Friday, January 22, 2016

CONQUERING MOUNT TAHAN IN 9 HOURS (DAYPACK)




Conquering Mount Tahan in 9 hours was a grueling climb that had pushed 16 of us to the limit. Starting from Sungai Relau (Merapoh) at 9.15am and reached the peak 9 hours later (6.12pm) was one thing we could possibly never imagine. Crossing 8 rivers with wide, thigh deep and risk being swept away by the strong current, stretching your leg muscles with a series of endless uphill, descending in a pitch black forest with our head lights, braving the rain for hours all the way down with muddy trails, cold and wet all over and rumors of ghoul and wild animal on the trail put us on a scary shit.



Stranded at Kem Luis for hours due to rising water level prevented us from crossing over at 3.00am. Moving on a large pack during descending is a must to avoid any unwanted incident and improved confidence level. We ended the journey at 7.00 am after 21 hours of sleep deprived. Care to take a ride?

The brave hikers and guide

Background

Hiking one of G7 mountain is always been my dream. G7 is a series of mountain in Peninsular Malaysia  with a height of more than 7,000 feet. There are 7 mountains in total : Gunung Tahan (7,186 ft), Gunung Korbu (7,162 ft), Gunung Yong Belar (7,156 ft), Gunung Gayong (7,129 ft), Gunung Chamah (7,210 ft), Gunung Yong Yap (7,110 ft) and lastly Gunung Ulu Sepat (7, 089 ft).

Gunung Tahan, being the toughest and hardest of all, standing 2,138 metre, will push your mental and physical strength. There are several routes used either via merapoh or Kuala Tahan but the most popular one is via Merapoh i.e Merapoh – peak – merapoh.

I drove from KL to Sungai Relau Taman Negara Merapoh, 12 hours before the hike.  Slept in my car at the administration office’s compound. The rest of the gang scattered around sleeping near the gazebo.
It is compulsory for 4 x 4 to transport you from Sungai Relau to Kuala Juram (15km), its in the package. Later, on the day of your return, they will pick you up at your target date and time, please refer to your guide for arrangement.

There are No phone signal transmission at Sungai Relau office and Kuala Juram, please update your loved ones 5km before entering sungai relau which is at the main road. Its a dead zone here.
Sungai Relau office is complete with toilet and water supply – prepare your things here. You may find a signage for mobile phone signal available while on the climbing track.

Before Hike -Training

Training will concentrate on leg muscle, long hours and simulation 2 months before the hike. Gunung Nuang to Peak – 2 times. (Gunung Nuang) Pangsun– Peak – Janda Baik – Peak-Pangsun (11 hours). Bukit Saga-Peak-Bukit Apek Peak-back to Bukit Saga – 3 times. Gunung Nuang to Kem Pacat – 1 time.
Yes, the training improves me a lot.

Gear Used

Cap, Drifit Tshirt, 3 quarter tight, running socks, Brooks Cascadia 10, suunto ambit 2 wrist watch
Deuter Speedlite 20Litre backpack

Mandatory item : drinks 2 litre, emergency blanket (RM5), Lighter, Head light (with extra battery)

What else in the bag : 700ml plain water in soft bottle, coke 700ml, thin sleeping bag (RM50), bag rain cover, power bank, handphone with cable, suunto watch cable, empty plastic bag, heat cream, band aid, panadol, power gel 2 pcs, water filter tube (to filter mountain/river water in case of emergency).

Food supplements : 2 sets of egg sandwiches, 2 pcs of bread, 5 pcs of bread with margarine and kaya (sweet coconut paste), red apple – that’s it.

On The Way to Sg Relau

Sungai Relau (about 394km from Kuala Lumpur – almost 4 hours journey) is a location whereby all registration, declaration of items and completion of forms need to be done one day before (close at 4.30pm) actual hike. Luckily I have En Arman to help us to declare on that day. I handover the hiking bag plus the items to him before hand (thanks Arman).


Having tips from otai 

Ample parking space 



The gazebo and toilet are in the background 


The entrance to Kuala Juram, Our 4x4 vehicle will go through here 

The entrance to the office 

Nasi lemak for breakfast, nasi with lauk for lunch 


Those who ordered breakfast and lunch, please collect here 


Ishak, Man Abd Shukor and Syed having their best breakfast of the day

The night before, we were informed that the hike will start at 8am. Not as I expected for. I have to re-evaluate the risk that we will return back to Kuala Juram by 2.00am!

The Day of the Hike

The 4 x 4 should reach around 8.00am to bring us to the starting point i.e Kuala Juram. However, they arrived 30 minutes after. Delaying the hike, will also delay our return time...adui. There were 7 of us in our group Arman, Man Abd Shukor, Ishak, Jawa Terakhir, Syed, Ghazz and myself. Another 9 hikers were from different group.

