13 August 2010

Conquering The Pinnacles : The Toughest Climb EVER!

So, Camp 5 that I had found out was a hostel with the most basic things available to provide you with an OK accommodation for at least 2 nights.

It has everything for a kitchen.

All you have to bring with you is your food stuff.
I was most impressed by the way they manage their garbage. I had actually put a piece of trash into the wrong trash bin when a mat salleh came up to ask me to put it into the correct one. Oh well, of course I just wanted to ‘test’ if people were really well aware nowadays. :-P
The truth is, I didn’t see the notice board. And the toilet and shower rooms are quite clean and spacious and actually better than most of the public toilets that we have back in the city.
The most interesting part is of course its dormitory.
Oh yeah, the bed dormitories at the Camp 5 are very interesting for somebody who is so used to have a queen size bed for a bed back at home. It is probably the only place where you have to sleep with at least 20 people at the same time. o.O

Having to sleep VERY CLOSE to each other, I wished I had brought a bible to put in between so that none of the girls would come crawling at me in the middle of the night. :-P
Camp 5 is not really tightly enclosed. It was designed to whip your butt up with the rainforest cold night air and feed the mosquitoes with your fresh city blood for free. Luckily you can rent a mosquito net for RM10 per night. At least it provides me with the thinnest protection from the girls mosquitoes.
But then, I gotta tell you that Camp 5 doesn’t provide you with anything more than a piece of coffin-size mattress apart from the mosquito net. No mattress cover, no pillow, no comforter. If they are a matter of life and death to you, you gotta bring them yourselves.
SO what I did was, I took an unoccupied mattress and sandwiched myself in between two mattresses. At least my precious body heat wouldn’t be drained entirely out of me overnight. You see, I was being creative. LOL!
And the worse thing is, they don’t provide you with a plug-in socket. Taking pictures like crazy right from the beginning, I was too late to know that and by the time I did, my spare battery was already half-flat. I wasn’t even sure if it would last at least up to the pinnacles. Huhu.
Being quite small and sharing just about everything with other visitors, Camp 5 is a place where you can either practice your socializing skills or the art of isolating. I did both. *whistling 
Camp 5 is facing down to a beautiful river with the very picturesque Mount Benarat in the back ground.
Just it is in any other hostel if we can even call it a hostel, you take your turn in using the kitchen.
Being the only guy among a bunch of girls and since they wouldn’t let me taking a hold of the cooking utensils, this is the best contribution I could give.
Hehe. Unless if you’re on a tour package where you’ve got somebody to cook and provide everything for you, it is very much recommended you bring your own tupperwear. You’ll need it when you go on the climb.
DO NOT WORRY if your tour guide wouldn’t show up. For sure they know where to find you.
I used to believe that taking the view of the Pinnacles was peanut easy, that I could simply grab a taxi from the airport and asked the taxi driver to take me to the Pinnacles and upon reaching there I could just get off the taxi, take some pictures of the pinnacles and hopped back inside the taxi and returned to the airport to catch a flight back to Sabah.
I REALLY THOUGHT IT WAS THAT EASY. How wrong I was. What I didn’t know about the Pinnacles was that, getting a view of them would require me climb up the Fire Mountain (Gunung Api) which is probably one of the toughest climbs that the country has to offer to any adventure seeker.
My participation was almost badly jeopardized when the guide wouldn’t allow me to use these sandals – the only footwear that I had had with me.
In fact, he seemed to be all set to ask me to stay back while he had the ladies all to himself up to the pinnacles. Of course, I wouldn’t allow it. I remember saying “PAKCIK, kasi cuba dulu saya naik. Kalo betul-betul tidak dapat saya janji saya akan berpatah balik” (UNCLE, please let me at least try first. If I really can’t do it with these sandals, I promised I’d turn back) Of course deep down inside, I said something else. “FUCK YOU. You’re underestimating my sandals, the very same sandals that I used when I conquered Mount Kinabalu and Maliau Basin”.
So, with a great relief and a little bit of anger in me, I found myself joining them. Phew!
Climbing up the Fire Mountain for sure is not a typical climb. It is one of those climbs that wouldn’t let your calves go easy by going horizontal in any part of the trail. The trail here has been designed to physically torture you to the maximum pain. Once it goes up, it goes up all the way!
The number of climbers to the Pinnacles is limited to some 20 people at a time. Apart from us, there was another group that was mostly consisted of European tourists. Some of them were actually too old to even travel this far, let alone doing a climb. But of course, they deserve some credit for at least trying.
Taking off at least one hour earlier, we KNEW we were doing quite well when we managed to catch up with them sooner that I had expected.
You see, one thing about the climb to the Pinnacles that you should know is that the guides have their own way of measuring your – oh well, sort of - physical fitness. They already provide you with some kind of time frame within which you should reach certain points of the trail. They’ll decide based on the time frame whether you’re fit to continue or return to Camp 5 to be in the list of so many people who have at least tried to conquer the pinnacles and FAILED. Hehe.
