Mount Kinabalu Climb For Chairty 2010
What is life changing…what type of experience changes you and your way of thinking…what opportunities have the ability to change your whole outlook on life? I love my comforts…I am a creature of all that is comfortable…so climbing a mountain seemed more than a bit crazy to me…however, I am lucky enough that with Fint by my side…these opportunities happen often enough. (For better or worse!) What doesn’t kill you…and all that!
…So our friend Mike says to Fint…we should climb Mount Kinabalu….then Homeslice says to me….we can do it for the kids…I say YEAH!! And now I have possibly one of the best memories of my life stored into my heart. It was as simple as that…a simple yes…such a powerful word…after that the gears were in motion and unstoppable.
On January 1, 2010 Fint and I treated ourselves to a much needed gym membership…to prepare for the mountain climb, leaving nothing to chance. Working out together has been a wonderful bonding experience…and we are getting healthier and healthier from it. For those of you following my blog or the Mount Kinabalu Climb for Charity blog, you also know that we climbed every weekend to get our climbing muscles ready for the mountain ascent…the only thing is we couldn’t be positive how ready all this training would actually have us for conquering Mount Kinabalu. During these weekend warrior outings I also developed a real love for hiking…even though they involved early morning starts (think waking up at 6:00am on Saturday and Sunday!). I plan to keep this hobby active for the rest of my days.
The Roof of SE Asia
First before I get into the nitty gritty details of the climb, I want to say that we had the best climbing group ever. We had a group who were people with an excited “lets do this motha” attitude…we all wanted this experience…and we all wanted that all important Color Print Mount Kinabalu Certificate! For me, there was not a better way to experience Mount Kinabalu than with a cool group of climbers like the one we had.
Night Before the Base Camp Hike/Climb
After our flight, we all arrived by bus to the hotel…tired…anxious…and hungry. Everyone met up for some fish-ball steamboat…which is a boiling broth in the middle of the table that you add all of the meat and veggie ingredients to…it boils and you then dish out and eat. So fish balls are pretty much just fish paste (ground up fish bits) and flour and then they are shaped into meatball pieces….I have to say, not my favorite meat! But the soup with lots of chilies, soy sauce and chopped garlic was editable. Not so sure I would rush out to order this again…especially the raw egg part in the soup and the fishy bits…but it was an experience…and I was lucky I had the steamboat expert, Liyen, sitting next to me to help me figure it out a little.
After dinner…none of us were drinking alcohol because of the crazy next few days of climbing we would be doing…so when you have a bunch of anxious adults, who cant drink, what do you do? Karaoke of course! Fint also got us to do mini interviews while he video taped it…some of them were hilarious. Bed came early for everyone, as we had an early start the next day and sleep was going to be precious and little over the next few days.
Hike/Climb to Base Camp
I call this a hike climb…because it was a hike…but it was a steep, steep uphill hike. The terrain was rough and choppy with large rocks which we had to climb up. All the while in awe of the landscape which was simply beautiful…looked like something out of the movie Avatar. Real proper jungle trekking stuff here…luckily we had prepared by working out for months in advance…otherwise just making it to base camp could have been terrible.
We also heard many rumors from people about little old ladies carrying gas tanks on their heads up this part of the climb…and I have to say, the two days we were on it (going up and then back down)…there were no such ladies! Not one! There were however, young men with calf and thigh muscles like huge rocks! So I would like to debunk that myth now. Unless of course, they are little old ninja ladies…scurrying up the mountain in the shadows…hiding behind jungle leaves…carrying up those gas tanks with such a nimbleness…that they go unnoticed…one cannot be sure.
You do, however, meet some very interesting people from all walks of life and all countries along the way; friendly people that have words of advice and encouragement. The people coming down the path are always the wise gurus…the people going up the path are the hopeful grasshoppers.
Night at Base Camp
When we reached the base camp Adrian gave me the most welcomed cup of tea I have ever had…and Fint refilled that cup about 5 times for me! The altitude was really getting to me…my symptoms included…very bad headache, feeling sick to the stomach, dizziness, and just all around not well. I was getting very nervous that I would not be able to handle the climb the next morning…but after filling my tummy with food and coke, and sleeping it off in the hut…my body got use to the altitude and I felt healthy and well by morning.
