I wanted to climb Mount Kinabalu in Sabah. Finally the opportunity arose and I boarded a flight to Kota Kinabalu with my other friends and an equal measure of excitement and trepidation. As always, the flight was comfortable and timely, delivering us to Kota Kinabalu early in the afternoon with plenty of time to make the two-hour trip to the Kinabalu Park headquarters. As we approached, under the pouring rain, the first UNESCO World Heritage Site, I had my first view of the great mountain, with the gray rocks of the summit rising majestically from the lush green forest below, teasing us from behind clouds. We spent the night in the park and woke up the following morning in a bright blue sky full of sunshine. A time like this never fails to lighten my pace, no matter how many I need.
My group left Timpohon Gate at 8:00. Fresh air and cool temperatures were a joy. I found the path well maintained, and the combination of counters every 500 meters and regularly spaced rest huts meant that I always knew how much progress I was making. It was a journey of six kilometers to the Laban Rata rest, where we spent half the night before making the final push for the summit. The last stage – about 1.4 km – did not play far but it was, in fact, a great challenge! While there were many things to see – the occasional and breathtaking views across the plains, the forest, the climbing buddies and, the porters passing by gas bottles, the cases of canned drinks and trays of eggs tied to the back – the path became a slogan and the air became noticeably thinner.
Less than five hours before departure, we reached Laban Rata and how wonderful, sitting on the terrace, above the clouds under the blinding sun, boots, legs aching but with all-round euphoria! Apart from adjusting the altitude and immerse yourself in the view, which is also improved at sunset. There was not much to do up there. But the time passed quickly, and around 3:00 am, it was time to leave the restored.
Going out into the darkness was the part that worried me the most, but it was fine. The sky was clear and the stars were spectacular; He made me understand how much artificial light pollutes the urban landscape. Once we were on the plateau, walking became easier; the huge slabs of granite offered a good grip. As the sky began to clear and the different peaks emerged from the darkness, I reached the last 200 meters of the ascent at Low’s Peak. It could not have been better timed. The orange rays of the rising sun filled the sky as we lined up to take photographs on the summit of Malaysia’s highest peak at 4,095 m. The area is extraordinarily small and, with 147 climbers reaching the summit in succession, all eager to get their picture, there was a great need to maintain patience!
Descending to Laban Rata was fabulous because we could see everything that had been hidden in the darkness during the ascent. There were presented endless views of Kota Kinabalu and the sea, the rocky outcrops of the plateau and the beautiful alpine vegetation below. On the way, we stopped at Laban Rata for a second breakfast and to take the tools we temporarily discarded from our packages for the final climb.
There was no way to get away from it, but the long walk to the gate was the most difficult. It seemed like the best part was now behind me. The euphoria I felt on the summit lasted only a little, and when my knees began to fall down the steps, it became a mental challenge to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Almost four hours later, we finally arrived at the gate. We collected the certificates from the park headquarters and left the exhausted but ecstatic place for our success.
Returning home to look at the photographs, the journey is almost dreamlike. It exceeded my expectations by far: the time, the organization, the camaraderie of a large group and the feeling of success. The experience will live with me forever! Would I do it again, Definitely! You should do it, Absolutely! One of the great experiences of life is at your fingertips, what are you waiting for,
To learn more about Conquer Mount Kinabalu on this site.