily routines and fly off for an adventure of a life time, and from my standpoint, it’s a great trip for a father-son bonding. I was head over hills for this trip, boosting up my stamina with some extensive jogs around the college and my dad has been climbing hills all over Kuantan on alternate days. That’s my dad.
The cool, chill weather was saturated by the excitement of our group which composed of some KMB students, a couple of UTP staffs, and Khidir’s parents. Lush greeneries covered the mountain range, with the tropical forest left unscratched by any robust economic development. A breather around the park became a walk down a living green showcase of natural history when ferns taller than us could be seen everywhere. We were told to take deep breaths to get ourselves acclimatize. The temperature was not as pleasing as the scenery where it lingers between 8 to 14 degrees Celsius. All of my group members were wearing thick climbing clothes to get themselves all warm up from the freezing night, but me being a natural weirdo, I just wore a simple shirt and my cargo pants, and off I went for a good night sleep without any bath.
We were to start from the Mersilau route which was further for the other trail (Timpohon), which spans around 9.5 Km. It seems no piggy, but this is not your normal jogging trail; you are actually scaling the trail on rocky, rigorous, steep terrains, and bear in mind that the air gets thinner and oxygen will be getting scarce. I had my 4 kg hiking beg on my back, just to get the experience. But it could not be compared with the potters who were carrying huge gas canisters, beds, food supplies on their back, up and down, day and night. These people are the arteries which transport vital supplies to the rest house at 3500 metres above sea level. Despite the huge beg hanging on my back, and the excruciating cramps all over my quadriceps, you just need to continue moving on. But the scenery was just fantastic and you could really observe the transition of the different type of vegetation as you ascend. I just let the pictures do all the talking for me.
Our first leg of the journey ended at Laban Rata where the sight of a cluster of rest houses greeted us after a very tiring climb. Sarah and Alia almost gave up and they have been whining to go down back and refused to continue, but with a little bit of motivation from friends and a little bit of butt-kicking, they succeeded to accomplish the first leg. The rain, altitude sickness, freezing temperatures, fatigue and cramps almost hampered our will and spirit, but when we moved in a group and watched each other’s back, we could achieve much more. But the real challenge was yet to come, at 2 am the next day.
The ascend towards the summit, in the cold, pitch black night, with just your head lamp, a bottle of water, and some chocolates were just simply brutal. The cold, strong winds just scarred your face deeply, and your hands numbed. Your lips felt as if they were poked by needles. At first, it was quite okay, but at a certain point of our ascend, there were not even a single tree that could be seen on the hard granite landscape. Small dust-like particles started falling like rain on us, and it got challenging with every step taken. With the steep terrain, we relied on ropes to help us scale the huge granite boulders and it requires people with nerve of steel to accomplish this feat. The gush of winds could literally blow you away. A friend of mine, who was scaling without any light assistants, freaked out, broke down, and cried in the middle of the ascend, and desperately pushing us to her go back down. But again, teamwork sufficed and prevailed in her tribulation and with strong support from friends, she continued on. She was pale, evidently tired, and completely lost her zest. But what she need was just a friend to help her get up and keep moving forward. At last, we reached the summit just in time for the sunrise.
It was a great accomplishment for all of us. There we stood on the highest peak in South East Asia at 4095 metres above sea level, overwhelmed by a cocktail of emotions. Khidir’s mom, who reached the peak 3 times, broke down to tears after stepping on the granite rocks on the summit. The sunrise from the top was a sight that could not be seen elsewhere and all of Borneo was visible for the eyes to indulge in. We spent almost 2 hours there, but it was just a relieved and it brought us to redefine the term satisfaction. I believe, and I’m sure the others agree with me, when I say that the mind plays a greater role than physical capabilities. You need to motivate yourself constantly by telling yourselves always to take the next step and keep moving on. And the other thing which was essential to execute such feat was the team spirit. Not being cocky and boastful but I know I could reach there way earlier, but I realized that you will be up there all alone in the dark, freezing night, with no one to share your moments with. Quite sad, isn’t it? In this case, individualism was forced to succumb to collective efforts. But again, what goes up must go down.
During our descend, another friend of mine was struck by a disturbing nausea, and someone needs to accompany her. It felt like a rescue mission, but I just accompanied her throughout the descend. Pushing her too much would not be appropriate, so I just let her take her time but at the same time, encouraged her to keep moving on. Along the way, the whole expedition has put strains on my knee, and they were killing me every time I take a step. We were stuck in the heart of the jungle for 7 hours, and at last we were greeted with a hero’s welcome as we reached the Timpohon gate.
Again, this expedition was a test of friendship, mental, brawn, and teamwork. It’s not about reaching there first, but it’s about reaching there together.


majin said...

congrats fathul. a feat that can really be proud of.

zulaikhazainol said...

wow.such a great trip for a bunch of IB folks.The photos are breathtaking!waa I wish I was there!

hidayah said...

so proud of u =)

hershey Que said...

medic student?