I remember the air at 4095 metres on the summit of South East Asia's highest mountain, Kinabalu. It was the freshest I've ever breathed.
The Mt Kinabalu climb takes, for most people, two days with an overnight stay at Laban Rata. The annual Mt Kinabalu race winner completes the return journey in less than three hours!
Though the track is well marked, it is a requirement that a guide be used for the journey. Our guide tended to disappear only to reappear whenever we reached a significant landmark. As steady as a mountain goat in slippers and umbrella, he contrasted our lumbering boots, jackets and backpacks.
The journey is steep and short with most trekkers starting at 9am and slowly but steadily arriving at Laban Rata by 3pm. After a hot shower we settled into our dormitory accommodation. The heaters turned on at 8pm, dinner at 9pm then a sleep before the 2am start.
I had heard of summit attempts being cancelled due to heavy rain or thick fog so it was with huge relief that I clambered onto the summit at around 6am. My friends and I found a small space together with about 25 other climbers, many of whom were texting family and friends from their mobiles.