While most of us are cosily cuddling under the warmth of our comforters’ snuggle, Jasmine is giving her all in an attempt to conquer Southeast Asia’s highest summit, a pinnacle feat aimed to be achieved in time to catch the awe-inspiring sunrise from the East. To speak of a beauty that is a hidden testament, one that removes you from the enigma of metropolis, into the thin air of Low’s Peak, at an enchanting height that literally takes your breath away.
Meet Mount Kinabalu, one of Mother Nature’s well-known children that represents prominence, power, strength and pride by your stride. This fortune from heaven will leave you breathless with plenty to discover and understand, more than it takes to analyze your tax income slip. It’s an adventure to indulge; you’ll count every step you make, as you plunge into the midst of the mist.
Another form of fascination that will definitely grace mortals’ eyes, Mount Kinabalu was designated a natural World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in appreciation of over 4500 species of plant, 326 species of birds, and 100 mammalian species, including the gigantic Rafflesia plants and the orang-utan, each playing a part into turning this as one of the world’s epicentre of Biodiversity.
Named after the legend “A Chinese Widow”, Mount Kinabalu elevates at an impressive 4,095 meter above sea level, approximately equivalent to the height of nine Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur or five Burj Khalifa in Dubai; making this majestic mountain the highest natural summit between the Himalayas and the Jawijaya Mountains of Irian Jaya, Indonesia.
Kinabalu National Park covers 754 sq. Km, which constitutes three main mountains under its’ jurisdiction, namely Kinabalu (4,095 m), Tambuyukon (2,579 m) and Templer (1,133 m). A 3,2 km spur from the eastern end of the summit of Mt. Kinabalu culminates in a long, narrow, jagged ridge at approximately 3,500 m. This particular spur encloses a deep cleft known as Low’s Gully, which splits Mount Kinabalu into two halves – the Eastern Summit Plateau and Western Summit Plateau. Principle peaks on both plateaux include; Low’s Peak, South Peak, St. John’s Peak, Ugly Sister Peaks, King George and King Edward Peak.
Glorious on hills, gorgeous on heels and witty within film reels, Jasmine is absolutely not the average girl-next-door you could simply toy around with. Before taking mountain climbathons, obstacle-crossings and running seriously, this fine young woman admitted that the way things work nowadays have ridiculously weigh many people down and suffocate them with the unnecessary distractions, nuisances and conflicts of life. In oppose to labelling herself a kibitzer; “You are what your mind tells you”, she said to briefly elaborate about the capabilities, talent and potentials every single mujer y hombre out there should realise and understand, ergo to start seeing oneself as the functioning apparatus and not just another product of the society to be consumed.
A business researcher and developer in an international conglomerate, Jasmine thinks that giving and receiving appreciation is therapeutic. To outcast herself into the wilderness stands as an escapade from the unlikely soul-crushing schedule. Her escape provides lots of windows to reclaim time that is hers for self-recovery, to attain good judgments and clear-sight decision-making processes, as well as a method to health improvements.
To do something that is unusual is a challenge to become awesome and to indulge greatness.” is a magical line chanted by Syed A. Jalil, whom heavily inspires her. Jasmine loves her dad so much that she sees him every time when she looks into the mirror. Her dad has drawn lines in the sky triumphantly for decades as a decorated pilot, and she just want to come within an ace of his, through the rocky trails of the mountain to the entrance of the sky– the apex. Sky probably, is not the limit after all.
Non c´è due senza tre (Everything comes in threes); having listed TV hosting, modelling and finalist of a beauty pageant in her minimalistic profile, AK7 asked about how a beauty-with-brains would describe a beauty-with-myths, in 3 words; “Life, Change, Experience”, “Life-changing experience”, and “Life: changes experience”. Well can you fill in the blank? Use your imagination.
In the context of ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’; it appeared in AK7’s mind that it‘s ridiculous to pose a pseudoclassic question — enquiring about what she has discovered. However, Jasmine prefers to break the ice by exposing readers the things they should know.
Rather than being in hypnopompic state in such mediocre lifestyle, she ‘woke’ fitfully from the dream-of-doing to where her avidity and determination will drive past the line of reason. As how Jasmine has defined hers, she discovered her Zen, gained inner peace hence felt truly satisfied. It’s an exploration of something your financial advisor can’t calculate, counsellor can’t articulate and best friends couldn’t facilitate. It’s the inanimation of any man-made systems. Everything is everywhere and at its place, raw but groomed, glossy but not wet, motionless yet so lively. You will introduce yourself to the flora and fauna of many generations and kinds as your journey progresses. It’s an enriching adventure that rewards you in many ways.
A place she calls her second home, the peak resembles her personal safe-zone to hide and heal, and she will leave her problems before descending from the mountaintop. “Both to my eyes and to my mind, Kinabalu is the most charming mountain in South East Asia, as well as the highest. It is, indeed, one of the great mountains of the world.”
So what does it really take to reach the top? Does everything have to be en règle? Since the elevation is as steep as almost 70 degree and not just a slope or hill you can sneak through your backyard, it requires lots of mental strength, other than energy, stamina and good physical condition. It goes without saying that you should prepare your body and mind with sufficient cardio routines. Synonymous with the all-Malaysian traits, beautiful and friendly, the mountain is highly accessible to all types of climbers from all walks of life, with R&R centres that offer temporary shelter for recovery and refreshments, built at each checkpoint at different levels.
