Monday, September 8, 2008
I came to know of Nenek Semukut aka Twin Peaks from a magazine given to me by a friend who worked at Tioman Island Resort. ( now named Berjaya Tioman Island Resort) Amazed, thrilled and inspired by its immense height and beauty, I silently made a pledge to climb it someday. In 1996 climbing these tall peaks would be unthinkable for the Malaysians climbing community. Technical and Rock-Climbing in Malaysia is still in its infancy and everytime you climb at the rock, you will always see the same familiar faces. We had only one climbing area which we called “petronas” located left of the hindu temple at batu caves and behind petronas station.
We had our first hand of technical climbing in 1992 and by 1995, we built our first plywood climbing wall stated at jalan tun razak near the kampong pandan circle and opposite of RHB Bank. The wall is situated at what we called then “rumah Persatuan Mendaki Malaysia”(house of Malaysian Mountaineering Association, MARFIMA)
In 1997, Malaysia reached the top of Everest, but Everest and Big Wall climbing is totally two different games. Both are highly technical and dangerous in their own way. The Malaysian climbing community is evolving and I am honoured to be a part of it!
In October 1998, supported by the Ministry of Youth, I was chosen by the Malaysian Mountaineering Federation to polished and deepen my knowledge and climbing skills from the experts in France. With the new skills learnt from the French Mountaineering Federation, I was certified as the 1st Degree DiplomeTrainer and my secret dream of climbing the peaks were kept alive.
From 1998-2000, I spent much of my weekends, vacations and personal funds, traveling to and from Tioman. Studying, photographing the mountain, planning my route to the summit and keeping my dreams secretly.
I met Roszaman (Man) in 1998 while routesetting and conducting national climbing courses in Malacca. This is my first task/duty immediately after I came back from France. The national competition was held in conjunction with the U.I.A.A ( Union International of Alpinist Associations ) meeting held in Malacca. It was Man’s first introduction to sport/technical climbing and It was not until the year 2001 that he ever knew of my big wall plans.
Man quit his day job as maintenance at a hotel in Malacca and stayed with me at my parents place in Johor Bahru in 2001. My bank account was getting empty from weekends climbing trips to Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur and Tioman trip and in june 2001, I arrived at Tioman …again but this time accompanied by Man. Due to the lack of funds, my equipments was extremely limited. Man being a relatively new climber did not have any equipment with him. We had barely a full set of nuts and cams, slings made out of discarded rope, but neither portaledge, pitons nor any gear considered standard for big wall or aid climbing. To some we are regarded as brave, but foolhardy.
Based on my earlier surveys, I decided that the prominent west ridgeline, indicated by a reclining stone pillar, exhibited the most obvious climbable route to the summit. However the thick moss and lichen lining the shady lower reaches, makes any climbing futile. We spent the nights at its steep based cuddled among the roots of tress that were exposed by the wind.
Searching for a way through, we traversed the base to the right, beginning our ascent on the south face, dry and extremely exposed to the sun. After reaching 150m of height the wall grew increasingly steeper and the surface smoother. We were force to concede, realizing that without more equipment, we could no longer continue. However, resolute in our goal we rappelled to the ground, retrace the base, made camp and prepared or second attempt, this time somewhere between south face and west ridge.
Finding a narrow entrance, leading above the tree line and onto the wall, we set the first two pitches before nightfall. We fixed our ropes and rappelled down to camp for the night.
Over the next two days we struggled up the wall, hauling heavy gear packed into self-made haulbags, sewn from sugar gunnysacks. We spent the night on an airy ledge, tying ourself to the rock and resting, not in portaledges, but in common nylon hammocks! The first night passed slowly, suffering from cold and exposure.
