Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Climbing Kinabalu

Day 1. On the balcony at Timpohon Gate, the starting point of the trail, still looking alive. The night before the climb we considered changing the original plan of taking the Timpohon trail and going up via the more scenic Mesilau trail instead, but it was a too late to change plans, so up the Timpohon trail we went!!! This was my third time climbing the mountain, second time for the tall guy on the right, and first time for the other four.

The early section of the trail has some short stretches of flat terrain like this. But do not let this image fool you. The rest of the trail is basically steps going up and up and up and up.

Posing for a photo at km4 of the trail, just after the rest stop at Layang-Layang. The entire Kinabalu trail is about 8.8km.

At Pondok Villosa rest stop along the way up to Laban Rata. The majestic rock face beckons to us from yonder.

A tree. I'm not sure if it's dead or alive.

Cloud formations on the way to Laban Rata. The blue sky is all natural. Every photo on this trip was shot on Fuji film. Everything you see here has been scanned from the prints. No Photoshop. No touch up.


Laban Rata, at 3300m above sea level, our destination for the first day's climb. Local porters go up and down everyday, carrying fresh supplies like rice, vegetables and cooking gas tanks. Amazing.

Hanging out on the deck of Laban Rata resthouse. To say that the view is breath-taking is a gross understatement.

The view from the deck of Laban Rata. Nice rainbow.

Sunrays streaming through the glass panes and casting long shadows across the floor of the cafe at Laban Rata resthouse.

Laban Rata was full so we went just a stone's throw away to Gunting Lagadan Hut, where we spent the night. A very very cold night. I could not sleep even a wink. The frigid cold simply pierced through every layer of insulation that I wore. Anyway, we had to "wake up" at 2:30AM to start the climb to the summit in the dark, so there wasn't much of a night to sleep.

Sunset view from Gunting Lagadan Hut.

Day 2. Sunrise along the way up to the top. We were slow, so we missed seeing the sunrise from the peak. Instead, the sun crept up on us as we trudged along, step by step. In Sabah, sunrise happens at around 6AM.

A bit more light...

getting brighter...

and brighter...

Pink and orange giving way to blue...

That's me, silhouetted against the brightening sky... Donkey's Ears on the left.

Plodding on to the summit. As you can see, we were very slow. The sun had already risen but we were still on the way up. Slow and steady.

Low's Peak, as seen from the last leg of the climb. The final push to the summit is sometimes the hardest, but you just gotta keep going.

The three stooges at 4095m above sea level.

Standard photo with the signboards.

Not so standard photo.

Low's Gully, with Eastern Ridge in the distance.

This shot was taken from Low's Peak, looking southwest.

That's me in front, St. John's Peak at the back and the invisible wind blowing everywhere... this is the beginning of the descent from the top.

St. John's Peak

Posing along the way down. This is a trick shot taken from a low angle to give the impression of height. That little sharp protrusion on my right is actually the top of South Peak about 1km away, but juxtaposed against the foreground.

Further down, the team stops for a group photo with South Peak in the background.

I, the straggler, looking forlorn on the rock face... South Peak in the background, again. South Peak is featured on the back of the Malaysian 1 Ringgit note.

An view of South Peak from a different perspective. Most "postcard" shots of South Peak are from the Plateau above. This shot was taken from below.

Taking a breather to enjoy the view on the way down... that's Sayat-Sayat in the distance below... thank God for the perfect weather.

Yup, the rock face looks pretty steep. But only this section. The other sections are not so steep. It's not that difficult to walk up, really. You just need lots and lots of determination and motivation. And it helps if you're fit. My team wasn't, so we had to pull/push one another up. :)

At Sayat-Sayat checkpoint, on the way down from the peak. We were so slow, we only made it back to Gunting Lagadan Hut at noon! The rest of the day was spent descending all the way back to Park HQ. We made it just before sunset. Really slow.

The view of Mt. Kinabalu from Hotel Perkasa, Kundasang, on a clear day. This photo was taken the day after completing the climb.

