We left KK for the 2 hour drive to the base of Mt. Kinabalu to finalize our arrangements and take a several hour jungle hike. We were hiking on the Liwgan Trail by 1400. It was very lush and green. We really enjoyed the hike especially because we saw only one small group of hikers the whole afternoon. Just short of breaking out we got caught in a rain storm. The cool rain was refreshing and I have been enjoying the cool temperatures. The base of the national park is at roughly 5,500 feet. The summit is at 13,400ft and is the highest point between the Himalayas and the tallest peak in Oceania in Papua/New Guinea at over 16,000ft. Since it was cloudy and rainy we only got a glimpse of the peak right before it got dark. It is quite a contrast because the peak is a granite peak instead of volcanic. Most of this region is made up of volcanic peaks except where we are at here in northern Borneo. During our hike today, Chad took some great shots of a snake eating a frog. I had just missed the show. It was nice to just hang out and listen to the sound of the jungle.
The alarm brought us back to life at 0530. We ate breakfast at 0600, walked to the restaurant and picked up our lunches at 0700, met our guides and signed at 0730, loaded the van and headed up to the main gate to start and were on the trail by 0830. The hike to camp Pendant was all uphill except for a few hundred feet. It took five hours for us to reach the hut at roughly 1330. We were definitely tired. We climbed 6km and gained about 4,500 vertical feet in elevation. Think of being on the stair master for 5 hours with a 10-20 pound pack, short 5 minute breaks every 1km; the air becomes thinner and thinner, humidity 80-90%, and at times rainy and/or foggy. It was a welcome relief when we reached the pendant hut. We ate our lunches, had a briefing about the Via Ferrata route and played chess, jinga and took a nap. The clouds rolled back in and it began to rain once again. We headed to a different hut for dinner and had this amazing buffet. I came as quite a surprise to the seven of us because we did not expect to eat so well. After dinner we headed back relaxed, prepped our gear and went to bed by 2000. The alarm when off at 0145, and we ate a light breakfast, coffee and toast, our guides met us at 0230. It was raining. We hike to the next hut above us but were corralled because the park rangers would not open the gate. The rain made it unsafe to navigate because waterfalls blocked some of the path. There was concern about being swept over the cliff to death based on the water levels so we were put on hold. After an hour of waiting, we went back to our hut and went to sleep until being awoken at 0500 with the green light. We talked our guide into doing both the Via Ferrata and the summit. They normally don’t take people up the route only down but since all of us had climbing experience they made an exception. Chad is also very persuasive so that doesn’t hurt either. We were on the trail and climbing the VF at 0530. It was overcast and sprinkling off and on as we ascended through the clouds. We hopped on the route and began to work our way upwards. None of us had ever done VF before so we had a great time. The route when parallel along the cliff base then it ultimately climbed 1,000 feet to the top. There were two cable bridges and a wooden bridge we had to cross. It took about 4 hours and we were exposed the whole time. The clouds were good and bad because you couldn’t see how high we were up but we couldn’t see how high we were up. We topped out around 0930 and began to make our way to the summit. We reached the summit around 1100. The clouds broke and we had some great views for about 30 minutes then the clouds returned so we descended back the pendant hut for lunch. After lunch we headed back down to the park headquarters and ate an early dinner and headed back to shower and crash. I turned exhausted at 2000. In the morning we were catching the bus to Sandakan which is right next to the orangutan sanctuary which is our next stop on the world wind Sabah tour.