Friday, February 5, 2010

Spider survey: Gunung Nuang

I went climbing Gunung Nuang on the 30th January 2010. The mission is to survey the spider diversity in that area and to stretch my legs a bit. Since the climb to Gunung Bunga Buah last year I haven’t done much climbing except for the regular trailing when doing spider hunt. This time I am going to a new area.

At 1493m, Gunung Nuang is the highest peak in Selangor and rated by many as the 5th toughest mountain to climb in the peninsular. I read several blogs about this mountain and many said it is a 6-hour climb. What I missed is that they climb with minimal encumbrance. I, on the other hand, hauled a 10kg cargo on my back to attempt a trail with many steep stretches. Long steep stretches. Very long, very steep stretches.

My two guides are my friends from the Silat Gayong circle, Hafiz and Suraya. They both have climbed many mountains and Suraya has climbed in Indonesia and Vietnam before. I am confident that I will be in good hands with such sporting and experienced climbers. What I fear most is my left knee which always gives me problems every time I climb. The trip to Gunung Bunga Buah last year was filled with never ending agony since the first hour due to my knee issue. Hence I bought a 40+10L Deuter bag in uptown Shah Alam which is more ergonomics than my old bag bought in a supermarket. No, it’s not the RM300+ bag but the ayam-grade one.

In order to survey the spider population, I planned to have the trip covering both day and night trekking. My travel kit includes the trusty Olympus E-500, Zuiko Digital 14-45mm, Zuiko Digital 35mm macro, FL-50 flash, loads of spare batteries (which I eventually didn’t use) and 4BG+2BG CF cards. I also brought along a handheld torchlight, one that can slit to cap and a headlight. Including a sleeping bag, spare clothing, water and other stuff, my bag weights about 10kg which is kind of insane for a first time climber to the infamous Gunung Nuang.

2-3 hours (depending on how often you stop) of this kind of walk.

It's like never ending.

Suraya picked me up and we drove to the ranger office where the journey starts. Climbing started at 4.20pm and went through a 5km up and down trail to the mountain foot. Along the trail I notice a long horn spider Gasteracantha Arcata, a pastured Polybius vulpine, some other araneids, tetragnathids and of course lycosids. The gruesome walk ends at an old dam which later leads to Kem Lolo where many hikers camp by the stream. We arrived there at about 7pm and stopped for dinner. The menu was rice with sambal ikan bilis and tea using leaves as plates.

Dinner was great when you're dead tired.

At about 9pm we started hiking uphill through the forest trail in the dark. The weather was very good that night and it was full moon. Since we plan to refill our bottle at Kem Pacat, we did not bring a lot of water from Lolo, just enough for the journey to the next check point. Now the trail was becoming steeper and it’s uphill all the way. With such heavy encumbrance, we stopped for rest almost every 15 minutes. At midnight we reached Kem Pacat and were exhausted completely.

Kem Pacat is a small plateau along the uphill trail. There are actually some neat things there- kangkung, tapioca and turmeric plants. A water point is located somewhere off the trail, about 15 minutes down on the left side when going up but since it was dark, we could not find it. We took a short break and everyone ended up taking out their sleeping bags. We took a short nap and woke up at 3am. At this stage we have to decide whether to proceed or not. Suraya seems attached to her sleeping bag but me and Hafiz insisted on continuing the hike. We resumed at 3.45am, hiking under the stars.

The route to Puncak Pengasih (the false peak) was extremely exhausting and even steeper. There were places to step but many times I have to push myself up and propel by tugging roots or tree trunks. After what seems like an eternity we reached Puncak Pengasih probably around 6am. The area was damp and it was precipitating heavily that we took out our poncho for a while.

At Puncak Pengasih (on the way back).

The next step is to descend to the valley before the final climb to the summit. Cold, hungry, tired and lack of sleep, we braced through the final part of the journey. Part of the track was muddy and slippery but we were too tired to worry about any form of modesty. At this point my legs felt like water and the last 1 hour was nothing short of sheer agony. Even to take 1 step forward/upward took me about 4-5 seconds due to extreme fatigue and to make matter worse, my water supply ran dry. At one point I and Hafiz took a short break and we both dozed off while sitting. Yes, that tiring.

Somewhere near the summit.

We noticed the sun coming up and light rays starts to fill the surroundings. Reaching the summit was clocked at 7.50am where all of us were so relief beyond belief. There was no single encounter with leech and no one got injured. I have to say that at the top of Gunung Nuang the scene was very tranquil and cold. Occassionally we got strong wind which makes drinking hot tea so heavenly. I gave a second thought on writing about the journey back as this entry is already quite long and overdue.

OK, in short we started the descend at 100pm and reached the ranger office at 9.00pm. We made 2 stops totalling about 3 hours at Kem Pacat and Kem Lolo for water refill and prayers. It was probably a bliss that we climbed at night since when we can actually look at how the path was, I was wondering if I would ever attempt the climb in full sanity.

Here are some images at the peak and between Puncak Nuang and Puncak Pengasih on the way back.

One of the things that marks the summit.

We started our descend at 1.00pm and it was still misty.

The path down from Puncak Nuang to Puncak Pengasih.

Trailing like this for hours? You gotta be insane!

The valley between Puncak Nuang and Puncak Pengasih.

The muddy stretches. Only girls use walkings stick.

As for the spider survey mission, we were too occupied with fatigue that I did not do the proper survey as I planned. Perhaps I will go there again one day when I am more physically prepared.

Families encountered: Salticidae, Lycosidae, Pisauridae, Sparassidae, Zodariidae, Clubionidae, Tetragnathidae, Araneidae, Theridiidae, Oxyopidae.


  1. Luarbiasa!! I reckon it is better to camp at Lolo if wanna climb Nuang unless really fit...

  2. I wish i can do this kind of activity.
    Terima kasih beri nama spider kat blog saya.

  3. Nuang is very challenging and it is better to climb with light encumbrance.

  4. This place must be my favourite, but it is just too far from here......oooooo 00000000.

    So far.

    I have to stay with my Cerok Tokun, anyhow.

  5. sib baik aku tak ikut mir, confirm pancit tahap cipan lagik, nanti training baru leh pergi lagik

  6. Jom buat day trip 14 jam turun-naik. Beg isi air dan makanan je. Start panjat kul 6am.

  7. oh..last 2years pergi sini ngan KPA Unisel..9jam ambik masa nak turun sebab xjumpa best lol..rasa nak pergi lg