The Peaks of Mount Kinabalu

If you google the pictures of Mount Kinabalu on the internet, you’d probably see lots of South Peak’s fancy pictures. The pointy bastard always steals the highlight from Low’s Peak (4095m), Mount Kinabalu’s real destination and highest point. South Peak is really famous as a national landmark that Malaysian government considered it important enough to be printed on the national currency (1 ringgit). Poor you, Low’s Peak.

The hike to the peak began at early morning. Some people walked as early as 2 AM. Me? At that time, I was still struggling to get out of my comfy bed because I only slept for 3 damn hours and that wasn’t enough. I finally managed to drag myself out of the bed and so were the others. We ate early breakfast at the restaurant, then gathered outside Laban Rata to be briefed by our guide at 3 AM. The guide told us that normally, it’d take 3.5 hours walk to Low’s Peak that was “only” 2.5 kilometers away from Laban Rata.

I spent the first hour walked through thick scrubs and cliffs, climbed more wooden stairs built above steep rock inclines. After that, the rope challenge began. I had to pull up my body again and again to the higher parts of the rocky surface. Then came Sayat-sayat checkpoint, the highest and last hut on Mount Kinabalu. The sky was so clear that I could see the summit trail, filled with lots of dancing headlamps. I sat near the hut nearly 10 minutes to replenish my energy, then finally said to myself “Okay this is it, let me finish this shit and climb that sucker!”

In the middle of 1 degree Celsius air and ball-shrinking wind, I managed to watch the golden sky of sunrise at 3929 meters (KM 8.0). It was only 500 meters more to the top, but Low’s Peak was suddenly covered with thick fog so it wasn’t a good idea to photograph from there, unlike the place I sat and far below which had a clear view. I thought “Why rush? It’s best to enjoy the view while it lasts.” So I paused, picked a spot, sat and photographed my surrounding for 20 minutes. I decided to continue my walk when the fog had disappeared from Low’s Peak.

At 7 AM I reached the summit. Considering that above 3000 meters, the amount of oxygen molecules per breath are roughly 40% fewer than at sea level *, it surprised me that after a two-day sleep deprivation, I still got the strength to hike to the top of the mountain. I set three new records for myself at Mount Kinabalu: The highest altitude gain in one day (From sea level at Kota Kinabalu to 3270 meters at Laban Rata), my first 4-thousander mountain ascend, and the highest mountain I have ever hiked. Good job, Me.

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