Sunday, September 04, 2011
Gunung Belumut Climb
Our meet-up group led by Kwan and SP organised a climb to Gunung Belumut in Kluang on 28 August, Sunday for some 23 of us with one dropping out at last minute. As it was an early morning departure at 7am at Woodlands MRT, we (Anna, CK and I) had arranged to spend a night at Dora's place in Woodlands to save all the hassle of rushing from our home. Also, we were expected to stay up late to watch the 'LIVE' telecast of the PE result on Saturday evening till dawn.
Everyone turned up on time as Kwan kept reminding all that he was prepared to wait till 7.15am for the last person only. I had fish fillet at Macs for breakfast, so too for Anna, CK and Dora who ordered their own share. When we arrived at the Woodlands immigration, Anna felt faint. She said something in her breakfast could have caused her that. At the Johor immigration, we waited for quite a while for her while she rushed to the toilet. Dora kept her company throughout while we waited in the combi. Finally she turned up, looking quite pale and we asked whether she wanted to drop out if she really can't. She decided she will follow the group and then make the decision, whether or not to scale the summit upon our arrival.
It took more than 2 hours to reach Kluang town and the narrow path leading to the ranger office. Gunung Belumut, standing at 1,010 metres (3,314 ft) should not be that tough for any average climber and should take 5 to 6 hours to reach the summit and another 3 to 4 hours to get down.
The place looked so deserted. There was no other vehicle except ours and not a single soul in sight. Even the ranger office remained closed. We were told that we need to engage a mountain guide and not a single guide was around either. This is very peculiar on a Sunday where, typically local crowd should be expected.
We realised it was the tail end of fasting month thus no Muslims will do the climb and also, it happened to be the last day of the Chinese ghost month and obviously, no local Chinese except for us hailing from Singapore. We practically own the whole mountain and have to trek without a mountain guide.
After briefing by Kwan and SP (both have scaled Gunung Belumut on few occasions), we moved off at about 10am. We were told we have to turn back by 3pm if we cannot reach the summit. SP took the lead while Kwan will be the last man. I was staying in the middle, keeping Anna company just in case. She felt better thus decided to join the climb.
It was quite a fairly easy climb from the start but it gets steeper and steeper on the way up. It looks daunting looking up as it seems to have no ending to it. Some paths are misleading and it can lead to nowhere if not careful. As we did not have a mountain guide, we have to look for markers or evidence such as litters left behind by others to assure us that we were not lost. I did not drink much though I bought a small bottle of mineral water and one 1.5 litre of 100plus. I learnt to sip on the mineral water but I saw some who almost finished their water.
Anna, despite her earlier condition did not show any sign of fatigue while CK and Dora kept together. I was either in front or behind them. Before reaching the summit of Gunung Belumut, we have to pass by a 'false summit'. It was another half an hour or less of walking, we finally reached the summit. All of us made it to the summit well before 3pm - hooray. We took turn climbing up the huge boulder, named the 'Crown Rock' for picture taking.
At 3pm, we had to get down. I decided to go down on own and at own pace, knowing Anna and rest should not have problem getting down. I was moving down very fast, almost like running down the slope and grabbing the tree or branch for stability. I was way way ahead of the rest of the group. We were the only mountaineers in this mountain and I was the only one in front...quite eerie, actually! While looking for path at some point, I heard a roar from a distance. I paused for a while and the first thing that sprung to mind, "was it a tiger?". I decided I better not take any chance, picked up a piece of wood for self defence. I knew if attacked, that piece of wood could not do much help either. But it gave me some comfort, at least. I kept looking back in case a lurking tiger charged from behind. I was moving quite fast but stayed very alert.
Finally, I reached the base at 4.40pm. The two drivers were waiting for us. I recounted what happened to the drivers and one told me that there is a tiger in the mountain. I washed up myself and waited for the rest. The second group arrived at 5.30pm followed by the rest. Anna sufferred cramps on the way down and she was helped by Kwan and Richard. They arrived at 6.30pm. Everyone was safe. We reached home late in the evening.