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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Gunung Korbu, Malaysia (2,183m)

Apart from Gunung Kinabalu and Gunung Tahan, Gunung Korbu has recently made its name onto the Malaysian hikers' list for being one of the most desirable local mountains to tame. Why? You don't need a few days to complete the trail; you don't need to acclimatise as it is only 2,183m; but what you do need is hell a lot of stamina and a very determined mind to make it to the peak, all 35km of it. Gunung Korbu is the highest peak of the Titiwangsa range and the second highest peak in West Malaysia. The enticing factor about hiking this mountain is that you can do a link to reach Gunung Gayong as this is one of the mountain in Malaysia that has no individual trek up to the peak.

malaysia gunung korbu waterfall
Amazing waterfall that you just stumble upon on the way up to Gunung Korbu

When I was invited to join an elite group of hikers to attempt this mountain back in June 2013, I was ecstatic! We had quite a few discussion before the hike about safety, cut-off time, the usual. We stayed the night in town and headed off to Empangan Sultan Azlan Shah around 6 a.m. Alfonso has arranged for someone to open the gate which was still a fair bit to drive from the trail head. As we parked our car at the trail head, we got ready for the hike of a life time.

The first part of the hike was mostly river crossing and it was quite confusing. I had to constantly take a mental note of where they left the trail paper for the way back. Two hours into the hike we came to a spectacular waterfall that was perfect for a short break. A few of us were feeling slightly under the weather so they had decided to turn back. The rest grabbed a refreshing splash at the waterfall and headed up to Kem Seroja.

malaysia perak gunung korbu waterfall kem seroja
The ones that went onto Kem Seroja, Gunung Korbu

I was never good in time keeping on a hike. I often let my mind wondered while my body do the hard work. It was a few hours of hiking on an enjoyable pace for me when I realised we have reached the peak. No. Not that fast. Back track. We went passed Kem Seroja and Kem Kijang where we saw a group of overnight hikers breaking their tent, ready for another day of trekking to Gunung Korbu - Gunung Gayong. The hike was more than a year ago that I am running out of words now to describe my journey upwards, other than hike and trek. We reached the Last Water Point to refill our bottles and had another soldier down. His legs were cramping up and had to give up.

We left him and continued forward. From there on to Puncak Botak, Puncak Chuban and Gunung Korbu peak was the time when the group spread out. I was trekking on my own and happy to be engrossed in my own world. I thought about savouring the yummy sandwich I had prepared for the summit; I thought about dinner plans and weekend; I thought about some work issues; I stopped and mumbled WTF in my head as I reached another false peak; I thought about him and the few dates we went on; I thought about telling mom to go easy on feeding me; I thought about where to go next for an adventure; and I halted when I saw a few members of our team taking a break shortly after Puncak Botak. I was on a roll and did not want to stop, so I dropped a quick hello and went head on.

From Puncak Chuban onwards, I was constantly swearing. Believe me, it was such a pain to climb steel ladders after steel ladders, steep tree roots after steep tree roots, annoying false peak after annoying false peak. I played songs in my head, humming the frustration out of my mind and before I knew it, I reached the peak of Gunung Korbu. I was amazed with my own determination. Due to the strictly adhered cut off time, no one attempted Gunung Gayong. According to Dennis, he arrived well ahead of us to Gunung Korbu but as he has no idea how to get to Gunung Gayong, he aborted the idea to venture alone.

malaysia gunung korbu peak
The smily faces reaching Gunung Korbu peak. I will always remember the pain behind the joy.

After an hour of well rested legs and well fed stomach, we left Gunung Korbu and headed back down. The journey downhill was not any less agonising than the ascend and when I reached the river crossing section, it was pitch black. I tried to find the paper trail and on several occasions found myself lost. I slipped once and bruised my shin big time that almost called for tears. Fear of darkness kept me going and when I eventually reached the trail head, Dennis and a few people were already there. We waited for the rest of the team out of the park and called it a night. An eventful day for me.

Facts check. We started at the trailhead close to 6:00 a.m., I reached the peak around 1:15 p.m. After lunch we left at 2:30 p.m and back at car park around 8:20 p.m. Not too shabby!

Dennis at Puncak Chuban, bye bye to Gunung Korbu

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