2016 In Retrospect: MT. KINABALU

I reached Mt. Kinabalu’s Lowe’s Peak at around quarter to 7am, meeting several of my (fast) team mates who were already going down.  I looked at my watch thinking I need to make the cut-off time at Sayat-sayat for the Ferrata, so I have an hour to get down to km7 or known as the checkpoint. Can I make it on time considering the steep descent, rope segments and my knees?

Thankfully, I did not suffer headache, a symptom of altitude sickness which meant I was able to cope with altitude. I asked a fellow hiker who was already going down to take photos of me with the signage, he gladly obliged. He even asked me if the shots he took were okay, I smiled and said yes, thank you and he left me to catch up with his buddy.

I was left alone at the peak.

Looking at the vast granite floor in front of me was like looking at a dead landscape, stone laid out in a flat fashion smoothed by elements of nature. No trees in sight, beyond that are mountain ranges that composes the landscape of Kota Kinabalu then the clouds and the bluest sky.

The sky felt so near that in my mind, if I decided to reach out I can touch it. I looked at the other side and saw a huge caldera and the rising boulders and I wish I could stay a little bit longer, the beauty was so eerily captivating. I can feel the euphoria taking over my being.

But 10 minutes was gone too soon and I started my descent, meeting several of my friends midway, I congratulated them and said “I need to get down”, I was in a rush that I forgot to take a photo of them, a photo of us, to celebrate with them the joy of reaching the top. I think I would always regret that, a lesson learned.

I started running down the slope from km 8, thankful of the traction of my shoes and the rough surface of granite stone. The ropes were a lot of help too. In my mind, a small voice was shouting for me to decrease the speed, one wrong step and I could tumble down to the waiting nothingness and then the rocks below. But it seems the recklessness of youth haven’t left me yet or maybe because I haven’t committed myself to anyone.

I survived, thanks to the granite stone and my superb ability for balance, it seems walking on rice paddies during my growing up years paid off.

At 10 minutes to 8am I reached the checkpoint, the guy manning the registration smiled and offered me a hearty congratulations and then registered me again for the ferrata or known as “walk the torq”. And there, I re-discovered my fears. One segment almost brought me to my knees but the rest was fun.

I’m glad I have lived this far to experience it. Life has too many experiences to offer, it doesn’t end when a relationship ends, it doesn’t become meaningless because a dream didn’t come true.

One thing I’ve also came to realize was that: it is not the physically strong who survives, most often it’s those who are strong emotionally, it’s those who stand up (always) even after a defeat.

Take a glimpse at several snaps I took and I hope it will encourage you too to take the journey.


How to arrange a climb in Mt. Kinabalu? There are three ways how to do it and I have wrote a guide, you can check it out here.



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