Mount Kinabalu – A Wonderful Challenge

I just like to share my first and formal experience of being mountaineer. I remember when I was in college, there was a mountaineering club in the university that I wanted to join in, but when I tried to talk to my college friends and classmates, they were not into it and not interested in hiking a mountain. Because of the situation, I thought I am the only one who likes it, because of that I never tried it out. Time passed, I graduated in college, now I am working and after six years, I met a good friend who is an active mountaineer.

He mentioned to me the plan that he and his group will be going to Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia on September 2008. After I heard it, I told him, “Can I join the hike?” And he said “Sure, but Mount Kinabalu has an altitude of more than 4000 meters above sea level. Do you think you can do it?” And I said, “I can try to  and I will prepare for it”. That was the start for me to go for the things that I really wanted to do from the first place. Maybe before I was not pushed enough to go for what I like to do and now that I have a chance, I am grabbing my opportunity to do it.Before this major climb, I reminisced my last climb during my last year in college. We hiked Mount Santo Tomas in Baguio and I knew in my heart that I enjoyed the hike. I remember that the trail we used to reach the peak of the mountain was pretty straight forward and there were not so much hurdles to hike the mountain. All I remembered and I cannot forget was before we were able to reach the peak, there were raindrops falling and the wind gets stronger that I almost think wind can blown us away. But I knew in myself that I like hiking and the experience was a good adventure for me.Now I am going to tell my climb experiences in Mount Kinabalu and I am telling you, it is not been easy for me.Mount Kinabalu is the 20th world-famous mountain based on height and its beauty. Is it the highest mountain in South East Asia. It is located in Sabah, North Borneo Malaysia and the climb was held last Sept 21 to 24 2008.Day 1 – September 21 (Saturday)

The schedule flight to Kota Kinabalu from Clark (or Macapagal) International Airport is 4:45 PM. The group met at 8AM in Jollibee at St. Francis Square near in SM Mega Mall in Pasig since the bus going to Clark Airport is stationed here. From there, we traveled from Pasig to Clark from 9AM to 11 AM. Since our flight will be later in the afternoon, we used our waiting time inside the mall and we had our lunch there. While looking around the mall, I remembered that I have to buy a raincoat. While looking for a raincoat I remembered that I forgot to bring my head lamp that I will be needed for night trek.

Around 2PM, we went back to the airport. While waiting in the line to enter at the airport entrance, I prepared my passport and e-ticket, to my surprise I printed a wrong e-ticket (this made me nervous). When its my turn to present my passport and e-ticket to the entrance officer, I told him that I printed the wrong e-ticket and I asked him, “where I can request to print my e-ticket?”, the officer led me to the right direction. During this time, I thought I will not be able to travel and not able to go to Malaysia. I am glad that the office where I had my flight booking is open and they were able to print it. After I got my e-ticket, that’s the only time I was relieved. My mountaineering group inside the airport is waiting for me and they are all smiling at me after they saw me (I felt that they also relieved that I had my e-ticket and I will be able to go with them with this challenging adventure).

While writing this blog I would like to note that two things I learned on that day. First, list down all the items that I have to bring on the climb and second counter check many times the backpack if all my stuff are already on it.

Clark or Macapagal International Airport
View from my window after I woke up from a nap during the travel
from Clark Pampanga to Kota Kinabalu
Kota Kinabalu from the plane
Kota Kinabalu International Airport

Around 3PM in the afternoon we were inside the waiting area of the airport. Around 4 PM, our plane arrived. Almost 5PM, plane took off and we landed in Kota Kinabalu at past 6PM.

After we arrived in Kota Kinabalu, the group discussed the lodging or hotel that we can sleep in for the night before the climb on Sunday morning. Lodge was not really a big issue because after we found a cab that will drive us to the city center of Kota Kinabalu, it’s fairly easy to find lodging for backpackers. After we found the lodging, the group just had dinner and all were setup to sleep for the next big day.

