sickly looking me
Last year, (was it really last year? It felt so long ago!) the sisters and i + Darcy managed to conquer Mount Kinabalu despite the severity of our AMS condition. Uh huh, we never thought of swallowing any high altitude sickness pill at all. In fact, the whole lot of us (20 odd humans) went up there pill-free.
Our June 2010 Kinabalu Expedition Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrival, chill & seafood!
Day 2 : White Water Rafting at Padas and i swear, this will be my last time on a Grade 4 river.
Day 3 : Mount Kinabalu, ascend
Day 4 : Mount Kinabalu, descend
Day 5 : Sabah’s famous noodle , TAR island hopping & depart.
Day 1 – Ascend
I was dead tired. 3 consecutive nights of 4 hour sleep.
(*note to self : bring ear plugs if i am ever staying in Backpacker Hotel)
I’m someone who needs at least 8 hours of sleep. 7? I’ll live but i will very likely be ab-normal. Best is 10. HEH.
But 4?!?! And 3 consecutive nights?!?! It doesn’t take a genius to figure what happened on my ascend eh?
We all woke up at 4am. Bus came at 4ish-5am to pick us up. For those of you who are keen to climb this mountain, my advice is to stay at the foot of the mountain the very night before the climb. You can at least sleep in for another 3 hours! Because i am also an extremely light sleeper, i didn’t manage to sleep in the bus at all. :(
I stared out the window most of the time. Sabah is breathtaking. So different. So different from West Malaysia. I likey. Oh, and the fresh and very clean air.. you know, i can go on and on and on and on. :)
At 9am, we were all ready to go. For some very strange reason, i felt pretty energized after the bus ride. I was raring to go. Never had it crossed my mind to hire a porter to carry my bag. No, really. Not because i was being arrogant or what, but i know my own fitness level – i run a couple of times weekly + yoga sessions too. After all, i did Mount Rinjani just 2 years back and i carried even more stuff then and it was 9-12 hours of solid climbing up and down for 5 days. And just 3 months before that, i was trekking at Sapa, Vietnam for 4 days with my backpack too. Zilch problemo.
So yeah, the thought of hiring a porter never quite crossed my mind.
I think it was the holiday adrenaline rush.
I was pretty okay initially despite the lack of sleep and rest. But slowly, very slowly.. i started panting and the backpack felt heavier and heavier. I was pretty shocked to be honest, especially the fact that i was just at 1km mark. Oh, we ascend via Mersilau route, which was longer. Nevertheless, i marched on.. after all, i did declare that i can lug the bag up all by myself in front of the group – Oh what’s with humans and their ego ah?! :P
What you are seeing : me pretending to be exhausted.
In real life : i was really exhausted!
Shortly, i broke into cold sweat. I was breathless and had pounding headache. Darcy was nowhere in sight. He was accompanying another lone female group member who almost couldn’t make it up, supporting and encouraging her (verbally of course) almost all the way, well alright alright, half the way at least. So desperate i was – because i was pretty sure i was gonna pass out anytime – that i actually left a huge notice (without names, but a message which Darcy will have no problem identifying who it was from) at the side of the track where oh-the-helpful-one couldn’t have missed – urging him to catch up with me as i needed him by my side.
Our local guide who was extremely friendly, strong and nice, offered to take my bag (for a fee). I didn’t hesitate one bit at that point. With the bag gone, i felt so so so much better.
Not for long.
Shortly after that, i was sick again. I just can’t believe the state i was in. The husband was still nowhere in sight and i was all alone on the quiet and scary trail! HMPH!
Just when i was gonna curse and swear out loud at the husband for not being there for me, suddenly the pig appeared out of nowhere, grinning like a Cheshire cat. I almost broke down and cry. That relief + happy + angry feeling seeing someone dear to you at that point of time is rather indescribable. I pouted, went up to Darcy to hit him a couple of times before giving him my big i’m-so-glad-to-see-you-smile and a hug. *ahem* I’m tweeny bit manja if you haven’t realized that by now. :P
To cut story short, we made it to Laban Rata with much, much difficulty. I know i sure did. Everyone cheered as we arrived, together with others who soon caught up with Darcy and i. Dinner was just a few tiny bites here and there before i called it a day.
