Saturday, May 29, 2010

Conquering Mount Kinabalu: Part 1 - How It All Started

One beautiful Sunday morning at a mamak restaurant in Wangsa Maju, five friends were eating breakfast when the conversation suddenly turned into a mission to get the fifth member to join the four of them to climb all the way to the top of Mount Kinabalu. After much persuasion, sweet talking and promises to help her carry her things up the mountain, the temptation slowly weaved itself into the heart of a girl who only a week ago would simply laugh at the idea of her ever climbing a mountain.

When I first signed up for the Kota Kinabalu trip weeks before that fateful breakfast, my initial idea was to join them for the first two days, doing island hopping and white water rafting. As they climb Kinabalu on the 3rd and 4th day, I planned to have my own solo adventure around Kota Kinabalu – shopping, beach and spa. I was not tempted by Mount Kinabalu at all, not even by a single speck of an extremely tiny iota.

I allowed myself a few hours of thinking after the breakfast before I emailed the trip leader:

via-ferrata punya trip mmg dah full kan? mmg x leh dpt extra permit lagi kan?
(just in case ada sorang makcik yg konon2 tak nak naik tlh dibakar oleh kawan2 nye pagi tadi)

(huhu, email tu pun macam tak ikhlas je nak pergi kan)

Truth be told, I regretted my decision as soon as I clicked the ‘Send’ button as I got the first mild panic attack. Less than two weeks before the trip commence, and only now I decided to climb the highest mountain in Malaysia? And it is my first mountain climb too (Gunung Datuk doesn’t count eh, kawan-kawan).

Deep inside, I was secretly hoping that Jai was going to reply that no permit is available. So imagined that a few days after the email he confirmed that he managed, after great effort, to get one more permit for me. Oh dear…

“After great effort” – hahaha, lagi la tak boleh quit. Cuak attack!!


The friends that I was going with are almost all climbing enthusiasts. They have conquered countless mountains and hills as part of their effort to complete the G7 (G7 are the seven highest mountains in Peninsular Malaysia, which are also higher than 7000 feet or 2134 meter) or just for fun (geleng kepala). Their perfect idea of relaxation is 4-10 days journey into the mountainous jungle. I on the other hand, find my heaven at the spa, a shopping center, on my own bed, or a bookstore. The closest thing I did to joining their climbing trip was sending them off at the bus station or train station whenever they were leaving for the expedition. They love hills and rivers. My kind of perfect hill to climb and river to cross? Starhill and Sungei Wang of course.

If I were to chart my fitness level against them, it probably look something like this:


The permit secured, I paid the full fee for the trip: there was no turning back. I had no option but to squeeze as much ‘training’ as possible within the two weeks. Weeeeee, saper pernah dengar orang training for Kinabalu in less than fourteen days..???!!

So among the sporadic, irregular training that I did:

1. Stairs climbing at Batu Caves – dua kali naik je. Lepas tu nak pengsan, sebab tak breakfast before panjat
2. Stairs climbing at my twenty-storied high condo – huuu, takut. Dah la climb waktu malam, condo belum fully occupied pulak tu. Sambil panjat, habis semua surah aku baca. Doa makan je tak baca.
3. Jogging, jogging, jogging – minimum 4 km if pressed for time
4. Running up the small hill behind my condo, next to the Telekom building
5. Walking back home from my office in KLCC to Wangsa Maju.
6. Hiking up FRIM hill
7. Hiking up Bukit Larut
8. I participated in the Energizer Night Run less than a month back, so I supposed all my training for the run can be counted as Kinabalu’s training as well (even though I did not really train for that run either.. hahaha, ngelat!)

Before the hike up Bukit Larut - belum start naik pun, dah gigam lebih-lebih.

The ladies who conquered Bukit Larut!!! (err, this stop is not even half-way to the top)

At the top of Bukit Frim ~ 1000 feet.

Picnicking at the FRIM's waterfall, and then a group of white-clad people started to do tai chi or something nearby and we jumped into action as well.

I did some research too, scouring the internet for blogs on other people’s experience climbing Mount Kinabalu. Some said it was easy, some said it was hard. Most of them proposed a rigorous training program at least 2-3 months before the climb, which totally made me weak at the knees since man, I only have fourteen days!

I also interviewed some of my colleagues who had already climbed Mount Kinabalu. Almost all are first-time climbers, never had they climbed any other mountain before attempting Kinabalu (good!). Some of them made it all the way to Low’s Peak, a few only went as far as Laban Rata only. They said it was a hard hike, but so worth it. Most of them don’t really train that hard before the climb (somehow this info appeased me). All of them wanted to return again (huh?).

One blog that I read suggested that a person should climb Kinabalu with the heart, not with the feet. I immediately thought, “Well, I can do that! I have great mental tolerance”. I thought that between the two, my physical will crumble first, that my legs and body won’t be able to take it anymore halfway through the hike. I thought that my mental is stronger, because I have “determination, positive attitude and perseverance” (well, at least according to the assessment by my friends and bosses in my yearly review). I will be able to make it to the top, because Lady Fafa never surrender even when she is in pain!!!!!!!!!

Oh my… how wrong I was.


  1. wahhhh.. siap ade fitness scale lagiiii~~~ hoho.. (part II bile nak siap nih? hehehe... chakde!)

  2. org lidi yg terlebih dari angka 10 tu adalah zana.. huhuh..

    yg part 1 ni pun dekat sebulan aku tulis, rewrite, redraft, baru publish.. so next chapter, err, maybe next month? hahah. giler lems..

  3. aku bace gelak tak ingat.... cant wait for part 2... jeng jeng jeng!!!

  4. Fatma, its such a joy reading your posts that I can't wait for part 2 ni!!! cepat la weiiii :D

  5. haha, i like the fitness scale graphic.. did u do that urself? haha :)