Day 2 – September 22 (Sunday)

We woke up at 5AM. The group prepared, then headed to the cab station that will drive us to the jump off area of Mount Kinabalu. We rented two taxi cab for the whole group and we started to travel at 7AM. While on our way to our destination, we had a chance to see the beauty of Kota (“Kota” means city) Kinabalu, we also stop in Mount Kinabalu lookout viewpoint where we experienced to see the beauty of the mountain from a far. All of us are amazed on what we saw. And I myself realized and asked myself, “Is this the mountain that I am going to climb? Can I really climb that mountain?” I cannot believe myself either and along the way, I am fighting and convincing myself that I can do it.

Mount Kinabalu from a far (photo copyrighted by Jimmar Lagazo)
Mount Kinabalu View while we are on the road

Mount Kinabalu from lookout view-point (photo copyrighted by Jimmar Lagazo)

Mount Kinabalu peak from lookout view-point (photo copyrighted by Jimmar Lagazo)

Mount Kinabalu from lookout view-point

Next, we pickup our three guides for our trek. Then, we drove to the jump off station. Before we start our climb proper, one of our guide made an orientation and explained the trail path that our group will take. Mount Kinabalu has two trail; Misilau and Timpohon trail. The group plan is to ascend the mountain by Misilau trail and descend it through Timpohon trail. During the orientation, our guide gave us our packed lunch which was part of our reservation paid in Laban Rata, a hotel near at the peak of the mountain where we are going to stay for the night before trekking the final trail to the summit of Mount Kinabalu.

Views while on our way to jump off area

Mount Kinabalu (photo copyrighted by Jimmar Lagazo)

Entrance to Kinabalu Park (photo copyrighted by Jimmar Lagazo)

Misilau Trail jump off site


Trails to Mount Kinabalu Peak

We started our climb at almost 11 AM. The journey had begun. While climbing the mountain, I had a lot of experiences. The great thing about it was seeing the beauty inside and outside the mountain. Mount Kinabalu is a protected mountain, and most of our trails were covered with towering trees that was why we were not bothered by the sun rays.


Some trail pictures (photos above copyrighted by Jimmar Lagazo)
View while trekking the mountain (photo copyrighted by Jimmar Lagazo)
Trail View (photo copyrighted by Susan Reyes)

During the trail, we experienced rain from some point of the mountain. And I cannot forget the part wherein its raining and the trail was some kind of muddy, then there were lots of irregular stairs that we need to take. At that point, I hated stairs (but I have to deal with the stairs whether I like it or not). During that time, wind was powerful and I felt the cold because my jacket was wet due to rain even I used my raincoat. After climbing of more than seven to eight hours, I had some difficulty to climb the mountain. But I know I can still climb. But I brought a lot of water which adds to the weight of my backpack. Our team lead in the climb, asked me. “Can you still carry your backpack?” And I said, “Its ok, I think I can”, but what he did was asked one of the guide to get my backpack and port it from there to hotel. I did not object maybe because I am tired too. And I can see that it’s also the same thing felt of my group about me. Another three hours passed before we reached the hotel. To be honest, I am the last person to arrived the hotel. All of my group member were asking me if I was ok and I said to them that I was fine. For me that was both wonderful and difficult climb that I had.



some of the views to see while climbing the mountain


one of the view that we found while trekking the mountain



amazing views that we passed while on the small bridge


The hanging bridge

View from the hanging bridge
(photos above copyrighted by Jimmar Lagazo)

Laban Rata hotel for what I know is located between 3200 to 3300 meter above sea level (masl). I never realized that I was able to climb more than 3000 masl. When I arrived at hotel, that was almost 10PM. And the next climb proper to the peak of the mountain will start around 2:30 AM (I am thinking, how many hours of rest before that time).


