I am glad to have the opportunity to conquer one of the world’s great mountains – South-East Asia’s greatest peak, Mount Kinabalu. I went with my friends last year just before the earthquake strikes in May. We had a good time and the highlight of the climb was more on conquering my fear and mental fight. Check out here to read what my climbing partner wrote about her climbing experience.
After climbing Mt Kinabalu last year, I decided to make another climb to the second highest mountain in Sabah, which is Mt Trus Madi. I went along with my friend and this time we decided to try the trail from Kaingaran Trail from Tambunan Town.
4th Feb 2016
Last night I had a good night sleep despite dreaming that already climb Mt Trus Madi. This morning I woke up feeling refreshed and excited for the adventure that awaiting us. After meeting with everyone, we departed to Tambunan by using the road from KK – Tambunan which linked the west coast to the interior. The road passes through Penampang and as we continue driving we could see a scattered farming communities growing hill rice, pineapples, bananas, mushrooms and other vegetables that are sold at roadside stalls. There are dramatic views down over Kota Kinabalu and the islands beyond and glimpses of Mount Kinabalu to the northeast. We take this opportunity to take few photos of the faraway view of Mount Kinabalu.
Along the road we pass by the Kipandi Butterfly Park and Gunung Alab Resort where people often stop by to rest and relax. The twisting mountain road that cuts across the Crocker Range National Park is very beautiful. After descending from the hills, the road enters the sprawling flood plain of Tambunan with a magnificent view of patchwork of paddy field.
We arrived at Mt Trus Madi & Tours office (also Widu Resort office) at 8.30am and after introducing ourselves with the staff, we took our breakfast at nearby restaurant. Luckily, it was Thursday and it was ‘Tamu’ day in Tambunan. Thus, we take this opportunity to walk around and buy some food for our lunch later. After walking around and doing last minute shopping, we return back to the office and meet our Mt Guide for safety briefing. We received our permit from the agent (booked prior to the climbing, at least 1 week before). At 11am we departed from Tambunan Town to the first check point.
The distance from Tambunan town to the starting point is about 27km (11.5km asphalt road / gravel road on remaining km), approximately 1 ½ hrs by 4WD. Our first check point is at GATE FMU10.
Still like the olden days, Tamu is held weekly (Thursday)/Buying some foods for light lunch.
Last stop to go to the toilet before starting point. No toilet facility available from starting point to the rest house / Permit check and to register.
Last stop to go to the toilet before starting point. No toilet facility available from starting point to the rest house / Permit check and to register. Here we have to register our name in the log book and present our permit to the Forestry Department.
Thereafter, we continue our journey through gravel road to the starting point. The road is a bit challenging. Thus 4WD is a must. About 4km after the check point, we passed by MIRAD-IRAD BASE CAMP owned by the Forestry. It has a nice facility and often used by researcher and students for their base camp.
The facility they had:
1. Camping groud
2. Mini Hall
3. 5 CHALET (Max 4pax in 1 chalet)
Crossing the river.
The boardwalk is an easy walk. We could use shoes or sandal with a good grip. We were informed by our Mt Guide that the boardwalk was completed in 2013 after being closed in 2010. The Forestry Department decided to build the boardwalk and also the rest house for the climbers. However since the opening, the number of climbers is very minimum. The recent earthquake and the temporary closure of Mt Kinabalu diverted many tour operators to change their Mt climbing tour to Trus Madi. Since then, the number of climbers is positively increasing.
Along the boardwalk, we could see abundance of pitcher plants and orchid. We started to feel the altitude difference and the cool temperature. Mount Trus Madi consists of five different types of vegetations—lowland mixed dipterocarps, hill mixed dipterocarp forest, lower montane forest, upper montane forest, and summit scrub. One interesting thing to spot is the unique pitcher plant, Nepenthes Trusmadiensis—natural hybrid between Nepenthes lowii and Nepenthes macrophylla which is endemic to Mount Trus Madi alone.
We take time to take photo and walk leisurely along the boardwalk. It was a nice experience with some interpretation from the Mt Guide. I am impressed with the knowledge of our Mt Guide who knows quite a lot about Nepenthes.
We arrive at the rest house approximately at 3pm. There are 5 rooms at the rest house. Each room have 4 bunk beds. The maximum occupancy of the rest house is 20pax. The guide and the cook usually sleep in the tent under the rest house. The amenities are quite basic. They have shared toilet for Men and Women. Water supply and lighting are available. (Electricity is only available from 6pm to 11pm and powered by generator).
We have our early dinner at 6pm. The food was very nice. Mostly local foods (bought from the market in Tambunan Town). The temperature at the rest house is around 10°C – 15°C. We went to bed early for the climb next day.
5 Feb 2016
Wake up at 1.30am, we have our early breakfast with Fried rice and fried noodles. We packed up light, and start to ascend to the summit at 2am. If all went well, we could reach the summit before 6am to watch the sunrise. It was very dark but thanks to the aid of LED headlight. Although it is only 2.9KM away from the summit, the trails was quite challenging because most of the trail was over 50 degree of steepness and certain section has only ropes for us to hold on. We trek uphill and downhill few times before we arrive at the Taliban Point. Because we are a bit late of the schedule and we wanted to see the sunrise, our MT Guide allows us to go first while she trek back to check for Sheila and one of the Mt Trus Madi & Tours’ staff. After giving us instruction, Jason and I decided to go first so that we are able to make it on time to the summit for the sunrise. There are two important points before the summit. Firstly, the Lupang Point where the Mastan and Kaingarain Trails meet. Climbers often get confused at this intersection. But if they follow the signboard, they would not miss the trail to the summit. Next is the Jiran Point where the Viewpoint Tower stood 100 Meter from the summit (people often think that this is the summit). We finally reached the summit at 6.10am. The sunrise view from Lupang Point and the summit was very rewarding.
We return back to Jiran Point and we climb the 5-Meter Viewpoint Tower to see the surrounding view. The weather is good that day and we are fortunate to see the breath-taking view of Mount Kinabalu, which lies about 40 KM to the north.
At 7.30am, we descend back to the rest house for lunch. We walked slowly and took photos on the way back. We were unable to take many photos when we climb up at 2am, but now when the sun is up, we see much clearer and we begin to see the trail we passed earlier.
We found the Nepenthes Trusmadiensis pitcher plant on top of a tree along the trail. It was limited to summit ridge from elevations of 2500M to 2600M. The Nepenthes Trusmadiensis is the natural hybrid of Nepenthes lowii and Nepenthes macrophylla. Sadly, this biggest hybrid species is under threat and getting scarce.
While my friend Jason and Sheila arrived earlier at the rest house, I finally reached at 11am. Leg started to feel sore due to the descend. After a cold shower (the water heater at the rest house is not working), we have our warm lunch, packed our bags and descend down to the starting point at 12pm.
At 2pm, we arrived at the starting point where our captain is waiting for us. After taking group photo, we drive back to Tambunan Town. We stop by at Mt Trus Madi & Tours office to get our certificate and also meet the owner, Mr Linus Gonsilou. We thank him and his staff (our fantastic chef and our MT Guide) and took another group photo together. We return back to Kota Kinabalu at 4pm.