Hiking matters #150: The assault from Laban Rata to the spectacular summit of Mt. Kinabalu

Now the most breathtaking part of the classic Kinabalu climb is the early morning ascent from Laban Rata to Low’s Peak, at 4095 MASL the summit of Mt. Kinabalu. It is a worthwhile challenge, not only because of the cold weather, but because of the trails, some of which need ropes for balance. Yet, meeting this challenge comes with a very nice reward: the vast summit of rock, tantalizing amid the play of dawn’s light. In a previous article in Manila Bulletin, I called it ‘scaling the splendor of Mt. Kinabalu’.
On March 27, 2011, we woke up at 0200H and an hour later, everyone who aimed for the summit commenced trekking – in an attempt to complete the 8.8 kilometer trail from Timphon to Kinabalu summit. I remained part of the sweep team, together with Pam Aquino and my blogging partner and co-organizer Ivan Henares.
After the challenging roped parts before and beyond the Sayat-Sayat hut, light started to arrive, slowly but surely, and most beautifully. Indeed, the process of sunrise made the assault a tantalizing experience. You can see yourself truly above the clouds and far above the land – a vast expanse beneath. My hiking friends from Malaysia say Mt. Kinabalu is really on a class of its own, different from the other peaks of Malaysia, and far higher. The next highest, Mt. Trusmadi, is only 2642 MASL (I climbed it three weeks prior to the Kinabalu climb).
Soon, the peaks of Mt. Kinabalu came into view: first, the Donkey Ears’ peak, then the scenic South Peak, then St. John’s Peak. When we came past the 8 kilometer mark, I knew we were close to the very summit itself. Yet, there was no compulsion to hurry up, because the entire area, from Sayat-Sayat beyond, was one giant, awesome place, and it was a delight just to be there to savor the silence and the beauty.
As we went up, we came across our team members who had already summitted. I could see the joy in their eyes as together we have thanks for the great weather, which came at the most crucial moment of the climb. Our joy was complete when, finally, the summit of Mt. Kinabalu came into view. Very soon, we would reach the summit and the culmination of our efforts and dreams.

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