KOTA KINABALU July 3, 2012: Mount Kinabalu is a perfect destination for rock climbers from all over the world.
According to Caroline Ciavaldini, winner of the Climbing World Cup in Chamonix in 2011, it would be the best destination for rock climbers, but unfortunately it is beyond the reach of many rock climbers.
“It is too difficult to come (here) … and people are dying to search for a new destination (to rock climb),” Caroline said.
The rock climber from France was one of four rock climbers who were here between June 10 and June 30 to help Mountain Torq Sdn Bhd explore the various peaks and established new rock climbing routes for future rock climbers.
Caroline added that rock climbing is not as famous in Malaysia as it is in other parts of the world and there are many places within the country that are yet to be explored by avid rock climbers.
Aside from Mount Kinabalu, she already tried scaling a rock surface in Perlis, which she described as ‘alive’ with dangers due to huge possibilities in encountering with snakes and scorpions as well as other dangerous animals.
“With Mount Kinabalu, there was no such danger … so it was a good climb,” she said.
She added that since Mount Kinabalu is sited at high altitude, she did have problem breathing during the first day of the climb.
During her 18 days on the mountain, her team which consisted of renowned rock climbers, James Pearson from United Kingdom, Daniel Wood from USA and Yuji Hirayama of Japan, created routes ranging from easy to very difficult on the Ugly Sisters Peak, Donkey Ears, Oyayubi as well as several other peaks and including the ‘Pogulion do koduduvo’ peak.
The routes established ranged between 12 meters and 120 meters, she said.
Meanwhile, Yuji, who has scaled Mount Kinabalu for the fourth time, said that he would come again to explore the mountain.
“I really like the mountain as well as the culture that is attached to it. The culture is similar to that of the Japanese whereby we are also told to respect the mountain,” he said.
He added that there were also still a lot of peaks to be explored on the mountain and he promised to come back again sometime this year and again next year.
“If I cannot get a team, then I will come on my own,” he said with determination.
He described Mount Kinabalu as a beauty and perfect for rock climbers such as himself. One of the reasons why the mountain is perfect for rock climbers is the fact that it has no snow even at the high altitude.
“Many people would want to come to Mount Kinabalu … for people in Asia, it is not really that far. And AirAsia has made it cheaper for people to come to Sabah. There are good places to stay and great food. You can catch a flight from Tokyo in the evening and be in KK (Kota Kinabalu) the next morning,” he said.
Yuji also mentioned about his preparation for his old age, when he probably won’t be able to climb as well as he does now.
“I started my own gym two years ago … it now has 10,000 members. The name of the gym is Base Camp, and members are taught rock climbing, outdoor climbing as well as a place for training,” he said.
However, at 42 years old, the father of two said that he did not feel old age nagging at him yet.
“I don’t feel it yet,” he said.
Yuji began climbing when he was 15 years old and became one of the top climbers in Japan as a teenager. He became the first Japanese climber to conquer the World Cup series in 1998 and again in 2000 as No. 1 World Ranker.
James, 26, described Mount Kinabalu as a giant playground for rock climbers such as himself.
“At Mount Kinabalu, you get to create your own line (route) since the area is unexplored,” he said.
The mountain was also perfect because it has a solid and strong rock formation – criteria that are imperative for every rock climber.
He added that rock climbers like him use their hands and feet to climb the rock wall, and cited that some routes they have created on the mountain were dangerous for inexperienced rock climbers.
And despite having climbed rocks since he was 15 years old, James mentioned that he still gets nervous, not just because of the dangers involved but also because of wanting to achieve the aim that he has set for himself.
“It is a high risk sport. We do it everyday but we are aware of the risks. However, it is the inexperienced who experience injuries,” he said.
Due to his participation in the sport, James also had little time to rest and be with his family.
“Last year, I was on 60 flights. And this year, since the beginning, I have only been home for several days. There are times when I desperately want to be at home.”
He added that his lifestyle now is perfect for him as he does not have a wife and children to care for. He gets to earn a decent wage from rock climbing and travel the world.
However, it would be different when he settles down, he said.
And if his future broods decide they want to take up the sport he likes, he said that they are welcome to do so.
“I would introduce this sport. All the great experiences, the best experiences from climbing, places it takes you and the people you meet. It is healthy,” he said.
Daniel, the youngest member of the team, said that being in the sport had allowed him to become a more rounded person because it allowed him to travel and meet people.
“With other sports, you just stay in one place.”
by Jenne Lajiu