Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Climbing Gunung Ledang, Johor: 7 hours of Torture

So instead of conquering Mount Kinabalu last month, I conquered the peak of Gunung Ledang in Johor instead. It was something I supposed as it was my first and quite possibly my last hike there. Let's start at the beginning shall we?

We departed KL at 5am to arrive at the foot of Gunung Ledang, near Tangkak at 730am. My group of 20 people of various fitness levels gathered at the briefing hut on time (amazingly) where we had to fill in a form stating the items we had with and on us. That meant our water bottles, food packets and even the clothes on our back. That included socks and underwear. This form will later be checked through to ensure that you've returned with the same amount of items on you to discourage littering.

Our briefing was fast and quick with our guide explaining the route to us and our cut-off times to hit certain checkpoints (CP) on the route. With a clearly marked out route and two guides for our huge group, one would have to be a special case to get lost on Gunung Ledang.

Away we went with much gusto and excitement! Only to encounter stairs leading up into the wilderness. Oh, no....

Still we carried on excitedly and happily chatting away. But as the stairs gave away to roots and uphill rocks, we soon grew quiet to save our breaths. Five minutes in, we hit CP1 - Bukit Semput where we took our one and only group picture on the trail. After that, it was a pretty much divide and conquer at your own pace.

We reached CP2 - Hentian Meranti 15 minutes later and were huffing and puffing away like a train by then. CP3- Batu Orkid was next to a giant stone and was about 20 minutes away from the second station. A hour into the hike, I spot a sign indicating our altitude. 6500m? Only?

But hope came in the form of Simpang Satu Dua which indicated the way to the summit.  Giving CP4 a miss since it was an off-route camping ground, we came across CP5 - Sungai Tiga Segi which was the closest thing to paradise we stumbled across.

Continuing on further, we spotted the sign that said 'Laluan KFC'. It mind as well had said, way to hell because on Ledang, KFC stood for Killer Fitness Center and what a killer it was with us having to use our hands to clamber up the rocks and ladders.

We finally reached CP6 - Gua Kambing and took a five minutes breather to eat and drink. That provided to be a wise choice because what came next, well, required all our upper and lower body strength.

I ain't gonna lie. After CP6, I started to enjoy myself as we scaled ladders and ropes through caves like Dora the Explorer Tomb Raider. My absolute favourite was Batu Hampar, a massive rock in the side of the mountain that we had to walk up using only ropes and our trusty shoes. Once on top, the view was amazing and this wasn't even the summit yet.

A little further up was Taman Bonsai. Aptly named for its zen-like tress and soft moist ground. However, this piece of heaven soon gave way to CP7 - Bukit Botak, another camping site that was littered with rubbish.

Moving on, we climbed up more ladders until we finally reached the top of the summit. It was surreal and magical or rather, it should have been had it not been so misty and sunny at the same time. We spent a good 30 minutes at the top, getting tan and chatting up a few guys after heading down.

All in all, it had taken us 4 hours to reach the top and 3 hours to return to base. While there, I swore that I would never climb Gunung Ledang again.

Guides: About RM50 per person for a team of 20. We had two guides.

Must bring: Headlamp, rain coat, 3 liter of water, snacks and a hiking pole for those with bad knees.

No comments: