Author Archives: drizad

About drizad

A self employed General Practitioner who lives with his lovely family in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. He dedicates his spare time serving people with precious information on climbing the Majestic Mountain of the Borneo, Mt Kinabalu. Reachable at drizad(at)gmail.com

He only used ‘ADIDAS KAMPUNG’, but still won the Climbathon ’07

Have you heard about ‘Adidas Kampung’? It’s a Made-In-China rubber shoes that is widely available here in Malaysia – black color shoes with 4 stripes of either white or yellow or even black in color. And some have studs too. For those who have climbed Mount Kinabalu before, you will surely notice it – as most of the porters and guides wears this shoes up and down the mountain, almost everyday to earn a living.

Adidas Kampung

I was not aware of the uniqueness of this shoes until I found out the news today. 21st Mount Kinabalu Climbathon 2007 ended last Sunday. Everybody knew that Spaniards won both the title, for men and women. I just don’t feel like posting the results of the climbathon, as you can get it elsewhere, mostly from online newspaper.

What struck me was, Safrey Sumping, a Mount Kinabalu mountain guide, got fourth place on the men’s open event. And he is the first Malaysian/Asian who won this race edition – WITH A PAIR OF ADIDAS KAMPUNG!!!

I read Borneo Post newspaper this morning, and feel very touched with his spirit. He even received a pair of running shoes from Agusti, the second place winner of the event, at the end of the Climbathon after Agusti spotted Safrey was wearing ‘Adidas Kampung’. (Some said that it’s the shoes that Agusti wears during the race).

Safrey Sumping

No mountain high enough: Malaysian participant Safrey Sumping reaching the top of Mount Kinabalu to clinch the fourth place in the Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon- The Star

I wonder how the result of the event will be, if Safrey use the proper mountain running shoes to participate!

I think Malaysian football team & athletes should follow his spirit. And to me, that’s the true “Malaysia Boleh” spirit!

And Good Luck for Safrey too, as he is set to become the first Malaysian to take part in the prestigious Federation for Sports at Altitude’s (FSA) Buff Sky-Runner World Series Championship.

Malaysia Boleh, Bah!

Kinabalu Blog (Part II) Podcast Interview by Steven Wong

This is the second part of an interview by Steven Wong, a re known Malaysian Internet Marketer with this blog. If you have not heard the first part, you can get it here.

These are the questions that Steven asked me on this podcast:

  1. In your opinions, why do the people kept coming to your site and what are the methods you use to make your blog sticky? Sticky mean make the visitors keep coming back to your blog.
  2. Can you share one or two secrets that apply to your blog? What are the tips you can share with us about blogging?

Apart from that, we also discussed some other stuff, which we think relevant for every aspiring bloggers:

  1. About ‘bad neighborhood blogs’ and ‘bad neighborhood bloggers’, and how to deal with them.
  2. Our views on Timothy (Nuffnang) and Josh (Advertlets).
  3. Problems with “information overload” and how to tackle the problems.
  4. Blogs that I read almost everyday.

The program that I mentioned in the interview was Blog Mastermind, an online teaching program by Yaro Starak for bloggers who wants to go to the next step of becoming a good blogger – a professional blogger. With monthly USD77, the program will drive your blog into an A-class blog, way beyond the ordinary blogs around the blogosphere.

I personally recommend this program for all aspiring bloggers – newbie or expert – to join, as it has immense information and extraordinary lessons on how to become a professional blogger. You may find the price is high, but I must tell you that it is worth every cent. Just use you Paypal money that you earn from your paid post to ‘invest’ in this program. I will see you around in the members forum area when you have joined.

[audio:blog-interview-2.mp3]

You can also download the mp3 file from here (16MB).

Steven Wong interview with Kinabalu Blog

Steven WongA week ago, I received an email from Steven Wong, a re known Malaysian Internet Marketer which run his own WordPress Blogging Seminar in Kuala Lumpur. I was really surprised to receive an email from him. I was even more surprised when he told me that he uses this blog (Kinabalu Blog) as an example for his seminar for new aspiring Malaysian Bloggers.

