Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Air Asia Flight AK502

Air Asia Flight AK502

Kota Kinabalu

after the climb... walking around the city...

looking for an adaptor for my cellphone charger...
without underwear...
with a wardrobe malfunctioned kamikaze shorts...

eating dinner at the seafood market...
beside the Filipino market...
taking with me my roommate- Hiro...

eating a second breakfast at Museum Kopitiam...

teksi towards KKIA terminal 2...

1hour delayed flight AK502...

Kota Kinabalu

Monday, June 23, 2008

[Day 2] Descending Mount Kinabalu

I was eating my second breakfast (bread, Kaya jam, strawberry jam, peanut butter, sausage, egg, and coffee) and writing on Mountain Torq’s Guestbook when Nani arrived.

After the meal, I went to my room and prepared for the descent. I thanked Mountain Torq personnel, especially William, for the warm welcome and friendliness they have given me on my stay in Pendant Hut. They were inviting me again to visit Mount Kinabalu again and to try the multi-pitch rock climb on the Sayat-Sayat Slab (that’s because I was telling them that I do rock climbing in the Philippines). I told them I will be back if my best climbing partner/best friend/belay-bunny would invite me.

We started our descent by 1042hrs, but now the pace was faster. Nani asked me to remember her tip on climbing Mount Kinabalu: “Walk slowly, don’t stop, and enjoy the climb.” And added another one: “Stay happy.” But I teased her that we didn’t really ‘walk slowly.’

Nani then introduced me to a veteran guide (Anthony) that guides climbers to the Eastern Plateau. He gave me his number and pointers on how to request for a permit to climb the Bowen’s Route. He was depressed for his clients didn’t (attempted to) climb to Low’s Peak that day.

The descent was the same as the ascent. We overtook everyone that was climbing down. Nani even has in one hand a bagful of garbage from Pundok Paka. We reached Timpohon Gate by 1212hrs. We descended the mountain in 2-hours 10-minutes.

I met three Aussie women on the bus ride from Timpohon Gate towards the Park HQ. I recognize them as the three ladies sitting beside me on Low’s Peak that morning.

Upon reaching the Park HQ, I readily inquired for the climb towards the Eastern Plateau, but the Park Administrator was out for lunch. I would email or call his office (when the time comes) when I’m ready to take-on the Bowen’s Route.

I went to the souvenir shop while I was waiting for Jewel Ju to arrive and bought some memento of my climb. After Jewel obtained my certificate from the Park HQ, I then bade goodbye to Nani and told her that if ever I will climb Mount Kinabalu via the Bowen’s Route, I would request for her to accompany me.

After departing the Park HQ, Jewel Ju treated me for lunch. We ate at a restaurant a few meters away from the Park gate. I ordered Tom Yum Soup. I was not even similar to the Tom Yum soup served in the Philippines! It was really spicy hot! Jewel Ju even told me that a variation of it is even hotter in another Malaysian state.

Just as I seated myself on the KCTT van, I went Zzzzzzzzzz…

Mount Kinabalu Climb [Day2]

[Day 2] Low’s Peak Circuit Via Ferrata

While waiting for William to arrive, I removed my midlayer polar fleece jacket and just don my shell jacket (I know I will be sweating hard on the Via Ferrata). I also replaced my polar fleece gloves with my old full-fingered mountain biking gloves (I need more dexterity). After donning our harnesses and helmets, Nani then said her goodbye and headed down towards Laban Rata for some rest before we head down towards the Park HQ.

William gave me the other end of the running-belay rope and I tied it to my harness loop with a ‘follow-thru figure-of-8 knot.’ Then he gave me the go signal. No ‘belay on’ - ‘on belay’ communication ensued here, just ‘OK?’ and ‘OK’ interaction between me and William.

I walked towards the edge of the Sayat-Sayat slab. Time check: 0630hrs.

Clipped both my auto-locking karabiners to the cable and threaded the belay rope to the Prisme rung. Off I go to the rock face and to the next rung.

On the next rung, I stabilized my stance and then I unclipped one karabiner and snapped it on the next cable after the rung; I unclipped the other karabiner and clipped it next the first one. I tugged on the belay rope, which is connected to William, and threaded it again to the rung.

This is the repetitive move that I did on the ‘Low’s Peak Circuit’ Via Ferrata. It is a descending route towards to Summit Trail before reaching the Gunting Lagadan Hut. Asia’s first and World’s highest Via Ferrata.

