Ironically, the climb started with a descent. As if telling us to enjoy the gravity before it saps the energy out when you go against it. We started by walking in one big group. All 11 of us. The air was cooling and refreshing. Couldn't be better. But, after few corners, the track changed to ascending mode.
We passed thru a small waterfall after abt 20 mins of walking. Then we faced the first hurdle, a very steep makeshift stairs with the elevation of about 20m. It may sounds low, but the distance between one flight to the other was quite high. We had to raise our leg as high as the hip to get to the next flight of stairs. Some of us let the others passed thru at the bottom of the stairs. They wanted to catch as much air as possible before climbing up.
Just after the stairs, we stopped at the first hut - Kandis. Few of us starting to have doubts on the climb. But ppl like Itik, Capoi, Own had really helped them by giving motivation and cheering them up.
As I mentioned in previous posting, we kind of split into 2 groups. I was with the group that push off first from the hut. But as we started walking, Capoi reminded us no to go too fast, as it is still a loooong way up. And its not a race anyway. Stick to the target -> to reach Laban Rata in healthy condition with enough gas to climb the peak the next day.
At this point, we were still walking in thick jungle with mostly moist clay track. Humidity was quite high. After 30-40 mins, we stopped again at the 2nd Hut - Ubah. Bedul, however, continued walking as he told us that he wanted to keep his pace and rhytm.
The group that I was in had Ayun, Idi and Farouk. We will always munch something every time we stop. Betul la cakap Capoi, u'll always feel hungry. Luckily the ration pack that they gave us was quite a huge portion. Every pack had 3 sandwiches, 2 boiled eggs, 4 popiahs, 1 fried chicken and 1 big fuji apple. Air dpt air soya. It was supposed to last untill Laban Rata. The ration reminded me of the food they provide in Charlie(TUDM's Hercules C-130). As a boy, I always had this kind of food when travelling between Kuching and KL. As a matter of fact, it almost tasted the same. Same caterer kot.
In addtion to the ration, we had all the supplements given by Mantat, and not forgetting the cola electrolyte tablet as well, that we can put in our drinks to replenish the stuffs that goes out with the sweats. I fully utilised the stuffs given by Mantat. Before climbing, had the peanut butter PowerBar, managed to finish it albeit struggling a little bit. Powerbar ni kalau time sejuk keras gila. Boleh patah gigi. On top of that, I always munched my trusted mini sneakers bar, even if I felt slightly hungry. Worked for me in Gunung Tahan, I'm sure it will do its wonders again in Kinabalu.
By the time we reached the 3rd hut-Lowii, we met the first group coming down. Exchanged few words, well, mostly we asked their experience climbing it. They gave some encouraging words, enough to keep our spirits high.
I still sticked with the same group from second hut. We took the opportunity to snap any nice pics along the way. And from time to time, Ayun and me will start singing. Our repertoire of songs ranges from P.Ramlee, to lagu cheer to lagu rock kangkang 80s&90s. Most of the time lagu rock kangkang la. Mcm terer je nak nyanyi, padahal tercungap2 jalan. Habih lirik semua kitorg tukar.
Next stop was Mempening. By the time we reached there, we saw Bedul lying to the tiang with both feet flat on the bench. He said he was starting to feel the cramps. Tgh lepak2 makan my mom called, asking me to go the Australian Embassy to sort out her visa. Alamak, lupa nak cakap mak aku yg aku panjat gunung, sori la mama, balik kl nanti baru buatla.
From this hut and all the huts until Laban Rata, we will call Itik asking on the condition of the group he was in everytime we stopped. It seemed that the are still slugging it out and enjoying every moment of it. Itik said not to worry, they will be in Laban Rata in time for dinner, which will be at 5 pm. So, they are shifting their focus to food now, not a bad idea.
After Mempening, some of us were showing signs of struggles at times. Ayun and myself could only give them words of encouragement to keep them going. Hold on, we did more than that, we finished up their food. Some of them wanted to reduce the load, so I helped them by finishing up their rations, bcos mine dah habih by 4th hut. OK la tu, kira tolong la jugak tu, tolong makan. This was also the time when masing2 sudah bawak keluar all the deep heats and what not. Kaki dah cramp2 beb.
Yg best bila berenti makan kat hut was that all the cute squirels will kerumun u mintak makan. Bagi apa pun depa telan je. Mcm aku la, bagi apa pun aku telan je. Mantat cerita, in his group , Izat will cabut lari bila tupai2 ni mintak makan kat dia. Geli dia kata.
After Villosa, 5th Hut i think, the terrain has changed. And we are now above the clouds. I think the altitude was more than 2.5K M. It started to get cold, and pokok2 pun berubah kepada pokok2 renek. The track pun dah start berbatu, air started to get thinner. Tapi, mamat2 and minah2 porter boleh selamba lagi panjat angkat tong gas lah, tong minyak lah, pakai kasut getah je bai. Rasa malu je kalau kena potong dgn diorang.
By this time, Capoi managed to catch up with us, dia kata kupon makan ada kat dia and dia nak kena check-in utk kitorg. Pasai tu dia kena cepat, so he had to leave the 2nd group. So he climbed with my group until Laban Rata. Yg lawaknya, Farouk ada la dekat 5 kali kena con dgn Capoi. Bcos he kept on asking 'brp jauh lagi Poi?', after Paka hut. And almost everytime Capoi will said 'lepas corner depan tu"... mmg tak pernah betul la. Angin je Farouk, tapi terubat dgn keindahan awek Jepun yg jalan depan kitorang .
At last, after abt 6-8 hrs of climbing. the first group reached Laban Rata arnd 1515 and 2nd group arnd 1700, just in time for dinner. Way off from our targets. But as I said earlier, its not a race, we were just enjoying every moment of this first stage of the climb by taking pics, singing and busy rubbing deep heat.
*To get a better idea of the trail, u can go to http://www.mount-kinabalu-borneo.com/mount-kinabalu-summit-trail-1.html