Saturday, August 15

Trust in Sabah parks, state govt convinces climbers Mount Kinabalu safe

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KUNDASANG: Trust in the Sabah Parks and the state government’s priority and attention given to the safety of mountaineers were sufficient to convince four local avid cyclists that it was safe to conquer Mount Kinabalu following Thursday’s earthquake.

Rizin Kusop, 45, of Kota Kinabalu-based De Sulap Cycling Team said they had wanted to cancel their scheduled hike on Saturday, but when they learned that the mountain was safe to climb, they went ahead with their plan.

“Of course, naturally, we were quite worried whether there might be aftershocks during our climb. But we believed we could climb the mountain and we proved that we had safely reached the summit and returned,” he told Bernama when met after concluding his climb at Timpohon Gate, the starting point of the climb here yesterday.

Rizin, who has now conquered the mountain five times, was joined by team mates Juslee Dousin, 46, who has climbed the mountain four times, and first-timers Dilly Eduin, 45 and Lehenry Kaunsir, 46.

He said climbing Mount Kinabalu was part of the cycling team’s initiative to stay fit and be prepared to face any cycling race they would participate in. Dilly said he was impressed with the safety measures which Sabah Parks had put in place, especially with the presence of Mountain Search and Rescue (Mosar) personnel along the hiking route, which gave him the assurance that he was in safe hands.

German businessman Luethje Wilhelm, 30, who flew from Hong Kong with several friends on the night of the earthquake, had no idea of the incident, or of the suspension.

“We only found out about it (earthquake) later that night when we arrived in KK (Kota Kinabalu). But we still hoped to climb the mountain and we checked with our agents and they said Saturday (yesterday) was fine,” he said.

He and his compatriot friend, Markus Georg, 30 described their experience in scaling the mountain as fun and that the mountain guides were great in assisting them.

On Thursday, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun announced that all hiking activities on the mountain were to be temporarily suspended following the 5.2-magnitude earthquake which struck Ranau at 9.06pm.

However, the suspension was lifted yesterday after a 47-member team assessing the aftermath on the mountain found no major damage along the summit trail.

Meanwhile, a group of 20 adventure seekers known as Alkisah Adventure from Kuala Lumpur were relieved that their scheduled hike yesterday went according to plan.

Two of the group members were engineer Hezreen Hanafi, 26, and sister, Hilda, 25, a public housing executive, who are also nieces of Bernama deputy editor-in-chief Datuk Mokhtar Hussain.

“We were frustrated because we heard that we could not hike. Some of us cried because we had been planning this for a year. But, when we received news that we could continue with the hike, we proceeded with the plan, we took our flight and here we are today,” said Hezreen.

She said the team felt excited and nervous at the same time, minutes before starting the hike and gathered to pray for a smooth journey to the summit before making their ascent.

Escorting the group on their adventure were Mosar personnel Wandy John, 36, Rasikam Jumin, 36, Severinus Saili, 33, Pollelly Roipon, 23 and Alex Clarence, 22. — Bernama