My point is, while it is probably wise for you to stick as a group and continuing looking after each other, it is actually not really mandatory considering how they’ll only allow those people that they think ‘fit enough’ to continue climbing up to the Pinnacles. It is individual based and not group.
So, disengaging from your group when it is going too slow is actually a normal practice here.
And so is walking past other groups. You wouldn’t want to tag behind them only to be told later that the whole band is not fit enough to make it up to the pinnacles.
While Mount Kinabalu provides its potential conquerors with smooth and easily walk-able trails, I am afraid it is not quite so here at the Fire Mountain of Mulu. It demands you to be highly focused and to concentrate on every single step that you take.
You have to be so sure of which to told hold on to in order to support your weight SAFELY.
Here, a good stamina is mandatory considering how it helps you to stay focused. Exhaustion would stray your mind off and you know how dangerous it would be for you if you lost your focus. VERY VERY DANGEROUS actually.
For one thing, the rocks here are not the kind of rocks that you’d probably see anywhere else.
Some of them are razor sharps – so ready to rip your butt apart if you’re not careful enough.
The worse thing is, quite in many parts of the trail you’ll find yourself depending on them as your only mean of support (which is why the use of hand glove is quite advisable). 
Balancing yourself up is what the climb is all about. Seriously, you wouldn’t want to lose your balance and end up landing the whole KGs or yours on the jotting rocks. They are too sharp for your butt. LOL!
Our guide back at our cave tour had warned that we should not trust the rope that they had provided at the Fire Mountain and he was right. I would never put myself up on something looking so vulnerable like this.
The first indication of fitness level would be taken out of you when you reach this stump of rocks they call Mini Pinnacles. YOU ARE SAID TO BE DOING FINE if you manage to reach it within 45 minutes. Needless to say, we were doing fine. :-P
You know how climbing would squeeze water out of your body so you would never make it up to the top of the mountain if you haven’t facilitated yourself with enough drinking water.
While everybody has a different level of need for water, 3 liter (2 x 1.5ml bottles) of water is most recommended considering how the trail would take you up against the gravitational weight. One bottle for the ascending trip, one for the descending – just nice.
Errrrk! Look at that face. *shaking head. With the guide being a typical guide, he actually allowed us to really really sit down only at two stops in the whole of the ascending trip. The first stop was for us to eat whatever there was to eat to inject some energy back into our bodies.
And I found it quite smart to leave one bottle of the drinking water so that we wouldn’t have to carry its weight all the way up to the peak. In fact, it’d make sure that we’d be kept hydrated to make it back to Camp 5 on our returning trip.
At least we were spared from having to drink from any of these. Seriously, mountain climbing is such an activity that would make even something like this look so safe to drink when it is actually not.
Well, climbing the Fire Mountain is something that you’d both enjoy and regret doing quite at the same time. You’ll just have to keep motivating yourself with all the motivational phrases that you had probably read from somewhere, say, at www. jipp-world.blogspot.com. Contoh! Hehe :-P
Getting up to the Pinnacles for sure would test your strength to the fullest – both physically and mentally.
Those sharp edges of the rocks would make you wince by just imagining what harm they can do to my your handsome face.
There were butt crushers so ready to sodomize you anytime.
And testicles crushers.
To tell you the truth, I was worried more about my balls than anything else. I couldn’t imagine myself having to live the rest of my life without them. Hehe.
You see, the advantages really are on the ladies. I mean, me as a man has every reason to be afraid of those testicle crushers but ladies? What do they have to worry about?
Stop imagining. :-p Guiding a bunch of active long-distance runners, the guide was actually having the easiest job. All he had to do was to carry his own balls. In fact, he didn’t even bother to wait for us. Our RM80 EACH for the guide was actually gone for nothing and RM80 is more like the overall fee for a guide at Mount Kinabalu.
You see, some people would rather call the climb up to the Pinnacles as more like wall-climbing.
And they are telling the truth. Wall climbing it is, literally.
It all started with this vertical ladder here.
Another indication of whether to let your dream of seeing the pinnacles come alive or not, you gotta arrive here before 11 am. And they have their own reason.
You see, we were doing very very well.*clapping
And it would be the beginning of a series of vertical ladders that would require you to hold your fart. Your foul smelly fart might distract whoever it is behind you from a much-needed concentration and hence jeopardize his/her safety. Ahaks!
It was then that I realized why tightly laced shoes were so much of important use.
But of course, my sandals continued to do wonders for me. In fact, they allowed me to deflect my feet more freely to avoid muscle strain on my Achilles tendon (go back to your Biology class. :-P)
The last few hundred meters was actually the toughest part of the whole trail – not to mention – the most dangerous. As usual, this is a faked smile.
It actually requires you to be really really sure of where to step on.
Some part of it would require you to get INTO the rocks.