After settling down and all, it was close to midnight, again.
As some of you may have known, having AMS = insomnia, and i had just that. Panadol and whatnots were useless. Nothing worked!
Extreme headache where i literally felt the nerves pounding, insomnia, nauseous, whoaaaaa.. you just can’t imagine the condition i was in but errrr.. i still insisted on waking up at 2am (not that i slept at all) for the peak.
Yup, crazy is my middle name. LOL!
Day 2 : More ascending & descending
The husband who also had AMS, had zero intention to conquer the peak (hb is never the adventurous sort. he came because of the company).
But because i was going, he reluctantly tagged along too, (disclaimer : i didn’t force him ah!) just to be there for me.
Going higher before i had the time to acclimatize equates to suicide. Grin. Nearing the peak, it was 1/2 step forward (yup, i can’t even do 1 step then), stopped, breathe, 1/2 step forward… repeat. I had a guide (did i mention they are godsend?) holding on to me, holding my hand to make sure i don’t fall backward. I almost did, a couple of times. Heh.
But i did it.
I managed to reach the peak, not the peak’s peak though, which was merely 60-80m away? That, i gave up because i was barely breathing then. I’d be a bloody idiot if i had insisted going. Heh. My lips were blueish in colour at that point. It was that bad.
We missed out via Ferrata (!!). What a bummer but then, with my condition, it was all for the better, aye?
The sister (second sis stayed behind) greeted us with a big bear hug when we arrived at Laban Rata at 10ish-11am. We wasted no time and descended within half hour to the foot of the mountain. Oh, if you haven’t noticed, i didn’t snap any photos when i was at the peak. Reason? I didn’t bring the camera along. Some guy advised me not to (it was his third climb) and i did just that. Pure stupidity lorr seriously. But in a way, it was a blessing in disguise (n0 extra weight) cos i practically had negative ounce energy to go snapping around on the peak.
1/4 way into our journey down, it rained cats and dogs.
The whole trail was like waterfall! Totally dangerous i tell you. We were soaked inside out though i was Gore Tex-ed from top to toe. This is the sort of rain where Gore Tex is absolutely useless, rain coats get torn up, umbrella just won’t do, basically.. nothing works.
We made it down there safe and sound with no tripping and falling over and we were thankful for that.
pssssstt : believe it or not, i actually dozed off while descending! the legs just went into auto-mode… 0.O
1. Mt Kinabalu is a must climb. Just one time will do. The experience is priceless. Descending from the peak to Laban Rata (and vice versa) was terrifying but thrilling nevertheless. One minor slip and your life is at stake. No safety rope, no nothing. You are on your own, 100%. Pity i didn’t have my camera then, otherwise a picture is worth a thousand words.
2. Be prepared. Take AMS pills beforehand. Get sufficient sleep before your climb and preferably, stay at the lodging near the foot of the mountain.
I’m anemic. Pretty severe i would say. I’ve been as such for a few weeks now but last week was really bad. Mother insisted on bringing me to the doctor and i was told that my pulse rate was just 42? My iron level was extremely low and i was told to start eating red meats again. To go to high altitude places in this condition is madness not advisable, according to the doctor, unless i am better.
After reading some first hand experiences on the internet, fear crept in. I’m really quite worried for myself. With just 1 week to heal myself, i’m praying for miracle. Though i am much better today compare to last week, i’m still lethargic and half of the time, in daze, except when i am in yoga classes – an unexplainable phenomena if you will. Heh.
Meanwhile, i’m so gonna tank up my iron intake, eat well and be better. Hopefully, i will be better.
Because getting AMS is really no fun. :(