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29 October 2012

Rockin at Mount Batu Puteh ( 6993′)


By Yvonne

Short of 7 meters to be in the G7 category, Mt Batu Puteh (6993’) has its own lethal charm. In almost blind faith manner, group of 15 climbers from various department in AirAsia signed up for the climb (the original plan was to climb Mt Gede in Indonesia) but due to dry season, we have to change our plan. While frantically searching for suitable mountain, I stumble upon Mt Batu Puteh and after quick reading, decided that that this will be the next best thing.

Armed with Moola bar (courtesy of Moolaeazy) we left LCCT at 9:00pm and reached Kampung Orang Asli Kuala Woh, at midnight. We spent the night under the brightest full moon with halo. Thank god for the clear sky as we didn’t erect flysheet over our head.

The next morning, our guide; Iskandar Ismail checking our rations and equipment and after we had our breakfast and distribution of ration and equipments we started our journey at 9:00am. The trail was “mesra rakyat” (easy trail) on the way to Simpang Y ( Y junction), Simpang Y is a wide river with quite a strong rapid( and sometimes too deep even to cross) we were lucky as it was not that deep and we managed to crossed it easily. We regrouped and make our move to Sungai Akhir ( Last River) where we had our lunch. This will be the last water point before we start ascending to Gua Azan ( Azan cave). It took about 2 hour’s journey to get here from Simpang Y.

From Sungai Akhir to Gua Azan, the trail was ‘tidak mesra rakyat’ (difficult trail) and it can go up to almost 70 degree and it was endless climb. It took almost 5 painful hours to get to the cave. In between, we stopped at Kem Balak I and to make sure that we reached on time at the cave, we didn’t stop at Kem Balak II which was quite near to Azan cave. I reached cave at 5:38pm. This was first time ever experience for me to stay in the cave and it does gave me a goose bumps ( I am not exactly a coward) but something about the cave make me constantly on alert mode and slightly anxious for my group safety all the time. The last climbers arrive at 7:15pm. Sleeping in a cave was quite an experience as the ground was uneven and it slides down to the ravine below, which mean that those that sleep in wrong position will rolled out from the cave down the ravine. Couple of times we have to hike down rescuing fallen sleeping bag, shoes, slippers and pots. At the cave, the water point coming from between huge rocks and it was freaking cold; you have to track down few meters to get to the water point.

Next morning, we started our climbing at 9:41am and we reached one point where we have to climb a very “unreliable” and old looking steps (that made of bamboo) that we have to climbed and the trick was not to look down. Slowly (with shaky knees) we stepped on careful one step at the time and all made it safely up the huge rocks. The trail was worst then the day before; it was 70 – 80 degree climb (almost the entire journey). Midway we stop at “Air Terjun Nak Terbunuh” (Almost Killed Waterfall). I was reluctant to go down the waterfall when we reached there and when I finally half heartedly climb down, we followed the old trail and almost off track and when we finally found the waterfall, I nearly fell into the ravine when I stepped on lose rocks and it fell down. I was too stunned to move for few seconds. With shaky knees, we slowly climbed up back, the waterfall was beautiful but I was already feeling very nervous from the ‘near life changing experience’.

From the “Air Terjun Nak Terbunuh” we continue plodding on the hard trail and reached Batu Kak ( Kak Rock) at 12:10nn after regroup and photo session we continue our trekking to the peak of the mountain. As we progressed, we passed by areas with huge weathered trails where the trek becomes very steep and dangerously close to a cliff (and I constantly keep this in mind while trekking down to make sure that we take extra precaution) .

I reached the peak at 2:38pm and tho there was nothing spectacular about the peak but due to the strenuous journey, you feel deepest satisfaction and you cant describe the feelings. After simple lunch and group photo, we start descending around 3:40pm. I was with the 2nd group and I pushed the 5 of them to the limit and don’t even stop for a drink till we reached Batu Kak when they finally screamed at me to stop and quickly gulp down their drinks and continue to run after me ( literally running down the trail), we reached the treacherous slope on time before complete darkness, that was my aimed as I need to pace my group to reach the cave safely before the sun down and the sky doesn’t look too good too, it was gloomy afternoon and by 5:15pm.. it was already quite dark. From the dangerous slope, I hasten our pace and don’t even looked back to see if they are still behind me and only to make sure of that by making noise and they shout back at me, we managed to reach the cave by 6:59pm and darkness was all around us, it was a very eerie feeling. This was when we heard the calling for prayer or ‘azan’ at the cave and wondering from where it came from and assume that it came from one of our climbers handphone (apparently not). Our last climbers reached safely by 8:40 pm. That night, we celebrated our victory by feasting on Nasi Briyani and Beef Rendang and Salted fish, nothing tasted any better! And that night, all slept soundly except for me (perhaps because I took too much energy drink earlier).

We woke up fresh the next morning and after packing, we make a move around 10:40am and reached Kem Balak II in a good time, while waiting for the other group to arrive, we were eaten alive by mosquito ( on steroid – I swear it was as big as my watch) and stung by the flower bees, we slowly move inch by inch (tho told by our sweeper, Man Black; to wait for him while he went to the ‘loo’) and shot down to the Kem Balak II and waited for the rest of the group to regroup. After few minutes, our guide arrived with red face and sweating profusely chasing after us (he learnt from previous days that I don’t like to stop and worried that we wont stop till the next point), he was so relieved to find us there ( bunch of happy campers that look mightily pleased with themselves). Iskandar ( our guide) then lead the way to Sungai Akhir and we reached there in record time too and had a grand time splashing in the river while waiting for the rest to arrived. We had the best Maggie and hot dog ever! And make our way to Simpang Y and while waiting for the rest of the group to arrived, we jumped again in the water like a happy penguin!

After looking like a raisin, we finally came out from the water and make our way out and reached the starting point at 4:49pm. I am very proud of my team and not once did they complaint or whine, they just keep plodding on and on.. Inches by inches and all made it safely up and down the mountain! The best team that I can ever asked for! Believe the Unbelievable !