Laban Rata Hotel
Laban Rata Hotel – where we stayed before trekking the final summit of Mount Kinabalu
(photos above copyrighted by Jimmar Lagazo)

During the dinner, the group discussed that we were all surprised of long hours of trek and all of us chanted that was really tiring and difficult climb. I can see in my team, that all of us had a great deal with Mount Kinabalu. We were thirteen in the group and only three people decided to climb up to the peak of the mountain that night. I myself, decided not to force to go to the peak. I am really tired and I know I can if I had enough time to rest, but four hours was not enough for me to have another climb. After the dinner, the group went to the room then went to bed with a decision that most of us are not going to climb up to the summit.

Day 3 – September 23 (Monday)

Around 1:30 AM, I just felt the team lead of the group woke up and tried to ask the sleeping group, who will be the other to join him to go for the summit. And then, one by one were starting to moved around and woke up. And I heard them that they were decided to go. Out of 13, 10 decided to go. And I am not one of them. Then, there was a part of me telling me to try. I can go back to the hotel if I can’t really make it.

The group that will go for final ascent left the hotel around 2:30 to 3AM in the morning. Then, I decided to follow, after that, when I got out I felt the cold wind in my body and in my face. And tried to follow the trail together with other two co-mountaineers in the group. Then, I brought my oxygen canister, because I know that air in the summit will be thinner and will be difficult for me to breathe. Then, I started to climb again, but few meters from the hotel, my oxygen canister fell and I had to look for it. Then, I become skeptical if I will go further or not. I think twice and got confused. After I saw my oxygen canister from the ground I tried to continue the climb, few minutes I felt difficulty in breathing and I realized that I have to stop. I have to stop trying and go with others. I thought that I am so much tired and I have more than 6 kilometers to descend (I need to reserved that energy). I went back to the hotel and on my way back, I told the couple mountaineers (they decided to go to the summit too) but when they saw me, they went back to the hotel with me and decided not to go further too.

At the room, there was a part of me that I wish I can go to the summit. But, I know my self limit. And be realistic that when I got outside, I felt that its hard to breathe. We slept few hours and woke up after hearing that the group arrived from the summit. 5 out of 10 (decided to go to the summit) were able to reached the summit. Some reached the other peak of the mountain. I congratulated all of them, because I know that at least some of the group were able to finish up to the summit of the mountain. We had our breakfast and started to descend the mountain.



Inside the mountain while descending it (there was fog)

Carson Falls in Timpohon trail

We were able to catch up the lunch (which serves as our lunch/dinner) that day. And then rest for a while before going back to the city. Our guides gave us our climb certificate. My certificate indicated that I was completed the 3500 masl climb and for me that was really awesome. I know that Mount Kinabalu highest peak is 4095 masl. I am still proud of myself that I able to climb a mountain with that altitude. For me it was an achievement.

Mount Kinabalu is a beautiful mountain for me. It has a very friendly trail especially the Timpohon trail. While we were on our way descending the mountain, we saw a lot of tourist taking that trail to climb the mountain. Unlike Misilau trail, we just saw two which tried to descend the mountain.

Mount Kinabalu has amazing peak and the shape of the peak is really fantastic. One of the mountaineers in our group able to capture lots of pictures at the summit after reaching it. And after I saw them, the view were really panoramic. How I wish I was able to reach the summit too. But I can try to climb the mountain again next time if there will be another opportunity.

For a beginner like me my team recognized and told me that I was pretty good during the climb.

Because of all experiences I had in this mountain, I will never forget “Mount Kinabalu”.

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Remembering Banff – Part 2

If you read my second blog about Banff, now I am going to cite the story about my third and last day tour in Banff. I had been so excited for the past two days of my tour in Banff, but the excitement that I have still not perished in my last day tour. The main reason why I am still excited, I am going to Columbia Icefield in Jasper.

Ice and snow are the things that are not familiar to me because I am living in a tropical country. And I have been dreaming to experience snow or walk in ice.

