Borneo, Malaysia.

1st Dispatch Video

April 2009 Kota Kinabalu
We've arrived and are starting the logistic arrangements for three weeks of life on a jungle big wall. Should prove quite the test of all our abilities in having six of us sharing the precipitous environment!
Must say I'm very glad for the collective experience of our team, I landed last night after a very quick home turn around following Patagonian time; awoke on the plane feeling a tad disorientated wondering where I was heading on a couple of occasions.
Apparently it rains every day here in Malaysia, luckily hasn't just yet but undoubtedly I'll start the cycle having documented such? Feels very hot n' humid which I think makes for a tougher transition for the team members fresh from winter, time in the summer hemisphere for me will hopefully have me more acclimatised.
Acquisition of food, water bottles and fuel is the order of the day.

2nd Dispatch Video

We left the city and spent the afternoon watching clouds rip across Mt Kinabalu from the National Park head quarters. A gracious day as far as the locale is concerned being as though it didn't rain. Unfortunately we had many logistic hurdles before climbing can be engaged. As far as remote expedition climbing goes, especially in cases of new exploration, making it to the base of the objective with all your gear is the biggest crux. Today the team has briefly split with Renan taking the rear guard to ensure our final loads are picked up by the porters while the rest of us hike to Easy Valley and try to recon the journey beyond. Thanks for checking it...stay tuned for more dispatches from our 13,000ft camp on Kinabalu's summit.

3rd Dispatch Video

The team made it up 6000ft vertical through six ecologic zones to base camp on a high ridge of Mt. Kinabalu. Although flat sleeping spots are non-existent and there is only a small pool of collected rain water, it is one the most awe inspiring, above the clouds camps we have ever experienced. We also got a look at our first ascent objective and are blown away by its size, steepness and beauty!

4th Dispatch Video

The team starts the wall! Mark and Alex on day 1 and Conrad and Kevin on day 2 push up the big-wall. Also Jimmy gets some high-angle photography and Alex bags a first summit free-solo.
This is the lo-res version due to lack of solar power for the satellite modem and laptop. Thanks for watching & best regards from our rainy ridge-top camp.

5th Dispatch Video

From our base camp high above the route morning routine involves dropping a similar distance into the valley then climbing up the opposite side. After coffee, of course, the team rappels 1200ft to begin a jumar to the high point and press the route further. Thus far we have seven pitches fixed: All overhanging with the ropes dangling far from the cliff. Back down at the end of the day then up the ropes back to camp has been the routine. Tomorrow (April 16th) we're heading up to commit to life on the vertical plane and stay en route until concluded. Hauling all necessary food, water, portaledges and necessities for an estimated four days of precipitous living! We're all psyched and ready for the transition.

6th Dispatch Video

The commute from base-camp on the ridge is over: the team commits to the wall. Life in the vertical world is based out of two hanging portaledges. Kevin and Conrad push the line higher into virgin terrain as Alex, Mark & Jimmy drop below to free climb pitches previously aid climbed. Alex shows how free climbing on first ascents, climbing without pulling on any mechanical devices, is a bold progressive climbing style.
 The rain has been torrential with only a small solar window each morning, so video size remains small.

7th Dispatch Video

Conrad and I left the portaledge camp and headed up ropes fixed above the dangling home the previous day by Mark & Alex. The breakfast pitch fell to Conrad on this day. Looked like a straight forward corner crack, I couldn't really tell or see much of his progress from my hanging belay that was tucked neatly under an overhang. Expletives precluded large blocks, suitcase sized chunks spun passed my protected stance offering a gauge of our altitude with the time the crash took to audibly rebound. As if the blocky loose nature wasn't enough the temperature began to drop & the radically overhanging nature of our cliff began to fail in it's protective aspect from precipitation. I wondered if Conrad had his shell layer as I dug through the haul bag for every available layer. Many items later I was still engaged in belay aerobics to stay warm, blocks occasionally rained from above and the rope kept moving upward. Upon completion of my cleaning the pitch both of us were, excuse the expression, 'pissed wet through'! The storm was picking up momentum so I declined to take the line further and we retreated to camp. Alex & Mark had dropped down to work on free-climbing a lower pitch and were already in their ledge. We thought they had landed dry and were relaxing in their shelter, they were of course drenched but thought we'd made it down dry. The storm had reduced our communication to walkie-talkies even though there was merely six feet between us!

8th Dispatch Video

The team tops out the wall and tags the summit. Thanks for checking the posts from the field out here in the Borneo alpine!

          Mt Kinabalu Expedition

          April 2009

 

 

 

 

Originally Hosted on http://borneobigwall.blogspot.com

 

If a simple click doesn't suffice to Download the dispatches as podcasts (mp4s) try right clicking the following highlighted text, then left click 'Save Target As' (or: save link).. First Dispatch -- Second Dispatch -- Third Dispatch -- Fourth Dispatch -- Fifth Dispatch -- Sixth Dispatch -- Seventh Dispatch -- Eighth Dispatch.

 

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