Mt Kinabalu

You can do it! My husband and two teenage kids assured me. I wasn’t so sure but allowed myself to be persuaded, packed a bag and flew with them to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah to scale Mt Kinabalu. At slightly over 4,000 meters, it is the highest mountain in Malaysia.

We spent the night at a hotel in Kota Kinabalu and the following day went with our guide to the Kinabalu National Park to begin our climb from the Timpohon Gate.

I was told one had to be reasonably fit to make the climb. We prepared ourselves by trudging up Gunung Angsi and Gunung Rembau in Negeri Sembilan a few times but they were each only 800 meters high.

As we started up the mountain, with our guide carrying our things, I was relieved to find it less than arduous. Along the way there were steps that led to little huts where we could rest and enjoy the scenery. However the steps gradually became fewer and the climb steeper. It seemed to take forever to reach Laban Rata, 3000 meters up, where we would stay the night.

We made it to Laban Rata by nightfall and checked into our guest house. For dinner there was a choice of rice and curry, noodles or steak which my husband happily opted for. We had to leave at three o’clock the following morning to make it to the top by sunrise. We were exhausted but also exhilarated so sleep eluded us.

We put on warm clothes in anticipation of chilly weather, secured little lamps to our head and met our guide at the appointed time. It was pitch dark and the climb steep. At one point we hauled ourselves up a very slippery slope by holding onto thick ropes. The thin air made breathing difficult. By sunrise we were nowhere near the peak. I became more and more tired and out of breath and kept gasping for air and falling asleep every few minutes. And then I slumped down and refused to move.

My son wouldn’t allow me give up. I was already so near the top, he said, although it looked like miles away to me and quite unattainable. He gripped my hand and pulled me up. After every few steps I would collapse to a stop but he kept dragging me on. And then I caught sight of Low’s Peak. My energy miraculously returned and I staggered on until I reached the top. We all made it to the summit! We pranced around, cheered and laughed as we took in the breathtaking views.

The climb down was easy. it was then that we saw the steep cliffs and sheer falls that were invisible during the night. Had we really braved them on our way up?

Our trip ended on another high note – a musical evening at a karaoke lounge in Kota Kinabalu.

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