Before we went to Columbia Icefield, there were other interesting places we visit. While traveling along Icefield Parkway (or Highway 93) – a highway road that you can see both Banff and Jasper National Park, I am stunned because of the rocky mountains in each side of the road. Because of the scenic view I saw, I became a rocky mountain lover. While inside the tourist bus, I took a lot of pictures of rocky mountains and I can say that I shot my digital camera to all mountains that my eyes can see. I cannot stop myself to admire those rocky mountains.

rocky mountains from Icefield Parkway

While on the road, we saw Crowfoot Glacier and I had been lucky because I captured a picture of it while inside the bus. Then, we stop over in Jimmy’s place. Before, I thought that was the real name of the lodge until I found out that it is the famous Num-Ti-Jah Lodge. in Icefield Parkway. The lodge was founded by Jimmy Simpson and it is located near in beautiful Bow Lake where you can see both Bow Glacier and Crowfoot Mountain. We had our hot chocolate inside the Num-Ti-Jah lodge and because of it we had a chance to view some of the arts and crafts created by Jimmy Simpson. We were also informed that the lodge was built by Jimmy with his own bare hands (based on history – he has no knowledge about building house and architecture) and that was really amazing. I also found out that the lodge will be probably become part of Canadian National Historic Site.

Crowfoot Glacier
Icy Bow Lake
Crowfoot Mountain
Bow Glacier
One of the rocky mountain
Num-Ti-Jah Lodge
Inside the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge

After Num-Ti-Jah lodge, we traveled again. We stop at the side of the road and after I got myself out in the bus I was surprised because of panoramic view of Mount Chepren and Waterfowl Lake. Mount Chepren has its own distinct shapes compared to other rocky mountains and the Waterfowl Lake adds beauty to the mountain. Waterfowl lake is amazing too, I saw most part of it as icy water (same like Lake Louise and Moraine Lake).

Mount Chepren and Waterfowl Lake from Icefield Parkway
Waterfowl Lake (with rocky mountains)

The next place we stop was where we had our lunch – the place was near in Saskatchewan River Crossing. We had our table where we were freely enjoyed the great view of North Saskatchewan River. I am wondering why it was called Saskatchewan River Crossing and I just found out from our guide that this great Canadian Heritage River is crossing other river such as Howse River and Mistaya River (but I never got a chance to see the other two rivers). While writing this blog, I remembered North Saskatchewan River is also the same river that I had chance to cruise in Edmonton (what a great surprise!!!).

North Saskatchewan River

After lunch we went back to the bus and started to travel again. And the moment I have been waiting for had arrived, we were in Columbia Icefield Centre. After the bus came into halt, I picked my winter jacket, my gloves and my bonnet hat, then I went outside the bus and of course I looked around and I took pictures as much as I can. We waited for our tourist guide to park our minibus. Then, he led us to the bus driver that will send us to the area where we can transfer and ride an ice explorer. Ice explorer is big wheel vehicle that was made for ice exploration at the top of the glacier. When I saw the ice explorer or the snow coach vehicle, I am surprised because it is so huge, I remember that the wheel is almost the same of my height. And another surprise is that the vehicle can carry a lot of people. After I got myself onboard in the ice explorer, I got my digital cam on and I both took videos and pictures while on our way to the top of Athabasca Glacier. Ice exploration was one of the great memories I had in Jasper and Banff National Park. I am not fully aware how is the feeling while walking at the top of the glacier. Speaking of Athabasca Glacier, I have information that this is the friendliest glacier that people can take to be able to go to the Columbia Icefield. Some glaciers are meant for the adventure extremist but Athabasca Glacier are meant for all type of people. Few minutes passed, we arrived in the top of Athabasca Glacier. The feeling was so great after I got out the ice explorer. There are lots of people at the top of the glacier . I saw different kind of people such as children, young, adult and old ones, all were enjoying the scenery. And my dream came into reality, I was able to walk in the ice that really thrilled me. And I am so glad because of the thought that I was near in the middle of the Columbia Icefield through Althasbasca Glacier. Walking in the icefield was exciting, fun and scary but I had a great time. Some people got fall in the icefield ground because some part of it is slippery due to solid ice, but even that was the case, people were all enjoying. I chose the part of the icefield with snow, then I tried to picked some snow and I made snow ball. After I did that I felt that my hands got numb (because of it, now I understand the feeling in a cold place like glacier). The experience was worthy and I enjoyed Columbia Icefield ice exploration.

