September Blogger Hall of Fame for Kinabalu Blog

From now on, I am going to have one dedicated post at the beginning of each month for 3 Malaysian bloggers who has a dedication on blogging. I think by having this Blogger Hall of Fame post, many of unsung bloggers, which has a very good articles and contents, would benefit my readers. Apart from reading my post on Mount Kinabalu almost everyday, it is nice to read, once in a while, about other bloggers who have dropped by this blog, and shared their magic moments.

I am going to be very flexible on choosing the bloggers, but I would particularly look for a similar theme and similar demographic readers, as it will benefit most of my readers.

Here’s for September ’07!

  • Kay Stanford is from Sabah, Malaysian part of Borneo. His dad is from Kudat and his mom is from Penampang. Currently working in Kuala Lumpur, been staying in peninsular Malaysia for more than 7 years but the only directions he can tell you are the LRT stations. Has an interest in stuffs like music, photography and video editing but does not have the right tools to do it.
    I was really impress with his post about his Rungus background. With modernization, his mother tongue was lost…
  • Julian is an IT-savvy person and works in the IT industry in Kota Kinabalu, while Morin is a homemaker. Baby Raelynne was a recent addition to the family. This photo blog will feature mainly on Raelynne plus Julian’s “amateurish” photography skills with his Olympus E-300 D-SLR digital camera.
    He won the prize on one of my quiz about the 7 highest peak of Kinabalu last month. A father like I am, we share the same experiences. Read his post about Lok Kawi Wildlife Park here!
  • Lorna loves anything that has to do with IT, the Internet, music, entrepreneurship and work-at-home matters. She is currently a wife to a wonderful and supadupa systems analyst, a supermom to two rumbustious but lovable “monkeys” (due to their ability to climb on almost anything and everything), a budding entrepreneur and an aspiring content developer for subjects on economics, business, IT and the World Wide Web.
    She is the brain behind “WordPress Top Commentator Widget Plugin“. I must tell you that I am very impress with her ability, and used her plugin in one of my other WordPress MU portal!

And yes, they are all Sabahan (means comes from Sabah, The Land Below The Wind).

Have a nice weekend!

Low’s Gully Movie – The Abyss : To The Ends of The Earth

It took me another 2 weeks to gather all this information. In 1994 a British Army expedition to Borneo’s infamous Low’s Gully went disastrously wrong. Three books and one movie was made based on the event. As I have shared with you the three books, this time, I would like to share with you the movie.

The movie is entitled “To The End of The Earth : The Abyss”, was produced in 1998 by a group of European actors.

The Abyss

The Synopsis:

Low’s Gully Movie - The Abyss : To The Ends of The EarthIn 1994, a British Army expedition of 10 men set out to become the first to explore Low’s Gully in Borneo – a 1.6-kilometre-deep canyon, stretching for 10 kilometres off the side of Mount Kinabalu. Armed with 10 days’ rations and a video camera but without radio and flares, they descended into the abyss …

Setting Out

Low’s Gully was created over a million years ago when a massive glacier carved a huge canyon on the side of Mount Kinabalu in northern Borneo. Known as the ‘Place of the Dead’, local legend tells that it’s a resting place of their ancestors. Today, it remains one of the least explored gullies on the planet.

In 1994, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Neil and Major Ron Foster put together a team of 10 soldiers to explore the gully as part of a British Army expedition. The aim was to climb the mountain and abseil into the top of the gully, before trekking along it back to base – all in just six days.

The plan was to travel light, so they decided to forgo radios and flares and take just 10 days’ rations. Of the team, only one man, Lance Corporal Richard Mayfield, had any real climbing experience and two of the soldiers had never even abseiled before.

Low’s Gully Movie - The Abyss : To The Ends of The EarthIn February 1994, with just one day’s abseil training, the team began the 4100-metre ascent to the mountain’s summit. The path up was just 13 kilometres long but rose steeply. Regularly scaled by groups of tourists, Mount Kinabalu is not considered a tough climb. Yet it proved difficult for many of the soldiers who had spent only three days acclimatising to the heat, altitude and humidity.

