The Exciting Adventure of Mulu Pinnacles Sarawak

Sharp jagged peaks piercing through deep forest, jutting straight upwards to clear blue skies, the famed Mulu Pinnacles in North Sarawak , stood silent and intimidating, challenging many to conquer its steep slopes and limestone formations, it being one of UNESCO heritage site.   An astonishing sculpture of nature carved over centuries, the Mulu Pinnacles Sarawak rising to 40-50 metre heights and at times shrouded by passing clouds, were gloriously situated halfway up Mount Api (Gunung Api).  With the viewing point located at an altitude of about 1,200 metre high, the climb up and especially down, was considered a tough nut to crack or scale in this case.

The starting point for Mulu Pinnacles Sarawak expedition was to take a 45-minute boat ride from Mulu National Park HQ to Kuala Litut.  At Kuala Litut, a jungle trek of 3-4 hours through Kuala Berar rainforest, covering 8 kilometre of relatively flat grounds, was to be accomplished to reach Camp 5.  Situated beside Melinau River , Camp 5 was the main overnight accommodation with bathroom and cooking facilities for Pinnacles climbers.  This camp was also where the World Heritage guide would meet and brief climbers on the do’s and don’ts. Climbers had to prepare their own food and water as well as properly plan the necessary items to bring along the strenuous 2.4 kilometre climb up and down sheer and unrelenting mountain surfaces.  The essentials would include good trekking shoes, raincoat, gloves, torchlight, insect repellent, energy bars, bottled water, camera, whistle, first-aid kit and basic medication.

If you are keen to go on the challenging Pinnacle Mulu Tour, check it out here for the 4D3N Mulu Pinnacles Tour

Scaling Mount Api to view the spectacular Pinnacles went beyond being just a test of physical fitness and endurance.  It was a race against time, as well as demanding a high level of mental strength, alertness and self-motivation from climbers.  The race against time was because climbers had to reach the first section of vertical ladder, a distance of 2,000 metres, by 11am.  Otherwise most climbers would be asked to return back to Camp 5 to avoid being caught by nightfall while descending from the viewing point.  It took much longer to walk down than up.  The final leg of the climb consisted of extremely steep and slippery vertical slopes, which had to be scaled using ladders, ropes and wooden pegs.  Experienced and physically fit climbers could reach the viewing point in about 2-3 hours, while others would take around 4-5 hours.  The descent to many was a more difficult and exhausting journey, and could take 5-6 hours or longer.

Starting at dawn at 6.30am, climbers began their expedition to the first level, which were the Mini Pinnacles Sarawak situated at 900 metres.  This would easily take between 1-1½ hours, traversing uneven limestone structures, moss-covered boulders, fallen tree trunks, protruding roots and other jungle obstacle.  It was the initial test of strength and stamina with a close eye kept on the ticking clock.  But climbers could, and should, also take the time and opportunity to observe the untamed natural landscape of limestone formations, exotic orchids, carnivorous pitcher plants, rhododendrons and wildlife surrounding the rainforest.

Mulu Pinnacles,Sarawak

Mulu Pinnacles,Sarawak

The next level up was to reach the 2,000-metre mark leading to the first vertical aluminum ladder by 11am.  From 900 metre to 2,000 metre, climbers would encounter different challenges, particularly steep jagged surfaces, loose rocks and soft ground.  Tremendous caution must be taken along this path, as climbers had suffered severe injuries from slipping and falling on jagged rocks.  As the path progressed, using hands to hold tree roots or solid rocks and leverage the body up became crucial.  Those who passed the time restriction at 2,000-metre would have to head back down to Camp 5, while the successful would climb and endure onwards the last 400 metres.

The final level of 400 metres would involve climbing 12 vertical ladders affixed to rocks and trees, with extra ropes attached to the sides to provide further assistance for climbers.  At this point, there was sparse vegetation and big gaps would yawn menacingly between rocks.  Again climbers had to exercise extreme caution while going up.  However, the memorable display and magnificent view of the Mulu Pinnacles were certainly worth the climb for anyone.   After a few minutes of rest, climbers could begin to head back.

The trip downwards was touted to be worst than the climb up as it was very taxing for the already tired body, especially the knees.  If it rained, the journey would be even slower and more arduous when everything became wet and slippery.  Climbers would have to literally slide down certain parts, resulting in torn pants, bruises and scraped hands and knees.  Upon arriving back at Camp 5, climbers could catch their breath, re-hydrate themselves, check that everything was in one piece and good working condition, take a shower or cool off in the river, and then reflect and congratulate themselves on achieving the tough and grueling feat of successfully climbing the Mulu Pinnacles Sarawak.   Despite all the aches and pains, all climbers had deemed the Mulu Pinnacles a worthwhile expedition.

By Christina**

If you are keen to go on the challenging Pinnacle Mulu Tour, check it out here for the 4D3N Mulu Pinnacles Tour

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