Due to the freezing temperature, getting a warm & snoozy sleep is a nightmare. I only managed to fall deep at the last hour before roomates’ alarm drilled through my eardrums. No time playing dumb by the bed coz the cold will struck even whenever we stood still. A quick glance at the washroom basin & mirror, making sure my face looked healthy & the whole Laban Rata hostel were in rush our. Everybody were  busy getting into their gears & gadgets.

By 2.00 a.m. we rolled up into more steps…again. The first few hundred meters were so hard on ourselves. Body was trying to overcome the numbness of the freezing wind, heartbeat was ramming high even though we just started climbing the first few steps. Steps and more steps before we hit the rock surface. It was one mother of all rock. So huge that it seems like a bare rock plain and the only way was UP. We pulled ourselves up the white rope & laid our footsteps carefully in the dark as we don’t want to have the slightest idea of how far the ravine besides us falls. Our headlights were only focusing on where our foot is to be placed.

The journey of pulling ourselves up ended as we reached Sayat Sayat. A ranger recorded our climbing tag numbers. We continued on walking up the rock surface, struggling to move ourselves within the constraint of the mountain’s altitude. The moon was full & the beauty of the terrain’s geography was lit by it’s infinite brightness. A shadow of South Peak guided us through the alienated topo.

We reached the 8.5km signboard, which means anothe 500 meters to go. Surprisingly, our pace were so slow. Getting the 2.5km from Laban Rata took about 2 hours. The last 500 meters squeezed our last juice of the energy. Suddenly the terrain became steeper, the rope stopped & we had to climb with our hands and legs for the last 100 meters. Everything went so fast. Within the shortest time, we were already placing ourselves on the highest point in South East Asia. Ooooo…man!!! I don’t know how to put the words for the feeling I felt at the moment. The best desciption would be…WOOOHOOO!!! I was the third person to reach the peak that morning sharp at 4.30 a.m. A feeling of gratefulness and thankful touched my innerselves.

A few quick snapshots were taken, waited for Waklah to arrive. Along with him were the whole 190 other climbers non-stop line. In a blink, the peak was congested. We had to make way for them. We decided to descend. Upon our way back, reaching the vast rock plain, sunrised. The first orange stream cut through the darkness of the peaceful sky. We stopped for a few more shots before the camera gone dead.

We headed down towards Sayat Sayat again passing more climbers who were walking like half asleep. After checking out at the ranger post, and quick stop at the loo, we picked a nice spot to witness the sea of clowds approaching the land below blanketing villages, forest and mountain ranges. The moment and the sight was extrodinaire.

We slithered ourselves down the slippery wet steps back to Laban Rata before I hit the bed in an attempt to recover from the drained energy & lack of rest. It was already 7.30 a.m.

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“We woke up at 4.30 a.m. to start our journey to Kinabalu National Park, which took another 2 hours by bus. We witnessed the morning people either starting their day or ending the night shifts. By 6.00 a.m. the morning sky was brightly shone by the beautiful sun as we make way further into the remote of Sabah, away from the coastal area of KK.

The silhouette of Mt Kinabalu accompanied us along the winding and climbing road. Far away beneath our eyes are the beautiful land below the wind where morning fogs overcasted the mountain range of remote Sabah.

Kinabalu Park HQ was busy with holiday makers & climbers like us. Registration was without a hitch. Within minutes we were already being briefed by our guides in front of the trail map and the view of the majestic Mt Kinabalu lay upon us like breakfast meal of the day. We boarded the park shuttle towards the gateway to “the heritage” through Pondok Timpohon.

Our journey today will take us through the mountain forest of Kinabalu National Park and up to Laban Rata (our hostels) 6 km trekking, which is equivalent to an average of 5 hours. Climbers were provided with huts, toilets & untreated water along the way. It was all well facilitated. Climbers can also pay for the belongings to be carried by local porters.

4 km of endless steps and 2 km of endless boulders trail welcomed each one of us. The steps passed by with a brief, but I can imagine the nightmare of having to scale it down back to Timpohon Gate tomorrow. Temperature dropped, air grew thinner & humidity doubled as we struggled the last 500 meters to reach Laban Rata at 3272 meters high. I laid my foot one after another as I pushed up the steep terrain. Breathing was nothing that I took for granted at this point of time. Every breath was taken with full concentration so as not to upset the heartbeats. It was already 2.30 p.m.

A RM15.00 nasi goreng and a RM5.50 pot of hot coffeee was the best, the highest ever paid lunch I have ever had. The worse was yet to come, when it was time to take our evening shower. A strike of freezing jetstream shower hit our forehead equivalent to a bee stung. A lazy evening was spent around Laban Rata witnessing the beauties of Sabah at the bottom & the gigantic rock of the Kinabalu plateau at the back.

This was the best of it, the chance to admire the peacefulness of nature at the highest peak in South East Asia. These are the reasons for me to keep on coming back climbing. Every peak provides me the same peaceful mind.

