This is the continuation of the first part. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you to click on this link first.:)
They say that every summit in the world is just walking distance to every person who sets his heart to it. Months before climbing Mt. Kinabalu, I was all just set for reaching its summit that I considered the via ferrata as just a bonus if I would be able to make it to its cut off time. I mean, climbing Mt. Kinabalu at its height of 4095+MASL and is considered to be the highest in South East Asia is already a feat itself. My original plan honestly was to avail just the regular route (without the via ferrata) but since I was told by Sir Tristan that there were no more slots for it and only the Via Ferrata was available, I had no other choice but to just say yes to it and accept the challenge accompanied by it. After all, not everyone has the opportunity to experience it.
Call time for the summit assault was set at 2AM so we all had to wake up by 01:30AM to allow us to prepare and take a light breakfast. I was glad that I didn’t have a hard time sleeping in Pendant Hut so waking up wasn’t that difficult as well. They provided us with cozy sleeping bags enough to make us feel comfortable despite the cold weather. I had a total of 4-hours of continuous sleep that refreshed me. I wasn’t feeling any light headedness anymore upon waking up. Probably because my body was already able to acclimatize overnight. Thank God! 🙂
I had 3-layers of jacket with me during assault: 2 fleece and 1 waterproof since I was told that the summit could shoot down to a negative degree centigrade. I was also wearing a thermal baselayer to make sure that I’m protected since I’m a naturally lamigin person. But nah, I actually overestimated the coldness that time. I forgot to consider that the assault is going to be physical and going through a series of stair climbs would really make us sweat. That’s why after a few kilometers of climb, I had to remove 2 of its layers and put them at my backpack. I was left then with my thermal baselayer and my waterproof jacket.
From Pendant Hut to the summit, it would take you another distance of 2.72km and an altitude gain of almost a thousand meters in height. It started with a harmless stair climb made of woods that quickly became steep stones. My headlamp would turn off every after few minutes of using it and got busted eventually in the middle of the climb. Good thing the moon was really bright and full during that it served as my light all the way up. My mountain guide who was behind me was also lighting my way with his small held flashlight.
We passed through the 700m “Danger Zone” wherein we had to rely on ropes that would help us scale up from the slabs of granite rocks in front of us. I remember myself stopping at every moment I’m feeling tired. I felt my backpack getting heavier as I’m feeling my legs getting weaker. Every step required me to breathe deeper than the usual. My mountain guide offered to carry my ~5kg backpack from the Sayat Sayat Checkpoint to the summit for 40RM. Good thing I was able to bargain his service for just 30RM! Whew! All just to make it to my goal of reaching the summit before 6AM.
Going past the Sayat Sayat checkpoint, wherein one has to register, we were faced with a long stretch of open-faced mountain. I felt the air thinning during this point. It was colder as well as the wind gushes penetrating at every crack of my face. But the view of the summit just kept me going as I utter my prayer, “Lord, give me strength. I can do this through You!” while silently singing Kari Jobe’s song Steady my Heart
At exactly 05:45AM, I was able to reach the summit! Yeheyy! Goal achieved! It was just in time for the sunrise! The sun was about to peek out the moment I reached the summit. I felt that God just set everything in time to make this climb oh-so-sweeter. Aahh! I can’t fathom His greatness by just looking at His wonderful deeds. The sky looks so low at this point as if I can reach it when I jump. I wish my camera could capture exactly as to how my eyes see the beauty and entirety of things every time God unveils something beautiful in front of me.
There were a lot of climbers lining up to take their photo on the famous Kinabalu marker. I saw my teammates who were able to arrive there earlier.We stayed there for just a few minutes and had to go down to the Sayat Sayat Checkpoint where our via Ferrata descend starts. We had to be there before 07:30AM else we won’t be able to join them which has to start by 8AM. I was with Anna, my MMS new found friend, on our way down and we would take turns for each other’s photos.
The descend from the summit to the Sayat Sayat Checkpoint was a lot easier that we had almost an hour of slack time to take a lot of photos all the way down. Upon reaching the Sayat Sayat Checkpoint, we had to meet our Via ferrata guides who will accompany us during the Via ferrata descend. The via ferrata route is a protected mountain pathway consisting of a series of rungs, rails, cables and bridges embracing the rock face. It allows access to the scenic sections of the mountains that are typically available only to rock climbers and mountaineers. I already told on my previous post on how we were trained to use the ferrata.
There are actually 2 via ferrata routes to choose from the packages offered by Mountain Torq. First is the Walk the Torque- the simpler and shorter version wherein you can finish in approximately 2-3hrs and the Low’s Peak Circuit- the more challenging one since it is actually 3times the distance of the Walk the Torque. One of my teammates, Sir Ping, tried the Low’s Peak Circuit while the rest of us took the Walk the Torque.
If you’re only after getting a taste of the Via Ferrata, I would suggest for you to just try the Walk the Torque. We enjoyed the first hour of this activity but doing it in the next succeeding hours was already tiring. The Walk the Torque experience is already exhaustive, what more for the Low’s Peak Circuit which usually takes an average of 5-6hours. To add on, the route is sun-facing so expect that the scorching heat could also zap the energy out of you.
Just some few tips if you have plans of doing the via ferrata in the future: bring gloves that would give you a good grip; a light windbreaker would be of help to cover you from the sun and from the sudden cold breeze; use trek shoes that also got a good grip; bring at least 1 liter of water, since I had mine carried by a porter, I was really very thirsty when we finished it.
That said, I can say that the whole via ferrata experience was ALL WORTH IT!!! I have no regrets of taking it and even spending more for it allowed me a better view of the world below. The adrenaline rush was one of a kind, it was one of those that you will remember and cherish in your lifetime. It was breathtaking! Both literally and figuratively! Haha!
Upon reaching Pendant Hut, we had a heavy breakfast then prepared for the descend. All of us took the the Timpohon trail, which is a standard descend trail for all the climbers. It was easier this time and we finished the whole 6km for just 3hours! Almost twice the speed of our ascend! At around 3PM, we were all back in the Timphon gate. Yeyy!
Whew! Thank you for taking the time to read this loong story! I hope that you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing about it. This climb just made me realize that indeed, Nothing is Impossible! And that God is a lot more BIGGER than what we think are our biggest fears! I hope this article encouraged you my dear reader to climb your dream mountain, and have that best “hooray!” of your life at the loudest and highest pitch on a higher ground. Just climb, knowing that someday, the things that you will regret are those that you think you didn’t do when you were able to. 🙂