Day two on the mountain kicked off with an alpine start, as I lay awake in my top bunk around 1:30am awaiting the knock on my dormitory door prompting us to prepare for summit day.
I was armed with ramen purchased from the Laban Rata mountain store, and indulged in a few pieces of white toast slathered with peanut butter and jam – essential fats and sugars for the climb.
At 2:44am, I was ready to make my way towards the last leg of the climb, headlamp in tow.
The first hour of the climb is one of the toughest parts, particularly in the dark and cold of night. After what feels like yet another unrelentingly steep and endless staircase, one must cross the sheer Panar Laban rock face by hauling oneself up granite sheets using fixed thick ropes.
It’s hard work in places, but boy was I relieved to be using my rock climbing arms for once and give my poor, aching legs some reprieve.
The last stretch of the summit ascent is the steepest and hardest part of the climb. More desolate rock face, and slow and steady step after breath amidst the sea of climbers’ headlamps above and below me.
Finally, after nearly 3 hours, I literally crawled my way up towards the summit, struggling as I grasped for breath in the thin air to take my first summit selfie with my Amazing Borneo guide, Ronnie:
He insisted I snap a shot of the ‘gorilla face’ peak…
as we queued behind miles of Chinese tourists to get the coveted ‘summit shot’ (waving a Malaysian flag I’d found up top):
And basking in the glory of a Mt. Kinabalu sunrise:
We’d really lucked out with weather, and I was pumped for the second part of my adventure for the day: descending 1200 meters of the world’s highest via Ferrata (Low’s Peak Circuit, or LPC, as referred to by local guides).