Korbu (G2) @ 2,183m & Gayong (G4) @ 2,173m: The Mountains Which Broke Me

kb1Story by Lucyfur King
Pictures by Lily Ho

I thought I was ready. The two majestic peaks proved otherwise.

The route wasn’t just long. It consisted of a series of ascents and descents. In my home, on my bed – the most comfortable place there is for me, sleeping like a baby – is not a common phenomenon. To say nothing of the wild, in a sleeping bag and on a thin mat over uneven ground.

They saw me lying with my eyes shut all the time, and thought how lucky I was to be able to sleep on end, but behind those eyes was an unrested mind, desperately trying to penetrate into a deeper layer of slumber.

 2 Entering the vicinity of Ulu Kinta Dam

3Ulu Kinta Dam

4Group photo at the trail head

5Briefing by Shida, our guide, before the expedition started

6Climbing up huge bolder along the riverbank from trailhead to Kem Seroja

7Trail along the riverbank heading towards Kem Seroja

8Multiple crossings of the same river before reaching Kem Seroja

9Steady, mind the steps, no rushing, one after another, teamwork, safety first

10Some parts may need to use string to climb through: strength, balance, and patience

11Pit stop at the famous waterfall: refill, rest, chill then go… go… go!

12Group photo before leaving the waterfall

13The terrain got steeper and steeper after the waterfall

14Reached Kem Seroja, our base-camp for this expedition

15Resting, eating, and drinking in preparation for the long hike the next day

16Rations, distributed among the members and to be carried up to Kem Seroja

17Lou-sang…ing – Huat ar…Heng ar…Ong ar!!!

18Another group photo at Kem Seroja

19Yes, we will make it! Cheering before the long hike begins.

20Kem Kijang, the next campsite after Kem Seroja

21Kem Botak, with Cuban seen standing magnificently at the back

My alarm went off.

It was 2:45 a.m. I rose without much difficulty, as I wasn’t too far under the surface of consciousness. After gearing up and having a salty breakfast (fried noodle with too much salt), we left the camp at 4:15 a.m.

The mind was already wide awake, but the body wasn’t too cooperative.

In the dark, in a line, 22 of us slithered up the forest with a mission to accomplish. After nearly to 6 hours, we finally reached Korbu peak, and that wasn’t even half the battle won yet. For that duration, I would usually already be at the foothill of a normal mountain, grinning. I forced a smile for the photos. And for the next 2 hours, the laborious journey continued.

From the camp to Korbu and from Korbu to Gayong, it felt like a never-ending hike. Every time when we thought we were near the top, it was just another patch of high ground that continued onward. There are no shortcuts and you can’t go any faster. When we were told we needed a particular amount of time to reach a certain point, that was exactly how long we had to take. Two hours meant 2 hours.

By no miraculous means can one cut short the journey. Unless you’re the Flash or Quicksilver.

22Each of us is excited as we approach the first peak

23Yes, about to reach it, we smell it; however, there is still another hill to climb, another turn at the end of the trail, and after the turn is a trail with no end.

24Next time remember to count how many ladders from Cuban to Korbu – we counted 17!

25Luckily some good Samaritans brought and set the ladders, if not…

26Yes! Korbu, the 2nd highest peak in Peninsular Malaysia and the highest peak of Titiwangsa Range summited (Korbu @ 2183m amsl)

When I arrived at Gayong (the second peak), 8 hours had elapsed. Usually the time for descent is shorter than that of ascent because it’s all the way up for the former and all the way down for the latter. But Korbu and Gayong, much like life, are filled with ups and downs.

I intended to take my own sweet time descending, but the sweeper guide urged me to go fast for fear that the usual afternoon shower would complicate matters. So I started to scurry.

27Mossy forest…appears at the height of above 1500m masl, this vegetation can be seen at most of the Malaysian tropical mountain. In the photo are Lily and me.

28Bonsai and mossy, the ground are formed by the leaves and struts that trapped by the roots

29Yong Yap, Bubu and Tok Nenek (YYBTN) seen at a distance… Can you identify them?

31Magnificent view of Titiwangsa Range… stand high, look far!

32Group photo at Gayong @ 2173m masl, the 4th highest peak in Peninsular Malaysia

There were two prominent leaders swaying our opinions the night before. Leader A told us that it would be tough as hell and at one section, we would ned to climb 19 ladders. He estimated that conservatively we would take 18 hours to complete the trail.

That scared many of the hikers, so they went to Leader B for a second opinion. Leader B refuted everything Leader A had to say, basically saying that Leader A was lying through his teeth. Leader B said the trail is easier than Nuang for Korbu and Gayong, not requiring anyone to use 4 limbs.

And that there were only 4 ladders.

I preferred B’s story because A’s sounded exaggerated and like a story for those who tell good stories, but never actually live in a good story. The decision to believe B was made as my eyes closed.

But the benefit of the doubt crept into my mind for Leader A as I was packing my backpack in the wee hours. I grabbed a handful of chocolate bars and chucked them into my backpack. I planned to not bring everything, as I thought I didn’t need so many.

