Mountain Guides "heroes" in Earthquake

Posted: Jun 08, 2015 09:43 am EDT

(Newsdesk) Mountain guides stepped in at Mount Kinabalu with the EQ in Malaysia; they made abseiling equipment and attended to injured, reported a climber.


When the M6.0 earthquake hit Malaysia on June 5, 7:15 local time, reportedly 137 climbers were on Mount Kinabalu's granite plateau, ready for their return down the mountain.


No route, no helicopter


The quake destroyed their route back. Guides and climbers waited for helicopters to rescue them, but nine hours after the quake hit, authorities told them they would not be evacuated till the next morning, an Australian climber, Vee Jin Dumlao, told ABC News.


"We were not equipped for an overnight stay, it was an open place, we couldn't huddle along any walls, because that's where the risk of landslide was worst," Ms Dumlao said.


"Many in the group were already getting hypothermia, it was very cold up in the mountains, it was starting to rain at some point, some of the climbers were already getting wet and we hadn't eaten since 1:00am that morning."


"And that's when the guides said, ’they’re not coming, we'd better make our way down the mountain ourselves'."

They made a “perilous trek” down the mountain, despite "continuing tremors, continuing rustling of trees and continuing landslides”, audible in a distance.


Attending to the injured


Arriving at the Laban Rata, a small village rest stop halfway down Mount Kinabalu, the uniformed rescuers "were looking rather lost really, and it was the mountain guides who did most of the work attending to the injured, strapping people into stretchers, getting ready to take them down the mountain," Ms Dumlao said.


After seven hours trekking in the freezing dark, through treacherous rain and mountain-rattling tremors, the climbers reached the trek's starting point, Timpohon. 


Difficult decisions and abseiling equipment


Ms Dumlao added, "The journey we took required the engineering of the guides who made abseiling equipment from the bare resources at hand.”


"The mountain guides were the heroes. They risked life and limb and made some difficult decisions that ultimately saved our lives, and had neither help nor recognition from the authorities."


"Many had homes affected in the quake. They lost friends and family yesterday. Yet they remained with us guiding us to safety till the very end."


Climbing Mt Kinabalu courtesy BBC:

- Climbing up and down Mt Kinabalu takes on average two days and one night. There are two trails: the Summit trail and the more advanced Mesilau trail

- The Summit trail begins at Timpohon Gate (1,800m; 5,906 ft)

- It takes about 6-8 hours to reach Laban Rata (3,273m; 10,738 ft) where climbers rest for a few hours

- They usually depart for the summit at 02:00 in the morning, reaching it 4-5 hours later before descending the mountain


The US Geological Survey said the quake happened at around 07:15 local time (00:15 BST), at a depth of 10km (32,800ft). The epicentre was 54km (33 miles) from Mount Kinabalu, which stands at 4,095m.


Many climbers are attracted to the challenging "via ferrata" climbing route, where cables, metal rungs and bridges are set into the rocks on the steep terrain to help people ascend.

All activity on the mountain has been suspended.


Sixteen people are confirmed dead, according to latest reports.




Quake cuts Ear of Borneo's Mt Kinabalu


Climbers' Nepal Earthquake Update: Thoughts From the Ground















Many climbers are attracted to the challenging "via ferrata" climbing route, where cables, metal rungs and bridges are set into the rocks on the steep terrain to help people ascend.
courtesy BBC/Getty Images, SOURCE
Climbers wait for rescue atop Mount Kinabalu after the earthquake hit
courtesy Vee Jin Dumlao / ABC News Online, SOURCE
Australian hiker Vee Jin Dumlao and her Malaysian mountain guide, Jomius.
courtesy Vee Jin Dumlao / ABC News Online, SOURCE
Mount Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia.
courtesy BBC News, SOURCE
VIDEO: Earliest footage of Sabah earthquake on Mount Kinabalu
courtesy The Star Online, SOURCE
VIDEO: Sabah quake: Second mountain guide, Valerian Joannes, laid to rest. Mountain guide, Valerian Joannes, was killed in the recent earthquake in Sabah at Via Ferrata alongside Singaporean victims whom he was guiding.
courtesy The Star Online, SOURCE

Visit our new website