Athabasca Glacier in Columbia Icefield
ice explorer or snow coach
Views in the glacier icefield
old snow mobile

North Saskatchewan River – Edmonton (Part 5)

I booked an Edmonton Queen Riverboat cruise. My main reason for doing it was to experience North Saskatchewan river. From the time I arrived in Edmonton, I was fascinated already by this river.

I took a cab from Legislature Building to Edmonton Queen Riverboat center at 98Th avenue. I gave my reservation booking to one of the crew and they gave me my entrance and dinner ticket. But on my way to the rafters landing area where I am going to ride the boat, I lost my ticket somewhere. So, I have to go back and look for my ticket or else, I will not be admitted to the entrance and I will not have my dinner (this situation made me felt bad). I went back to the center where I get my ticket. On my way, to the center, other tourist that coming approached me and asked if I lost my ticket, and I told them that I was. After saying that, they showed my ticket and gave it to me. Then, I felt lucky and thanked them. Next, I went back to the boat and showed my ticket. I was relieved when I got myself inside the boat.I walked to the front deck of the boat and approached one of the table then grab a chair for me. Then, I saw a couple sitting to the table next to mine. Then, I stood up and approached the couple and asked them if they mind if I can join them in their table. I told them I was alone and I added that it was better to give my table to the other group of people. They agreed and I joined them in their table.

Shaw Conference Centre (with flags)
and Canada Place (pink building)
from Queen Riverboat at North Saskatchewan River
Fairmont Hotel MacDonald (Castle like building) and
TELUS (former highest building in Edmonton)
from Queen Riverboat at North Saskatchewan River
Downtown Skyline from Queen Riverboat at North Saskatchewan River

The couple started a conversation with me. They introduce their selves and I did the same thing. Right now, I cannot remember their name. I was informed that the reason why they were cruising and having dinner in Edmonton Queen Riverboat was to celebrate their 10Th anniversary. For me that was really wonderful. And the idea of dating or cruising in a river is kind of sweet thing. Then I told them where I came from, why I was in Edmonton and until when I am staying in the city. I had a great time with them. They were very friendly. And when the boat crew announced that we can go inside the boat for our dinner, we went down and shared the dinner table. I never felt alone in my cruise in Edmonton Queen Riverboat since I was accompanied by the couple I met.

After dinner, that was the only time the cruise started. I requested a permission to the couple to leave the table to enjoy the scenery outside. I told them that I have to take my chances to take pictures of the river. While cruising the river, I were able to view the downtown skyline. Even though I used to see downtown, what I saw from the river still amazed me. I loved what I saw. And I loved to feel the air in the river which was quite cold.


Different photos with North Saskatchewan River

Another angle for Downtown skyline

Downtown skyline





Mixed photos of Downtown
from Queen Riverboat at North Saskatchewan River

The sail started from the Rafter’s landing area then cruised before the high level bridge. Then, the boat turned around and sailed up to area before Dawson Bridge. The cruise was enjoyable and I had a great night.



Wonderful North Saskatchewan River

Before leaving the boat, I approached the couple and thanked them again for letting me joined them to celebrate their anniversary. Next, the couple asked me how I will be able to get home and I told them that I am going to take a cab since I am not sure which bus will take me to downtown and if there were still bus around that time. To my surprise, the couple offered me that they will drive me home. And I cannot reject their offer that was why I accepted it. Before they dropped me home, they drove me around downtown and nearby places so that I can see more about Edmonton. We even stopped at Starbucks and they bought me an iced coffee that was really thoughtful of both of them. I really enjoyed their company, they were so kind to me to think they just met me.

Edmonton Queen River Boat

I really enjoyed my Sunday.