After much discussion, he suggested that we made a podcast interview of my journey into website creation and blogging. He sent me a set of questions for me to answer during the interview, a day before the appointment. It is just a couple of very basic questions, whereby he aim to get the most information from me in an hour session, so that he could share it with his students.

As the recording was over an hour (75 minutes to be exact), I have to split the recording into two part. The first part will be today, and the second part will be tomorrow.

The questions that were asked on todays audio recordings are:

  1. Who is Dr Ruhaizad Daud? Can you tell us about your background?
  2. How do you started blogging? And how long have you been blogging? How much time you spend weekly in updating your blog? Is Mount Kinabalu is the only blog you manage? If not, can you tell us your other blogs?
  3. Why you choose Mount Kinabalu Climbing as the topic of your blog? What is your advice to people who want to setup a new blog now? How much do you spend monthly to maintain your blog?
  4. How many visitors on average come to your blog monthly? What are the methods you use to promote your blog? How do you drive traffic to your blog? Do you use any specific tools to drive traffic?
  5. How do you monetize from the traffic, what kind of methods you make money from your blog? Examples: Adsense, PayPerPost, Text Link Ads, etc…

Although some of my regular reader of this blog were expecting me to write about technical information about climbing, I think this blog interview will give them a break from the regular post. They will have the chance to know closely who Ruhaizad Daud is and how did he run this blog and Mount Kinabalu Borneo.com website.

For other bloggers who listen to this podcast, some of the information discussed in the interview are relevant to your journey of blogging. You are currently listening to a podcast that is used in one of Steven Wong’s teaching!

[audio:blog-interview-1.mp3]

You can also download the mp3 file from here (17MB).

Melangkap Kapa – Mekado Valley – King George’s Peak – Sayat-Sayat Trail

Oh, this is even a rare trail. Kampung Melangkap Kapa is where the first group of the British Army who get lost in Low’s Gully in 1994 arrived after more than one week in the thick jungle.

Ian Hall and AG Shepherd with their guide, Jasrin and porter, Girul, track the trail in November 2006. From Kampung Melangkap Kapa, they walk through a very rough jungle terrain, through Mekado Valley, the unsung “baby brother” of Low’s Gully, and summit King George’s Peak on the Eastern Plateau, before finishing the journey back on the commercialize “Summit Trail”.

Melangkap Kapa - Mekado Valley - King George’s Peak - Sayat-Sayat Trail

I found Ian’s entry of his journey in Blogger.com, and he have written his story in a very detailed way. The journey, which an average climber would take one week to complete, they’ve made it in 5 days. A very nice entry indeed. Some excerpt of his entry:


‘So remind me again’ said Graeme, ‘the 10 guys from Sabah Parks did this route in 8 days and we’re trying to do it in 5?’

‘They were not strong’ explained Jasirin, ‘fat’ he added with pursed lips and an expansive hand gesture.

He got the ‘map’ out again and counted our campsites. This time they came to 4. We could be on our way down the day after tomorrow he suggested. I looked up into the trees. Although I could not see it my GPS told me that there was still 2500m of mountain above us.

I trusted Jasirin to get us through but did I trust him enough to gamble on Graeme’s flight? Graeme had not climbed with Jasirin before so had little upon which to base his trust. It was a brave decision for him to continue but then as I have mentioned, to go back was already unthinkable.

Ian Hall, AG Shepherd

I personally contacted Ian for his story and photos. Within 24 hours, on behalf of Ian, Graeme replied and he even sent me an email on his view of Mount Kinabalu climbing. Here is his email:

Greetings,
I received an email from Ian Hall concerning your offer to put a link to our trip onto your website.
I do not have a problem with this.

Eventually, I might find time to assemble my own version of events surrounding this trip. It was possibly the hardest trip I have ever done and certainly something I could have been better prepared for.

Jasrin and Girul were wonderful and fantastically positive people and I feel my life is richer for having met them. Ian was right to add in his report that I understood that they had ambition to comlete the trip- on the evening of the second day, I realised that the trip was no longer about me but about the group and I had no questions for anyone concerning a possible return to Melangkap on the third day.

