Mount Kinabalu, Kinabalu National Park, Borneo, Malaysia

Point blank THE worse idea I have had. Maybe ever, but certainly since the last one on 03 June (aka that bloody Colca Canyon in Peru.)

Mount Kinabalu is… (I want to say SE Asia’s highest Mountain but that doesn’t actually come up on Wikitravel?) So instead I’ll go with the facts: “the 20th most prominent mountain in the world”.

SE Asia’s highest sounds better doesn’t it. Dam.

Kinabalu’s peak stands at 4095meters, climbable in a 2 day trek, along the Timpohon trail. The first stretches is from the Timphon gate to Laban Rata – home to aging bunk beds, cold showers and my all time fave Lonely Planet description “bit like a Himalayan orphanage.” The second leg is a 2am climb to the summit. Yes you heard – 2am as in middle of the night. Then you gotta get all the way down again.

All in all its only 24k, although every last second of that is vertical. We are talking sheer cliff face and rocky terrain. Some (insanely fit) people can do it in one day, and for professionals that enter the annual Climbathon, the quickest times to beat is a supersonic 2 hours 39 mins. People chirp on about the fauna, the famous wild orchids, being at one with nature….. I am here to tell you – and I tried hard to edit all swear words out of this – They are lying b*stards!

It is a vile, ugly, monstrosity that is truly hell on earth. I honestly think I may be in a state of post traumatic stress now at the thought of a door step or mere incline. For 8km the only way was UP. That’s 4 hours on a stair master.

I now have inner thighs like that Russian Bond chick in Goldeneye, and a bum to rival a Brazilian Ipanema beach dweller. Or maybe I don’t, having spent most of my time hyperventilating with altitude sickness and sat on the floor crying. I don’t care if that makes me look like a weakling, its true!

I’d try and be positive and tell you all about the view, which was….actually I have no idea! I spent my entire time with my eyes glued to the back of Wilfred (my guide’s) feet with my head down, trying to zone out the pain and misery and just put one step in front of the other. I did this for four hours straight.

Day 2. I would say this was more enjoyable, but perhaps ‘just marginally less horrible than yesterday’ will do. People often talk about inner strength. This next sentence pretty much sums the most will power I hope to ever have to use in my life:

At 2am, leg muscles aching, I stepped out from my snugly bed with a cocoon of double blanket, dressed myself in every layer of clothing I had including a poncho, and stepped out into the Malaysian night, half way up a mountain.

Anyone that actually gets out of bed at 2am, deserves a medal in my eyes.

It takes anywhere between 3 – 5 hours to reach the summit, via rope handrails and on bended hands and knees. Perversely I found this bit easier than yesterday. Maybe as your brain has slightly more to concentrate whilst it searches for footholds and wonders why we are scrambling up waterfalls. My group of four Swedish boys and I laugh at the fact that the two crazy Dutch boys walked in nothing but their pants yesterday.  We are all slightly giddy. Moral is at an all time high for a while.

When you reach 4000m however, everyone has fallen into silence. We are all spread out over the space of a few kilometres, like a winding line of glowing lemmings with sparkling head torch lamps twinkling across to the peak. The stars are out, the outline of clouds loom below us, and miles of shiny black granite rocks stretch in front of us. You take a few icy breathes and look down on how far you have come, and for the tiniest of milliseconds your mind can be tricked into thinking it’s all worthwhile. I think I was delirious through cold or fatigue or whatever :)

Due to the plunging temperatures most people stay at the summit just long enough to take a few pics, glimpse the sunrise and think to themselves, god they should pave this with grass instead of rocks it would be way more pleasant. Or maybe that’s just me.

Then begins the decent.

Its 2 hours down for breakfast, and then another 2.5/3 back to the bottom gate. Now, I know I use the word ‘ricochet’ a lot – to describe minibuses in Laos, the unpaved roads in DonDet on a bike for example. However never should that work be used when describing your own ankle and knee joints, which suffered a 5 hour pounding yesterday.

I should mention. That despite my tales of woe. I was the first girl to make to Laban Rata on day 1, and one of the first dozen out of over 100 climbers to reach the summit. Which, after my waterworks the day before, I think no one expected, including myself.

I owe it to the following, that I am alive to tell this tale:

1)      Cadburys Dairy Milk (9RM) & my $100Yuan Chinese knock off Converse trainers. You held it together well.

2)      Swedish House Mafia, Missy Elliot, The Pretty Reckless.

3)      My guide Wilfred and the other porters all carrying at least my body weight, whilst wearing Crocs.

4)      The nice elderly Japanese man who thankfully lied his ass off and said I was ‘half way there’ as he passed me on day one.

5)      The pretty eye candy Swedish boys who I was trying to look cool/tough in front of.

6)      Kris who can actually do things like marathons without complaining. My mum who walked the 10k Ribbon Trek mid chemo treatment without even breaking a sweat.

And don’t even be the person to utter “yeah but it was worth it wasn’t it…” Answer: No!

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An.an.tas.in : The Anantasin is the name of a shipwreck just of the coast of the Sensi Parasise, Mae Haad Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. It’s one of my many favorite places.

Lit.tle: Just because it’s cute.

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