Team Tortoise are Cheryl, Min, Opus, Elaine and Carrie

5 torts making their slow and steady ascent up Mt Kinabalu...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thoughts from a slightly different perspective

I couldn't have asked for a better group of adventure companions. We started off fit, cheery and excited on the first morning of the climb. I was still fighting a runny nose and a cough but I was hoping for the best and didn't want to think about it.

The climb up was, to put it bluntly, a terrible ordeal for me. My cold plagued me the entirely way. My chest and sinuses felt congested. The steps and rocks seemed interminable. Each time I tried to push myself forward and/or upward, I would not be able to find the energy. It just wasn't there. I felt crummy and weak. I wanted to blow my nose every 5 minutes and managed to do so every 15.

The first part of the climb to the rest hut was roughly 6km. I think the group started to break up a little from 4k onwards. I lagged behind, with Cheryl and Carrie just ahead of me. I put one foot in front of the other and tried to take each step at a time.

Stopping every so often to catch my breath, the guide asked me a few times if I was ok. It got to the point where other people's guides, passing by, asked me if I was ok. Was my wheezing that loud? I mustered up a cheery thumbs up and pressed on. In my head, I swore to myself that I would never go up an incline again. Any incline.

Around the 5k mark, it started to rain. Besides the discomfort of getting wet, this was actually my favourite part of the climb up. Things started to get interesting. I could hear loud, gushing sounds of waterfalls from the mountaintop, and I could see them too - furious streaks of white foam falling from the granite walls. It was awesome.

When we finally got to the rest hut, I was grateful for the opportunity to finally be horizontal and to get some rest. I knew that I wasn't well enough for the summit climb, so I made the decision not to continue on - I would stay at the rest hut overnight and wait for the others to return from the summit.

So, thankfully, I got several hours of rest. I woke up periodically from the noise and bustle but it didn't bother me too much.

In the morning, I discovered, to my joy, that from the rest hut, I could see the via ferrata route that the others were taking down from the summit. From the vantage point of the breakfast table, I watched and took pictures of my brave travel companions as they climbed down the mountain. It looked like it would be a little scary. At one point, clouds and mist descended upon the moutain with such alarming speed that I was concerned that they would suddenly lose visibility. Thankfully the clouds dissipated shortly after.

The climb down was much better for me. My cold bothered me less after the night's rest, and going down was less strenuous in general. Plus, I had the advantage of having had 10 hours' less climbing than my companions.

The route was rather dull, with little to see, but I enjoyed the downward jaunt (ha!) all the same.

5:40pm. Caught the bus driver and told him to wait dammit.

My legs ached for a good two days afterwards and the beach resort was lovely (except for the cockroach).

The end.

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