“Gadget boleh dijual beli but not stamina”. That was the most said phrase upon leaving the land below the wind. As I turned back my head before soaring high into the blue sky, leaving behind Kota Kinabalu International Airport, I was determined to make a return to the majestic plateau.

The day was Monday 28th May 2007. Waklah & me left BTHO for Putrajaya KLIA Transit Station beginning our journey with downpours as we approached KLIA & LCCT. We made it just in time for checking in at the Airasia counter. Yeah, thanks to Mr Tony that now “everybody can fly”…hahaha. Attempting a Kinabalu trip 10 years ago was a slaughtering RM2000 with Malaysia Airline, which kept my dreams all these while until today.

The two an a half hours flight was bored stiff with me stucked in the middle seat & the guy by the window was like busy with his lecture notes or something. Finally the captain was on the intercom “thank you for flying with us. We are now at 38,000 feet at the speed of 937 km/hr”…oooo man, it felt like a century! Arriving at KKIA around 3.00 p.m. KL time in the scoarching sun was no more different from KL a day ago. Thanks to En. Kadri, a shuttle was arranged to fetch us at the airport & to Trekker’s Lodge.

Our first meal experience in KK was rather cheap. We had our late lunch at Restoran Sri Rahmat. It was unbelievably RM4.50 per head for a plate of white rice, a fresh fried fish & a scoop of vegies, not missing teh ais as well. No way we can hit that price in Yap Kwan Seng. A stroll at the waterfront & at pasar Philipines with fresh vegies & fishes. I trust they are cheap as well. Another cheap meal encounter was during dinner. Two big smoked groupers, four dishes of smoked squids, a few mix vegies, 8 plates of white rice for a mere RM65.00…crazy!

A head-cracking session with our backpacks deciding which to bring & which to be left behind ended our day before our wild adventure tomorrow.

FRIM! On aje…tapi kali ni aku attempted Bukit Steroid yang mountainbikers selalu gempak-kan. Since semalam lagi after Batu 14 ride aku dah plan & determined to try out the pain of what the hill have to offer. Selama ni cuma dengar crit-crit gempak yang kata Bukit Steroid memang giler babeng killer. Selagi belum cuba, belum taauu…

So, ada geng neighbours turut serta today & we met up with the rest of the guys at the usual hospital Sg Buloh parking at 8.00 a.m. Rolled into FRIM & way up we climbed the big loop headed towards Bukit Steroid trailhead. Saiful pointed out the trailhead & he decided to chill aje kat bawah tunggu aku. Apa lagi, dengan penuh debaran & keinginan aku pun kayuh je ler ikut trail yang sikit-sikit semak, maybe sebab jarang sangat rider lalu.

Sampai satu simpang, aku tengok ahead the mother of all climb, shaded, gloomy, single track & steep. “Tunggu geng dulu la”, kata hati ku mengenangkan ada scary sikit bila pandang atas. 3 minit yang lama sebab keadaan yang sunyi, Alwin & Saiful pun sampai. Saiful kata dia cuma tunggu kat situ je sebab nak bagi support kat aku, Alwin plak suruh aku naik dulu. Belasah je ler, push on buddy.

Continuous climb straight ahead. Jangan pandang depan, atas, kiri, kanan. Aku pandang belakang jugak making sure Alwin ada…hehehe. The climb was almost similar to Lok Si Temple Penang Jamboree trail last year only without 499 other mountainbikers & without cement surface. Whenever aku cuba curi-curi pandang belakang, handlebar aku akan berlipat lepat sebab alignment lari. A clearing up ahead & hati dah mula lega while the terrain ada sikit steep to provide our last lung buster.

A minute after our arrival, alih-alih Saiful muncul. Nak naik jugak rupanya. Sama ada takut tunggu sorang-sorang kat simpang bawah tu or tak sanggup nak biar kan kawan-kawan enjoy the achievement…hehehe. Rolling down was full of gigil.

We joined the rest at the bottom & attempted Dream Trail. By the time to bail out of Frim, perut dah mula lapar, peluh dah mula sejuk. Racing down to the nursery road & straight to the stall for a life time delicious maggi goreng…pergh-tua!Today’s ride was marvelous. We should include Steroid Hill everytime we ride here, gerenti Bukit Bendera senafas je layan & radiator tak overheat…hahaha. We concluded at the carpark by 12.30 p.m.

Riders : Alwin, Saiful, Azahari, Akmal, Azhar, Nizam, Mutalib & me.
Achievement : Bukit Steroid peak

Those weeks that was…betul ke aku susun ayat? Belasah je. Ever since the much awaited duathlon series was cancelled, hidup sebagai extrovert telah menjadi huru hara. Bagaikan secebis bulu ayam yang ditiup kejap ke atas, kejap ke bawah, ke kiri, ke kanan & entah ke mana-mana jua. All those trainings with roadcycling, running seemed macam takde purpose.