Some (tightly) IN BETWEEN rocks.
And looking at how the trail would take us to squeeze in between piles of rocks, I really wished I could transform myself into a Gollum in the movie of The Lords of The Ring so that I could simply jump my way from one rock to another.
Some parts of the trail had almost looked so impossible to get through – if I were born a woman. But then the high-spirited ladies would never let me be too proud of being born with a pair of balls.
Hehe. Seriously, the ladies were so determined. Nothing could stop them. The pressure was on me. I would never trade my balls for anything. I had to keep going and reach the Pinnacles as a man. LOL
And sure enough………………………. We made it! ALL FIVE OF US!
The ladies were jubilant. You know how it feels like when you get to something that you have worked so hard for.
For a moment we were just there sitting around to take in the beauty of not only the view but the moment itself. IT WAS ONE OF THOSE MOMENTS when you see the whole world is clapping and smiling at you.
The view was simply mesmerizing. The Mulu airport could be seen in the distance and the sprawling stretch of rainforest that spreads out to as far as the neighboring country Brunei.
If you don’t already know, the Pinnacles of Mulu are actually the strangely-shaped limestone needles that cling to the side of Fire Mountain. Bear in mind that the trail wouldn’t take you right to the pinnacles. Instead, it’d take you to the other side of the mountain from where you could view the whole cluster of pinnacles from a distance.
The way I looked at it, the pinnacles actually cover that whole part of the mountain but most of them are covered by the thick layer of green vegetation and hence only a cluster of them are visible to be seen.
I could never come up with my own logistic ideas on how they have ‘grown’ into those strange shapes of rock needles. You see, nature has its own wonders that even go beyond human logical thinking.
Some of the pinnacles have grown quite too heavy for their sizes they actually collapsed. You see, whatever natural process it is, it is still continuing.
I was excited but the ladies were exultant. I knew I had to feed my stomach while they’d rather feed their cameras first.
Somehow, quite miraculously, my phone beeped with so many text messages coming in. CELCOM knew, whoever made it up to the pinnacles needed to share the jubilation with everybody. Thanks Celcom! :-P

