Spencer Ogden APAC Technology Manager, Zachary Wallis, provides a first-hand account of his hike up Mt. Kinabalu.
“The Kinabalu Killers”
As the sun dawned over the mountains of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo, the two minivans filled with sleepy-eyed recruiters slowly made their way up to the base of South East Asia's highest peak: Mount Kinabalu. The excitement was palpable. The banter, questionable.
On day one the weather was glorious, standing at the foot of Mt. Kinabalu the 15 brave trekkers all looked on excitedly and confidently at the task ahead of them. A mere 18km as the crow flies spread out across two days and with weeks of 'preparation', all of the trekkers were resolved in their recruiter-arrogance that this would be an easy climb. But, as all of them were soon to find out, this would be no simple bimble up the Bukit - only through some courageous camaraderie and tenacity would they be able to truly conquer Kinabalu!
The first day's hike saw the whole team eat up the kilometers, ascending more than 1500m to the first base at 3200m altitude. There were some tears at the back of the pack, especially as the rain pounded down and the calves seized up but with a bit of support and bag carrying from Mr. Hodger and Lieutenant Dan (that's Terry Hodges and Dan Rose) everyone made up to base camp for the evening!
After a hearty buffet meal, the team headed for an early bed at 7 pm only to find one of the biggest challenges they would face on the mountain: a 12-bed dormitory with your colleagues!!! Rickety old bunk beds, musty sheets and plenty of snoring meant that the team would only manage a measly couple of hours sleep. Not even that would deter them.
1.30am: darkness and cold seeping in from the dormitory windows. A cranky Gareth, first up from lack of sleep, switches on the lights to shouts of detest and protest from the weary walkers! After a quick feast of eggy bread and weak coffee, the team was assembled and, armed with their trusty headlights, ready to take on the summit.
The ascent up the mountain was incredibly slow. In the early morning air and at over 3000m altitude many of the team struggled to breathe and the relentless uphill march in the dark made for unhappy campers. The vanguard group at the front led by, unsurprisingly, Ethan Tan, made a mad dash to the peak of the mountain. Climbing via ropes, steps, ladders and sheer determination the front group (Lieutenant Dan, Ascending Adem, the Moh-ntain, Rising Rusling, Incline Ivision, Gradually-gaining-speed Gareth and Elevation Ethan) reached the 4095 metre summit well ahead of the remaining group - proud of their speed and accomplishments but potentially a bit annoyed about the hours that they would now spend at the top in near-zero degrees temperatures whilst they waited for the others.
In the rear once again, where he seems to most enjoy himself, was 'The Hodger' shouting inspirational slogans to help the rest of the team power through. For hours the team slowly made their way up the mountain; Powerthru Pauline; Resilient Redulla; Tenacious Thaya; Never-so-No Nazzie; Mountain Menace May; Trekker Terry; Hardy Halewood; and Wandering Wallis. Then, as the air got thinner and the ascent became slower, no more than 500metres away from the summit of Kinabalu finally came into sight. Spurred on by this and coupled with some 1980's motivational power ballads the group made a bold push forward up the mountain: wiping away tears and gathering what breath they could in the high altitude atmosphere.
Hand over hand, scrambling up rocks and hauling themselves ever higher finally they reached it: Low's Peak, 4095metres, Mount Kinabalu.
The team, now reunited and fortified by their collective experience (as well as a nip of mountain whiskey!), basking in the glorious light of dawn over the mountain. Success.
Now for the descent….
Congratulations to all of the Kinabalu Killers – it was a truly enjoyable experience and, whilst there were a few tears and some very sore legs for days afterward, it was a phenomenal example of teamwork, camaraderie, and self-determination. On to the next one!