Armed with enough supplies for a month on the mountain the team journeyed on what most thought would be a leisurely, perhaps briefly challenging stroll. Backpacks included:
sufficient bug repellent to endanger all insects in Kinabalu National park,
two tons of dried fruits and nuts and another ton of chocolate
12 emergency blankets designed for outer-space trips,
a supply of wool socks that can warm all north pole inhabitants, including penguins,
12 first aid kits; one designed to reassemble a human who’s taken a fall off the Mount Kinabalu summit,
video and camera film sufficient for 365 days of TV-airtime on 7 channels.
The KK-12 was dressed head to toe in the Summer, Fall and Winter Peak Performance Great Outdoors 2007 Collection. They were indeed the best looking team to ascend Mount Kinabalu. That was proven time and time again when random fellow climbers would slip as a result of paying little attention to the path and a lot to the magnificent fashion statement the team was making.
Given the significance of the load, the health state of some, and the social status of others, all females in the team decided shamelessly to hire porters to carry their bags.
The males felt confident that their mighty backs and shoulders can bear the load. The male team consisted of one Royal Marine, and six 20 something and thirty something Arab Males. Did anyone mention EGO?
The first to collapse under the weight of 100kg was Souheil. It came as no surprise since he managed to smoke 10 pipes before ascending and was seen hiding the beer keg under his shirt the evening prior. Luckily, his roommate came to his rescue. According to Souheil, the first aid kit was the load that did him in!
As the group stopped to refill water and answer nature calls in first class restrooms made of tin and equipped with the same buckets found at the airport VIP lounge, the “OCD” behavior and Creature comfort life-style inclinations of the ladies began to surface. Nirmz had to sanitize water with drops that rendered the water undrinkable due to high acidity, Rama used 60 wet-wipes per stop, while Iva and Rana kept up their lip-gloss and mascara. Jackie went through 6 inhalers and 100 anti-dehydration pills (which will later cause her to question who that 300 pounds, moon-faced person wearing her clothes is in the pictures!)
The climb was tough. what seemed like a never ending stream of uneven stairs, rough terrain and winding path of vertical slippery rocks kept appearing before the team’s eyes and under their feet.
As the team struggled up particularly rough patches, Billy Goat, would suddenly, with great energy and enthusiasm overtake members of the KK-12 and begin to race Rambo up the path. This was accompanied by chanting “To to to ruru… kinabalu”, a tune introduced by the youngest member of the group who had recently been weaned off Sesame Street. This act of disobedience would prompt Royal Marines Commander turned Slave Driver to use profanities to shame the team back into proper group formation. The phrase “For F#&%’s sake, stay together!” was repeated at least twice per meter climb. This passive aggressive behavior was obviously caused by Sputnick’s inability to command a team of Royal Marines and a desire to command any team who would listen!
Along the way, the team members kept each other entertained with off-beat songs, random jokes and plenty of sarcasm; on occasion, the team would break out in laughter and call out at each other using sounds that would assault any ear. This was evident as the KK-12 passed groups of elderly Japanese practicing meditation and adhering to Fung Shew order; the KK-12’s obscene voices were so severe, it caused one Japanese national to slip, suffer serious neck damage and be forced to abandon the climb. He was the lucky one among his group; the rest endured continuous sound assault and abusive language in many tongues.
The challenging climb did not stand in the team’s way of admiring nature; something Kermi had to be broken into gently since her only encounter with nature was at Chiva Som Spa in Thailand. Purple, black, orange, pink and beautiful red mushrooms were photographed extensively by Souheil and all others with Cameras. Rambo and Billy Goat wanted to know the Mushroom’s “magical” qualities.. for scientific reference of course. Occasionally the group came across a pitcher plant and gleamed with excitement; by the third kilometer, the KK-12 were so tiered that even a field of pitcher plants was not enough to veer anyone off track.
Towards the end of the first leg, the youngest male members of the team, Billy Goat and Rambo followed closely by Kermi disappeared from vision; the rest, full of envy trailed behind hoping to reach base camp before sunset.