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Saturday, 01 September 2007

The Wild Island of Borneo - Page 6

Written by Sherry Ott
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Borneo…maybe you’ve heard of it - but do you even know where it is? I’m sure that if I gave you a globe you’d all have trouble putting your finger on it. What if I told you that it is the world’s third largest island…and it contains three countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. At one time it was a wild place inhabited by headhunters, but it’s now a lush island in the Pacific near New Guinea and the Philippines. My curiosity with Borneo started about seven years ago when I was living in San Francisco. I was up late one night watching television. I came across the show “Eco-Challenge.” It was an adventure race that was shown on cable (before the craze of reality TV).

 

As we got higher – I started feeling nauseas, dizzy, and disoriented from the altitude. Since I had experienced similar feelings before (on Kilimanjaro) – I at least knew what it was and decided that I would keep pushing forward. I certainly couldn’t walk a straight line; I just tried to follow Francis. There was a rope the whole way up, so that you could utilize it for climbing in the steeper parts and you could simply follow it as your trail marker at other times. In the dark, all I could see was that rope and the rock face. It felt as if you were on the side of a steep cliff and one wrong move and you would fall off the side of the mountain. Therefore, not only was I battling the lack of oxygen, but also the fear of falling to my death!

 

I would stop quite frequently to catch my breath. During one of my rests there was a woman coming back down the mountain asking Francis if he had seen her guide. She wanted to find him to tell him that she was going back down because she was starting to feel dizzy. I thought to myself, ‘lady, I’ve been feeling dizzy for the last 2 hours, but there’s no way I’m turning back!’ She continued her descent.

 

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The wind was whipping as we continued to go up. Sometimes it would gust so strongly that it would blow you off your course and you would lose your footing. Now I also had to worry about being blown off the mountain…great. I looked to my right and started to see a light in the sky. I looked at Francis and said in a whiny voice, ‘I just want to make it to the top for the sunrise.’ He said that it was only 700 more meters. At first this sounded good, and then I started to do the calculation in my head and realized that it was about 7 football fields…straight up. We tried to pick up the pace, and for the first time, Francis actually would offer me a hand in going up the steep rocks on the final climbing section.

 

He perched me down on a rock at the top – and I sat in the blistering wind trying to get out my camera. At this point – I had no feeling in my fingers, so I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to take a picture! I tried to hunker down and about 4 minutes later…up popped the sun!

sunrise

 

I looked around at my surroundings and was amazed at the beauty. We were on a rock above the clouds. It was stunning. Finally, I was able to summit a mountain! I was relieved and excited, though still a bit nauseas. I found Russ who had been at the summit in the cold for the last hour (he was the first person to arrive at the top). We were happy to find each other still in tact and hung out for a little while on the small peak enjoying the view. Then we decided that we better start the long road down.

 

The decent was long, hard, wet, and agonizing for the knees. It took about 7 hours total to get down to the beginning of the trail (descent from 13,000ft. to 5000ft). With every step down, I could breathe easier and felt more euphoric.

 

authorMe at the Summit!

 

(Page 6 of 8)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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