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?

My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2


Anonymous said...

The pictures are awesome. Thanks for posting them up. Was just reading about the differences between DSLR and SLR when your post came up.

I really like the blue tones in the pics. They looked very natural. I had to saturate my pics (and most of the times, overdo it) to achieve a bright blue. Even so, it is nothing like the real thing.

Do you use polarizers to do that?

Another question: Can I fit a Tamron lens into a Nikon body kit? It's rather an absurb question, but ironically, I can't seem to find the confirmation online.

Thanks, you've been a great help.

God bless.

HL said...

When you say "differences between DSLR and SLR" do you mean differences between digital and film SLR?

The quality of film photos depends a lot on the processing and printing. When I drop the film at the shop for processing I tell them to give me good colours... I don't know exactly what they do, but I think they saturate the colours a bit more than normal. In a way film is easier than digital, coz I don't have to spend hours in front of the computer editing the photos. Zero post processing. But scanning hardcopy photos is a pain.

The blue colours are all natural. Even I didn't expect them to turn out so deep. I don't use polarizers. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

From my experience with film photos, the colour of the sky turns out differently depending on the position of the sun. I find that I get the deepest blue colours when I shoot with my back to the sun. Shooting in the direction of the sun tends to washout the sky, except during sunrise/sunset when the intensity of the sun is lower and the reds and oranges appear. The colours also depend on the exposure. I like to use the partial or spot meter (especially for sunset shots and shooting into the sun) to set the exposure for the brighter part of the scene. Usually this means the overall picture will be underexposed (dark foreground and many shadows) but it allows more saturation of colours.

I have experience only with film, but I presume digital photos would be the same except that one would need to know how to tweak the camera settings which is the equivalent of using different film. And then there's post processing with software which is the digital darkroom.

The blue tones also depend on the weather and natural colour of the sky. In Sabah the sky somehow looks bluer than in KL.

Tamron and Sigma and other third party lens makers make lenses for Canon, Nikon and other camera brands. Unfortunately the lenses are not interchangeable between camera brands. So a Tamron lens made for a Canon camera cannot fit a Nikon. But you can get Tamrons that are made for Nikon. No problem.

Well, I am getting a DSLR to join the digital bandwagon but can't decide between Canon and Nikon. I like the Canon 30D, but Canon doesn't have the 18-200 lens that I would like, whereas Nikon has the new 18-200 VR which is cool but obviously not compatible with a Canon body. Any help on this???

Anonymous said...

Quote: When you say "differences between DSLR and SLR" do you mean differences between digital and film SLR? Unquote– Yes, exactly.

Thanks for the tips and info. Film SLRs sound fuss-free. But, I can’t afford to experiment with angles and composition with them. I guess, DSLRs provide the instant grafitication and perhaps, friendlier for starters. The post-processing is another story, though.

I read about your *ahem* dilemma. Since you have always been for “C”, I think you would definitely feel more comfy with “C”. Saves you a lot of time unlearning and relearning the maneuvering. I feel that you should at least like the body grip and the position of controls, for a start. Hmm..I hope they don’t sound suggestive…

Both “C” and “N” are sexy in their own ways. But, the price for “C” shocked me a lil. “N” seems to be more affordable, and it’s so feature-packed! Hmm, but you probably would have be cautious with “N” because it tends towards over-exposure in tricky lighting conditions. But, not that it’s a big problem. No worries. Read about it here-

Oh, I was almost enticed by “C” dust removal system. But, the reviews have proved that they are pretty useless, anyway. So, not a problem too, even if “N” doesn’t have that. Hope it helps.

But personally, (here comes my prejudices and biasness). I had a short- term fling with D50, and it’s really hard to think about something else at the moment. =) So, I would get the D80 and the 18-200VR lens (gosh, good choice), and perhaps, throw in a speedlight as well? Love the bouncing tricks that it can do, and I guess it comes in handy at family gatherings or weddings indoors.

But, honestly; any choice would have been a good one. After all, your eyes will still be your best tools to work with, when it comes to composition.