In the afternoon of the third day I reached a passage, where the crack system which I had followed for two days, gradually narrowed, finally disappearing for a length of 10 meters. Such an irony to have a 500 meters climb halted by a comparable short distance. I named these last pitch “Maghrib” as when I climb, it was near to Maghrib as I can hear the azan(prayer call) echoing from the mosque from Mukut village below.( maghrib-a time for muslim to pray at arrival of dusk ,sometime at around 7pm) Freeclimbing the blank face above this proved to be too great of a challenge for me. I traversed to the right, searching for a detour around this tricky passage.
Resignation eventually sunk in, there was no way around. We were forced one more time to abandon our vertical journey. Defeated, we rapelled back to ground camp, consoled only by the knowledge that it had been lack of pitons and aided gear, not skill that cost us our bid for the top. I resolute to return, the summit will not elude me so easily………………………….
In 2002 , well equipped and with three support buddies, we reached the summit on our national day (31st August 2002).
( Read the articles Evolution-Malaysia'a first Big Wall climb)
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Duration ~ 3 days 2 nights
Venue ~ Dragon's Horn, Kg Mukut, Tioman Island. Malaysia.
Day 1 ~ Embark on a boat trip to Kg Mukut from Mersing jetty.
Arrive and start trek along the virgin jungle to the base of the Dragon’s Horn.
Experience adrenaline pumping Climbing/Jumaring* to 1st bivy/camp at the wall.
Amazed by the eagles eye view from high above the wall.
Spend the night breathing the cold breeze hanging at the rockwall in a
portaledge or hammock.
You will normally be accompanied by million of pin pricking stars.
Day 2 ~ Start ascending/abseiling to the base of the Dragon's Horn.
Trek down to Kg Mukut
Spend the night at chalet in Kg Mukut,
Enjoy fresh seafood barbeque.
Day 3 ~ Boat trip to Pulau Renggis and Marine Park,
(snorkeling and fish feeding)
2pm` leave for Mersing jetty.
Package inclusive of accommodation, food, climbing equipments, climbing guides, porters and boat transfer to and from “Mersing” jetty.
Reservations to be made 7 days prior to date of trip.
Maximum of 4 persons per trip.
Call us at 019-71 66 222 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for bookings and enquiries
Note: jumar~ an action of climbing the ropes using climbing equipments.
Non climbers will be given a free courses on jumaring techniques.
portaledge~ short for portable ledge/hanging tent.
Petit Solutions@Height Team at Penang Bridge/Majalah 3
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Some of our previous involvements includes~
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HC Duraclean Sdn Bhd/Damansara Asset.
High Rise Installation of Prism Motion Detector at Bukit Lanjan slope.
Cahaya Objektif Sdn Bhd./Propel
Geotechnical Instrumentation Rock Slope Rehabilitation Works. New Klang Valley Expressway.
CSL, Soil Centralab Sdn Bhd./Propel
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Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur.
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High Rise Cleaning and Maintenance at Johor State Assembly/Dewan Undangan Negeri Johor, Nusajaya, Johor.
