Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mt. Kinibalu, Borneo

One of my last weekends in Asia, but one of my first to enjoy the outdoors here. We travelled to Borneo this weekend to climb Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak on the island.
We took the typical route, which entails a two day venture, going most of the way up on the first day, then summiting for sunrise on the second day and taking the rest of the second day to complete the long (and severe) descent.
The first day took us above the clouds. I haven't been in that position for a long time except in an airplane. It is much nicer when you can feel the wind against your skin and not be interrupted by inflight announcements regarding duty free offerings, etc.
I hiked most of the first day with my good friend, Laura. She's from Switzerland, so she 'gets' my love of the mountains. When we got to the lodge at the end of the trail for day 1, we felt like we could make it to the top - no need to pack it in for the day. We were so full of energy, it was like we were high. We walked into the lodge to the sight of another group, who, apparently, felt a bit differently about the mornings exploits.Starting out late on the second day was slow, on account of a few of the tardier members of our group. This would not have been an issue, except that it meant that we were stuck behind a long line of slow people. We quickly became frustrated (it was cold out, and we were moving at a snails pace). We decided to make a pass and took an aggressive pass (off 'path') in the dark. We paid the price, as I bailed on some rough granite and skinned my knee and a few others suffered rolled ankles. It served us right, but it was worth it. At some point we ended up close to the front of the pack. It wasn't like we were in a hurry per se, we were just trying to keep warm. We were the last to leave the lodge and ended up to be the second (only by a matter of minutes) to reach the top. It was a good thing, too. There was very limited space to sit up there on the tippy top of the mountain. We basically took all of the vacant space.
It was still dark at that point, with no sign of sunshine and we all speculated on the direction in which the sun would rise.
Eventually, the sunlight began to peak through.
We hogged our space at the top until it was bright and warm.

And we enjoyed the views all around. Talk about being on top of the world.


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