KOTA KINABALU, Dec 5 ― The reopening of Mount Kinabalu for climbing activities, scheduled this December 7, will definitely be good news for the “malim” (mountain guide) there, having been “grounded” since March with the enforcement of the movement control order (MCO) to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Most important from now on is for them to prepare themselves for the climb again to avoid getting altitude sickness as they have not gone up for mountain climbing for a long time.
Speaking to Bernama, Jahimin Waimi, 50, who has been a mountain guide since 2004, admitted having experience the situation when climbing activities at Mount Kinabalu were halted for a month following an earthquake in 2015.
Jahimin said he experienced dizziness and drowsiness, which are symptoms of altitude sickness, when he was at a height of more than 3,000 metres above the sea level.
“It happened because of the change in height which caused lack of oxygen,” he added.
Jahimin, who hails from Kampung Dumpiring, Kundasang, said he usually climbed to the peak of Mount Kinabalu, which is 4,095 metres above sea level, between five to six times a month depending on the schedule set by the Sabah Parks (TTS).
Sharing a similar experience is Mohammad Somihin, 24, from Kampung Lembah Permai Kundasang who has been a mountain guide since 2009.
He admitted having altitude sickness too if “grounded” for too long.
Mohammad, who is a member of the Mountain Search and Rescue Aid Team (MOSAR), his last climb of Mount Kinabalu before it was closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic was on March 17.
“The closure of Mount Kinabalu did affect our livelihood. Some of us turned to agriculture to make a living since then,” he added.
As for porter David Solunggin, 42, the closure of Mount Kinabalu for climbing activities did not affect him as he continued to go up the mountain to deliver supplies for his customers.
“I still climb up the mountain once or twice a week to send supplies to workers conducting maintenance work in Panalaban,” he said.
Last Wednesday, Sabah Local Government and Housing Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun, who is also the spokesman on Covid-19 in Sabah, announced that climbing activities at Mount Kinabalu would be opened this Monday.
For a start, he said, the number of hikers would be limited to 50 per cent of the capacity before the movement control order (MCO) was enforced.
“The state government, through TTS, is getting ready to reopen the gates of the agency-operated parks in stages to local visitors with strict implementation of the standard operating procedure (SOP) starting December 7, including Mount Kinabalu climbing activities,” he afdded.
The climbing activity at Mount Kinabalu was temporarily closed on March 18 following the movement control order (MCO) implemented before, it was reopened on May 16, but closed again on October 9 to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. ― Bernama