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Thursday, July 17, 2008
It was 5 years ago since I had the opportunity to lead in any big climbing expedition. Now, I’m sitting in front of another spectacular peak, deep in the heart of Borneo and the main peak of one mountain range called “Tama Abu “. Batu Lawi is the crown of this mountain range at an elevation of 2043 meters located in the district of Limbang at Sarawak, Malaysia. It had two sandstone peaks separated by the saddle. The lower sister peak can be reached by steep trekking and a bit of scrambling near the top. From the top of the sister peak you can see the main peak towering in front of you. This main peak is my destination ! Our expedition was tagged “Puncak Merdeka Batu Lawi Expedition”.“Puncak Merdeka” means the Independence Summit and we were climbing in conjunction with Malaysia’s 50 years National Independence celebration. The climbing team consist of Ajiz and Chaun from Multimedia University, local boyband singer Zam and myself. We will be accompanied by the national tv crew documenting the climb along with our support team. 6th August 2007 Woke up early to catch the flight at 5.45 to Miri. The adventure begins! We transit at Miri and board another flight to a small inner town named “ Lawas”. Flights connection to inner town from Miri uses the “Twin Otter” which is a two fan engine plane with a maximum of 20 passengers including the pilots. From Lawas, it took us another 5 hours of 4wd along the timber road before reaching “Raven’s Court Camp”. This is the last logging camp deep in the jungle. The elevation was at 1400 meters and the temperature had lowered to 20 degrees. Here, we met with our guide/porters Tawi,Sakai,Panai and Lasung from another small town called “Bakelalan”. 7th August 2007 We drove for another two hours before hitching a ride on the bulldozer for a 35 minutes ride climbing the steep mountain . By 3.15 p.m The main climbers, porters and the tv crew start to trek . Our support team decided to stay behind. After an hour of trekking, the jungle changes to dense mossy forest known as “kerangas forest” . The weather is cold with healthy moss everywhere from the ground to the branches of the trees. By 6.00 p.m we were given with the view of Batu Lawi from the north and 20 minutes later we reached our base camp somewhere in the middle of the trek. 8th August 2007 We continued trekking to the saddle, and at around noon we noticed the trek that we followed had brought us to the north/west of Batu Lawi which is not what we planned. The view is nice though! We stationed the tv crew at one point while the main climbers and guide set to find the way to the saddle. After much rough trekking through thick kerangas and wild thorns we reached the saddle at around 3.15pm. We stayed at the saddle for 15 minutes and head back to our previous base camp. Minutes later 2 of our support team with two porters arrive with barking deer which they had hunt the day before. Tonight will be warm as a result of the deer meat we ate. 9th August 2007 The tv crew headed back down the mountain at 10 a.m while the rest of the team head for saddle. We reached the saddle late evening with only two bottles of water to spare. Tomorrow, we wont be able to climb the main peak since we are lack of water but our porters volunteer to get the water needed as not to waste our time to climb. These porters are the unsung hero of our expedition. I respected them for that. By 8.30pm, Tawi and the gang arrived with all the water needed. 10th August 2007 On the south face corner of the main peak we climb/scramble a dehidral slab full of vegetations to a small ledge. I climb another 5 meters of rockface to a bigger ledge where we find clean rock with crack system. I climb this vertical crack for another 30 meters before ending the day at 6.30 p.m. Everybody head down to saddle by 7.45 p.m. When we reached the saddle the rest of our support team had just arrived from base camp. 11th August 2007 By 12 p.m we started our pursuit and each of us took an average of 30 minutes to reach to our previous highest point. Hauling all the gear, water and porteledges is no easy task. We were slow and tired but very determine. By 2pm everybody reached the big ledge just below the vertical crack. I jumar to yesterdays highest point and continued climbing. 