Kuala Juram

We reached Kuala Juram around 9.00am (15km journey). Kuala Juram is some sort of small village complete with surau, toilet and few small halls (I don’t think there is electricity for us to use here). It is also a Kelah (type of fish) sanctuary (complete with CCTV) – the fish is protected. This is a starting and ending point. We will spend one night here as planned while waiting for the 4 x 4 the next day at 9.00am to transport us back to Sg Relau. We started hike around 9.15am, 16 of us with 2 guides. Ustaz nan (one of the guide) made a final  briefing and pray for 10 minutes.


This is Kuala Juram 

Nice and Tidy 

This is the surau where we put our necessary items for an overnight 

 The hall

 The toilet (no lights ya)

Kelah Sanctuary 



The briefing

Few Key points on the distance to summit

According to website www.tamannegara.asia , there are 8 check points we need to pass thru and the distance indication from each other.

Below chart is a comparison for each distance with my suunto ambit 2 wrist watch.

Check Point Name
Advertised
Distance
Suunto Ambit 2 distance
Suunto duration and time of the day
Duration Took from each check point
Kuala Juram to Kem  Luis
5km
2.91km
1.1 hour –10.16am
1.01 hour
Kem Luis to Lata Luis
6km
No data (forgot to check, damn it!)


Lata Luis to Kem Kor
2.5km
5.64km (from starting point)
2.08 hr (from starting point
11.24am
1 hour 7 min
Kem Kor to Permatang
2.5km
4.57km
 (7.07km from starting point)
3.17 hr (from starting point)
12.33pm
1 hr 9 min
Permatang to Kubang
3.5km
4.19km
8.76km from starting point)
5 hour (from starting point)
2.16pm
1 hour 43 min
Kubang to Blumut
1.5km
No data (forgot again)


Blumut to Bonsai
5.5km
12.2km (from starting point)
7.32 hr (from starting point)
4.47pm
2 hr 31 min
Bonsai to Bukit Botak
3km
No data (forgot again and again)

5.30pm

1 hour 17 min
Bukit Botak to Peak
2.4km
997metres
(14.93km from starting point)
9 hours (from starting point)
6.19pm
42 minutes
Total
31.9km
14.93km
9 hours


The measurement according to the website is 31.9km one way, however, Suunto ambit 2 showed 14.93km one way. One of our group member, en Khalil's suunto recorded 35.78km for the whole journey i. e 17.75km one way . Well, since the route already programmed in my suunto, might as well I follow it. And it was correctly measured...I mean the suunto. So, follow the Suunto my friend (I might be wrong...).





Hiking & Trail Condition

Kuala Juram to Kem Luis
Easy trail, crossing rivers – piece of cake

Kem Luis to Lata Luis
Easy trail, crossing rivers – piece of cake

Lata Luis to Kem Kor
Moderate trail – starting to feel tired


We are now at Kem Kor - 5.64km from Starting Point

Kem Kor to Bonsai
Hardest – uphill all the way, muddy trail, technical as you may used all your core muscle, getting fall is easy at this stage as you are tired.

At Permatang Check point

At Kem Kunbang - the trail up to here is muddy and tough

Bonsai to Peak
Hard – uphill all the way, muddy trail, the air is getting thinner, more open space, you can see series of mountain surrounding.




 Mount Tahan in 9 hours!!

 Descending at Night

We started descending around 7.30pm, its getting dark. Some scary shit wild animal will hunt at night (hikers are prohibited to bring knife, when encounter with a tiger, just use your fist). Putting on our head lights and move on. The trail was very-very slippery. I fell countless times and as a result, there were few bruises all over my body. The head light only limit to lite up certain focus area in front of me, you may need to be extra careful. Thick fog will be present, it will also dampen the visibility but not that serious.

At 3.00am, we reached Kem Luis, unfortunately the river water level has increased preventing us from crossing over. We need to wait for the water to subside. Slept for 1.5 hours here. It’s cold sleeping on the soft ground. I pull out my sleeping bag (very thin, water proof, size of your palm when folded – I don’t know what it is called). I put on my handphone’s flash light the entire sleep. The rest of the hikers switch off their head lights to conserve battery.

All hikers except 2 (I think) have reached Kem Luis during this 1.5 hours. At 4.30am, woke up by Arman, we wanted to cross the river and it looks like the water level has subsided. After successful river crossing, it is time to walk, hike, cross river some more to Kuala Juram, situated 2.9km away.

Jebat (red shirt) and Khalil (yellow shirt) are so powerful hikers

Met Pak Syed Al Baiti at Kem Kor. There were a lot of campers that night. Fatigue, no energy, hungry, sleepy, disoriented at some point – were some of the results from the hike.



Sleep deprived - having breakfast

Finally, at 7.00am we reached Kuala Juram and its getting bright already. Washed up, had our breakfast and headed home.

Declaration back 

Part of the items in the declaration

Special thanks to all team mates who braved the rain, the dark forest, the river crossing, the hike and the Pacat (leech). You guys are awesome!!

I am self declaring that we have conquered Mount Tahan Daypack in 21 hours....yay!!


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