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.
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!).
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
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, 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, 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
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.
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!)
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 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.