Of course, her climb became more convenient since she equipped herself with a pair of Solomon trailing shoes, running outfits, torch, whistle, lightweight bivouac bag, proper clothing (thermal, fleece, waterproof, appropriate footwear), and supplies of high-energy food. There are a number of useful items designed specifically for climbers or mount runners and one of them is the must-have Suunto Ambit GPS watch– developed for runners and climbers to record their personal progress (heart beat rate, distances, speed, time, etc.) as well as the trails and tracks according to the map via GPS.
On the other side of the coin, however, since accessibility is not an issue, prospective climbers don’t need any previous experience at high altitude, nor do they require any specialised equipment. Other than the type of clothing and items mentioned, don’t forget to add water purification tablets, sunscreen cream, small first aid kit, and your personal just-in-case items. Spare some extra cash for climbing permit, guide (especially for climbers in group) and the insurance fee, all conveniently available at the park headquarters.
One of the world’s magnificent mount-runners, Kilian Jornet, had once shown Jasmine and many other participants of a climbathon at Kinabalu last year the essence of any mountaineering activities. Besides strapping yourself with the aforementioned hiking gears, trailing shoes and sophisticated climbers’ gadgets, a prepared mind is a prerequisite; to be ready to push yourself and learn about your limit and what can be done to improve and grow. Kilian also put an emphasis on being explorative and not just clever. Genius itself is not in order, it comes to the sense to make new rules.
Apart from making the to-do and shopping list, she consulted that it is a hopeful duty for those who desires to set an adventure to preconcert their schedules to befit the recommended climbing period, as well as to avoid unwarranted surprises caused by bad weather.
February, March and April are the best months to climb as there isn’t much rain, as an advice to avoid the monsoon season. First, visitors must proceed with registration and will be on the waiting list, prior to the visit. Although Mount Kinabalu is marketed as a highly accessible tourist attraction with many completing this endeavour without any problems, one must not ignore the potential dangers of climbing a world’s highest tropical mountain. Climbers must also obtain information regarding the best course of action in case of an emergency, altitude sickness, edible flora and fauna, and the volatile nature of the weather, amongst others. In addition, the calibre of the guides is highly variable and some standards need to be set. The propitious weather and time to ascend and descend as known to many, is in the morning. As how Emily Dickinson has said it “I’ll tell you how the sun rose a ribbon at a time”, be early because if you lose an hour in the morning, you will be all day hunting for it. (Richard Whately).
From the scenes of Jasmine’s memory, she could still describe the physical conditions of the terrains of Mt. Kinabalu; the temperature, visibility and accessibility. The 14km summit trail from Kinabalu National Park to the peak of the stegosaurus-backed mountain, begins with a straightforward 6km march from Timpohon Gate to Laban Rata huts, where climbers will have to spend a compulsory night. Climbers are expected to spend up to 5 hours in their climb to Laban Rata. After the rest, the ascent to Low’s Peak will begin at 3am and takes about three hours, since the idea being to watch the sun rise from the pinnacle. This final 3km of the climb is much steeper and more technically difficult, and a pretty daunting prospect in the dark.
At first, there are long sections of steep wooden steps, followed by smooth granite slabs with guide ropes. For the final 1km, the slabs are less steep for climbers to make their way up thus planting themselves on the close-to-freezing summit (less than zero degrees) in time to see the daybreak. Descending the waterfall slabs is much trickier. The technical difficulty of the final summit stretch and the temperature at the top may come as a surprise to many, therefore, be prepared. On the brighter notes, all successful climbers will be awarded with a certificate upon the course completion.
In the violescent twilight sky, upon the appearance of Mr Apollo (the sun, based on Olympian deities), no words will do justice to such breathtaking features that graced her eyes and melted lacklustre heart. Touched, tranquilised and surrendered herself to the peacefulness and amazing beauty of one of the world’s tallest vertexes, she cried in admiration. Began with curiosity that later beat adversity; in fact, this experience taught Jasmine to be more appreciative in life, despite all the anthropogenic stress that drowns and frowns. Every mountain in the world is unique and incomparable. A surfeit of depiction; that different mountains radiate different feel and spirits, create numerous forms of technicalities. Prefers to do it alone, Jasmine has fervently described about the peaceful ambiance in its purest form; the features that resemble bedtime fantasy stories or maybe not even close, this article itself.
And where is your next climb going to be? – AK7
“I normally see Gunung Kutu in Selangor as my training ground I’ll be there almost every month on weekends. The next climb will be Mount Rinjani in Indonesia and I’m very psyched to think about a qualifying race that will take place in Sabah this September, it’s called The Most Beautiful Thing Ultra Trail Race 2013. Qualified contestants will then proceed to Du Mont Blanc Ultra Trail 2014 at the amazing Mont Blanc (France & Italy), known as The White Lady in French and The White One in Italian. To climb up Mont Blanc is my biggest dream, and seems like I’m getting closer each day to see that moment comes to live! But I wouldn’t have gained such confidence and abilities to even think about it if it’s not because of what I call a ‘paradise on earth’ that we have, here at home. It all began with Mount Kinabalu, the exordium where I fell deeply in love, and this will remain strong within, high and low, as far and as deep as how it has captivated the best of me”, which perchance tantamount to the legend of the mountain, the symbol of the everlasting love and loyalty.
A hard-kicking, gun-belting foxy in the Malaysian culinary industry, Sharifah Jasmine Soraya Syed A. Jalil is an alumnus of University of South Australia who fancy wheels over coffee chats, and sunsets turn her on.