Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Pico del Teide, Tenerife, Spain, 3718m

29th September 2014
Google map link

Route: Sendero No. 7: Montana Blanca-Pico Teide 
Total Elevation gain: 1365m
Total distance hiked: ~8km

Trek synopsis: 28th-29th September 2014
Day 1: Trailhead carpark (2350m) of Sendero No. 7: Montana Blanca-Pico Teide to Refugio Altavista (3260m);
Day 2: Refugio Altavista - Summit - Teide Cable car upper station. 

Pico del Teide is located on the island of Tenerife, which is part of the Canary islands, off the coast of Africa. It is the highest peak in Spain.

Pico del Teide
We climbed Teide as part of the 4th Summit Summit, an annual celebration of Science and Mountains.
The sun at dawn, the shadow of Teide. 

Part of the group, at tbe summit

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Mount Longonot, Kenya, 2785m

25th August 2014
Google map link

Route: Standard Route
Total Elevation gain: 620m
Total distance hiked: ~5.1km (3.1 km to the rim and a further 2.0 km to the summit)

Mount Longonot is located in the Kenyan Rift Valley. It is a stratovolcano that blew its top off about 20,000 years ago. Its a relatively easy hike with a wonderful view of the Rift Valley landscape, including Lake Naivasha and Hell's gate. 
Mt Longonot from the Old Naivasha Road
At the start of the trek
Cheryl and our guide Annie on their way towards the mountain
The hike starts gradually through grasslands and shrubs on the lower slopes. Giraffes and Buffaloes roam amongst the landscape. After a while, the climb gets a bit steeper before getting onto the crater rim.

At the Oloonongot crater rim. The summit peak can be seen behind the sign.
We then follow the rim trail in the counter-clockwise direction to reach the summit. The trail is well defined, but at points, there may be a bit of exposure and the grounds at some slopes are slightly loose.
In the foreground, a volcanic vent. In the background, Lake Naivasha. Views from the rim trail.

We started our hike at 8.55am and reached the summit at about 11am.
View of the crater from the summit.
At the summit.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Mount Kenya, Lenana Point, 4985m

21st August 2014
Google map link

Route: Sirimon Trail 
Total Elevation gain: 2335m
Total distance hiked: ~51km

Trek synopsis: 19th-22nd August 2014
Sirimon Trail (Gate (2650m)to Old Moses (3390m), 9km (1st Night); Old Moses to Shipton (4260m), 13.6km (2nd Night); Shipton to Lenana, 2.6km, and back to Old Moses (3rd Night). 

Sirimon Gate. Start of the trail at 2650m
Day 1
We met up with our guide Francis and cook John in Nanyuki town.
A dirt track turns off the Nanyuki-Meru main road (about 10km from Nanyuki) that finally leads to the Mount Kenya National Park Entrance (2650m). This is the start of the trek in, using the Sirimon trail. At about noon, we begun. Not too long after that, we crossed the equator.
Cheryl and Francis, at the equator marker....
...while I was busy ascertaining that we had indeed crossed the equator.
Most of the day's hike was on a 4WD trail with very gradual slopes. We reached Old Moses camp at about 4.10pm. It's a decent shack. Sitting on a small knoll, it has a grand view. Near sunset, lines of the sun stream down through the clouds, and lit up the plains below, and coloured it gold.

Old Moses Camp (3390m according to my GPS receiver). You can see the two highest summits of Mt Kenya (Batian and Nelion) peeking out from the slopes behind. 
Day 2
We started at 7.50am. Half of the trek today goes through the lovely MacKinder Valley (Named after the expedition leader who made the first sucessful Mt Kenya ascent) which the Liki river runs through. The V-shaped valley gradually became a U-shaped valley as we walk upstream. It started to rain the last few km of the hike, and we were glad to reach Shipton's camp (4250 m) at 4.15pm.

