Tuesday, March 18, 2008

1st Tahan Expedition, part 17...WE MADE HISTORY!


For the final ascent of Gunung Tahan peak we left all our gears and haversacks in our 2 tents. We only brought along our water bottles and the 2 cameras. No need for parangs and ropes as the vegetation at this high altitude consisted mainly of shrubs and small trees. Before we moved off from our campsite, I suggested that we capture the whole group with our camera. There was a problem....who will snap the picture? I took out my camera, configured everything, and gently asked Ahmad, our guide, to have a "look" at the camera. He had never held one before let alone operate it. I got the guys together and again asked Ahmad to look into the camera. I was by his side coaching him. Then I said, " Boleh nampak semua?"[ Can you see everyone?]. He said yes. I showed him how to depress the button without shaking the camera and quickly ran to join our party. The result of Ahmad's 1st effort at photography is this unique colour photograph [ centre photo] of the 10 of us just before setting off for the peak. I think he deserved a 10/10 score wouldn't you agree? Almost perfect pic!
Even the mist of clouds drifting in the background were nicely captured. A dramatic pic.
From L to R: Standing - Tng Kim Guan, Tham Han Chew, Francis Lee, Twang Peck Ee, Louis Hwang, Tan Yam Tee, T Jesudason and Dick Yip.
Squatting- Balbir Singh and Tan Yeow Huat
In high spirits, we set off in a northerly direction crossing streams and spurs which rose steeply along the flanks of Gunung Gedong. The trail then continues to the ridge linking Gedong with Gunung Tahan. We traversed along the ridge and cut into a deep saddle and then before us was a fantasy-land of dense, low forest with all kinds of mosses, ferns, orchids and twisted trees. The ground was damp. The leaves on the trees and plants were wet with tiny glistening droplets of moisture. This place was truly magical. A perfect setting for gnomes and fairies, I remember thinking.
The final ascent was now before us.... a gentle, steady climb of about 350 metres to the summit. As we trudged along, without our heavy packs on our back, progress was fast. We climbed the last steady incline leading towards the structure at the top. That was the trig station set up to pin-point the highest point on the Malayan mainland.....G Tahan [ Top picture]
We reached the very peak of Tahan in the later morning of that day round about 10 am. It was a historic moment for all of us and for Singapore mountaineering and adventuring.
Bottom photo:
L to R: Top row - Twang, Francis, Dick
Bottom row - Yam Tee, Louis, Tng, Ahmad,Yeow Huat, Han Chew and Jesudason.
All the 6 NJC guys had their college emblem proudly displayed either on their shirts or jeans.
And me....I was the 1st Scout and warranted Scout Leader from Singapore to set foot on the peak. I carried and wore our Singapore Scout scarf proudly at the summit.
We felt a great sense of relief that we had together achieved what we had set out to do. It was a momentous
day in our life, that day.
With some time on our hand, we studied the landscape and simply enjoyed the geography around us. Then we spotted
what looked like diamonds among the rocks and in cracks on the rocky slopes. We had never before seen such "gems". This got us all excited.
[ More pics and story in next post]

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