On second thought, I stuffed everything into my backpack. Better safe than sorry.

While the chocolate bars were lifesavers, when I stepped foot on Korbu peak again, I was fatigued and needed more than just food. There I met some comrades who were as drained as I was, resting on the ground. I borrowed Manson’s cigarette and took a deep puff.

No sign of revitalization.

I sucked as hard as I could from Bee Ncy’s cigarette and filled my brain with as much smoke as possible.

Better. He offered the entire stick to me. I gladly took it and let the nicotine poison my blood.

I didn’t want to stop for too long, so I started my descent without them. But not being able to catch up with the pack ahead of me, I became a lone wolf, accompanied only by music and my thoughts. Due to exhaustion, the mind started to give way.

Sentimental songs that were playing on my phone brought back sad memories and tears to my eyes. I whimpered while walking. Only the forest knew my pain. Only the forest understood my hurt. And only the forest forgives me for all my sins.

The forest caressed my broken soul as I plodded down.

The sun began sinking behind the mountains. I didn’t want turn on my headlight too soon, as I believe the human eye is capable of adapting to the dark. As my surroundings fell into a deep shade of bluish-black, my pupils dilated. It was my first time walking in the forest in the dark alone, yet I strode forth with confidence like I was Riddick.

It wasn’t until 7:56 p.m. when I came to a few sticks or branches rising above the ground, that I decided to turn on my headlight. It was because I wasn’t sure where to go and a faint flickering light in the forest, which turned out to be a firefly, seemed to be asking me to follow in its direction.

There are turns and intersections at some places where markers were not clearly visible, yet I was somehow guided onto the right path. Perhaps other than my good judgment, the forest was kind enough to show me the way. I realized if I had taken a wrong turn somewhere, only the Devil would know where I would end up.

I arrived at the camp at 8:39 p.m.

I spent a total of 16 hours and 24 minutes in the forest – the longest hike I have ever done in a day.

33Breakfast at Kem Seroja before going home

34Packing….no litters left behind, all to be brought out

35Group photo at Kem Seroja before leaving

36Another hurdle to be crossed

37Still long way to reach the trailhead


Token of celebration for G7 “graduation”given by Shida…..yes, with these Korbu+Gayong, both Lily and Yong had completed the summits of G7:

G1: Gunung Tahan, 7175ft (2187m); summited on 30 April 2016
G2: Gunung Korbu, 7162ft (2183m); summited on 10 February 2017
G3: Gunung Yong Belar, 7156ft (2181m); summited on 11 July 2015
G4: Gunung Gayong, 7129ft (2173m); summited on 10 February 2017
G5: Gunung Chamah, 7123ft (2171m); summited on 30 July 2016
G6: Gunung Yong Yap, 7113ft (2168m); summited on 10 April 2016
G7: Gunung Ulu Sepat, 7109ft (2161m); summited on 2 May 2015

39Cheers at Ulu Kinta Dam

40While waiting for the guard to open the main entrance gate, wefie…..

At the camp I was greeted by Lily and Yong, the couple whom I brought to Mount Repin in 2014. It was then her first hike and his second. In the span of 2 years, we conquered quite a number of mountains together, but they didn’t just settle for the small hikes that I organized.

They took things up a notch by conquering overseas mountains and had conquered most of the G7 during my absence. Korbu and Gayong were the last ones on their G7 list. I’m extremely proud of their achievements. Thank you Lily for inviting me to conquer Ulu Sepat (G7), Korbu (G2), and Gayong (G4) together. Because of you, I now have a dream – to complete G7.

The itinerary is as below:-


1st day (9/2/17)

5.00-5.15am : Meet Sg.Buloh Overhead Bridge R&R
5.15am-7.00am : Journey to Ipoh
7.00am-8.00am : Ipoh Breakfast Dim Sum & tapao for lunch
8.00am-9.00am :  reach Empangan Sultan Azlan Shah & final check
9.00am-1.00pm : Dam-Kem Seroja
1.00pm-2.00pm : lunch
2.00pm-4.00pm : Kem Seroja-Kem Kijang
4.00pm : starts set up tent, rest & bath
(Cross 5-6 times river)

2nd day (10/2/17)
6.00am : wake up
6.30am : breakfast & day pack
7.00am-10.00am : Kem Kijang – Botak Peak
10.00am-12.30pm : Botak Peak – Korbu Peak 12.30pm-1.00pm : Korbu Peak & lunch
1.00pm-2.30pm : Korbu Peak – Gayong
2.30pm-3.00pm : Gayong Peak & Lunch II
3.00pm-4.30pm :  Gayong – Korbu
4.30pm-8.00pm : Korbu- Kem Kijang
8.00pm : Kem Kijang, wash & dinner

3rd day (11/2/17)
7.00am : wake up
7.30am : breakfast & unpack
8.30am-10.30am : Kem Kijang – Kem Seroja
10.30am- 2.00pm : Kem Seroja – Dam
2.00pm : Dam, wash & hunt for lunch
(Cross 5-6 times river)

42Mentor and mentees

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