Saturday, February 21, 2009

Gunung Datuk, In Such A Hurry

On the 27th of October 2009, just 1 day after climbing Tabur Hill West, feeling rather bored, Yiaw Liang and me decided to scale another mountain. It was coincidentally the last day of classes of our 5 year degree course, and many of our course mates were heading out for a nice dinner. Me and Yiaw Liang shook our heads, for we had better plans…. XD

At 2pm we left University Malaya for Seri Kembangan where we picked up Yiaw Hong. It would a 3 person climb this time, and we were usually the front runners among our mountain climbing cohort. We took the North South Highway southbound until the Pedas/Linggi Interchange. After paying the toll, make a left turn and soon, you’ll come across a signboard saying Hutan Lipur Gunung Datuk. Make a 3 o’clock turn at the roundabout and continue on. Just follow the signboards and you’ll be there in about 30 minutes. A good alternative is to use Google Maps or a GPS program to locate the starting point.

 

Datuk-1 From L to R: Yiaw Liang, me and Yiaw Hong

 

We reached the Hutan Lipur Gunung Datuk at 3.05pm. According to a large signboard there, we were to pay RM3 to climb Gunung Datuk. There was no one there however, so we went on our merry way.

 

Datuk

 

We snapped a photo at the entrance and made our way to the starting point. It is located down a short flight of concrete steps that leads to a mini dam of sorts where upon climbing across the wooden bridge, you start off on the trail. This time, in addition to the usual stuff, I packed a camera tripod. With just 3 of us on this climb, no tripod will basically mean that there’ll be no chance of a group photo.

 

Datuk-5

 

The Gunung Datuk trail is pretty much standard Malaysia jungle trekking fare. Large tropical rainforest trees, damp, wet grounds and unique to Gunung Datuk, large stones that littered the trail upwards.

 

Datuk-32

 

We started trekking at 3.17pm. The 1st part of the trek, before the ‘metal tents’ you see below represented among the most challenging treks I have attempted. Should you attempt this route at a brisk pace, you will undoubtedly bend over soon, breathless.

 

Datuk-38

After the ‘metal tents’, the gradient decreases and it becomes much easier to maintain your pace. For us meanwhile, it was only 4pm. The forest was getting dark however, and we began to worry we would not be able to make it back before dark. To make matters, none of us had a torch nor did we bring up a tent. We began to pick up our pace. We could on average push for about 50m of elevation before needing a couple of minutes break to catch our breath. It was a new experience indeed, as we 3 were pretty close stamina wise. On our past trekking trips, we usually had people tagging along who were generally less fit, and as such, we were accustomed to having long breaks while we wait for them to recover. This time though, no such luck, and when we rested, we actually really needed the rest…

 

Datuk-44

 

We came across several large rocks, at least 10 feet high. We took the opportunity to grab a breather and snap some photos… XD

 

Datuk-51

 

1 hour and 10 minutes into the climb we came across a metal plaque nailed to a tree with the number 200 printed on it. I’m not sure if it meant 200m elevation to the camp site or 200m trek to the camp site, but the camp site was 15 minutes away, as it turned out. Just before the camp site though, there is a large flat stone.

 

Datuk-66

 

Once you enter the campsite, there are 3 exits. The one at 8 o’clock, heads up the humongous boulders to the false summit viewing point. The exit at 11 o’clock heads to the water point, while the exit at the 3 o’clock position head to large open area also for camping. We reached here at 4.52pm, taking 1 hour and 35 minutes to reach the camp site.

 

Datuk-67

 

We initially expected this to be the peak, but upon checking the GPS, these large boulders were considered the false summit viewing point. There was a trail marked water point on the GPS map, and we decided to follow it, hoping it would lead to the peak. It was to be a costly mistake. It was 4.55pm when we started trekking downhill. We soon realised it seemed to head all the way down. We lost about 200m in elevation, slipping and sliding down a slippery slope before we decided to give up as we could hear a waterfall in the distance and the route showed no signs of turning back uphill. At 5.12pm, we turned back. Upon looking down at my shoes, I saw 4 leeches making their merry way up towards my legs. I flicked, snatched and pulled at the leeches, before sprinting up. It was a move I regretted. The short sprint broke my pace, and I was absolutely exhausted. I could barely move an inch, and so were Yiaw Liang and Yiaw Hong who had followed me rushing back up. There was however a slight silver lining as i noticed strangely gnarled tree on the way up.

 

Datuk-73

 

We finally made it back to the camp site at 5.30pm, and it was the worst climb ever. We were hopelessly out of breath, and had to stop every 10 steps or so up the steep, slippery slope. We headed for the false summit viewing point. After climbing up 4 ladders, we were treated an amazing view. We could see the entire state of Negeri Sembilan. In fact, we could even see as far as the Straits of Melacca.

 

Datuk-77Yiaw Liang and Yiaw Hong scaling the 3rd and 4th ladder

 

Yiaw Hong quickly made his way up the 5th and 6th ladder, but worried about attempting the 7th ladder as it was not tightly tied to the rock.

 

Datuk-81

 

Needless to say a photo of him meant he had to reciprocate with a photo of us from that ledge. XD

 

Datuk-87

 

He decided to take the plunge, and managed to reach the top of the rock formation. Me and Yiaw Liang promptly joined him after carefully climbing up the ladders.

 

Datuk-88

 

The view here was absolutely breathless. It was also amazingly windy.

 

Datuk-97

 Datuk-95 

We snapped a whole bunch of photos on the peak.

 

Datuk-146

 

Datuk-127

 

Before we knew it, it was 6pm, and we had to make our way down if we wanted to reach the base before dark. Heading down the ladders were even more dangerous than climbing up…

 

Datuk-153

 

We left the camp site at 6.08pm and made haste for the bottom of the mountain. The beginning part was rather simple, but upon reaching the ‘metal tents’ the route began to get very rocky and steep. Yiaw Liang sprained his ankle due to a poor landing, but fortunately it was a minor sprain and he was able to continue. We finally reached the starting point at 7.03pm, making it a 55 minute walk back down.

 

Datuk-171

 

We cleaned ourselves up, then made our way off to find a McDonalds! The nearest one was about 45 minutes away in Senawang, next to the Giant Supermarket. We ate till we almost exploded and left for Kuala Lumpur, sore but satiated, tired but raring to go for our next climb.

 

See also

Mountains & Hills 

Preparing Yourself 

Preparations For Gunung Datuk

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