Thinking & Feeling

“The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think.” Horace Walpole

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Borneo - Mount Kinabalu Climb - Part 3

Borneo - Mount Kinabalu Climb (via Mesilau Route)
Part 3 - Back to Laban Rata & Descent to Timpahon Gate

Part 1 is HERE
Part 2 is HERE

We got back to Laban-Rata at about 7:40am. We went in now ready for breakfast and had another hearty and tasty nutritious meal. We again bumped into Adam & Jordan who had decided to climb to the summit that day, having not done it in the 3-months they've been there on this trip. Being young and fit, and very much acclimatised to the environment they only started at 04:30am and were back down not long after us. Once we were done with breakfast, chatting and packing up, at close to 9am we headed off to start the big descent journey. Which everyone claims is the worst part.

We passed one set of German girls and their guide shortly after Pondok Villarosa, and then after that it was just worked carrying stuff UP the mountain we passed. These guys - some of them look no more than 15 years old - carry everything that is used to build, maintain and service Laban Rata up there on hand-made wooden frames with a strap that goes over their heads. Apparently they carry up to 60kgs! Porters carry 3x backpacks! We saw them carrying eggs, rice, bed frames, steel beams, and boxes of stuff. As we descended lower we started to pass other climbers who were on their way up the mountain. It became quite festive as the new gang would congratulate me and I'd wish them good luck and on their climb. One group told me I was 'winning the Amazing Race' and should ask for a prize at the end. Apparently I was the first person to descend and was right up front. I had no idea. Somehow being in the 'lead' spurred me on and I pressed on a bit faster. I was listening to music and was quite enjoying being able to get a bit of speed going.
The descent does start taking it's toll though as your legs are already tired and sore from the climb the previous day and the earlier summit, and then are taking quite a pounding with the continuous jarring of trudging down endless stairs. I got into a nice rhythm though and mostly enjoyed it, feeling that it really wasn't so bad. Towards the end you have to pass through a gully with some small rover crossings and waterfalls and a contour section with a bit of undulation. Near the end you actually have to climb up again to get up the other side of the gully towards the park HQ. By the last km I felt like I had had enough so by the time I saw the final stretch of jungle stairs, I was muttering about 'more bloody stairs' under my breath. Then the cherry on the cake is that as you reach the very end there is a very steep concrete staircase leading up to the 'gate' building. It's is just mean and evil to make everyone haul themselves up there! Anyway I bounded up the stairs like a winner and said 'I WON!' to which the warden dryly retorted, 'You are the last person back'. Hahahah. NOT. I verified my name on his list and then sat at the top of the stair case to wait for A & Linus, who arrived about 10 minutes later. It took us about 2:20 to climb down.

Once out the gate we were taken by shuttle the 4km back to the registration check-point where we got our certificates. We got 2 each, one for climbing to the summit and one for having done the Mesilau route.
Incredibly they do a 'Climbathon' race once a year where top athletes race from the Timpahon Gate to the Low's Peak Summit and back. The record is 2h36m. That is insanely fast considering the terrain and altitude and conditions. I have no idea how they do that!!
  Anyway we felt good after our climb and must not have looked too shabby either since an American girl asked us when we were climbing and we had to tell her we'd just finished!

Our driver collected us and we drove back to Kota Kinabalu where I dozed on and off. Back at the hotel we had a welcome and much needed shower and then walked down to the seaside night market where we shared a freshly caught and grilled fish, and bought ourselves Mt Kinabalu t-shirts. After that I went for a divine but painful foot massage/reflexology treatment before heading back to our hotel for a good rest. Until our 5am wake up call to start our next adventure that is...

I just need to note that the next day our legs were rather stiff, but manageable, and we'd have twinges in our calves and thighs when going up and down stairs and inclines. As I write this on the second day after my legs are actually SORE and I wince when I get up or climb up or down anything. My legs are definitely letting me know that they worked HARD and would like a rest now thanks. :)

Final thoughts are that it was a very memorable and enjoyable experience. If/when the boys would like to do it - in 2-3 years I'd imagine at about 14 & 16 - I would definitely be keen to do it again with them.

Thanks A, Linus, Mt Kinabalu, Borneo, and Adam & Jordan for a really awesome bucket-list experience. That was awesome! 

There is a nice description of the Mt Kinabalu climb, which describes the route and each rest area well, here:

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