MacKinder Valley
Day 3
We started our climb at 3.50am, and reached Point Lenana at 6.50am. The weather was clear, and not very windy. The steep walls of Nelion, the second highest point of Mt Kenya, dominates our view west and seems to dwarfed Lenana point. The jagged peaks and irregular mountain features around are very different from the clean and striking profiles of younger stratovolcanoes like Killimanjaro or Fuji. Age (Mt Kenya is at least 3,000,000 years old) has worn this mighty volcano (once taller than Killimanjaro during its prime) down, and only the more hardy volcanic plugs remain.
At the very not-quite top of Mount Kenya 
Nelion, the second highest summit of Mt Kenya. Batian, the highest peak is hidden behind Nelion
View North, towards the head of the MacKinder Valley. Shipton's camp can be seen near the middle of the picture.

Northwest View. Chogoria route direction 
The view of Point Lenana, on the way down
View of Lenana Point from Shipton's camp
We returned to Shipton's camp for a rest and breakfast. We left at 11.45am for the walk back to Old Moses, where we arrived at about 5.15pm.

MacKinder Valley, on the way back to Old Moses Camp.
Day 4
Walk out to Sirimon gate. Slow and easy. Hoping to catch sight of some elephants that roam about in the forest, but never seeing any. We did find plenty of their digestive remains along the way...

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Le Tour du Monde: Articles by Alfred Russel Wallace

Le Tour du Monde (lTdM) is kind of like the National Geographic journal of the 19th century. It ran from 1860 till almost the Great War (WWI), and has amongst its contributors eminent explorers like Livingstone, Garnier, Stanley, Amundsen...etc... One of the these is Alfred Russel Wallace. As an original scientist, Wallace should be way up there in the scientific Patheon. He is credited as the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection with Charles Darwin.  He does have quite a bit of connection to the Southeast Asia region where he spent some years and it is here that he formulated his evolution theory. It was from the Spice islands in 1858, that he sent his famous letter to Darwin outlining his thoughts, which finally prompted Darwin to publish his evolution theory. Without doubt, Darwin came up with Evolution theory first, but Wallace's own idea of evolution is definitely independent. As a traveler, his many trips in the Malay Archipelago are also legendary.
I first came to know about Wallace's articles in lTdM when I chanced upon the two copies of Le Tour du Monde pictured above from a shop in Saint-Germain-des-PrĂ©s, Paris during a work trip to France in May 2012.  Later on, from a website dedicated to Le Tour du Monde, I learnt that Wallace contributed a couple more articles. All three sets of articles are entitled:

L'archipel Malaisien, patrie de l'orang-outan et de l'oiseau de paradis. Recits de voyage et etude de l'homme et de la nature
(The MAlay archipelago, land of the orang utan and birds of paradise. Account of the journey and the study of the people and of nature)

and they appeared in lTdM in

1870. Vol. XXII, liv. 557 & 558, pg. 145-176
1872. Vol. XXIV, liv. 614 & 615, pg. 225-256
1873. Vol. XXVI, liv. 663 & 664, pg. 177-208

The 1870 article covers Singapore, Malacca, and Borneo. It is essentially the translated version of Chap. 1 to 4 of Wallace's book 'The Malay Archipelago' (tMA). There are however, many more pictures included in the articles, that are not present in tMA, including several beautiful ones of Singapore, engraved by a French engraver, based on pictures that appeared in a Atlas pittoresque published by Dumont d'Urville in the 1840s.
Picture from the 1870 issue
The 1872 article writes about Sumatra, Timor island, Makassar (Sulawesi), and Ambon, as covered in Chap. 8, 13, 15, 16 and 20 of tMA. Again, there are several more images not present in the book, including lovely pictures of the volcano on Banda, and a mosque on Ambon island.

The 1873 article talks about Seram, the Aru islands and some other Papuan islands.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

1856 Map of Malacca's Territory

This map is an attachment to the 1856 issue of the Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia (JIAEA). At that time, the Indian Archipelago refers to what is today the islands of Indonesia, as well as the Malay Peninsula and Borneo. This map was 'submitted' for publication by one Thomas Braddell. We today, of course, know of Braddell by the local places named after him, Braddell Heights, Braddell MRT station...e.t.c... Braddell was the first Attorney General of the Straits Settlements in 1867. Having spent the bulk of his career in the Straits Settlements, as employee of a sugar estate in Penang, then an official with the East India Company, he was intensely interested in the Malay region, and contributed a lot of articles to the JIAEA. Braddell  is a self made man along the line of Stamford Raffles. From humble origin, he became successful through drive and talent. 