Sleeping at base camp made me feel like a kid at summer camp all over again…all of us sleeping in bunk beds…in sleeping bags. The idea here was to fall asleep by 7:00 pm…which I can say didn’t happen. Between giggling and talking (not from our group, but other groups in the hut) and snoring (yes by many members of our group) it was hard to get a good night sleep. Also the pressure of needing to fall asleep and knowing that 1:00am comes far too quickly helped add to the restlessness.
2 AM Start to Summit
We wake up…and Fint and I eat a breakfast of champions…Oreo cookies, Pringles chips…peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and hot Sabah tea (Rocky eat your heart out!)…calories where our main goal and we needed a lot of them! It was nice to eat cookies for breakfast with out the slightest hint of guilt! Too bad I wasn’t able to sit back, relax and enjoy it more…it was too cold…too dark…and way too early!
The climb started by going up what seemed to be a million steep, rickety wooden steps…up, up, up with nothing but your head torch to light the way. There were a lot of people climbing on that morning…but the oddest part is the silence in which people climb up in the dark. No talking…just trying to breathe and keep going as the air gets thinner and thinner. As you look around during the climb…you can see hundreds of head torches looking like a line of stars winding their way up the side of the mountain in the silent, cold, dark night…beautiful and inspiring.
Describing this part of the climb is very difficult for me…I was pushing my body and mind to it’s limits and as a result my senses were taking turns being hyper alert and dulled.
Then came the ropes…the most terrifying and adrenalin inducing part of the climb. In the dark…pulling yourself up by ropes…with no safety gear…for about 1 km of pure terror…this is where you find out how much guts you actually have! I am slowly finding that my guts are plentiful…I am less of a pansy that is for sure!
Sunrise was absolutely breathtaking. As the sun was first starting to rise it was very dramatic. To the west the full moon (yes, we were lucky enough to have a full moon!) was still high and bright in the sky and to the east of us the sun was slowly creeping out from under the mountain peaks. When the sun rise appeared it was amazing! I have never seen the sun so bright…and the strangest sensation was that I could reach out and touch the rays…it was a surreal moment to realize I wasn’t looking up at the sun I was simply looking over at it. I was eye level with the sun rise…during this time everyone was absolutely still…silent…in personal thought…then about 30 seconds after the rise there was a collective cheer from all of the people on the mountain. Everyone so glad to be on the summit…so glad to see the sunrise…so glad to be in this moment…so glad to feel so alive.
Climb Back Down
Picture Frodo Baggins…falling down the trail…stumbling along on his never ending rocky path…tripping…legs so tired from the long journey…rain falling down…making the path even more torturous…slippery…dangerous for tired legs and minds…long…never ending long…and this is what it feels like on the trip down. This part of the trip is a hazy blur of rain, pain, and wanting it to all be over!
The day after the climb we were sore, tired and to top it all off the entire group got food poisoning, quite possibly, the worst case of it I have ever had in my life. Lucky we were able to medicate ourselves and pull it together so we were able to make our flight to meet Torben Venning and Junecel Francisco and the amazing children of Borneo Child Aid.
Borneo Child Aid
Meeting these kids reminded me that there is a life out there outside of my own world. These kids gave so much to us…we were able to visit 5 of the 106 schools located in Borneo. They were so cute and outgoing…they welcomed us into their schools with smiles and cheers.
As we entered the first school we had to walk up two flights of stairs, there was a line of little shoes on the steps that was so precious. We didn’t know what to expect…but we did know we would be sweating…there was no aircon in any of the schools. Once we stepped inside we were greeted with a hearty “good morning visitors!” from the children.
A little boy stood in front of us and told us a story that brought tears to all of our eyes…even Mike and Fint’s! We were humbled by these children and their desire for a better future. They were so proud to show us around their classrooms and show off their various sports medals…Borneo Child Aid holds a sports competition every year and the children all win prizes and medals.
I cannot say enough good things about Borneo Child Aid…without them, hundreds of children would be subjected to child labor on the plantations and have no hope for their childhood or their futures.
We were sore…still recovering from our food poisoning, and completely exhausted from the climb, but, I couldn’t think of a better way to put it all into perspective.
These sweet children are the future hopeful doctors, lawyers and business owners of Borneo Island thanks to the efforts of the hard workers of Borneo Child Aid Society.
For more information on Borneo Child Aid Society, or to donate to this worthy cause visit: http://www.borneochildaid.org/