The LONG story…

Some of you have had the short story by email… the long story, courtesy of Arvind and Sheila (with some editing by your host, Armo the Destroyer of commas) goes a little something like this:

Day 1: The Fellowship is convened..

So here are the four of us, two Nordic Gods and two Eastern sprites. setting off on day one – so fresh, so young and so full of hope.

For those who don’t know us all, the adventurers are:

Trond Tingulstad
“Trond” is the Norwegian name for the Norse god of Thunder, Thor Odin-son. Trond quite likes the derivation of his name, and with his full beard, his flowing blond locks and his six foot two physique, even looks the part.

Trond lived in Malaysia with his family for a few years, and it was then that the David and Tingulstad families first became friends. This friendship has been cemented across the years and continents, like when, in 1994, the Tingulstads taught Arvind how to ski in Lillehammer by strapping him into a pair of their grandfather’s 18th century skies, tying him to their giant dog and shouting “mush!” Trond’s brothers Andreas and Johan have also visited us in KL and London.

Trond returned to KL this Christmas in-order to show his girlfriend, Iren Kristiansen, his old home-town. Iren was expecting a glorious three week beach holiday, relaxing in the sun, drinking pineapple daquiris. Recent events obviously made that impossible, and Iren found herself about as far from a beach as one can conceivably be: climbing Mount Kinabalu. When Trond and Arvind decided to race up the mountain in a bid to beat Devan Kaloo’s three hour time, Iren and Sheila were left far behind

Iren accepted the change in plans like a trooper, and put only one condition on the climbing – that there be champagne at the end of the climb. This was a condition we were all happy to agree to, and Iren earned her share – having pushed through a heinous bout of altitude sickness to get to the peak.

Sheila Devi David doesn’t like heights. Or physical exercise. Or, as it turns out, small towns. Over the next three days she will brave all three. In fact, like Iren, she was fully set on a few days at the beach this Christmas. Iren and Sheila have made a pact to take the trek slow, and not be bullied by the boys into a race up the mountain. They had no doubt that the boys would abandon them at the first possible point in order to set a new record.

Arvind Ethan David is quite keen on the Outdoors. In fact it was his brainstorming with Jeevan, Devan and Trond that resulted in The Plan.

The Climb

We started the trek at 10am on Tuesday morning, and were pleasantly surprised how quickly half a kilometre mark was reached, and then a kilometre and then a kilometre and half.

Like a bridge over peaceful water…

The terrain changed at this point. From being quite muddy and quite jungly, the land was red and rocky, and much steeper. It was a lot harder from here on, and it was here that the boys decided to be strategic, cut their losses and to leave the girls to trudge on while they picked up the pace.

Later we would discover that Trond had left Arvind behind to reach the rest house first! Both the boys reached the rest house in under three hours.

So if we bend him in half will he fit in a hand-bag? – Stretching at the 6km point

The girls encouraged each other with the thought of what food they would have when they got down the mountain – strawberries, pineapples, watermelons… and in this way kept each other’s spirits up as their energy flagged and the climb grew more and more difficult. Fendly the guide provided some amusement as he was texting and smoking constantly on the way up, carrying a few bags and an umbrella and not showing the slightest signs of fatigue.

After a total of five hours, the girls finally reached the 6 km mark, where we would be spending the night (or rather the 11 hours before the next 1.5km up to the peak). Hot showers were amazingly all it took to make all the climbers happy. We sang in the shower, ‘Ain’t no Mountain High Enough.’ In fact we sung it a lot over this trip.

At lunch, we discovered Iren’s penchant for Tom Yam.

Walking on Sunshine… woaah woah….

This is Day 2, on cloud island, after a 6km trek up to Gunting Lagadan. Having a lazy moment playing out in the sun. Watching Trond stretch out for almost as long as he’d been walking. Playing with flies. This is a happy moment. It is shortly to be interrupted by a 2 am start, in 5 degree weather for the final ascent.

Shoes, SHOOEESSSS! Gimme some shoes!

The saga of Arvind’s shoes: At the four kilometre point, his pair of Caterpillar boots gave out and fell apart. Fortunately he had packed a spare pair of Nike trainers. By the 7km mark both the base layers of the Nikes had peeled off and left Arvind hanging on rope on a cliff face effectively wearing only his socks (and, fortunately, some trousers).

This was the critical moment. Sheila turned around to look at the damaged shoes and saw that she was also hanging on a rope on a sheer cliff and that she was 12000 feet up in the air. And that the ground looked like it was coming up to meet her quite quickly. Friendly Fendly had to peel her fingers from the rope and help her edge down the cliff onto solid ground. Her Shoeless Brother, partly out of fraternal solidarity but mainly because climbing up 1500 feet of sheer rock in a pair of glorified socks with laces and then back again didn’t make much sense, was also forced to abandon the goal of Lowe’s Peak to return to Gunting Lagadan.

At this point, therefore, the adventure divided.

Arvind was disappointed, and Sheila hugely relieved to start the return trek. But Fendly continued up the mountain with Iren and Trond Hakon, and Arvind and Sheila were left…Fendless.

Fendly by name, friendly by nature: our mobile-toting guide took us up the mountain. He’s famous for coming in 5th in a race up KK – a time of 1 hour to climb the 13,000 feet and run the 8 kilometer trail…

When their flashlights gave out almost immediately they were a little surprised. The pitch black night, and the prospect of an hour and a half trek back to Gunting Lagadan was a little daunting. But all hail Nokia. By the light of a little phone, these two were able to peer and slip their way down mossy rocks and muddy stairs back to the rest house. (Which unfortunately was shut when they got back but they were back so they didn’t care.)

Trond and Iren battled on up the mountain for the next kilometer and a half, slowed but not deterred from the ascent by a Iren’s horrible altitude sickness. Altitude sickness came in the form of a horrible headaches, nausea, dizziness and muscle spasms – apparently like being drunk and hungover at the same time.

Ain’t no mountain high enough….

Ain’t no river deep enough….

The trip down the mountain was thankfully much faster than the trip up. Trond had to half carry Iren down the final part, and Sheila had to crab walk down the last two kilometers of stairs as according to the diagnosis (some would say slightly smugly given) that she had not stretched enough. She would say she had been thankful to sit very still after so much exercise rather than spend another hour stretching.

So on Wednesday at 3pm, a tired but thankful crew took their leave of Kinabalu National Park and on the way out saw a baby bear.

We headed to the nearest hotel where we finally managed to get our hands on the much coveted Champagne, and we finally got in touch with Armand to find out to our glee that your contributions had come up to US$1300. Thank you all for being so generous, and for making a difference to those who have lost so much.

The most hard earned champagne CHAMPAGNE!!!!!!!!

– The END –
… for now.
Your contributions currently tally somewhere in the region of US$4000 – and are still coming in. We will publish a full list of donors on the David clan’s return to the UK/ Trond and Iren’s return to Norway, and some more photos. Thank you all again.

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