Spending at least half-hour taking in the breath-taking view, it was then time to say good bye to the wondrous pinnacles and this little creature here.
But of course not before taking some memory photo, again with those 3 magical words..
WE WERE THERE! Hehe. Sooo….. The descent has proved to be more difficult than the ascent. If you are afraid of height, you can be in a little bit of trouble.
The descending journey would require you to use more of your muscle strength in both your hands and legs in carrying your weight.
Even your fingers might get their biggest shares of role.
Muscle cramps are quite likely.
But then, already coming down from the ultimate goal of reaching the Pinnacles, there really is no need for you to rush. For one thing, the guide would never ask you to return to the top if you are going too slowly. :-P
It is just the best time for you to enjoy the surroundings. Take your time to look around and you’d be surprised what you have missed when you were rushing against time in your ascending trip.
The high altitude would amaze you with so many things that you might don’t get to see anywhere else.
You know how dangerous the climb is when you see patches of blood on rocks just like this one here. People get cuts every now and then.
In fact they are so many of them.
Of course I was kidding. Blood won’t stay red for long. They are trail indicators to avoid climbers from straying off the track. Being a part of Mulu UNESCO World Heritage, writing any shit on any of the rock along the trail is strictly prohibited. Some people are just so creative though.
Again – a stop. If you’ve got any food left, it was probably the best time to finish it all out.
It was the right time to stop being Mr. Bean and take out whatever food that you had been hiding in your bag. :-P
I was actually being so nice by offering a pack of Kit Kat to this lady from WWF here.
MISTAKE. Before I knew, she was already swearing and yelling at me and later throwing all the packs of Kit Kat all over the ground.
I really should have known that WWF people despise Kit Kat so much that eating a Kit Kat to them is like drinking a glass of Orang Utan blood – hot and fresh.
Hehe. Oh well, I wouldn’t want her to call me a liar for this. The truth is, she didn’t swear no yell nor throw the Kit Kat packs onto the ground. She simply refused it and she has every reason of doing it.
I’d be more than ready to say no to Kit Kat if the producing company keeps buying raw materials from a company who is known to kill the much endangered Orang Utans just to keep their businesses growing. FYI, after 2 months of successful worldwide campaign against buying Kit Kat, Nestle finally announced 'a break' for the Orang Utan - as well as Indonesian rainforests and peatlands - by committing to stop using products that come from rainforest destruction. Thanks for the break, we can now buy Kit Kat again.
You see, our animals are fast diminishing from the surface of the earth because we really think the world belong to us alone. I used to see quite a lot of this when I was still a kid. Now, I have to go really really deep into the jungle to get a chance of sighting something like this.
I used to imagine myself as a tour guide simply because a lot of tour guides that I had dealt with were more interested in getting the job done than doing it with passion. Looking at how this guide has to ‘bring’ this mat salleh woman back to the base camp literally at 5 SMALL steps per minute, I was glad I wasn’t one. I didn’t think I had the patience after all. LOL!
Disengaging from the entire group as we were nearing the Camp 5, I had to be creative in taking my own photos and for the first time I saw the good use of the sharp rocks.
You see, God has every reason to make things the way they are.
Errrk. No good. LOL! So………….. finally again……. I was back at the Camp 5 very much still in one piece. I was so glad every inch of me was safe and most importantly my balls were intact. Hehe.
And again I gave the guide the biggest FCUK YOU and kissed my sandals triumphantly. NEVER EVER EVER underestimates a pair of cheap sandals. LOL!
We spent the rest of the evening fooling around.