I would welcome your thoughts about the Dusun guides and would encourage you to promote their services as they value their mountain and have a tremendous amount of pride in it. They share that sense of pride with their visitors. Encouraging other visitors to place value upon these wonderful characters and to walk with them rather than simply to use them as access to the hill will maintain the good humour.

I was dismayed when I climbed Low’s Peak by the tourist route to see so many of the Dusun guides demoralised by the behaviour of their guests on ascent, summit and descent, dropping litter with absolute disregard. My own guide on this occasion had seen me fill my pockets with sampah on the ascent and at the summit, produced a large bag which we fille easily during our descent.

These guides should be given greater powers to revoke someone’s right to ascend if they misbehave in any way. Empowering them in this way may allow everyone to maintain a sense of duty towards the mountain and restore its dignity.

Graeme Shepherd

Ian Hall, AG Shepherd
Ian and Graeme, with Jasrin in the middle

You can read their long journey entry here:
http://arkitrekker.blogspot.com/2006/12/mt-kinabalu-melangkap-route.html

Recommended book – Descent into Chaos: The Doomed Expedition to Low’s Gully

This true story of survival has been the subject of two other books and a movie. In 1994, a ten-man group of soldiers, 7 British and 3 Chinese from Hong Kong, went to Sabah, Malaysia with the intention of being the first ever to successfully navigate Lows Gully. Lows Gully is a deep chasm off the northern flank of Mount Kinabalu. Superstition, mystery and intrigue surrounds this place instilling fear into some of the locals. It was into this situation that these men went to create history.

The other two books that were written about this expedition came from four of the team involved. With regard to this book, R.M. Connaughton is independent. He seems well qualified to undertake such a task having a military background and actually serving in the Far East. At the beginning of the book, he provides historical, yet essential background information to Mount Kinabalu and Lows Gully. He relates the exploits of Hugh Low (whom Lows Gully was named after) and Spenser St John. In the 1990’s the attempt by Robert New and Steve Pinfield is also related.

With the background information, Connaughton then begins to describe the preparations for the expedition describing the building of the team and the travelling to Mount Kinabalu. Their is a photo section in the middle of the book and at the end there is a chapter entitled “Reflections” which describes some of the findings of the subsequent Board of Enquiry.

The book highlights the various tensions that existed between team members and tries to establish what exactly went wrong. Connaughton does an excellent job with this difficult task. The chapter detailling the extensive rescue operation that took place with the British and Malaysians deserves a special mention.

This is an excellent book and you can almost envisage the savage jungle terrain that is described as you read it.

On the whole this is a well-written and well researched book and I thoroughly recommend it.

A review by Mark R. Anderson (Co Armagh United Kingdom), courtesy of Amazon.com

Chronological history of Low’s Gully Expedition

It took me 2 weeks to gather all this information scattered on the net. Informations and photos were taken from Flemish Low’s Gully Expedition 2003, by David Nijssen before the French School of Canyoning for the degree of ‘Canyoning Monitor’ on 23-27th of August in Haute-Savoie, France. Original report can be downloaded here.

In 1851 Hugh Low and his team climbed a mountain about 90 km northeast of Kota Kinabalu. They travelled from Labuan to Tuaran of Abai on the coast, and proceeded on foot through difficult terrain. They did not enter the threatening canyon though, …

Low’s Gully - Kinabalu’s “Death Valley”

In 1960 a British expedition, lead by Commander ‘Cauldron’ explored the top 300 m of the Gully wall, descending through the gap named after the Team leader. Falling rocks proved this to be the most dangerous route and the descent was cancelled.

Commando Cauldron

In February 1987, three British Alpine climbers found the way through Easy Valley towards the bottom of the Gully. The first witnesses of Low’s unharnessed force decided wisely not to proceed.

Easy Valley

In 1991, one of these men returns with a larger expedition force, and Pinfield and New reach a narrow stretch of “about 12 m wide” in the canyon at an altitude of 1570 m. There they avoid the beginning of the ‘real’ canyon through ‘New’s escape route’ and proceed over the ridge towards the exit.