8 meters above I came across 5 meters of chimney and climb pass a small roof to a 7 meters of bridging and another 10 meters of dehidral before a slab and some vegetation. I sneak pass through the vegetation and was thrilled to found a cave. The cave is 10 by 10 meters of rock that lies towards the main peak. One side of the cave entrance is facing the east while the other is facing the south. Either from both side you will get a breathtaking view. We camp at the east side of the cave. 12th August 2007 At dawn the first glance of the sun appeared on the right side of Mt.Murud bringing warmth on our chilling bodies. Screams of gibbons far below echoed loudly signaling the break of a new day. I continued climbing this dehidral rock of unstable huge boulders. I climb pass several small roof and traverse to the right at a corner and into another dehidral and decided to set our porteledge. I climb another 18 meters before coming down at 4.15 p.m as it begins to rain. I could see there’s another 10 meters of climbing before we reached another flat kerangas bushes. The rain continued till 6.15 p.m and immediately after, rainbow appear and cloud gathers resembling a dragon flying below and around us. The view was spectacular. These cloudy forest are in danger of extinction as a result of the global warming. These clouds are also the reason of the seldom disappearence of Batu Lawi from the naked eye hence the ethnic people dubbed it as “Misty Mountain”. It was already 6.30 p.m when the crickets starts singing signaling the daylight is over and welcomes the night. 13th August 2007 I climbed this badly protected dehidral and pass a small roof to another 20 meters of dehidral crack of loose rock before reaching a small kerangas ledge where we set our anchor. It rains and Zam and I squad and stayed close together near to the rock avoiding the rain and chill wind. I continued climbing another 25 meters of chimney which gave me a beautiful view of the sister peak below . This chimney begins with a finger crack that widens to the width of 2 meters. At the end of the chimney there’s a traverse to the right across thick kerangas bushes. Climbing these overhanging kerangas bushes is very risky and scary experience as they seems to let loose every time you hold on to them. I had to grab another bushes of kerangas before it breaks and most of the times I had to dunk my hand deep to the level of my elbow to get a firm but still not solid grip. At some point I felt as if I’m swimming in them. Once reaching the top of the kerangas it rains again. It’s impossible to get any vocal communication between Zam and me so both of us just stay quiet, shivering from the chill wind and dripping drops of rain. We climb yet another boulder and the wall open up it’s upper section of the kerangas. After 15 minutes of kerangas bushwacking we reach a big ledge where you could see the south and the east. We were at an elevation of 2030m and on top of us looks like another 20 meters of rock that leads to overhanging kerangas bushes and then hopefully………………the summit. We set our ropes here and abseil down to our portaledges, by now every inch of our body was aching and screaming from exhaustion but the thoughts of reaching the summit tomorrow kept our spirits high. The “Summit” 14th August 2007 Everybody woke up at dawn and started ascending to the highest point. We scramble through thick and wet kerangas to the right of the rock face for half an hour and had expected to reach the summit. To our surprise there’s another section of 4 meters of rock to climb . We did not bring our climbing shoes as we thought there will be no more rocks to climb . This section is not difficult but given the expose view of the land below and climbing damp rock with wet sport shoes, it still gives us the shivers. On my left there is this long drop possibly to the saddle and on the right this long deep crack of mossy rock heading down to the unknown. I reached the top of the rock and was happy to see we had reached the top. By 10.05 a.m the whole team reached the summit. We were glad that we made it to the summit and I personally was happy that my dream to climb this peak have been fulfilled. We sang our national anthem and waved our national flag with pride . This main peak of Batu Lawi has waited for 50 years for a Malaysian to step on its summit and this is our way to contribute and share the joy of independence with the whole nation. “Happy 50th National Independence Day Malaysia!!!” this is for you!!! We started ascending by 12 afternoon and everybody were back at the saddle by 5.pm. 15th August 2007 The next morning before leaving the saddle I glance one more time at this beautiful and spectacular peak and appreciates all the lessons I’ve learnt. I’m glad that its over but look forward for the next adventure………………………..
Batu Lawi view from summit.
Batu Lawi view from summit.
Monday, June 30, 2008
It all began in the year 1996 when, leafing through a magazine, I saw an aerial photo of Nenek Semukut, an awesome 690 meter granite spire towering above the jungle at Kampong Mukut on the southern tip of Malaysia's Tioman Island. That peak, and another lesser pinnacle, are collectively known as the Twin Peaks, or the Dragon's Horn. From the moment I saw it , it became my dream to climb Nenek Semukut.
In June 2001, a friend of mine, shared my enthusiasm and decided to attempt the peak, but lack of funds meant our equipment was extremely limited. Our attempt came to a halt at 300 meters, but we were determined to return better equipped and succeed.
