I have narrated my summit to Mount Mulu which stands at 2376m as one of the toughest hike in Malaysia. It is now time for me to share the experience of trekking to the iconic Mulu Pinnacles. The pinnacles lie on the terrain of Gunung Api which literally means “Fire Mountain”. The mountain terrain has been named after fire because of the sightings of occassional fires on the summits of Gunung Api by the locals and as far of the coast of Brunei.
Tired from hiking Mount Mulu, Abang Deeno gave me a choice of staying at Mulu Park. But no way, I would miss Mulu Pinnacles for the world. It’s World Natural Heritage Site. I had to admit I was really tired and determination shall prevail in times like this. I have paid thousands for my expedition n in Mulu.
Climax of the trip. The pinnacles are the knife sharp edges of limestone that make for famous geology formation.
The origin of the pinnacles is best explained in the book of “A Guide to Gunung Mulu National Park” by Hans P. Hazebroek and Abang Kashim bin Abang Morshidi:-
“The limestone is dissected by vertical fissures which are gradually enlarged. In areas where the limestone is is particularly homogeneous and massive, and the vertical fractures are widely spaced, heavy rainfall deepens the fractures into V-shaped crevices. Large, strong and intact blocks of limestones are thus isolated. As the overall rock surface is slowly lowered, the steep sides of the crevices eventually intersect at crest of the block. This gives the characteristic from the pinnacles. They are best developed at about 1200m altitude on the northern end of Gunung Api, where they reach exceptional sizes of 45m in height and 20m in width at the base. Their shapes are here sharply pointed or bladed. Their upper surfaces are grooved and the lower surfaces, below the vegetation line, are intensely pitted in a honeycomb-like surface. They cannot be climbed without special aids and the Pinnacles terrain is virtually impenetrable. Pinnacles of various sizes are developed over much of the higher slopes of Gunung Api and Gunung Benarat.
Presenting you the famous Mulu Pinnacles
After we had our breakfast, we left Mulu HQ at approximately 10a.m. The Mulu Pinnacles adventure begins with a boat ride up the Melinau River. Boy, I was really excited. We were cruising on a longboat so our bags and our team members fit in just one boat.
We passed by the native settlement of Orang Penan. By the river, a woman with only sarong worn to cover the bossom downwards washed cooking utensils. Next to her was presumably her husband, in underwear, soaping himself.
At the other end of the river, a lady also in a sarong wrap, could be seen lifting a pail of water to clean herself.
Such were the views from our long boat. Some were washing clothes, some were taking bath.
When we reached the Penan settlement, our target was the Penan market. They sell bracelets, amulets, weapons etc. This is where you will find the Penan woman who plays wooden flute using her nose. As soon as we were done exploring, some of the team members proceeded to the groceries shop to stock up their ration especially cigarettes.
It is really an adventure for we have to push the boat through shallow stretches when the water level was low. As there were only two ladies in the team, we were given the privilege to not push the boat. We cheered while the gentlemen pushed the boat.
On the way to the starting point of Camp 5, we made a detour to Wind Cave and Clearwater Cave. Stories about the caves will be narrated in the next post.
It took another 2 hours of trekking from starting point to Camp 5. Camp 5 is the breath taking place to visit as it is located facing the Melinau Gorge. When we arrived, there were plenty travellers who have completed the Pinnacles hike. One of them approached me and threw in the story of how difficult the hike to see the Mulu Pinnacles. I was sure it was not helping to prepare me mentally. I smiled and politely put to him, we had just completed a non-stop 18 hours walk to the summit of Gunung Mulu.
As we left our backpacks to dry and hung our clothes, a swarm of bees came flying over our backpacks and clothes. I later learned they are the Halictidae species also known as the sweat bees. As the name suggests, the bees are attracted to the salt in human sweat. They will sting if squeezed or squashed against one’s flesh. Practice of caution is necessary. As long as you leave the bees alone, they won’t harm you.
We spent the rest of the day relaxing and preparing for the mission – Mulu Pinnacles. It didn’t occur to me by then that we would only be hiking to the height just in front of Mulu Pinnacles to catch the glimpse of the pinnacles. Mulu Pinnacles itself is inaccessible. To complete the mission is ain’t easy. There are many do’s and don’ts. If it’s raining, we would not be able to hike up because the surface gets very slippery. Also, the sharp pinnacles might hurt our bodies. During the ascend, there will be a steel staircase. If we did not reach the steel staircase by 11a.m., the guide will bring us down for we would not be able to complete the mission on time. Safety first.
The view from Camp 5:-