On the morning of the third day, Operation Gully Heights reached the summit and the men saw for the first time the task ahead of them. Neil, recognising that the climb had taken its toll on some of the men, decided that Mayfield and the younger, fitter men should forge ahead and begin their descent down the gully, while the remaining five men rested before catching up. It was a decision that would divide the team for good.

Mayfield’s group began to abseil the 1.6 kilometres to the gully floor. Each of the five men carried a length of rope. The plan had been to leave the ropes in place as they descended to provide them with a means of ascent back out if they needed it.

But as Mayfield’s team pressed on, it became clear to him that with the two teams separated they would need to remove and reuse their ropes in order to reach the bottom of the gully. Reluctant to take this drastic step, and with no radio to contact his commanding officer in the first group, Mayfield climbed back up to inform Neil of their predicament. But with Neil’s team still too tired to begin their descent, he ordered Mayfield to continue to the gully floor, saying they would follow.

With just four days’ rations left, and with the team divided, Mayfield began to realise that Operation Gully Heights may have underestimated Low’s Gully. It was a point of no return. If they descended to the gully floor would they make it out again?

In The Gully

Low’s Gully Movie - The Abyss : To The Ends of The EarthWhen Neil’s team finally began their descent they had only three days’ rations left. And with novice climbers, they made slow progress.

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the gully, the advance team were waiting for the others to catch up. But when they failed to show and with their rations running short they realised they were no longer on a training exercise. It had become a fight for human survival – they had to try and make it out of the forest alive.

As the first group began to negotiate their way out, they met with the gully’s unique weather system. Mists over the mountain gave way to torrential rains and with nowhere else to go, the water poured down into the gully. Soon, the stream that they had planned to follow out turned into rapids. Hemmed in by the forest, Mayfield’s team attempted to follow the fast-moving water, abseiling down waterfalls and traversing the sheer rock flanking the water.

Ahead of them, Mayfield’s team had become trapped between two waterfalls. Up to their waists in water, the drop ahead of them was too dangerous to attempt and they couldn’t climb back up the previous waterfall. So Mayfield, using his climbing skills, decided to tackle the 13-metre rock face that rises from the side of the gully.

But after he had safely helped his companions climb out of the gully, the five men found themselves face-to-face with an impenetrable forest thicket. In the days that followed, as they slowly struggled through the undergrowth, Mayfield and one other team member became separated from the other three in their group. Unable to find them, they were forced to continue on. With no rations, they attempted to live off the forest, but with dire consequences – Mayfield’s companion became violently ill. Unwilling to leave him behind, Mayfield goaded him into going on.

Eventually, after 17 days in the gully, the pair spotted what looked like a bridge. It turned out to be a road. Exhausted and starving, they stumbled out of the forest and back into the arms of civilisation.

On their return, they learned that the other three in their party had already made it back safely. But Neil’s team were still stranded. The Malaysian Army started to search for the missing soldiers with helicopters. A Royal Air Force rescue team was also dispatched.

After 10 days of searching, a Malaysian helicopter finally spotted the second group and lowered stretchers to rescue them. It was 31 days since they’d set out. By the end, they’d been surviving off energy sweets and cough drops. They had lost a fifth of their body weight, but they were alive.

All 10 men had survived the ordeal, but in their rush to be the first to explore the gully, they had overestimated their own abilities and underestimated the unique terrain and unpredictable weather of Low’s Gully.

I check out Amazon.com for the DVD. There’s none. At last, I found two websites that provides the VHS (yes, that old) of the movie. One of the website that I contacted 2 weeks ago still did not reply my email. It costs GBP14.99. If I were to buy the VHS, I have to spend almost RM200 for one, including the postage, and still not sure whether I could receive the package. Here is the link:

  1. Inglesport – Online Shop
  2. 1 Simple Solutions

Resources:

  1. Channel4 : Force of Nature – Low’s Gully
  2. BFI Film & Database

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!