From the Mersilau Park to the Kinabalu Park, there will be signed claiming that Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in South East Asia. This mountain stand at 4,095.2 m above sea level, but in my research there are three other mountains taller than Mt Kinabalu.
Puncak Trikora (in Irian Jaya, Indonesia) - 4,750 m
Puncak Jaya (in Irian Jaya Indonesia) - 5,030 m
Hikakabo Razi (Myammar) - 5,881 m
Since both Indonesia and Myammar are countries in SE Asia, than Mt Kinabalu can only be the 4th tallest mountain in SE Asia! Notwithstanding, it is still a mountain worth climbing as no techical skills are required. Just a pair of strong legs and willing mind.
For this year, it will be my 4th consecutive trek to this beautiful mountain in Sabah. Why four times? Take a look at this majestic view of the mountain, and soon your ache and pains disappear and you yearn to go up again.
Picture 1 - Mt Kinabalu (taken from Mersilau Nature Resort)
Upon arriving in Kota Kinabalu, we headed for Mersilau Park where we spent one night acclimatize to the high attitude. In the morning we proceed to the starting point and from there start the ascent. Equipped with Garmin GPS, one can see the 2D view of the climb. Though the entire journey is about 20 km, but factor in the attitude, it is more like 40 km!
Picture 2 - Attitude and Distant Chart of the Climb
The view of the mountain is affected by the mist that covers it. Depending on the season, in just one day, literally the whole mountain can disappear!
Picture 3 - Taken from KK Park HQ, the upper white dot of light is Laban Rata. Taken at 05:30 hr.
Pictue 4 - Taken at 06:30 hr. Just after sunrise. Perfect condition with no mist.
Pictue 5 - Taken at 10:30 hr. Where is the mountain?
At Mersilau Park, the air pressure is already 80% of sea level, and by the time we were at Laban Rata, the air pressure there was about 65%. The drop in air pressure also result in the thinness of air as well as the scarcity of oxygen, this results in giddiness and nauseating sensation for most of us. Thus the importance of acclimatizing before a climb, but time was not on our side, and panadol will have to do for these side effects of oxygen deprivation.
What is the feeling of doing this trekking? It has to do with countless of steps, and behind each bend, there will be more steps. For Mersilau Trail, there will be a portion where we have to descend (refer to the attitude chart), at this juncture one can only imagine that those attitude that has been gained, will have to be regained.
There is another trial from the Timpohon gate (if you refer to the attitude chart but move from right to left), it is a continuous upward climb. But Mersilau Trial offers better scenery and definitely a more enjoyable climb.
Picture 6 and 7 - Path leading to Whity Lodge where we spend 1 night at Mersilau to acclimatize.
For our group, we set off at 08:16 hr from Mersilau Park and reached Laban Rata Hut at about 15:30 hr.
Pictue 8 - 18 of us, at the starting point in Mersilau, with the peak behind us.
Pictue 9 - Mersilau Trial
Pictue 10 - Mersilau Trial
Picture 11 - Mersilau Rocky Trial
Pictue 12 - Mersilau Trail (it will be most beautiful if the mist has lifted, but still it is very magical)
Picture 13 - Mersilau Trial (one of the waterfall along the way)
Picture 14 - One of the stream along the Mersilau Trial
Picture 15 - Along the Ridge (this is one of the most beautiful spot along the Mersilau Trial)
Picture 16 - Water drenched moss (collected from the passing cloud)
Picture 17 - Whitish stringy fungus growing on the tree!
Picture 18 - Nepenthes (Pitcher Plant). The largest Pitcher Plant Nepenthes Raja grow in this area.
Picture 19 - Dead tree but covers with living moss
After arriving at our midpoint Laban Rata, we retired for the evening after loading ourselves with carbohydrate, as the morning hike to the summit will take place at 02:30 hr.
We set off for the summit at 02:30 hr, and the effect of thin air took its toll, as we can only walk a couple of steps before we have to stop to breath. Something that we do very naturally at sea level, but at this height, we have to make deliberate effort to breath in hard and into the diaphragm!
We reached Lows Peak at about 06:20 hr, just in time to see the sun rise. This was intentional, as the wind was strong, and there was very little protection up at the summit. Reaching the summit too early, means freezing in the cold windy rock face.
But when the sun rises, the whole mountain top landscape change from gloomy dark to golden hue. It is most amazing, and no words can simply describe it. Enjoy these pictures.
Picture 20 - Sunrise at the Summit
Picture 21 - Low's Peak
From the mountain top, one can look down at the surroundings, and wonder – did we walk through these in the wee hour of the morning. Look at the perspective of the human who are walking down the plateau. Puny! When we compare ourselves to the mountain. Did we conquer the mountain? I dare not say so, for to conquer the mountain is impossible, but simply we have climbed to the peak.
Picture 22 - The path to the summit is simply rocky.
Picture 23 - Summit Plateau
Picture 24 - Summit Plateau
Picture 25 - Summit Plateau (can you spot the line of human descending)
Picture 26 - Shot taken from the Summit Plateau
Looking at the plants that grow on the summit, these are very hardy species. At night, the temperature can drop to zero or even below (deg Celcius). For on my first trip up here, we found ice in pond. By mid-morning, the sun ray will be masked by the heavy mist that will flow over the mountain.
Picture 27 - Unknown Summit Plant
Picture 28 - Unknown Summit Plant
We can only stay that long at the summit before the cloud roll in and make the the descend dangerous. After an auduous climb down to the KK Park HQ, we look up at the mountain, and wonder - we have been up there, and we made it!
Picture 29 - The Summit as seen from KK Park HQ
Picture 30 - The dash of white is Laban Rata. On the left of the U Channel is the Donkey Ears Piak
Picture 31 - Unknown Plant (at KK Park HQ)
Picture 32 - Unknown Plant (at KK Park HQ)
Picture 33 - Unknown Fern (at KK Park HQ)
Picture 34 - Unknown Plant (at KK Park HQ)
Picture 35 - Unknown Plant (at KK Park HQ)
At the KK Park HQ, I have the priviledged of meeting like minded nature lovers from AWA (SkyLark). Really enjoy their company and the knowledge they shared with me.
Picture 36 - Swiftlet
Pictue 37 - Chestnut Munia (Lonchura mallacca) taken at sea level near to KK Town
Note : I have no idea to the IDs of the plants, moss, lichen and even the birds. But certainly I will have to do some research to determine the IDs. In the meanwhile, if you are knowledgeable to the IDs, I will certainly appreciate if you can provide them to me.
As I was lugging up at least 11 kg (water, food, camera etc), all pictues were taken with this versatile lens Nikon 18 – 200 mm VR lens mounted on my trusty D70S.