Time: 7:15 a.m. For three hours.
Location: Empangan Klang Gate – Behind Taman Melawati, Kuala Lumpur.
I pulled the rope to examine its tensile strength. It was tied to the upper rock of 15 feet high. I knew my life depended on it when I must climb up the rock to continue trekking. Looking sideway and downward, I could imagine what was going to happen to me if the rope were to snap or if I were to lose my grip – fell and bounced off the cliff.
I would be like RAMBO as in the movie jumping out of a helicopter high up in sky and using tress as a cushion for his landing in his escape. I would, in this case, plunge down the cliff with bushes as cushion, and the outcome would definitely different from movie.
This photo was taken by Wendy in 2005. Notice the bird in the sky, the white dam and the ridge on the right.
Initially, I thought that Klang Gate is a hill in Klang, Selangor. To my surprise, it is located at Taman Melawati area. At 7:15 a.m. the Team Lead for this trekking trip, Wendy Tan, decided to start the journey. She has been trekking to Klang Gate numerous times. With absentees, there were only four of us: Wendy, Dr. Wong, Dr. Liew and I – for my maiden climb there.
The trail at the starting area was narrow with yellow earth-based path but comfortably for trekkers moving in single file. The ground was slightly wet. The surrounding was full of secondary forest type of vegetation. Along the trail, there were many clearings for trekkers to rest and to admire the surroundings.
I realized that the ascent was tough. Slopes are steep and dangerous. At the rocky areas, a person has to climb vertically upward for about 20 feet making use of all four limbs – with both hands gripping to the rock to maintain balance – posture similar to Spiderman in climbing action. Since I am tall, there was slight advantage as I could stretch my legs for extended length of landing area on the rocks.
The ascent consists of climbing up rocks and then descended for connecting pass to another rock platform. It was just like journey of life: in the process of struggling, we have the ups and downs.
I was sweating profusely amid the climbing actions and my T-shirt was all drenched. I could see droplets of sweats formed on Wendy’s face too. In running, cooling mechanism set in when movement of air is generated during running action, never mind if there is no breeze. Over here, the cooling was solely dependant on body’s internal cooling system.
Judging from the amount of sweat, it was indeed another good form of exercise. However, with the tough and risky terrain, a person has to be fit and with strong limbs. Another important consideration was not afraid of height as there were many occasions that we were actually standing quite close to cliffs.
The view up there was scenic. Looking downwards, there was a lake on the left of the hill, and civilization – Taman Melawati and Kuala Lumpur – on the right. The experience up there was just like in Genting Highland with lots of fresh air, dense and white clouds partially covering the other peaks and the surrounding lower areas.
At about 8:00 a.m., the formation of the clouds at the peaks opposite was like stream of water overflowing and caressing big rocks. From a distance, we could see the top part of KLCC Twin Towers and Kuala Lumpur Tower with lower segment being covered by clouds.
After a heavy downpour the night before, we knew for sure that this time, it was cloud or mist and not haze. It is indeed good to have these basic elements back. With the clear blue sky, it reminded me of a famous slogan when Patrick Teoh, a DJ in the English radio station long time ago, greeted his listeners: “Blue skies and everything nice”. Yeah, the clear blue skies are back and the rain dispelled the haze blues.
I learned that we were trekking up a ridge and not a hill. A ridge is a long, narrow piece of raised land which aptly described the terrain. The rock is actually quartz. The lake is the Klang Valley reservoir created by building a dam with the quartz ridge as part of the retaining wall.
Compare with Gunung Datuk (in Rembau, Negeri Sembilan) and Gunung Irau (in Cameron Highland) that I have trekked before, this ridge is 10 times tougher with many almost vertical slope. What I saw was rocks, stones, pebbles and sand. However, a few of the flat clearings were consisted of yellow earth.
I began to understand better that the rock-based hills always come with steep slope whereas those earth-based hills are gradual in nature and is easier to trek.
There were a few dangerous spots. It was dangerous as there was only a little flat land next to the cliff. The fear of falling down the big rocks and then bounced off the cliff made the climb unsafe. There were three perilous spots only passable with the help of ropes.
Another tricky spot that required a person to hug the 3-feet-wide rock with two hands grapping the sides with little platform to maneuver the body. That was also another delicate moment as mistake could cause a trekker dearly for another extra 20 feet of fall.
While descending a big rock with slight curvature in contour, I could not see where my left foot was landing. I kept stretching my left leg down but still could not get a landing area. That was a tricky moment and I could look like a Spiderman froze in action. I have no choice but to call our heroine, Wendy, for help to give instruction as to where the landing area was.
Wendy Café Peak
While resting at the peak, Wendy started to unpacked her backpack. She brought along a mini gas stove, mini kettle and started boiling water. She was most kind to make Overtine, White Coffee with those 3-in-1 sachets and offered us the drinks.
Making drink, drinking it while relaxing and admiring the view was indeed a simple way of enjoying life. It tasted exceptionally good after all the hard work of carrying the utensil, water and material and making it up at the peak. In appreciation of her effort, we decided to call it Wendy Café Peak.
When we enjoyed our hot dinks, Dr. Liew’s mobile phone rang. He was on-call for duty on the festive holidays, and was called back to hospital to treat a patient. Dr. Wong said that he had left his handphone in the car; when he returned, he told us that there were six missed calls.
We started our descent at around 9:00 a.m. On the way down, we met a few groups of youngsters trekking up the ridge. Since there was not much shade, it could be hot in the late morning.
I realized that I was slow; possibly I was cautious with those tricky steps at the rocks. I required to process and decide whether it was my left or right foot to land, and then what was next. I was amusing myself with the analogy I that was just like the computer playing chess game in advanced difficulty mode. The move is only confirmed after waiting a few seconds but we know the processor is hard at work with the indicator light blinking.
Quartz and Gold
As I learned later, Klang Gate has the longest vein of quartz. Most large quartz ridges have rich deposits of gold. In fact, gold is usually associated with quartz, and most of the gold mining activities in the world focus on quartz ridges.
In the 1950s, the British had studied this quartz ridge and they were disappointed that it contained zero gold deposits. It was a blessing in disguise: for if the Klang Gate ridge has gold deposits, it would have been mined by the British long time ago. We would not be climbing this hill, and the Klang Valley reservoir and landscape would look different.
As one lady avid trekker commented, “I would not want to go back there again. Trekking up this ridge is not only tough but dangerous. I would prefer trekking one which is tough but not dangerous.”
For those who love rock climbing sports, this ridge, in my opinion, is an excellent training ground.
When I was descending from peak, I thought to myself that it was the first and the last attempt in climbing up that tough and dangerous terrain. However, it was just like running my maiden marathon – the negative thought would soon fade away after a few days’ rest. I am now looking forward to the next challenge at Klang Gate again. With the scenic view, fresh air and relaxing at Wendy Café’ Peak, it was worth all the effort and risk.