‘The Preamble’ Via Ferrata is the ascending approach towards the top-edge of the Sayat-Sayat Slab headwall. For ‘The Preamble’, Mountain Torq recommends a 3days/2nights stay on the mountain (Pendant Hut) because of the more strenuous procedure. But the ‘Low’s Peak Circuit’ Via Ferrata (descending) should not to be looked differently or down-rated, because when doing the ‘Low’s Peak Circuit’ Via Ferrata the climber has to endure looking at the exposure beneath his feet every time he has sketch a foothold and clip/thread-in to the ‘iron road.’

At the arĂȘte, old bolted and hammered protections can be seen. It is said that it was used by some Japanese rock climbers previously to surmount the slab years ago. Some new bolts can be seen, but these were placed by the French contractors who built Mount Kinabalu’s Via Ferrata.

Looking towards Laban Rata and Pendant Hut, I can see some spectators looking at William and me. Of the 158 climbers on Mount Kinabalu that day, I was the only one who walked the ‘iron road.’ William then radioed the other Mountain Torq guides at Pendant Hut to see if they can see us. William informed me that they were very happy to see us and we were very fast.

The first part is the slab face down-climbing, then the traverse towards the slab arĂȘte. After some time of rock, rung, cable, and platform-grabbing, the Via Ferrata leaded me to the hanging bridge. The only fixed system of the hanging bridge was the two cables for holding-on and the belay cable (?). The pathway of the bridge was freely-swinging. Under the bridge was a 100+ feet drop. Then the bridge ended to another sideway traverse.

After a downward climb the iron road exited to a vegetated portion of the route. Unclipped, I walked towards the next route. While walking, I again felt my feet have heels. Here I get to munch on some granola bars.

After some minutes on the jungle trek, the next rung again appeared.

Just I was getting used to the traversing, the cable bridge appeared. The cable bridge spec’d with the two cables to hold-on to and only one cable to walk on. Then the traverse iron road again.

Before reaching the end of the Via Ferrata, the monkey bridge was next. One cable for protection and handhold and another cable for the footwork.

After the monkey bridge, it was only 300-meters to go towards the end of the Via Ferrata. It was mixed emotions time for me. I wanted to stay for the fun of climbing Mount Kinabalu and walking the iron road, but I also wanted to end the climb to go back to my family… and work.

Reaching the yellow-colored warning sign, it indicated that my iron road walk has now ended. Time check: 0900hrs.

I thanked William for accompanying me on the Via Ferrata then I walked towards Gunting Lagadan Hut, Laban Rata, and finally, Pendant Hut. Climbers staying in Gunting Lagadan and Laban Rata took pictures of me while I was descending. One European climber commented that I am ‘hardcore’ and a Malaysian climber said something that I cannot comprehend (maybe he was saying that I’m a fool).

Reaching Pendant Hut, the other guides congratulated me and offered me a second breakfast! Yeah!

Mountain Torq Via Ferrata

[Day 2] Pendant Hut – Low’s Peak – Sayat-Sayat Slab

I woke-up 0230hrs. Suited-up, grabbed my pack, and went to take my breakfast (bread, butter, peanut butter, Kaya jam, strawberry jam, and coffee). Before 0300hrs, Nani arrived. We headed back to Laban Rata and went right towards the Summit Trail. We went first inside Gunting Lagadan Hut for Nani to refill her water bottle with warm water. After a few minutes we were back on the trail.

The trail is now jam-packed with climbers towards the summit. Nani and I overtook climbers resting on the trail. That was our movement all the way to the summit. We were not really in hurry but many climbers were just sitting or not moving at all, causing the long trail-traffic. I asked Nani if we can see the Bowen’s Wall even if it’s still dark; she said no. We arrived shortly at the Sayat-Sayat Hut. The park staff registered my ID/Permit and wished me luck on the summit climb. I think we overtaken 50+ climbers or so in the process.

By 0500hrs, I reached Low’s Peak; the highest point of Malaysia and once the highest point of Southeast Asia. Nani again asked me of our walking time. I told her that it just took us 2-hours to reach the peak. She then congratulated me for climbing Mount Kinabalu/Low’s Peak ad the fast climbing time. I took photos and reached for my cellular telephone to send SMS to my family and some friends. After some minutes, the summit area was getting crowded with climbers. I told Nani that we can descend already and I was not really keen on waiting for the full vista of the sunrise.

While we still have enough time to meet William at the Sayat-Sayat Slab, we toured around the lip of the Low’s Gully and the foot of both St. John’s Peak and Kinabalu South Peak. Arriving at the top-edge of the Sayat-Sayat Slab headwall, we saw William heading our way.

Mount Kinabalu Climb [Day 2]