Saturday, July 3, 2010
Equipment and Gear For Kinabalu Mountain
1. Termals top and bottom. Invest in a good pair they will safe your balls from freezing when the wind chill hits at at the peak. If you're cheap you can get a decent set at some of those old school winter clothing shops in most department stores or along Jalan Tunku ABdul Rahman. Retails for about RM120 to RM140. To be used for the peak climb. The cheaper ones are not bad. Unfashionable with that beige look only hip in the 18th century they've kept me warm at about 17,000 ft at the top of the Thronglar Pass in Nepal (no blasting winds though)
2. Water resistant lined cargo/ climbing pants - lined because than you've option for not using the thermal long johns. BUT you dont want to be caught in a morning gale without BOTH on. Trust me. Lined bottom and termal long johns in the icy wind at 13,000 ft will keep your privates warm and happy.
3. Good fleece jacket - the main bit to keep you warm. a lot of outdoor brands have good non bulky jackets. The key to layering as most women will tell you is to keep a comfortable silhouette for easy movement. Many people end up borrowing sizes too large and baggy and end up flapping about like Batman with a weight problem or waddling about like an overweight Teletubby.
4. Wind cheater/Slick/Storm jacket - the main piece to keep you from the harsh wind at the peak. The wind is freezing and if you're not layered properly you're going to get assaulted with zero temperature high velocity winds. Get one with a hood and possibly one of those that covers your face.
5. Balaclava - protection for your face from the winds - the one with just the eyes and (and sometimes mouth sections cut out). you can reuse in bed role playing games with the GF or BF. Sexy terrorist v wimpy accountant or something. It can double up like a beanie and keeps your ears from freezing into useless bits of flesh that you will have to cut out after a bout of frost bite.
6. Swiss Army Knife - its a must for any outdoor enthusiasts. You never know when you may need it to saw off your legs trapped under a boulder. Ladies please don't even think about getting that pink one with only the knife and the nail file and tweezers. The gods of the mountains wont care if you've hair growing out of your nostrils at 3am in the morning.
7. Head Lamp - A MUST- you will need your hands especially the last 3 hour climb to the peak. Check that it works and put in new batteries. Remember it will on on for 3 hours straight. You can also use it in a pub to attract the attention of bored hookers.
8. Backpacks with Hydration packs - I personally like a Camel Bak - the hydration compartment is meant for the water bladder. Not those pseudo shit that enables you to carry your lap top, files, legal documents which happens to half holster a water bladder holder. But then they dont sell Camel Baks here in Malaysia so any Solomon, Deuter or whatever will be good. Also the best to get one of these packs as you can drink on the move and you can also flip the bird to those monkeys at Kinabalu Park. With both fingers....
9. Hiking boots with broad forefoot - the Keen brand seems to have the broadest forefoot but because of the high prices they have been or slowly being phased out in Malaysia (available in World of Sports stores). Just make sure there is enough space up front so that your toenails don't keep jamming against the forefoot wall when you descend - blisters and broken toenails are normally the result of folks wearing the wrong shoe. It does not need to be an expensive boot - Hi-Tec and Columbia have decent models - wait for the World of Sports sales - which is often as outdoor brands dont sell as fast as the rest. I have seen some friends go up with nothing more than running shoes. Its OK if you have the feet of mountain goats and may not offer much support when you are navigating the rocky path up to Laban Rata. The boots help your ankle at the peak where you have to navigate rocky terrain, but running shoes are doable although their narrow forefoot is not the best on the descent. Nike shoes with those recycled outsoles are a hazard, slipping easily on wet rock thus testing the shock absorbtion of your ass.
I am tempted to try out one of those RM8 Cap Gajah shoes on my next hike up mountain though. AND LADIES... hiking boots or shoes will ALWAYS make your feet look fat and big and broad. AAANNND you're going to find it tough to find one that is color coordinated with your jacket and hairband and lipstick.
10. Rain coat - Fuck those expensive storm fit shit - get an old school yellow plastic ones from the hardwear shop. Better still those that construction workers use. - the ones that are WATER PROOF. Fuck breathability and shit. If its raining at 13,000 feet you do not want to get wet. Icicles on your balls are not cool. My guide actually had one of those little umbrellas that old ladies use tucked in his pack. Obviously enough to ward off the rain on the mountain.
11. Food and water - spring along the way. Water is essential and your guide can carry it for you however some folks like Arial has replenished her water supply at some of the streams and waterfalls along the Mesilau trails. I think one stream and one waterfall. Pack your lunch and keep powerbars on standby. Try never to finish everything in your pack unless necessary (just an old rule in case you get lost and are kidnapped by rogue biawaks that eat nothing but boiled tree bark)
12. Spare socks - feet are going to be the most important friend. If you get caught in the rain you're gonna want to have dry socks on hold spare. They also double up to keep your feet warm in Laban Rata.
13. Watch with alarm - Timing is key that you keep to your schedule. An alarm setting helps for you to catch the 2am waking hour to push to the peak.
14. Water proofing (keep plastic bags on standby in case of rain)
15. Climbing Stick pole. (for anyone carrying any injury or is just plain unfit. Not macho but it really helps. Trust me. You can get the cheap wooden ones at the Mesilau gate at RM3. (this was about 3 years ago)
16. Light T-shirts (3) Ideally long sleeves as it act as another layer - One to climb in and one to descend to the peak. One spare just in case you're caught in the rain. If you're not fussy just 2 t-shirts are fine. The dry fit/clima cool/polyester ones work as they don't get bogged down with sweat as much as the cotton shirts.
17. Shorts - fun to climb in on a sunny day.
18. Gloves - you will need this at the top where it will be freezing. Advisable to get thermal gloves and not those cotton ones the old ladies use to drive their cars in Old Town PJ and Klang.
19. Handphone - well I know the peak has some reception (not sure which carrier) as I've seen my guide talking to his wive on the way down. This is just one of those things. In case you're lost. Plus if doubles as a torch light, a radio, spare camera, can record the phone number of that cute Japanese climber and if you're McGyver you can use it and combine it with your head lamp, Swiss Army life and long johns to build a glider and fly off the mountain if you're bored of the climb.
Packing for Kinabalu is almost like packing for two trips - the first 5-8 hours (depending on which trail) is almost a regular albeit a little chilly hike which you can do in a t-shirt and even shorts if it's a sunny day. The heat you're generating from your exertions will be enough to keep you warm. The second segment of the hike to the peak is where it gets tricky. If you're unlucky you will get hit by heavy rain or a thick misty onslaught and fierce icy cold wind which can be tricky on the hard smooth granite crown of the mountain.
Have I left out anything?