Unfortunately due to a neck injury Noel Jones has been told by his doctor not to do any mountain climbing, lucky he lives in Singapore then! Also that means we also lose the flamboyant paw too and finally as these things come in threes, Mike Oldham our illustrious leader is unable to make it away from Colorado, which is in fact a good thing as it will stop him showing the rest of us up!!! So the net result after all that is we still have three places left for intrepid and adventurous in our expedition to summit MT. Kinabalu. So if you are up to the task of climbing a really big mountain in aid of some really small children, contact us now. (To contact us, go to the Mt. Kinabalu page on this website and scroll down)
As part of our varied training in preparation for our expedition to Mt. Kinabalu we enlisted the moral support of veteran rockers The Stereophinics while they were in Kuala Lumpur for a concert. Lead singer Kelly Jones suggested we load up our iPods with a few of their albums to motivate us on our charity climb past a thousand trees and not eat too many sandwiches and to remember to Have a nice day. See photo in our photo section.
Mountain Torq see www.mountaintorq.com manage the world’s highest Via Ferrata (Iron Way) located in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Mt Kinabalu. As South East Asia’s first mountaineering training centre, Mountain Torq also offers activities such as sports and rock climbing, rappelling and mountaineering skills courses. They are also the wonderful people who will be guiding us down this amazing Via Feretta (see the Video on links tab of our website) not only are they wonderful because they are guiding us down the worlds Via Feretta, but they are also sponsoring our Climb4Charity. These wonderful people at Mountain Torq were so impressed with our international group trying to raise funds for Charity, that they, are going to sponsor our efforts and give a whopping 5,000 Ringgits to Borneo Child Aid. All of us at Climb4Charity are very thankful for this very kind donation. Mountain Torq will also be promoting our Climb4Charity expedition at all of their outlets in Sabah. I would like to say special thanks to Ms Quek I- Gek who is the Sales & Marketing Director at Mountain Torq, for supporting us and really getting with the spirit of what we are trying to do, Many thanks on behalf of all taking part in the Climb4Charity.
One of the things I have noticed in Malaysia is I am way off the average weight! The average Malaysia male is 164.7 cm (5' 4.8") tall, which for a healthy body mass index equates to 65 Kg’s or 145lbs. So it was with trepidation that I accepted the offer to join Amy and Ade’s group visit to Skytrex http://www.skytrex-adventure.com/ where one can courageously zoom across the rainforest canopy suspended in a harness attached to a cable. Sounds like fun, yes, but when the small print states a weight limit of 100Kg’s well above the Average Malaysia weight, then us more massive people get concerned! The last time I weighed 65Kg’s there was no such thing as mobile phones or CD’s! or in today’s context, the only place I weigh 65Kg’s is on the moon. So hence with more stress than the tight ropes I was going to be walking on I headed off to join the gang of crazy people at Skytrex.
To avoid the heat we arrived early at our meeting point, the gates of Taman Pertanian a forest reserve and National Botanical Garden on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. Amy and Ade had managed to sign up 22 nut jobs for this jungle assault course. We were bussed deep into the native forest and preceded with our safety training, while all the time I was trying to look lighter than I was so they wouldn’t send me home. Without a weighing scales in sight, we did the brief training session and were shown to the rope ladder which led to a platform way up at the top of the jungle canopy. Everybody else seemed happy and unconcerned which I guess was easier for those with considerably lower gravitational pull. So with thoughts of Sir Isaac Newton and the worrying fact that what goes up must come down I began the long haul up the rope ladder. Once up on the initial platform though, all thoughts of gravity went straight out of my head, suddenly I was Rambo, with no ammo, just me and the elevated assault course through the jungle. I could taste the adrenalin in my mouth, this was life or death, real survival stuff, it was really high, but also really exciting, nerves soon gave way to fun and the mish mesh of rope ladders and tight rope’s and “flying fox” cable slides was a total blast. Rambo won, nobody was killed and I can vouch that the stated weight limit for Skytrex of 100Kg’s is thankfully at least 25% out! I’m also hoping that the experience and carabineer training will be of additional benefit for those of us taking the Via Feretta decent route, on Kinabalu which I sincerely hope is also over engineered for non average Malaysian’s!
After another hike at up to the canopy walkway at F.R.I.M. on Saturday morning, we started to get a bit more adventurous on Sunday. We headed out of KL early on Sunday morning and took an hour’s drive north to hike up to the beautiful Chiling Falls. We parked up on the road from Kuala Kuba Baharu to Frasers Hill where there is a well marked trail head that leads through the thick jungle along the river. After a 3km uphill hike and climb which includes no less than seven river crossings we arrived at the roaring plunge pool with the Sungai Chiling River cascading down the hundreds of feet from the upper falls above.
