Monday, August 23, 2010

Hiking The Crystal Ridge/Bukit Tabur,Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur

Another amazing adventure just half an hour drive from KLCC.
The Crystal Ridge of Bukit Tabur is a massive quartz ridge that stretches for miles around the north west of Kuala Lumpur.You can't miss it as it's about a 1.000 feet high cliff-face.
Bukit Tabur is located about 20km from the city centre. There is no public transport to the starting point so you need  your own transport or a friendly taxi driver who will not only take you there but collect you four hours later-so swap Handphone numbers! (and yes,there is reception at the summit)
Follow the main road to the Zoo and take the exit after to Taman Melawati
- next round-about 9 o'clock
- next round-about 12 o'clock
- at T-junction turn right and follow the road along the hill until you get to the Water treatment plant..
The trail starts just after a small concrete wall just before the  gate to the water treatment plant and is a hard-uphill slog.
There are no facilities.
And no safety ropes or equipment of any kind...You're on your own and if you get into any difficulty only you and your hiking buddies can get you out of it.
The trail is marked quite well.
Once you make it up to the Ridge you can see the spectacular Klang Gates reservoir and have a good view of KL.
But make no mistake,it's hard going.
Probably the most demanding and exhausting thing I've done since climbing Mount Kinabalu years ago-and that was when it was much taller!
It's dangerous.
People have died on this ridge-so be aware and take care.
The rocks are sharp and unforgiving and would be treacherous when wet.
The climb itself involves some scrambling over sharp, jagged rocks at times at an 80 degree angle for 20 feet or so at a time.
There are also some areas where the trail is on a knife-edge with a vertical drop of about 500 feet straight down.
My biggest fear was falling off the damn thing,my second fear was falling down the damn thing and bouncing all the way to the bottom.Third fear was getting caught in a thunderstorm.
You may be able to tell I didn''t really enjoy it that much but that's probably more a reflection of my own lack of fitness-I was puffing and gasping after the first 5 minutes....
The hike took us about 4 hours in total, 2 hours up and 2 hours to get back down.
We halted just before the highest point which is marked by a red-flag in the trees.To go on from here  involves descent and ascent of a couple of ropes on sheer vertical stretches of rock face and I didn't think I had the strength to continue.
Most accidents happen at these ropes when you're tired.
We went down the same way we came which is the safest way to go.
But-going down was even more taxing and exhausting than going up.
It's easier to stumble and miss your footholds.
Finally we made it down in one piece-but as I said,bloody hard work.

We went there during a week-day and we were the only ones there!
I hear that on weekends it can be a bit of a mad scramble and there will always be faster climbers behind you and slower climbers ahead of you so you may be constantly making-way for people or trying to pass them-and on a narrow ridge that can be disastrous.
The ridge is quite exposed so you'll be at the mercy of the elements.Take a hat, wear sturdy shoes pack some mosquito repellent and a whole lot of water.And a bit more.
Some food would also be a good idea-but try and get someone else to carry it as you don't want to be weighed down too much.
I would also recommend going with a couple of fit women who can offer encouragement and carry your backpack when you no longer can.
And,when you really need to stop and take a breather it's a good idea to pretend you're admiring the view instead of just catching your breath.

You know that sense of achievement you get when you reach a summit or attain a goal?
Well, I'm still waiting for mine.
I must have drank at least a litre of water but was so dehydrated that it took me a day to fully recover.
My pee was the same colour as a WAG's fake tan.
And my arms and legs were a bit sore for a couple of days.
So,was it worth it? Yeah probably....

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