Having done what we were there to do, it was time to relax. It was actually a beautiful evening for all of us.
And I just watched helplessly as the lady here mentally tortured the son of one of the rangers by forcing him to get lemons for her.
And before I knew, she was already doing it herself with two worried rangers holding the ladder in her command to make sure she's safe. o.O
Nothing can be more relaxing than having a cup of coffee while watching the night taking over the Camp 5 on our very last day in Mulu.
And I was more than happy to write something in the visitor book.
And wrote something that came truthfully from my heart. 
I went to sleep a happy man. Pinnacles - another achievement to savour.
Waking up the next day, it was time to say good bye to Camp 5.
Walking literally tendon to tendon with everybody including the European tourists, the ladies were almost oblivious to the surrounding.
Singing, clapping and sometimes jumping, they were just so noisy hillarious.  
Fast forward, we trekked back to Kuala Litut where the boat was waiting to take us back to the Park HQ.
We actually returned to the the Tongkat Ali domitary to have maggie noodles as our very last meal together in Mulu.
And it didn't feel good to finally have to say good bye to the wonderful Mulu Park for the fact that saying good bye to it means you'd have to say "Hello, I am back" to your work the very next day.  Huhu.  
Somehow I knew I was gonna come back there again someday though.
SOMEHOW. Mulu Park is too amazing not to come back to. :-)


Murphy said...

Congratulations! What a great adventure you have. I just got back from Mt. Trus Madi. After reading this blog, I've to say yours is much more tougher.

Hehe... I also don't eat Kit Kat for a long time. But most chocolate bars on the shelf are made from unsustainable palm oil. So my boycott is "symbolic" rather than making a real difference.

thomas said...

Looks steep,how high is the peak?

JIPP said...

Thanks Murpy. Yeah, it was pretty tough. Heard about your climb up the Trus Madi. Can't wait your blogging about it. I'm planning to do it probably early next year. Oh yeah, I was shocked to know how they 'killed' at least 1500 of Orang Utan in Indonesia to expand their territory. That makes Kit Kat not so cool to me anymore. But then the Nestle company who produces Kit Kat only a buyer to their oil palm produce. It's the Indonesian gov that is to blame but then our country is not that good when it comes to this though.

JIPP said...

Hello Thomas. Yeah, some parts of the trail are so damn steep. I'm not sure how high the peak is but the trail is 2.4KM. It is actually not that long compared to the 8.8km at Mount Kinabalu but it is (trail) much more tougher.

Kelvin said...

Climb one time can slim down a lot!

JIPP said...

haha. yeah, at least a few pounds. :-P

aud said...

Waaaaaaahhhhh that looks like a very tough climb! Not for me as much as I want to conquer The Pinnacles :(

Apart from chocs, am sure there are other items that are from unsustainable PO. where can we find out?

aud said...

Waaaaaaahhhhh that looks like a very tough climb! Not for me as much as I want to conquer The Pinnacles :(

Apart from chocs, am sure there are other items that are from unsustainable PO. where can we find out?

ken said...

wow what an adventure! the kit kat part was a little scary, coz the lady threw it.. but it's all fake! lols..

i do eat kit kat once in a while.. haha.. =)

JIPP said...

Aud: Yupp, it is tough. But the tougher it is, the 'sweeter' the triumph is. Hehe. OH well, I got all the info from Greenpeace website. But then, unfortunately for us in Msia, a lot of household stuffs that we use here actually come from PO. Cooking oil, shower soap - we name it.
Ken: Hehe. ALmost got u, huh? Yeah, Kit Kat is too yummy to say no to. For me it is one of the best chocolate products in the market. So, I don't blame u. hehe.

ULAI said...

yeah somehow I'm going back to Mulu again to finish the unfinished business. it's been lurking at the back of my mind since we came out from the Clearwater Cave till we hop on the plane back to KK till now. need to be very fully equipped for that kind of adventure & I really want to do it before I die. hopefully everything goes well as I plan it ^-^


JIPP said...

herm. of course. I'm sure it's gonna be more interesting doing this unfinished business u're talking about. hopefully ur cuti will permit. you seem to hv a tight schedule in ur pocket for next year. :-P


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