Precious Moment In The Mountain (Post#2) : Blackcomb Mountain
The photo above was captured after reaching the summit of the mountain through gondola rides. This was one of the mountain where the Winter Olympics in 2010 was held. The mountain is in Whistler in British Columbia, Canada. I was in Blackcomb mountain last June 2008 when I got a chance to visit the province after almost two months of training and work from Edmonton, Canada before flying back to Manila.
This post has been updated to add the link of and to participate in the following:
Precious Moment In The Mountain (Post#1): Tarak Ridge
The photo above was captured while at the summit of Tarak Ridge. I joined my mountaineering group for Tarak Ridge climb last October 2010. Tarak Ridge is one of the peak of Mount Mariveles which located in Mariveles Bataan, Philippines. I will not forget this mountain because the climb experienced I had here made me feel like I was a spider while crawling the very steep trail on the way to Tarak Ridge. I never thought that I would make it to the top.
Whistler becomes a buzz word while I was in Canada because the next Winter Olympics which will be happening in 2010 will be held in Whistler. I was so happy that I will be able to visit Whistler because I knew that I will not be around during the Olympic season. Before I even arrived in Vancouver, I had been planning my tour since I had only two full day weekends, two nights and half-day (just almost 5 days) to travel around British Columbia and I don’t want to waste my time just being at the hotel.
I was booked for Whistler Mountain and Forest Tour via Whistler Glacier Dome train last June 14, 2008. I booked the tour with Vancouver Landsea Tours and Adventures. Because the location of my hotel (Ramada Hotel) was in Burnaby, the tour company told me that they will not be able to pick me up from the hotel that I was staying. I was advised to go to Hyatt Regency hotel at Burrard Street. Therefore, I woke up early and went to the said hotel to join the group tour. After meeting my group, I was dropped off at the Whistler train station since my tour includes Whistler train.
Inside the Glacier Dome of Whistler Mountaineer Train (quite blurred)
Lions Gate Bridge (From North Vancouver District)
Vancouver view from West Vancouver
Bowen Island view from West Vancouver
Whistler train station is in North Vancouver railway station, this was where the Whistler train left Vancouver. From the station, we passed Lions Gate Bridge a suspension bridge that connects Vancouver to North Shore of North Vancouver and West Vancouver.
The train route follows the coastline of North Vancouver to West Vancouver near Marine Drive, then the rest of the tracks is almost parallel to Sea to Sky Highway. The trail seemed designed for a great train ride. The panoramic views along the Strait of Georgia, sceneries together with Bowen and Gambier Island from Lions Bay, Furry Creek and Squamish were really amazing.
Falls view from Whistler train Some photos while on our way to Whistler (along Sea To Sky Highway)
Scenic view near in Squamish
Riding in a train like that seems like a cruise because the dome train I took was more luxurious than the other carriage of the Whistler train. The travel was comfortable and enjoyable. I admired everything that I saw all the way from Vancouver to Whistler.
Almost at Whistler
Finally, we arrived at Whistler Village. Because I booked Whistler tour via train, I was separated in my group tour on the way to Whistler, they came to Whistler via tourist bus. I met the whole group and the tourist guide again in the village. I remembered that our guide told us that while we’re in the village, we have free time to spend and try things that we like. The group agreed to come back at the meeting place in a specific time.
Whistler Train Station
Some snapshots in Whistler Village
While in Whistler, I grabbed the opportunity to walk within the village. I was able to reach lake called Green Lake and found out that it was the Whistler airport station. Yes, it is the airport because it’s not the same like common airport we used to, it is an airport for a sea float plane, where small plane flies but lands in water either in harbor or lakes.
Whistler Airport at Green Lake (and its surrounding area)
Since the area is being prepared for the upcoming Winter Olympics in 2010, there were constructions going on in different parts of the village, but the construction activities did not hinder the normal operations in the village and tourist keeps on coming.
After walking for sometime around Whistler Village, I decided to ride gondolas to reach the mountain summit. I saw Blackcomb mountain booth. I bought the ticket and went on queue for gondola. The gondola that I saw in the area are open type gondola because it is the rides of people who does the skiing in the mountain during winter season and because the winter was over, the same gondola brings tourist like me to reach the top of the mountain.
During my ascent to the summit of the Blackcomb mountain, I was able to see the panoramic views of mountains around the area. If I saw Rocky Mountains in Banff from the ground, I was overwhelmed because I witness different angle of mountains from the top. And because it was Spring season I saw some parts of the Blackcomb mountain that still have snow and iced which a leftover by Winter season. I was lucky that I was wearing winter jacket at that time because I experience the cold wind from the ground up to the summit. I spent some time at the peak of the mountain by taking photos, by just looking around 360 degrees and by appreciating all the things that my eyes reached. I never experienced a mountain like that before where it felt like the other surrounding mountains were so close to me. It seems they were all reachable and I could just grab them with my bare hands with the blink of an eye. I told myself how beautiful and great the place where I was standing.
Panoramic Views at Blackcomb Mountain
I looked at my watch and decided to descend the mountain. I reached the ground of the mountain the same way that I reached the summit.
It was great to see a beautiful village surrounded by mountains. I was ecstatic and I never thought that a remote place like Whistler is a beautiful community covered by natures wonders. It was really a wonderful place for me. I really enjoyed my walk along the village and my rides in gondola. Discovering the place from the ground, from the sky and from summit made my experience memorable.
My group tour met together again. And in few minutes we left Whistler Village and we started driving back to Vancouver.
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”.