But, get the one you know you can snuggle most comfortably with…that’s what relationships are about, right?


HL said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for the tips.

There's no unlearning or relearning from C to N, since my current C is film-based and I'm moving to a totally new (digital) platform. Learning new controls is not a problem to me. My current beloved C has only two buttons, of which I only use one anyway. So there's not much baggage to carry over, except the emotional one. :P

I've had short term flings with other people's N, with their permission of course. I like the way N feels, but I haven't really tested the image quality, especially when printed on paper. But I guess I should not be so nit-picky, and trust the reviews and opinions of others.

I am adaptable by nature, so I have no problem snuggling up to either one. But only one la. I'm just a simple guy.

I think the battle is now down to the lens. That's the deal-maker. I'm not a multi-lens collector, and I've been so accustomed to a 28-200 on film to meet all my needs thus far. I'm just looking for a digital equivalent now... and... and... I am being pulled over to the dark side... hellppppppp!!!!

Anonymous said...


Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths!

Hence, it is neither N or C, it is actually a Leica! =)

Perhaps, you need to get away from the reviews. I am sure you have done enough research to write a thesis of comparison between C and N.

Like it or not, both camps will have very good reasons to diss one another.

Since you are not going to be a multi-lens collector, that kinda solves a big chunk of the problem. Just go for the one that gives you the lens of your dreams! The answer will be very obvious, right?

(I do realise that by saying so,I am pulling you to the dark side, even more. It is purely intentional.)

=D All the best!

P/S: Eagerly awaits the matrimonial service and the (re)production process to begin soon. Alrite, am being suggestive...

HL said...

Well, I missed the deadline. And I still can't decide. You see, I just had a long chat with a guy who is from the C camp. It's not that he pulled me back from the dark side, but he raised some questions about the lens selection, issues about sharpness, fast apertures and stuff.

OK, lemme retreat into my cave for a while to regain my thoughts and centre my heart. I am tempted to, but I wouldn't want to test the Lord by ordering a fleece test on this petty issue. I just need some wisdom.

Shih Chung said...

Absolutely gorgeous photos. You captured the coldness of the rocky plateau and the heaven blue clouds of the sky as I remembered it. Mount K is a truly special place. If only more Malaysians would know the beauty of their own backyard.

Anonymous said...


One question though, why C IS series? Why not go for the L series? It's on the pricey side, though.

HL said...

Shih Chung: Mt K is magical, one of a kind. The weather that day was perfect. Now I'm wondering if digital cameras can capture such vivid blues. I've not tried taking shots with a digital camera, so I guess I have to climb the mountain again...

Anonymous: You said it. EXPENSIVE. Do I await a Christmas present from someone anonymous...?

Technically, IS is not a lens series. The lens I was/am looking at is the EF-S series. IS is "Image Stabilizer", the counterpart of N's Vibration Reduction or VR. IS/VR is amazing technology which allows you to handhold at much slower shutter speeds than normal. IS is used in a variety of lenses, including the L series. L = Luxury = $$$$$$.

BTW, how about identifying yourself. Or at least drop some clues.

yyen said...

Quote: Do I await a Christmas present from someone anonymous...? Unquote- Funny how fat chance and slim chance mean the same thing... :)

Honestly, I would love to do my bit to the needy via PhotoVoice...I just hope they don't start making demands like, "Can I have a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens?", which someone just conveniently did. =D

Thanks for the clarification and putting up with the questions. I read that photographers would not need tripods, with VR lens around. Amazing. (Note how I only mention VR lens..hehe)

I guess, I am also doing research for future purposes- not charitable ones yet, though. :P

Pardon my anonymity. Aiyo, shy-la. But, attached my blog link.

Nice 'meeting' you.

HL said...

Did you know a double positive can be negative? Yeah, right.

VR claims to enable handheld shutter speeds 4 stops lower than without VR. But a tripod is still necessary for long exposures. And when on a tripod VR must be switched off.

Nice to meet you too.