This is a fabulous hike it feels like you are in one of those nature shows on national Geographic Channel with the Jungle so loud and vibrant all around then you realize, this is it, you are actually in a tropical jungle and the only thing that is stopping an Elephant or a Tiger walking past is timing. It almost goes without saying that the jungle is absolutely teaming with life, everything is alive, giant iridescent butterflies waft around their smaller fluttering multicolor cousins, millions of ants are busy moving bits of the forest around, and as we waded across the river we could see it too was alive with fish.
Early morning is ideal for this hike, as it’s still quite cool due to the higher altitude and the canopy cover. After a nice cool swim we met lots of day trippers heading up through the Jungle to the falls as we headed back downstream to the car.
Saturday saw some of us heading back for a morning assault in the jungle at FRIM again. This time we were joined by guest hiker Emma over to do some training from OmniBus UK. Having never been in the Jungle before, Emma put us to shame and effortlessly flew up the jungle pass to the canopy walkway rope bridges.
Not satisfied with just a Saturday hike, we were out early on Sunday too, this time to the very impressive 400 Million year old Batu Caves with their 100M high ceiling. Batu offers a slightly different sort of training; the 272 steps are steep and get tougher as the temperature starts to rise rapidly in the morning sun. It’s a bit of fun too with the wild monkeys, the various Hindu shrines including a spectacular 130 foot gold statue of Lord Murugan, a Hindu deity. Who says fitness training can’t be fun, especially when followed by some ice cold fresh coconut.
Sunday morning training continued today with a visit to the hills on the East side of KL. We got off to a decaffeinated start when we met at our rendezvous point outside Starbucks at The Great Eastern Mall at 8am to find out it does not open until 9am on a Sunday. So we headed on to our assembly point on the forest fringe on Taman Tun Abdul Razak which is the point at which KL meets the Jungle, literally, one second you are standing in suburbia one minute later you seem to be transported through some sort of stargate portal to the depths of the Jungle.
The track incline kicked off almost straight away at 45 degrees into the jungle canopy. Most of us got pretty tired pretty fast, one noticeable exception was our guide today, local resident Datuk Lee and his three dogs, he started off last and arrived up at our first resting point first. It was a bit of a case of the old man teaching the young ones how to do it, despite being our senior, his spritely goat like hiking skills were much more preferable than my elephantine strides as my feet got heavier with every stride.
The path leveled off and followed the edge of a reservoir, which thankfully for me was horizontal hiking for a while, Datuk Lee then transmogrified from goat to Botanist and started showing us some of the hidden flora and fauna that was right in front of our eyes. He showed us jungle mushrooms and “Monkey Cups” or Pitcher Plants. Pitcher Plants are a carnivorous plant with a sock shaped leaf filled liquid that attracts its prey of insects into the open top of the sock, down into the liquid then drowns them and digests them. One would nearly feel bad for the insects until you noticed whet this particular plant was growing, right beside the still mosquito filled waters of reservoir. I don’t like mosquitoes so I guess I have a new favorite plant!!
We strolled on by the reservoir and quicker than a character in Harry Potter, our botanist guide had turned back into a goat and gone vertical! So lots of puffing and panting later we caught up on Datuk Lee for some more botany class to the amazing soundtrack of the monkeys which we could hear all around us but were never revealed. So after about an hour of chasing the goat we reached the top of the trail took a break and then began our decent from the thick jungle through the stargate and back to suburbia, where we dried off and headed to Starbucks for a much needed elephant sized venti latte and a St. Patricks Shambo from O’Briens sandwich Bar next door. FMK.
We managed to get some additional slots from mountain guide agent and our expedition has now been joined by Datuk Lee and his colleagues Lee Kok Choong, Rozilawati Bin Mustafa and Amanda Chong Mei Leng from DigiStar. This takes the total headcount of our expedition to 22. Good effort guys and thanks for joining us.
We have a new expedition member Mr. David Thomas but unfortunately Mohammad Haykal had to pull out to attend a family wedding in Istanbul. We will send you a photo from the Summit Haykal!!
OmniBus-Climb4Charity dates are now booked out, with the addition of one more to our group bringing the total to 19 climbers, another separate group has booked the remaining places for the weekend, so we are full!
Now all we have to do is get Mountain fit.
Last weekend a small group of us hit FRIM in KL again for a 6KM hike with a mid section steep incline and decline, which was pretty challenging.
The cool part was how we knew it was 6KM. This was achieved using a pretty cool appliance of science where Amy had a transponder slipped into her shoe which sends signals to her iPod which gives her stats on the hike! Wow cool stuff, there is even more that can be done by synching it to iTunes or iFit or something, I was lost at that point, but it was pretty fascinating technology. All the same though I’d prefer the helium weather balloons tied to my shorts as a better solution on how to get up the mountain.