Supporting a good cause

FinanceAsia''s head of subscriptions, Naveet Singh, climbed one of the highest peaks on Mount Kinabalu earlier this month to raise money for charity.

I'd like to thank everyone who supported the climb and contributed so generously to the Hong Kong Cancer Fund. If you would like to make a donation, you can still send a cheque. Please make it payable to the Hong Kong Cancer Fund and mail it to to me at FinanceAsia, 10fl Universal Trade Centre, 3 Arbuthnot Road, Central, Hong Kong.

I can also be contacted on (852) 21225224 or at naveet.s[email protected].com

Here is my account of the climb...

Low's peak is one of the highest peaks on Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia Borneo and climbing it for the Hong Kong Charity Fund was my personal goal.

At Kinabalu Park head quarters I purchased my permit, insurance and of course, Marcelius my mountain guide and personal Barhasa Malay teacher.

So we started the 8.5km journey to the top of 4,095 metre peak starting from Timpohon Gate, at 1,866 metres. From the gate, wooden steps lead down to a bridge and a waterfall called Carsons Fall.

Here was where the climb started and that's when the storm started too, bring sheets of heavy rain though the canopy of the forest.

I was so glad for the Pondoks, or shelters, that are placed at strategic points along the trail providing a quick rest, toilets, and water tanks. Just past Pondok Ubah at 2,081 metres and about 1.5km into the trail, there was still no sight of the summit as the heavy rain and low cloud cover made even seeing in front of me a difficult task.

I slowly trudged though the orangey sludge although my plastic raincoat didn't turn out to be quite as waterproof as I would have liked. I kept my spirits high by trying to learn the names of trees in Malay.

On my way I stop to let the porters (or butlers) pass carrying supplies to the guesthouses. At one point I passed a porter with a full red gas cylinder on her back with the ropes going around her forehead for balancing: made my rucksack look like a feather.

By the 3km mark my body was beginning to ache and clothes were getting more saturated from the rain, though I still managed to admire the wild mountain flora. A little further and we reach Pondok Mempening Shelter, only 2KM left to the Laban Rata guesthouse - and a smile tickled my face. Finally, on reaching Pondok Villosa, at 2,960 meters, and now am really looking forward to some hot tea and dry cover. Although the rain is still spitting and the cold granite face of Mount Kinabalu stares at me while weeping its virgin waterfalls created after the storm - I'm happy.

By 3am after some breakfast we headed off again in the dark with our headlamps and warm gear to begin the final accent to the summit. The darkness was broken by occasional noises from shadows of the tree canopy. After about 900 meters I see the first of a series of white ropes, and that's when it started to rain again, this time in sheets under my feet which made my grip that much harder.

After an hour we reach the 3,500-metre Pondok Sayat-Sayat, or pit stop as Marcelius calls it. I reach the 8km mark by 6.10am - and suddenly it starts to get very cold and the black slabs look never ending. The air is much thinner and my muscles become tired, as I look back I see nothing but cloud and in front of me Marcelius's bright pink raincoat blowing in the wind. I look up and there's Low's Peak, the place I'd been dreaming about. A little tear of joy fell down my cheek knowing that I had done it.

My journey to the summit was surely an adventure that will be etched in my memory for a long time to come, and of course sometimes in life there's no gain without pain.