Seven scale Mt Kinabalu to mark port operator’s 20th anniversary

Seven climbers from Labuan Liberty Port Management Sdn Bhd at the summit of Mount Kinabalu.

KUNDASANG: There may be too many people, too many challenging new trails and climbers struggling with cold weather, but Mount Kinabalu remains a wonder of nature.

The death of 19 people on the mountain after a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck in 2015 is a reminder that, at 4,095 metres, Mt Kinabalu represents the ultimate challenge for climbers and adventurers.

Seven climbers from Labuan Liberty Port Management Sdn Bhd (LLPM), two of whom are newbies, scaled Mt Kinabalu last week for the third series expedition in conjunction with the port operator’s 20th anniversary.

“We thought our climb will be easier this time, as we have ascended the mountain several times, but it was beyond our expectation, as the new trails challenged us both mentally and physically,” said group leader, Raime Awang, yesterday.

The group departed Labuan on August 26 via roll-on-roll-off ferry to Menumbok in Sabah before taking the long distance drive to Kundasang.

They commenced climbing the next day guided by two experienced mountain guides or better known as Malim Gunung.

“It requires climbers to be in omnia paratus (prepared in all things), as we have to be ready to embrace whatever gets thrown at us next,” he said.

The Mount Kinabalu Climbing Expedition was LLPM’s anniversary event as part of its motto in service of ’embracing challenges together’, besides imparting the never give-up attitude among its staff.

“We felt the expedition was a great challenge to us despite having climbed the mountain several times, but it taught us to endure when there were times the trails in the cold weather hampered us from a smooth climb.

“We have seen some people conquer Mount Kinabalu despite their physical handicap and age,” Raime said.

For Mohammad Azarul Hakidin, the expedition was a success, despite having to struggle to reach the summit.

“I should be thankful to the LLPM founder and expedition chef de mission, Datuk Seri Mohd Alias Abd Rahman, for giving me the opportunity to represent the company to hoist the LLPM flag on the summit, amid the various physical challenges,” he said.

He said it was a group effort that ensured all the seven stood on the top.

“We reached Laban Rata at around 2 pm and spent a night there before continuing the climb in the wee hours of the next day. As we were about to reach the summit, the combination of extreme difficulty, low temperature and gusty winds made it a formidable objective. Our body felt strained to the limit and we were shivering that we couldn’t feel our fingers,” he said.

But for Raime and Azarul, it was all worth the effort and difficulty.

“There we were, and it was all about group coordination that made us feel so incredibly proud of seeing the LLPM banner and flag on top of Mt Kinabalu,” Raime said.

The Mt Kinabalu Expedition will continue in LLPM’s next anniversary.

The first expedition was in 2008 in conjunction with LLPM’s 10th anniversary, with 10 climbers out of 15 managing to reach the summit, and the second was in 2013 with 18 of the 25 climbers reaching the top.

Alias said, despite the somewhat difficult challenges, mountain climbing has incredibly some valuable lessons to teach business owners.

“As the chef de mission of the mountain expedition, our trek up the mountain challenges our team members to expand their decision-making and leadership skills. Most of which, especially at high altitudes, involve managing risk.”

He said the mountain is a real world training ground where making the wrong choice can lead to either injury or death, which is akin to making business decisions.

“The decision-making process that happens on the mountain has so many similarities to business,” he said.

“We have intense personal goals (summiting), a key team goal (getting everyone home safely), and everyday small things that could go wrong if not dealt with that can result in failure. I think the entrepreneurial types are naturally drawn to the challenges of big mountain climbing. They like the uncertainty, the intense physical and mental effort, the team aspect, and the clear goal. Finding the right partners, and then building trust and experience with them so we understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses are keys to succeeding. I have found the same thing in business,” Alias said.

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