According to the article that accompanied this map, the map here was made for Braddell by Mr. Valborg, a surveyor in Malacca. The map shows the extent of Malacca's territory, with boundaries with the surrounding Malay staes, as interpreted by the map maker. It shows well known features like Mt. Ophir,   Muar river...etc...  Apparently, this was the most accurate map of Malacca at that time, and it predates any British government maps of Malacca (At that time, Malacca was part of the straits settlements, that was administered by the  East India Company, based in Calcutta).

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Straits Settlements Annual Reports

Recently, I acquired copies of the "Straits Settlements Report for 1904" up to 1906 and the "Annual Report on the Social and Economic Progress of the People of the Straits Settlements 1933" up to 1938. I had purchased them online from some antiquarian bookstores based in UK and France. 
The Straits Settlements was established in 1826, and was made up of Singapore, Penang and Malacca. Later on, Dindings (1874), Cocos (Keeling) islands and Christmas island (1886) and Labuan (1906) were added to the Straits Settlements. This entity lasted till 1942 when the Japanese took over the Malay peninsula bringing an end to the Straits Settlements.
These series are the predecessor of the Colony of Singapore Annual Reports which was published after the war, when Singapore was made a crown colony by itself, while the rest of the Straits Settlement joined the Malayan Union.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Some mountain hikes in South South Korea

Godangbong, Geumjeongsan. Busan, South Korea 

Date: 12th Feb. 2012
Summit: 801.5m
Trailhead altitude: ~85m
Distance, one way: ~6.7km

From my conference hotel at Haeumdae, I took the metro to Beomeosa station. It was Sunday, and despite the winter cold, the city folks were out in full force with trekking poles, and full hiker’s order. From Beomeosa station, I headed uphill towards the temple, by a mixture of roads and trails. After the temple sightseeing, I discovered that at the temple's back exit, a trail leads up to Geumjeongsan’s tallest peak, Godangbong, at 801.5m. The trail was pretty crowded. The trail is easy and leads up to the North gate of GeumJeongsan fortress. There, hundreds of hikers basked in the winter sun, having their sunday hike-out picnic. The picnics were not simple sandwich and cheese kind, as some hikers had their cooking and barbecue equipment out. From here, it was 20min more before the summit was reached. 

The peak was very crowded was a menagerie of pple, fighting to get a shot with the summit marker.The weather was great, and it as a great day out, despite the tiredness from a red-eye flight into Busan. I went down fast, took a bus from the temple, and before long was having a satisfying meal of hot broth with oyster and rice, by the bus terminal, near the Beomeosa metro stop.

Chibulbong & Sangwangbong, Gayasan, Sobaek Mountain Range. Gayasan N.P., South Korea 

Date: 17th Feb. 2012
Summit: 1433m & 1430m
Trailhead altitude: ~630m
Distance, up and back: ~8.8km

After Breakfast at the Haeinsa temple at 6:10am, I started hiking 6:50am.  It was snowing ever so gently on the way up.  The trail was was not too steep and with constant gradient up till the ridge where the rocky summit portion begins. By now, although the snow has stopped, the trail was snow covered. The snow was slippery at the higher reaches, and I have to plan my line of approach carefully. A crampon would have been useful at some parts.  Finally reached the summit of Gayasan, Chilbulbong (1433m) at about 910am. Then descended and went up the nearby, more trodden summit Sangwangbong (1430m). The sky was clear, and the wind chilling to the bone. The cold, ice and snow made the summit feels much higher than the 1433 meters altitude. The temperature must be about minus 10C, as water in my bottle that was placed in my bag started to freeze. I started down 930am. The descend was not easy, as what was snow has become wet and revealed the ice that was underneath. It was a slippery descend and I fell numerous times. The trail was deserted, and despite the cold, the lonesome serenity was magical. Perhaps the night spent in Haeinsa had calmed the soul somewhat.  It was not until I am down from the summit block, and almost on the downward way on the wooded ridge that I met some other souls, a pair of monks. All in all I met about eight people. I reached back to the temple at 1110am for a hearty vegetarian lunch.