Friday, November 20, 2009

Mount Santubong Summit Trek 09.11.20

Photo heavy post, click on the thumbnails for larger sizes.

Santubong 09.11.20
Image from Google Earth with my GPS track loaded into it. For some reason, the track record as shown in GE is quite off the actual trail especially past the 300m elevation rest stop onwards. Santubong is 810 m asl, there are a few small signposts along the trail indicating the DISTANCE from the starting point, not the elevation so don't be confused! Click image for larger version.

We went climbing Gunung Santubong (810 m or 2700 ft above sea level) today because the weather was just too fine to ignore! It was sunshine from morning till noon, thunderstorms in Kuching but remained dry in the Santubong peninsula. A fun outing but my legs feel like jelly right now! Here are some pictures of me goofing off at the very top of Mount Santubong.

“Yahoooooo, I’m the King of the Hill!”

Couldn’t resist doing the cliche Karate Kid pose! Probably the 1001th person to do this up here!

Everybody was kung-fu fighting! (cue music).

Don’t just smile and say cheese! Do something silly.

A wide-eyed spectator enjoying my antics. After the applause, he tried to make off with my backpack, bugger! Never trust ‘em monkeys!

Gonna get some rest and fill in the rest of this entry tonight (if I don’t sleep till tomorrow!). Laterz zzz z.
I must have gone to sleep at 9PM last night, slept till 5:30AM! Had a headache after the climb cause we ran out of water and got dehydrated. Will finish this post when I get in today, it looks like another sunny morning so friends and I are headed out climbing again... possibly to a limestone hill. Hope to see some good stuff!
Whew! When am I ever gonna get this entry done? Just got back in from exploring a limestone hill. Saw lots of flowering Corybas!! Will upload the rest of the Santubong photos to Flickr but this blog entry and today's outing will have to wait till late this evening, because I am off to a BBQ party.
09.11.21 11.41PM Sat.
Just back in. Sorry, but looks like I won't be able to do any more updates this weekend, got a packed itinerary. Going exloring again tomorrow, a mountain to the west of Kuching. Then in the evening, another meetup at a friend's house. This leaves me no time to sit down and do any proper write-ups till next week. Now to get some much needed rest. Selamat malam!
09.11.23 - Finally have a chance to finish this entry!

This photo was taken atop the Santubong-Sarawak River bridge. The clouds shrouding the summit cleared out when we reached the top.

It is a 40 minute scenic drive to Santubong from the city.

There are three starting points. We took the one on the right. Normal climbing time is 3-4 hours with 3-4 short breaks.

The lower slopes of Santubong are planted with fruit trees such as durian. These druits are called Buah Cempedak which are related to jackfruit. I do not know if they are wild or planted by farmers ages ago. The trees are huge and should be several decades old. Many cempedak fruits litter the base of the trees, some pried or gnawed open by wild animals.

Some of the large trees play host to giant orchids, Grammatophyllum speciosum. This species is said to be the largest orchid in the world and they grow about 20-30 meters above ground forming huge clusters fastened securely to the tree boles. No flowers this time but we spotted a huge colony in flower last year on a different tree.

Bulbophyllum species growing on a dead tree trunk overhanging a vertical cliff.

This is the first viewpoint where the two main trails meet. Elevation is about 300 meters.

From here onwards, it gets pretty tough but seasoned climbers or hikers should do fine.

Don’t attempt this without proper shoes as the ground is exposed clay and sandstone.

Yes, it is as tough as it looks.

Some trees have fallen across the trail so careful when negotiating your way, the rotting trunks are slippery and crumbly.

You can imagine what happens during a heavy rain. The deluge of water produces mini cascades all along the steep trail.

Purple berries of a shrub.

On my previous visit last year, saw this Bulbophyllum in spike.

This is the first of many rope ladders.

Very slippery and steep stretch. Take caution, there are many like this all along the way to the top.

Step one: Get a good grip and firm foothold.

Step two: Do not depend too much on your legs or foothold but hold firmly onto tree roots and pull yourself up with your hands.

Step three: Moon the cameraman! Hehe.

Always ensure that the tree root or branch you are holding onto or stepping on is firm and secure before putting your weight on it.

Be prepared to go through several stretches such as this. The presence of many tree roots aid the climb.

Another rope ladder. There are several!

This is one of the highest vertical stretches.

We also met a team from Permai Rainforest Resort doing some repair work on the rope ladders. They climbed all the way to the summit checking on the ladders as they were expecting to take a big group of tourists up here. Climbing this mountain and use of the sparse facilities (the rope ladders are extremely helpful though!) are free but I don’t really know who maintains this mountain. The Sarawak Forestry? Anyone know?

Don’t look down if you’re afraid of heights! Then again, if you’re afraid of heights, would you be doing this mountain in the first place? haha

It is difficult to guess or see how steep the gradients are along the summit trail without a climber in the picture.

View of the Santubong golf course and the sea. It was low tide then, we could hear the surf far up the mountain!

Another slippery stretch. Open, exposed clay and sandstone with only a few tree roots for support.

BSI alert! Brainless Selfish Idiots!

The work of BSIs or Brainless Selfish Idiots, first rest hut about 750 meter elevation according to my GPS (visible in Google Earth). I just don’t understand how some people who come to a place like this have so little regard for the environment. If they’re doing the climb, shouldn’t they at least have a little love for nature? Brainless ^&*%. People, please please please take your trash back with you, afterall, once empty everything’s light and easy to carry. No one is going to clean this mess up for you, definitely not the monkeys or hornbills! Jangan sekadar cakap, sayangilah alam sekitar kita!