3D image of Mount Kinabalu

March 1994, two teams of five British army soldiers attempt to conquer Low’s. The first team reaches ‘New’s Pool’, but like their predecessor, must take the escape route to the end of the Gully. After 10 days they reach Melangkap Kappa. The second team still hasn’t arrived… The Malaysian army is called to the rescue. Three weeks later, when starvation was about to make it’s first victim, they were evacuated by helicopter.

Low’s Gully - Kinabalu’s “Death Valley”

In 1998, two men from the former expedition returned, heavily sponsored by ‘National Geographic’. Not taking any chances in this lethal canyon, the team equips the canyon with fixed ropes, staying out of the water and out of the bottom of the Gully at all costs. They make it through, using 5000 m of rope…

Low’s Gully - Kinabalu’s “Death Valley”

Something keeps nagging in the British military: did they or did they not conquer Low’s Gully? Undoubtedly, they achieved a great feat. But have you really experienced a football match when you move along the outskirts of the field? To make sure, the British military set out in April 2000 to pass Low’s Gully using canyoning techniques. Four Flemish civilians were part if the team.

Low’s Gully - Kinabalu’s “Death Valley”

They reached New’s Pools, when team leader Rafferty decided it was too dangerous to proceed and called in the helicopters. By now the ‘impossibility’ of descending Low’s inspired canyoneers all over the world. In 2001 a Canadian team takes up this challenge. They also reach New’s pools before they are forced to turn back. In 2002, a Dutch team, including ‘K2’ climbers, decided to give it a try. They too are overwhelmed by the sheer force of the elements at the bottom of the Gully and wisely opt for a ‘sensible retreat’.

Low’s Gully - Kinabalu’s “Death Valley”

By 2003, a team of nine Flemish canyoneers set out to go where the bodies and spirits of so many have been broken. In only five days they complete the first real descent of Low’s Gully using canyoning techniques.

Low’s Gully - Kinabalu’s “Death Valley”

Low’s Gully - Kinabalu’s “Death Valley”

Do you know anymore attempts into the gully after this one?
I have helped thousands of climbers of Mount Kinabalu to book their climbing spot since 2006. If you want me to help you, just fill in the form below and send it to me. Thank you very much!

When NOT to climb to the summit of Borneo

I received an email from our good friend, Cikgu Ismail, and this time he attached some photos that are very rare to see. It’s the photos of The Summit Trail, exactly around Sayat-Sayat Hut, (the second phase of the climb) which are heavily flooded with rain. Water from the bare rocks of Kinabalu come gushing down like a hurricane, which is really, really dangerous to the climbers.

I wonder how, in the first place, the cameraman get up there??? With those kind of weather, it really scares me, especially just below Sayat-Sayat, you have to hang on to the rope to get there!

Rain…

Now, how on earth to climb down with the rope and the water???

Rain…

I wonder how slippery the surface is!

Rain…

It’s like a river…

Unwelcoming weather: rain...

The weather you don’t want to have…

Danger announcement

Cikgu Ismail with the ‘Danger’ sign on the rocks.

Rain…

Now you know when not to climb by the authorities!

More climbers photos on Mount Kinabalu

I managed to upload GaneshC’s photos of his climb via Mesilau few days back. He emailed me with more than 100 photos of his latest journey up to the Summit of Borneo. These are some of the photos:

Sayat-Sayat Hut

Sayat-Sayat Hut. The last check point before proceeding up to the peak. This is the end of the tree line. Above this will be just rocks.

Mount Kinabalu -  A view from above

Try to spot the Laban Rata Rest House and the RTM Power Station…

If you want to see more, please feel free to check out Ganesh’s photos here:
http://www.mount-kinabalu-borneo.com/gallery/categories.php?cat_id=14

Another set of photo comes from Leong, who climbed Mount Kinabalu on 31st July. He put all his photos in his Multiply weblog.

Praying

Pray for thanks GOD giving…

Close up view of a stone on the mountain

Nice abstract on Kinabalu, eh?

