ODAC, Gunung Tahan Malaysia
From 28th May to 2nd June 2012, 12 members from Dunman High’s Outdoor Activities Club (ODAC), accompanied by 2 teachers, Ms Lee Siew Choo and Ms Charlene Kuah, embarked on a journey to scale Gunung Tahan. At 2187m, Gunung Tahan is the tallest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia. The Merapoh trail from Kuala Juram up to the summit requires a 64km return trek through treacherous terrain, making Gunung Tahan one of the most challenging mountains to climb in Malaysia.
The purpose of the trip was for the students to challenge themselves and push themselves to their limits. In addition, it would serve to fulfill the ‘Adventurous Journey’ component for their National Youth Achievement Award (NYAA) Gold.
To prepare for the trip, the students first had to undergo 10 weeks of intensive training to improve their physical fitness as they would each have to carry 10-16kg of load in their backpacks during the expedition. Other than physical training, students had to learn how to plan their journey, set up their tents within a few minutes, and purify river water, among other things.
Despite the physical training, the trek still proved a challenge as the many ascents, descents and river crossings quickly drained our energy on the first day. The second day proved even more challenging as we had to cover more distance and to trek for 12 hours. The slopes faced on the first day were nothing compared to the nearly vertical climbs on the second day, where we even had to use ropes to pull ourselves up at some points.
Despite the difficult climb, we eventually reached the summit after more than 10hours of trekking and were simply thrilled to have accomplished our goal. At the top, it was truly breathtaking to see the entire mountain range in all its magnificence and looking down the mountain we had just scaled, it made us realize how much we had achieved during the trip. Being the first group of Dunmanians to display the school flag up at the summit made us even happier.
The journey down was not much easier than the journey up, but it allowed us to see and be amazed by what we had conquered and overcome during the trip. As we left Gunung Tahan, we took back not just memories, but also the bonds that were forged between us over the 4 days of physical and mental hardship. We conquered not only the mountain, but in some ways, ourselves as well.
LOW KHEE HIANG ERIC