Thursday, September 4, 2008

Mount Kinabalu 06: Reaching the Low’s Peak

Mount Kinabalu is essentially a huge granite pitch that developed into molten rocks after million of years. Its granite composition and craggy peaks immediately came to view right after we reached the Sayat-Sayat Hut, the last shelter station in the mountain.

Low's Peak

So near yet soooo far! Looking at the Low's Peak from below is as exhausting as the actual climb.

From the point were we witnessed the sunrise, we had to climb half kilometer more to reach the Low’s Peak, the summit of Mount Kinabalu. The summit was named after Sir Hugh Low, a British administrator, who according to stories, was the first explorer to climb Mt. Kinabalu in 1851.

I went to check on Charl but she wasn’t feeling any better. She decided not to continue the climb and asked Nani, our guide, to accompany her while she waited for me. I wanted to push and encourage her to go on but I could see that her condition was not good. She said she'll just wait for me until I come back from the summit.

Climbers ascending to the Low's Peak

Malapit na...konti na lang...konti na lang...mamatay na ako! I haven't reached the top and some of the climbers are already going down.

I looked up and saw some climbers were already descending from the Low’s Peak. I got discouraged for awhile. (Ano ba yan! Di pa nga ako nakakarating sa tuktok, pababa na sila!) Half kilometer seemed like a long way to go especially if you’ve been climbing for four hours already, hungry and gasping for air. My legs were also starting to wobble as I try to make a few more steps. (Buwiset kasing mga hagdanan yun, ang dami!).

moon and mountain

The moon and the mountain

I looked around for something to motivate me-- a fervent reason for me to go on. I saw the moon still visible against the blue sky. Saying the scene was ‘beautiful’ is an understatement. Finally, I decided to climb the remaining distance. Small steps will get me to the top, I said to myself. (Dahan dahan lang. Pasasaan ba’t mararating ko din ang tuktok!)

Donkey Ears Peak

Donkey Ears' Peak

Just like what I did during the start of the trail, I tried enjoying the view. Mount Kinabalu is a big dome consisting of various jagged rock formations. One of them is the Donkey Ears Peak (4054 m), one of the seven major peaks. Charl was able to immediately identify this peak from afar.

South Peak

South Peak, one of the most photographed peaks in Mt. Kinabalu.

As I was making my climb to the summit, I try to look back every now and then. I don’t know why but it has been my habit to always look back. Maybe I was hoping Charl would pop-up into the scene and decide to climb with me. Anyway, all I saw when I looked back was the view of the South Peak and its striking granite composition.

Nani, the toughy

NANI, our mountain guide. She climbs Mt. Kinabalu at least twice a week.

Charl did not turn up into the scene, but Nani did. Nani, our mountain guide, joined me as I was heading for the steep, rocky trail. I asked for Charl’s condition and she told me that she asked her son (also a mountain guide) to accompany her while we were making the climb to the summit. I was happy to see Nani. She is a tough lady to beat. At 4’11” and with such small body frame, she can carry a maximum of 20 kg of pack all the way to the summit. She climbs Mount Kinabalu at least twice a week so she had already memorized which specific trail is the easiest to traverse. She was helping me climb the Low’s Peak at a relatively faster phase without tiring myself too much. Her advice was to “climb with small and easy steps.” Sometimes, she would have to keep up with my phase because I had to climb and take photos all at the same time.

St. John's Peak

St. John's Peak

Nani showed me another peak, St. John’s Peak which is famous for its gorilla-face rock formation. It was named after Spencer St. John who was with Sir Hugh Low during the first Mount Kinabalu exploration.

Low's Peak marker

The most photographed marker at Low's Peak. Climbers are always in a queue here. Aside from the certificate that they issue after the actual climb, a picture with this marker is one great proof that you've reached the summit.

After climbing the ragged cliff, the Low’s Peak marker came to view. I felt like crying! Not because I was feeling sentimental having reached the top, but because I was already feeling my lungs about to burst due to exhaustion. I was already thinking the long way back. (Naisip kong magpagulong-gulong na lang pababa ng summit kaso baka giniling na karne na ako pagkatapos!)

Low's Gully

The terrifying mile-deep, Low's Gully which is located at the east side of the summit.

Located at the North side of the summit is the Low’s Gully. According to the story, this massive mountain was covered by huge sheets of ice and glaciers which flowed down its slopes, polishing its surface in the process and creating a terrifying mile-deep narrow valley (1,800 m deep). They say that in 1994, a group of British Army was hopelessly stranded in this gully for a month.

mountain guides' meeting

Mountain guides having some sunshine at the bottom of the Low's Peak. Nani (extreme left) is the only woman in the group. Such a tough lady!

After the monumental picture-taking at the Low’s Peak marker, Nani and I waited for awhile. I tried to catch my breath and enjoy the view. I met some nice people from Sarawak who asked me if I am Malaysian. There’s this guy who was kind enough to take our photos at the marker.

8 comments:

Ferdz said...

Congratulations Rayts! really enjoyed climbing along to the peak here in your blog. Wow! Peak finally.

I can relate to your last few steps there, paano ba naman yung elevation alanganin na nakataaso nakababa, making walking really hard. Tas mukhang malapit na pero malayo pa pala.

I think Nani needs to accompany you so she could verify if indeed reached the summit. Sila kasi nag re-report sa baba. Love her portrait shot here as well.

Congrats again! and buti na document mo rin yung each peak. Looking forward for more.

redge said...

Wow! It must be a really great experience reaching the peak. Congrats! What mountain will you climb next? :)

my gulch said...

@Ferdz:
thanks! and thanks for reading this series of post. this might sound foolish but i was talking to myself the whole time that i was climbing to the peak: "konti na lang, sige kaya mo yan!" i learned that no one will motivate you except yourself!

you were right. Nani needed to accompany me because of the certificate. the first thing she did when i reached the marker was to shake my hand and congratulate me. parang template na, hehe. but then she did it again when i got my certificate, haha. kakatuwa talaga si Nani.

@redge:
naku, yoko munang umakyat ng bundok. haha. pahinga muna ko. pero gusto ko mag-Pulag or mag-Apo, haha!

the donG said...

wow! i agree that the south peak is the most photographed and it's also the most stunning.

nice shot of nani. nani in japanese means "what". hehehe...

Photo Cache said...

wonderful shots of your adventure. like ferdz say, it feels like i have climbed it too. btw, i really loved the moon shot. pretty cool.

Toe said...

Funny name... Low's Peak. :)

Grabe Rayts! Ang galing ng climb na 'to. And your photos are for National Geographic. :) Sobrang ganda talaga!

kyels said...

Congratulations for reaching the peak! I had a nice journey too ( through your photos )!

;D

The photos are awesome and I really like the moon and the mountain photo. Ganda!

pieterbie said...

A lady guide, great!
Love those donkey's ears!
Great nature!

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