Macam mana la duahtlon boleh takde sponsor tahun ni sedangkan our government should realise that multi-discipline sports dah gain popularity among Malaysians. Ini nak harapkan all those crap activities yang involved more protocols to welcome the VIPs than the sport itself i.e. rakan muda or anything under the belia & sukan…karut giler. No wonder quickrelease taknak approach the ministry sebab it will burden them to think about other party’s interest than for the good of the sport itself. Silap2 haribulan, duathlon participants kena pakai t-shirt & cap macam gotong royong with ministry’s logo & somebody is making money out if it…another karut aku bagi to these buggers. To me, duathlon series are the best starting platform for amateur athletes to start the multi-discipline sports. Tak kan mula2 terus nak terjah triahtlon pulak.

Well, ever since the bbq, things have turned around a bit. The “click” among us mtbers dah came back. Plans to have more rides dah datang mencurah-curah. Alwin brought 2 mtb races in JB and Tasik Bera. Too bad the events dah dekat sangat. In fact we were planning our rides as well for the coming months, either joining local clubs or our own.

Another mail came in Friday afternoon, ada lumba haram time trial series for mtb & roadies in June & July…pergh-tua! The news was shared during our weekly gathering before solat Jumaat & it shattered a big smile on all faces…hehehe.5 days of work, finally today we made way for Batu 14 to simpang Genting Peres to loosen our legs. More of a mee jawa ride…hahaha.

12-May (Sat) : As usual joined the Kiara regulars. Lalu trail baru introduced by the regulars. About 9 of us today & things were so full of fun and fast. By 12.00 dah sampai tapak karnival, siap basuh bikes & all of us pi lunch at Damansara Utama pekena mee kari & soto.

Malam, most of us gathered up at Saiful’s place for a bbq. Kambing, chicken wings, sausages, nasi goreng cina, doritos & lemonade…pergh-tua! Cukup untuk mengisi perut yang lapar, selera yang memuncak & sesi perbualan yang involve berbagai topik kebangsaan. By 10.30 p.m. semua dah wrapped up. Was a nice get together.

21-April 2007 (Sat) – Climbed Gunung Nuang (1493m) in Pangsun. It was a day trip attempt & ternyata aku tidak se-power seperti 10 tahun yang lalu…hehehe. It was supposed to be a 5 guys attempting the highest peak in Ulu Langat but only 3 made it. Here goes the story…

Tun, Waklah, Zuki, Suhaimi & me met up at the carpark at about 9.00 a.m. Due to some glitches, we started our journey leaving the ranger post at 9.45 a.m. and reached Kem Lolo an hour later. Zuki & Suhaimi were following their pace & were in dilemma whether to proceed up till Kem Lolo or straight to the peak considering a tiring day before. The rest of us followed our enthusiasms for the day…attempting the peak in a single day.

A quick 10 minutes break at Kem Lolo, Waklah, Tun & me headed on to Kem Pacat, which was another 2 hours climbing. To my surprise, the trail had changed from my last peak days years back. The trail that was used to be wide & moderate climb had turned into an almost vertical & technical one. Most of the soil seriously eroded, carving deep gullies. This will definitely formed an immense waterfall during heavy rains. The attempt drained almost half our energy. We reached Kem Pacat at 12.30 p.m. with two other groups of climbers. A 15 minutes recovery & we were off to the next station, Puncak Pengasih.

The climb to Puncak Pengasih was another nightmare for occasional climbers like Tun & me. The climb grew even more technical. Climbing up against walls of boulders was almost a routine. Pain started to be felt at knees & back as we struggled to keep our bodies upwards. The attempt almost demotivate us to proceed. However, as we met a group of Jabatan Bomba personnels whom were heading down, we were informed that the peak should be well another hour or so.

It was down from Puncak Pengasih & up again to the peak of Gunung Nuang where Tun & me clocked in at 2.25 p.m. Waklah came in about half an hour later. Zuki & Suhaimi were believed to stay at lower ground. The peak was the same. The views were still awesome with some breathtaking sceneries of the endless mountain range. Quickly it took me down memory lane of the peaceful, quite & borderless greeneries of those peaks I’ve been to.

45 minutes of muhasabah diri around the peak admiring our heritage & we were off down again completing our journey. Scaling down back to Puncak Pengasih, Kem Pacat, Kem Lolo and the ranger post pooped up our last verve and psyche. We were like dragging our feet at the last hour trying to reach ranger post at 8.45 p.m. Zuki & Suhaimi were there with hopes that we made it back safely. Suhaimi didn’t make it due to severe knee injury from recent futsal game.

Our bodies took an almost 10 hours of mix torments and pleasures. This trip obviously showed us the irresponsible humankind whom littered Nuang. Nature tried to show us it’s rage by signifying it’s seriously eroded path. Even the view from the peak were contaminated by some tree stripping earth making way for uncontrolled civilizations. The last of the water catchment might be no more if these goes on.