On our travels we usually just muddle along as we go, planning a few days in advance at most. But that approach will not work in Borneo, where permits and accommodation need to be booked in advance, so we have been doing a lot of planning for Borneo in the past few days.
We are planning to climb Mt Kinabalu, which is 4,095 m high and, like Mt Fuji, we will have to hike through the night to get to the summit for dawn. But that’s not the scary part. We’ve decided to get back down by via ferrata. We’ve done one of these before, but that was in the Lake District and was significantly less than 3,000m high. Basically, they fixed metals foot and hand-holds into the cliff face for you to climb down. We had a choice between the “easy” route, which takes 2 hours, or the tough one that takes 5 hours. Considering that we will have done 7 hours of hiking the day before, then got up at 1am to do 6 more hours of hiking before we reach the start of the via ferrata, we’ve opted for the tough route. Lunacy.
To take our minds off worrying about our forthcoming Kinabalu ordeal, we decided that the best thing to do would be to sign up for an even tougher trek. So we are also planning (I say planning, approximately 50% don’t make it all the way) a 3 day, 2 night trek to the Pinnacles in Gunung Mulu National Park. Day 2 is when you reach the top and get a well-earned view across the Pinnacles and that point is only 2.4 kilometres from the base camp. But in that distance, you climb up 1.2 kilometres. That is ridiculously steep. The last and steepest section is accomplished by a series of ladders and bridges that seem about as precarious as the via ferrata on Kinabalu, but this time we won’t be carabinered on to a safety wire. Ok, we would only fall about 30 feet, as opposed to 3,000 m, but we’d be falling onto pointy rocks.
Here’s some stuff we’ve come across while researching the Pinnacles:
“…unrelentingly steep and taxing…”
“…not only is it steep it is also rooty, rocky and slippery. If you take the steepest, rootiest bit of the waitak’s on a wet day, change the clay to rock, some of them razor sharp, quadruple the number of roots, make it 10 times as long and add 100% humidity, this is what the Pinnacles walking section is like…I quit when it got scary.”
“I am 160cm but I found certain parts of the climb quite challenging as I couldn’t quite reach the ladder rung or foothold…only attempt this is you are more than 160cm.” (Errrr…crap)
“An impassable labyrinth of razor sharp rocks” (Actually that’s Mordor, but I’m beginning to think it might have been modelled on the Pinnacles)