words by Yvonne Lady Diana
Can TAHAN or not was the first question that popped in my head when we were at the foot of Gunung Tahan, located within the Taman Negara national forest, in the state of Pahang. I was quite concern as we have few newbies (beginners) in the team and one glance at some of their bag packs, my concern was justified. Important notes when climbing a mountain: the most vital equipment to have during climbing is a proper hiking bag and not bag pack that you carry around travelling. Among 22 climbers, 7 of them were Thailand Allstars and 5 from Allstars Indonesia
I was very impressed with Taman Negara’s Tahan strict policy on certain things, for example, we have to bring down our own rubbish, NO WET TISSUES and all climbers have to declare all their belongings before ascending and to ensure that the number of items is similar upon descending at the end of the expedition. Protection, management and perseveration of the park (Taman Negara) fall under the Department of Wildlife and National Parks; hence Mount Tahan is well taken care of compared to other mountains I have climbed before. I am so glad that the authorities took extra precaution to ensure that it stays clean. You should see how this affects all climbers on how they carefully sort their rubbish and keep it in their bag.
On the first day, we camped at Kem Kor and the surrounding area was just superb, the water flows gently in a nearby river, the birds were chirping happily and everything was just perfect!
The next day, we trekked up to Kem Botak at 9:00 am and stopped for lunch at Bukit Permandangan. Along the way, the trail was quite challenging and thank god for good weather. My team finally reached Kem Botak at about 6:30pm. It was super cold and after quick wash up, the ‘shooters’ quickly prepared food and hot drinks for the remaining climbers that have yet to arrive. That night, no matter how tired we were, most of us could not sleep due to the cold and strong winds, we were worried that the fly sheet was about to be ripped off from the stones brought in by the wind.
At 5am, my voice woke up the entire campsite, calling all the Allstars to wake up and prepare to head to the summit. By 5:45am, there were grumpy and sleepy Frankenstein looking Allstars slowly inching their way on the rocky terrain.
There were no words to describe how I felt when we reached the peak and when all the climbers made their way up, I felt like a mother witnessing her kids receiving a scroll on their graduation day. I am extremely proud of them and we did it in good time -40 minutes to be exact. When the first ray of lights flickered in the sky and the sun was slowly rising, we were all transfixed by the glorious sight. We spent half an hour at the peak taking pictures and reluctantly made our way down. Just when we thought that the best view was on the top, when we made our way down the view descending knocked us off our feet (not literally, though) and it took our breath away. Every step that we took, we stopped to take pictures because the scenery was simply stunning!
We cleared our campsite by 9:40am and proceeded back to Kem Kor. Half way down, I realized my blisters on my foot were quite bad and at Kem Belumut, I took off my shoes and hiked back wearing slippers. My team reached Kem Kor by 4:30pm and jumped straight in the cold welcoming river. By 5:30pm, the rest of the climbers slowly arrived and when the last climber finally reached, I felt relieved. That night, we celebrated by eating Nasi Briyani with Daging Masak Hitam (beef cooked with black sauce).
The next morning, I lost my voice much to everyone’s relieves. Everyone took their time to pack and had breakfast. Finally, at about 10:20am, the first group made their way out of the campsite. Our team was the last person to go as we have to double sweep the campsite to make sure that we didn’t leave any single rubbish and to take anything that was left behind.
This was a very successful event with Zero injury (except for a blister or two) and once again AirAsia Allstars has proven that Nothing is Impossible!