This is a guest post from Nova Renata, also one of SabahGuide.com contributing author. In this post, she is sharing her personal climbing experience in Mountain Torq’s Alpine Sports Climbing course.
For the average Sabah tourist, climbing Mount Kinabalu is usually high on the main priority list. But if you’re up for more adventure to spice up your climb, why not sign up for Mountain Torq’s Alpine Sports Climbing course?
A newly launched adventure travel product, the Alpine Sports Climbing course will not only help you realize your dream to become a pro climber, but you will also get to do three activities at a time: trek through the Timpohon Trail, experience the Via Ferrata route and rock-climb on Mount Kinabalu’s solid granite walls.
Timpohon Trail trek
Day 1 started with a 6-kilometer trek from the Timpohon Gate at Kinabalu Park to Pendant Hut (3,270m) circa 9.30am. For those who have yet to climb Mount Kinabalu, the length of time taken to trek through the Timpohon Trail varies—three to four hours if you’ve been going to the gym; seven to eight hours if you’ve been vegetating with abandon.
Normally, your mountain guide will prepare a small packed lunch for you before you set off on your journey. But just in case you’re worried about lacking fuel, it’s always best to keep an energy bar or two handy in your backpack. You can also munch on dried fruits or bananas throughout the climb, and do make sure to keep hydrated at all times (but not too hydrated as the next toilet is situated 1 kilometer away from the last one).
At approximately 1.30pm, I finally reached Pendant Hut and checked in. I was given a basic yet cozy dorm (which I would share with three other people) with a bunk bed and sleeping bag as my resting place for the next two nights.
After dinner, myself along with other novice climbers gathered at the main hall for a pre-climbing briefing by our guides, Jinu and Pody. During the briefing, we were introduced to the main safety equipments used, both on the Via Ferrata route and for alpine rock climbing. Safety equipments include the safety helmet, climbing harness, lanyard and carabiner. Another important aspect of rock climbing is rope management.
Among the crucial rope management skills are how to check for broken or unsafe rope, how to make a proper loop and the correct way of tying the rope to the harness and knotting it using the figure-8 knot.
After briefing, it was ‘lights out’ time.
Walking on the Via Ferrata
The Alpine Sports Climbing course started 6.30am. Right after breakfast, we slipped into our harnesses, grabbed our backpacks and set off for a climb.
The first half of the climb involves going on the Via Ferrata route which was exciting and mind-boggling. The first thing you have to make sure before going on the Via Ferrata route is to wear a comfortable pair of shoes that are light and flexible—I wore the New Balance 750v1 (go to this page to see what gears to wear),which was pretty helpful. It also helps to have a pair of light, water-resistant gloves handy as the Via Ferrata cables can get numbingly cold making gripping quite difficult.
While you’re on the Via Ferrata route, don’t forget to take the time to look back on the horizon beyond Mount Kinabalu. With tufts of white clouds, steel blue sky and miniature-looking houses from afar, the view is quite a spectacular one. In fact, if given a choice, I would’ve chosen to sit back and stare at the fascinating vista the whole day. At an average of 11 – 12 degree Celsius, be sure to also layer up on the thermal clothing.
Defy gravity. Climb!
When we reached the climbing site, Pody and Jinu demonstrated how a proper climb is done. Apart from well-fitting climbing shoes, a bagful of courage and another bagful of climbing chalk, the most crucial thing during a climb is the communication between the climber and the belayer (the one who leverages his climb). A climber must constantly communicate to his belayer when he is ready to climb, tired and wants to rest, needs a little pull on the rope, ready to come down, etc.
It is also essential for a climber to be nice to the belayer at all times now that his life is in the latter’s hands.
My first three climbs sailed through rather brilliantly (although there were occasionally brief moments of terror with a foot slipped, etc.). The most challenging route on the course would probably be The Forgotten, which at 30 meters long, was the longest route with the least nooks and crannies to sink my grips into. I must say, rock climbing isn’t at all brawn-dependant. In fact, figuring out your next step (literally) on that rock can be a mentally challenging effort. It’s almost like chess, only dangling on a rope.
Nonetheless, when I reached the top and yelled, “safe!” to my belayer, the feelings of fear and frustration were already replaced by pride. I’ve conquered a difficult route!
For more info on how you can take part in this crazy exhilarating expedition, visit Mountain Torq’s website at www.mountaintorq.com.
About the author:
Nova Renata is a freelance writer and editor based in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. When not writing at her desk, she will be cuddling her cat, clocking some miles or rolling on the mats. She aspires to be a best-selling author with solid six pack abs one day. Read Nova’s blog at novarenata.tumblr.com