Sunday, June 16

Japanese etches four routes for rock climbers on Kinabalu

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KOTA KINABALU: International free climber, 42-year-old Yuji Hirayama, has created four routes for rock climbers on Mount Kinabalu.

The routes, two of which are located on the Donkey’s West Ear, were named Mista Misty and Sunset Cafe, while the remaining two were on the Oyayubi peak.

Hirayama called the other two routes as ‘Kouhian do Sunduvan’ (translated ‘the return of the spirit’) and ‘Poingion Tawan’ (translated ‘living in the sky’).

“Mista Misty was named such because the route we took was always shrouded with mist, while Sunset Cafe derived its name from the sunrays that followed us throughout the route. It was very romantic,” he explained at a press conference yesterday.

The two other routes got their Dusunic names with the help of local porters who accompanied Hirayama in the climbs.

“I hung out with the locals a lot during my trip here and as a result, learned about the cultures and traditions of the people. I was told that the mountain is the place where the spirits of the dead return to, thus, the name ‘Kouhian do sunduvan’. The name ‘Poingion Tawan’ also came from them. I liked the names of the routes,” he said.

He described the route or line on the Oyayubi peak as beautiful, adding that he had fallen 80 meters down while attemping the route recently.

Had it not been for the safety rope attached to his body, that fall would have been fatal.

As a free climber, Hirayama uses his hands and legs to support and hoist himself up. However, he still fixed nettle pieces that were hooked on suitable surfaces of the granite walls and attached these to his safety rope. These safety features would become crucial just in case of a fall.

It was because of the fall that he was not able to complete his target for the ‘Kouhian do Sunduvan’ route and had promised to return in September for another attempt to accomplish his aim.

He also hoped to discover other routes around Mount Kinabalu.

His love affair with the mountain began several years ago after glancing at a photograph.

“Mount Kinabalu is very beautiful. It is like a picture and exudes a different character everytime,” he said.

“I hope to come here every year,” he said.

Hirayama arrived in Sabah on June 11 and returned to Japan yesterday.

Also present at the press conference was Sabah Tourism Board chairman Datuk Tengku Zainal Adlin.