See more from Leong’s point of view on the Majestic Mountain of Kinabalu here:
http://leongwk.multiply.com/photos/album/212/Mount_Kinabalu_-_Summit_Trail_31072007

Enjoy!

Low’s Gully Storyboooks – in three different versions

In early March 1994, five members of a British Army expedition emerged from Low’s Gully, a five mile long hell hole falling away from Mount Kinabalu in the jungle of Borneo.

However, the achievement of the five – mostly fit and able young British non-commissioned officers – in being the first to conquer Low’s Gully was overshadowed by the fact that the other five members of their team – two relatively old and senior British officers and three young novice Chinese storemen and guards – were apparently still lost in the gully.

What had gone wrong and why had the group broken the golden rule for such expeditions – never split up?

They were:

  • LTC Robert Neill
  • MAJ Ron Foster
  • SGT Bob Mann
  • CPL Hugh Brittan
  • LCP Kelvin Cheung (HK)
  • LCP Richard Mayfield
  • LCP Pete Shearer
  • LCP Steve Page
  • PTE Victor Lam (HK)
  • PTE Chow (HK)

I was really surprised to find out that there are 3 books which tells us their story. The first book was written by the first team which emerged from the gully, the second book which was written by the senior officers and the third one, by a third person, who traveled around the world, trying to find the truth about the expedition. There were apparently some misunderstandings between the team members about the decision to go into the gully – and out of it.

Personally I have yet to read all the books – which are apparently difficult to get nowadays. The last time I checked, the only place that have the book (around Kota Kinabalu) is the Sabah State Library. Amazon.com have few copies of used books,but unfortunately they do not mail to Malaysia (even Singapore).

It’s like a collector’s series of book for Kinabalu lovers. I think that these books are really a gem to have as it as a collection as it becomes more difficult to get.

This book (SOS) is written by the two senior officers. Claimed to be the ‘answers’ of the book written earlier by two of the team members who managed to get out from the gully in 10 days.

This book (Kinabalu Escape) is written by two of the team members who was in the first group.

Richard Connaughton’s book is the most important book among those 3, as he traveled around the world to search the truth behind the expedition – by getting the information from both team members.

Happy reading!

Low’s Gully – Kinabalu’s “Death Valley”

Low’s Gully is without doubt the single most dramatic feature of the mountain from the climbing point of view, and was for a long time considered to be inaccessible. Reaching more than a kilometer (3,000 feet) down and more then 16 kilometers (10 miles) in length, the gully is shrouded with an air of mystery made only stronger by its inaccessibility. Several parties, including British army expeditions, have tried to penetrate the gully from either the top or the bottom – but all failed.

Low’s Gully
Look out below: a Canadian team attempts Low’s Gully, March 2002. (Brent Raymond)

More recently in 1998, however, a joint Malaysia-British mountaineering group made another successful attempt. Their success was, in large part, due to the fact that the descent was made during the El Nino induced drought of 1998, and the climbers themselves said afterwards that in wet weather the descent would have been impossible.

Indeed some members of the expedition felt that it was not so much a conquering of the gully, as an acceptance by the mountain to let them through, perhaps due to the spiritual rituals that took place both before and after the climb. The group also succeeded in descending, for the first time, the vertical cliffs at the head of the gully that come down from Commando Cauldron.

Commando Cauldron

Other proposals have been made to descend the gully since, but Sabah Parks, wisely recognizing the great dangers involved have not, so far, given permission for any further attempts.

Though he never climbed Low’s Peak, Sir Hugh Low was the first to look down into the dramatic gully that bears his name, saying “…looking down over the ridge, I gazed into a circular amphitheater about 80 yards broad, the bottom of which from its great depth and my position overhanging it was indiscernible, though I imagine I could see down two thousand feet.”

Resources:

  1. Globetrotter Visitor’s Guide Kinabalu Park (Globetrotter Visitor’s Guides), by Anthea Phillipps
  2. Big Gulp, No Exit, from Outside Online, by Paul Kvinta
  3. Rabani HMA, from TrekEarth