Monday, April 22, 2013

Mulu Adventure - Part 2 Camp 5, Pinnacles and Mulu

Here are the second set of pictures at last. The first set of narrative I deleted by mistake so I had to re-do everything again!

It was a very disappointing start to our second day at Camp 5, having had heavy rain come down on us for most of the night. Not the quietest night I have ever had but despite noise from the adjoining dorm, night sounds from outside and the rain on the metal roof, we all actually had a good night sleep. So tired were we from the trek the day before, we were all tucked into our nets by 8:30pm! The rain unfortunately put an end to our hopes of climbing The Pinnacles that day. The 6:30 set off time was set  back to 7:00 then 7:30 but as the rain did not stop the Ranger put off any plans for the morning. (Note when I say Ranger, one has an expectation of a khaki uniformed personnel complete with hat but here in the jungle he was shirtless, wore ragged shorts and had a cigarette hanging from his mouth most of the time!)

Not much to do on a wet morning in Camp 5 so we had to entertain ourselves

And take more pictures. It's amazing how much water there was and how fast it was coming down

The necessary "room" picture. For the first night we shared it with another family. The mattresses (if you can call them that) were actually quite comfortable despite appearances. The second night we had the luxury of 2 layers!

Camp 5 with the eating area front left and kitchen immediately behind with toilets to the far left. The dorms middle and right.

When the rain eventually stopped later in the morning, the Ranger was still reluctant to let us anywhere  near the Pinnacles climb but with our persistence and that of our guides, the Ranger gave us the all clear to climb up but only to the Mini Pinnacles, which are only half way up. The climb up would normally take three to four hours and same time coming down if not more. We had spoken to a group of twenty-somethings who had done the climb the day before and they completed it in 9 hours! And accordingly to Verdly, the latest he had come done with a client was 11pm and the longest record for a person to reach down was 2am. All climbers have to set off by 6:30am and have to reach a certain point by 11am or turn back. Each climber has to leave with three litres of water and leave a portion of that half way up for the journey down. Not that we had to worry about any of that.

I was expecting that the climb up was not going to be easy. Some who have climbed both Mt Kinabalu and the Pinnacles say the latter is much more difficult. Almost immediately the climb went vertical and challenging but what I didn't expect was for it to be so treacherous. We were climbing on a path of crisscrossing tree roots and sharp rock which just went on up and more.

After nearly two hours we reached the "Mini Pinnacles". Post devouring our sandwiches (which we all turned our noses up to when we were given them at 6am), we climbed up a bit more despite Simpson our guide that day pleading for us to go back down. But after a while and a combination of fatigue, tired of rocks and roots and slippery boots, I had pretty much enough of climbing and felt myself going all over the place so it was a relief when we decided enough climbing and in any case there was no chance of us going up to the top. Big sigh of relief from Simpson. Not that the journey down was any easier to going up and it took us another two hours to go back down.

Back down to Camp 5 the weather had improved so time to take a walk, take more pictures and wait for dinner time really!

Top of Mt Benarat which is opposite Mt. Api (which the Pinnacles are on)

Both days there we bathed in the river just beyond the steps. There's nothing quite like refreshing cold water coming from the mountains and just the thing after a day walking in the rainforest.

Of course the following morning the weather was beautiful again and would have been perfect to climb the Pinnacles. Would I try do it again? I probably would but I would also attempt it in the drier months, do more research on footwear and it would be a good idea to do a bit of hill training before hand! One thing's for sure I will go with the same guides again. They are both young guys but very knowledgeable, entertaining and actually very good cooks!

The 8k walk down river was very picturesque with plenty of water scenery and crossings. It was easier and more pleasant than the Headhunters trail and only took us 2 hours to complete plus no leeches were sighted!  However being the first ones to travel the path that morning, there were plenty of spiderwebs which I dislike so I never like to be in front which was just as well when Nicole spotted a black snake getting out of our way!

At the pick up point we went on a longboat for the ride to Mulu which took just over half an hour. Mt Api with the Pinnacles in the background - saved for another day!

And once at Mulu we had a pitstop at Clearwater Cave for a quick swim in the pool with water from the cave stream. Great to have the refreshing dip after the walk. 
Think I could give up my warm showers for this! 

And then on to the airport another twenty minutes down river. Being dropped off to an airport on a longboat was a first for all of us. Up the steps and the airport was 100m away.

Farewell Mulu. It was an amazing trip and I couldn't have chosen three better and like-minded girls to share the experience with. Thank you Hana for pushing us all to do it, Anna for convincing me and Nicole for being at the right place at the right time!

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