It took me a full year to put the next expedition together. Because no Malaysian had ever climbed a "Big Wall" like Nenek Semukut before, we had trouble persuading gear manufacturers to sponsor us. Eventually, with the support of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the Johor State Sport Climbing and Outdoor Association(OUTCAXT), the expedition began to come together. Sponsors were found, and the Malaysian Mountaineering Federation lent us camming devices, pitons, nuts. We also recieved fleece inners from a previous Everest expedition - to keep us warm on the rockface at night. Three support climbers; Abdullah Danial a.k.a Pakla, Akmal Noor and Al Haleq, would follow us to the summit, hauling the equipment up after us.
A week before the climb we had a press conference, and suddenly everybody knew about us. With the whole nation watching us, our personal deadline of reaching the summit on August 31st (Malaysia's National Day), immediately took a new significance.
The AscentOn August 25, we were finally on our way. A two hour catamaran ride brought us to Kampong Mukut, and from there we trekked through the jungle for two and a half hours to reach the base of the mountain. With each of us carrying 35 to 40kg of food and equipment, this was no easy task. We camped at the foot of Dragon's Horn, preparing for the following day's climbing.
Early the next morning, we began our assault. We free climbed 60 meters until we reached a large roofed ledge, where we set our ropes. We then descended to the base to hold discussions with our support team and volunteers from Mukut.
On August 27th we hauled 110kg of gear and supplies up to this ledge, which would be our home for the night. It turned out to be home to hundreds of nesting birds as well. The noise as they all took wing was like a low flying aircraft over our heads. We had no portaledge, so during the evening, lying in hammocks tied securely to the rock, we entertained ourselves by communicating with the people of Mukut using torchlight. As we flashed our torches towards the coast far below, our friends replied, pinpricks of light flickering back from the jetty, houses, and even from fishing boats leaving before dawn.
On August 28, the real climbing began; a difficult section of the wall, including a technically tough crack, took us the whole day to climb. As we climbed, a fog rolled in, completly blocking the view of the sea, trees, and even the belay team 10 meters below me. I felt as if I were climbing through clouds. At 6pm, we gathered on a tiny 2 X 3 meter ledge; our second bivouac. Our bodies were aching, but limited space did not allow us to move, so the night passed slowly and uncomfortably.
August 29th dawned, and the climb continued. Hoping to reach a larger ledge for our third bivouac, we forged ahead, but the wall was playing with our heads now. This section was a sloping blank face with many small cracks, and eventually we were forced to stop at a very small cavelike ledge big enough for only two people to sit with their legs dangling.
It was midnight before the rest of the team reached us. Abdullah and I slept on the ledge, while Man, Akmal and Haleq set up hammocks on a sloping rocks few meters below. We had precious little time to rest though, and at 4:30 am our willpower was tested to the limit. A thunderstorm hit us with no warning and we lay soaked, silent and shivering with cold as the lightning and thunder crashed around us.
The fifth day of the climbing involved real concentration and mental commitment. It was difficult to place pitons, and we had to climb long runouts from one protective piton to the next. I finally reached a garden like terrace of stunted trees, where the whole team set up the fourth bivouac. From here, we could see a line of about 120 meters that would lead us almost to the summit.
The final day broke clear and sunny, and we set to our tasks confidently; but at around 560 meters, I nearly came to grief. I had placed a piton 7 meters below, and was trying to grasp a handhold on a 30 degree overhanging face when suddenly the rock broke away. I toppled backwards, and as if in slow motion, could vividly see first the blue ocean, and then Man as I fell about 14 meters. The piton held, and despite some bruises, scrapes and a swollen ankle, I thanked God that I had escaped any serious injury.
After freeclimbing about another 100 meters, we came across a tricky scrambling section of about 25 meters before emerging in a garden of bushes, bonsai trees, and pitcherplants.
At 1:30pm on National Day, I summitted on the Dragon's Horn. An hour later, the rest of the team were standing on top. Five days of hard work culminated in a proud moment as we waved our national flag for the camera. It took us eight hours to abseil down, but our hearts were still up in the clouds for many days
Thursday, June 12, 2008
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Rock Climbing Trip:~
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- ► July (5)