The summit of Mount Santubong.

Vertical cliffs of Santubong.

The Sarawak Turtle Islands in the distance and the Santubong golf course in the foreground. Anyone interested to buy a holiday apartment here? There are two blocks with units for sale (lower left), friend from Canada inquired and they offered her family a free night’s stay to get a feel. So call and ask (google Santubong Suites for more info) if anyone’s interested.

This is the last rope ladder just before the summit.

Some kind of herb.

This carved stone face greets climbers at the end of the summit trail.

The summit viewpoint and rest hut. This hut is visible in Google Earth.

We were greeted by this lone monkey, a long-tail macaque scavenging for food scraps.

It was eating food scraps left by other climbers or campers. This guy had either been abandoned by its troop or it chose to wait on human beings (and BSIs) for food. NEVER feed wild monkeys! They will become too dependant on humans and be a nuisance or worse, lose the instinct to look for food on their own (there are many fruiting trees here, as evidenced by the fallen fruits littering the trail).

View to the south. There is a small pond here that’s said to never dry out even in the driest months.

Heavy rain over Kuching city. We stayed nice and dry on the mountain.

The Bako peninsula across the Bako/Santubong bay. Bako National Park is located on this peninsula and travelers to the park have to take a boat that traverses the waters of the bay, around that first promontory on the left and into Telok Asam (Asam bay), where the park HQ is located.

The wind-swept trees at the summit and short and stunted with gnarly, crumbly bark. Some epiphytes survive in this harsh condition such as Chelonistele and small Dendrobium species.

We walked around for a bit and had only just begun to sit down to enjoy the view when lightning snaked through the sky and the ensuing crack of thunder made us jump! It felt like we were so close to the clouds and lightning that even though it remained dry, we decided not to risk being lightning rods! It was just too risky as lightning could hit any point on the summit at any moment so after less than 30 minutes, we began our descend.

The summit area features a beautiful rock garden with many Sun ferns, mosses, small Nepenthes plants and stunted trees.

There is a second peak partially hidden behind the trees. Would love to climb that one day, wonder if anyone’s ever done that?

Took this photo on the way down, Kuching city under heavy rain.

Zoomed and cropped, mountains to the south. The left mountain is what I like to call The Matterhorn (unfortunately, there seems to be a rock quarry there), the middle one is near Kampung Podam and the high range in the background is the Bungo Range. Been there once but not to the very top yet. Looking forward to that trip in the future.

Saw this monitor lizard high up a tree, staying perfectly motionless to avoid detection. Its body length minus the tail is about 2 feet.

Google Earth image with my GPS track loaded in it. The track in the picture is way off the actual path by several meters, possibly 20 meters. The two pins indicate the actual rest huts we visited. I wasn’t expecting perfect accuracy but this is totally off! If we do climb this mountain again, I’ll save another track log and compare it with this one.

Because Santubong is a peninsula surrounded by the South China Sea on the north and west, the Bako bay on the east, and the Sarawak River on the south, there are no leeches here. Not a single one. Lots of mosquitoes though so be sure to pack moz repellent! Species diversity isn’t that great along the trail and at the top. If you’re a bird watcher, there are many birds here including hornbills but if you’re an orchid watcher, don’t expect to find many species along the way.

Still, this mountain is a fun one to climb. We Kuching hikers are lucky to have this mountain so conveniently close to the city! It’s a perfect mountain for training and building stamina for tougher climbs such as Mount Mulu. Mount Kinabalu is very easy compared to Santubong, the only thing that makes Kinabalu tough is the altitude (thin air, cold etc.).

Hope you all enjoyed this post and the pictures!


Edna said...

LOL..the look on the monkey's's like..tch..tch..look at 'em silly human!

sarawaklens said...

Haha I think it was actually waiting for food, or an opportunity to snatch our backpacks.

daniel said...

ha ha ha

Martin said...

Lol... very funny with the monkey!

sarawaklens said...

Thanks for the comments guys.

kallyempire said...

Was thinking of climbing it someday this year but...the "tougher then Mt. Kinabalu" makes me think twice...

sarawaklens said...

@kallyempire, haha don't worry about what i said, just go ahead and do it. only a figure of speech!

Jagdev, Sabah said...

great elaborative pics. try maliau basin, kalabakan next time.

Shyrone Susan Ursula Ensai said...

thx 4 da blog.. im goin on a hike few more days n lukin 4ward 2 Mount Santubong.. my 1st time actly n feelin kinda nervous bud excited as i read ur blog.. boostin my girl power.. keke

Shyrone Susan Ursula Ensai said...

thx 4 ur blog.. very helpful 4 a first timer like me heheh.. goin on a hike infew days im nervous yet extremely excited.. thx 4 boosting mu girl power.. keke

sarawaklens said...

Shyrone, thanks. Take care when climbing, go slowly and enjoy yourself!

Kikilah Hoho said...

Hi there.

Thanks for your superb story. It inspires others. Way to go bro!!

Will go there early March next year. Hope I'll enjoy as much as you.

Anonymous said...

Hi, my name is fazlin. I got a question to ask. Do u recommend to go hiking during this rainy season? My friend ask me to join hiking this mount santubong this Saturday 17/12. I worry the trail might be slippery. Thank you!

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