Nov 06, 2006
Jun 15, 2007
Dawn is spectacular. Purple becoming faint pink turning to blazing orange as the fireball sun peaks over the horizon, illuminating the backdrop of cottony clouds and mountains. After basking in the glorious morning sun and snapping the standard summit pics, it's time to head down. All 6,000 feet of down. No fun for knees. Even the 20-somethings are groaning, but we all take advantage of the ropes and descend backwards as much as possible in the hopes that we'll be able to walk at the end of the day.
Success! It was a beautiful climb, terrific weather, fun company, and memorable all around.
It felt like someone dumping buckets of water over our heads, it was raining so hard when we arrived at Kinabalu National Park. We slogged our way into headquarters, lucked out, and got the last available room for the evening. All the slots for the next day's climb were booked, so we added our name to the waiting list and crossed our fingers. More luck - we get the last two cancellations and started climbing at noon the following day. The mountain, the highest between the Himalayas and New Guinea, is basically a 6,000-foot stairmaster. One long never-ending stairway to the top of the country. We had a great time meeting people from all over at Laban Rata, the overnight lodge perched at 10,000 feet, though the drunken karaoke maniacs in the hallway kept things interesting until well into the night. At 2:30am, everyone stumbles out of their rooms and begins the remaining 2-hour climb to the top. After passing the vertical traffic jam of tour groups we summit well before sun-up. Far away in the dark terrain below, the lights of Kota Kinabalu City sparkle.