Men’s Journal has a great climbing story on their website in which a team of crack climbers take on big walls in Borneo, and find an amazing, untapped wilderness, that is unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. That team consisted of Mark Synnott, Conrad Anker, Alex Honnold, Jimmy Chin, and Kevin Thaw, an experienced and very talented group to be sure.
The team traveled to the tropical paradise to challenge the 13,500 foot tall Mount Kinabalu, which is summitted by thousands of tourists every year. But these two didn’t come to take the trail to the top, but elect to take on the north side of the mountain, in a place called Low’s Gully, which they describe as a 10-mile long rift that was carved out of the mountain by a glacier 10,000 years ago. The area is so remote and rugged, that to the author’s knowledge, only three teams have ever climbed along that route.
The climb turned into a logistical challenge just to get close to the gully that they would be attacking. Back in 1994, a British military team went there on a training exercise, making a descent of the face, and ended up spending 31 days trying to find their way back out again. The region can be very dangerous, and the officials in Borneo are reluctant to let anyone go there, even climbers with the resume of this group. Still, the managed to eventually get the permits they needed and
The plan was to rappel down into the gully, then climb the face back up. But there was very little intel on the face itself, and the team had to put together a plan based on sketchy information from the British team, which was a disaster, and a Spanish team that had made a similar climb ten years ago.
Eventually the do begin the climb, and the story is a good one. You have some of the best climbers in the world working together on a virtually unknown wall, in a far flung, remote, and exotic location. Definitely a good read and one that will get your heart pumping this morning.