What we do?

Ace Adventure is an adventure outfitter based in Singapore. Founded in 1999, Ace Adventure has become the benchmark of quality in the adventure community. We organise outdoor adventure activities such as rock climbing, abseiling and mountain climbing to bring people together; to help participants develop teamwork and leadership skills as individual and as a team. We have established a good reputation for promoting and organising adventure races, build temporary and portable adventure rope course for events and carnivals.

To expand the work of Ace Adventure, Ace Adventure Expeditions (AAE) was formed to lead guided expeditions to the Himalayas, the seven summits and all around Asia. AAE also offers support for non-guided expeditions to individuals and groups. We understand that being a leading adventure outfitter is not only about offering quality services, but about helping each individual achieve their personal goals.

2nd Highest in Malaysia – Trus Madi

Yippy! I have finally trek up to Trus Madi in Sabah.

Trus Madi is 2,642m above sea level – the 2nd highest peak in Sabah and also the 2nd highest peak in Malaysia (West & East). It lies on the same range as Mt Kinabalu, the Crocker Range. The Trus Madi Forest Reserve is bordered by three districts – Ranau, Tambunan and Keningau.  Trus Madi can be accessed from this three districts, we will begin our journey from Tambunan. Tambunan is a small town south of Mt Kinabalu.

We arrived in Kota Kinabalu (KK) airport on Silk Air flight, Silk Air arrives in KK at noon, giving us sufficient time to travel to Tambunan town, 80km in distance, about 1.5hrs drive on private van. East of Tambunan is Trus Madi. We stayed at TRCC – Tandarason Resort Country Club – though not quite the expected resort, it is relaxing and secluded.

Vincinity around TRCC

TRCC vicinity

Sunset at TRCC

Sunset view from TRCC

The next day, we hopped onto a 4WD and off we went for a 1.5hrs not-so-bumpy ride to the Trus Madi Forest Reserve check point gate.

Trus Madi Gate

The “butterfly” gate – Trus Madi Forest Reserve check point

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4900m = 4.9km = distance from trail head to summit

After making verification on our permit, we moved on with our 4WD for another 20mins to the trail head. The route after the check point is steeper and hence we had a really bumpy ride. The trail head is anchored with a hut, and a few sign boards that give information about the trek to Trus Madi summit. There is a sign board indicating “4900m” , it is a distance marker, and there are also distance marker along the trail to the mountain hut. The total distance is 4.9km, from trail head to the summit. Here, the altitude is about 1,800m*. We have traveled 27km from Tambunan town, where TRCC is located.

*My alti-meter was later re-calibrated at the summit with a GPS. The trail head should be about 1,600m +/-

Trail head of Trus Madi (1,800m a.s.l)

Trail head of Trus Madi (1,800m a.s.l)

From the trail head to the mountain hut, it is a series of board walk leading to the mountain hut. It took us about 45mins to reach the mountain hut, some trekkers may take a shorter time, on an average, a leisure walk would be between 40mins and 1hr.  The newly constructed board walk made the trek so much easier. When we look below the board walk, the old trail could be seen; steep rocky roots and narrow path. No wonder it was said to be tougher trekking here (before the renovation) than trekking in Mt Kinabalu.

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The mountain hut at 2,100m above sea level. About 2km from trail head.

The mountain hut offers good (because it is still new for now) basic facilities – dormitory beds with sleeping bags (tropical), slippers, toilets. You can also choose to shower if there is sufficient water. Water is mainly reserved for cooking and drinking. With this newly renovated facilities, trekkers no longer need to carry camping accessories that weigh them down on the approach trek. Like climbing Mt Kinabalu, trekkers’ carrying pack would likely not heavier than 8kg. If you are a minimalist trekker, you will be smiling from cheek to cheek on this trek.

The summit trek starts from the mountain hut. We set off at 2:20am. We arrived at the 2000m distance marker at about 3am. Unlike Mt Kinabalu’s clear and easy path, the terrain requires plenty of high steps and scrambling, some segments are fixed with ladders and ropes to help with the climb. The enchanting pitcher plants made the trek more interesting.

IMG_1949 IMG_1952 IMG_1953The trek from the 2000m distance marker is walking on ridge line, still rich in flora and fauna, with a series of up and down hill. Like in other mountains, the last push to the summit is always enduring. We arrived at the summit at about 530am. The sunrise view was breathtaking. We also enjoyed a panoramic view of Mt Kinabalu.

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View of Mt Kinabalu from the summit of Trus Madi (approximately 40km north)

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On the summit of Trus Madi. Photo credit: Prasanna Srinivasan

On the summit of Trus Madi. Photo credit: Prasanna Srinivasan

We made our way back to the mountain hut, and eventually descent to the trail head. Took 4WD out to TRCC and transfer to Kota Kinabalu town the same day. The day light unveiled the beautiful dense forest of Trus Madi, along the way, we witnessed the Crocker mountain range through the pockets of forest window.

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Summit certificates

Summit certificates

With the newly renovated mountain cabin and established board walk that covers up to 2km, Trus Madi’s trek is less demanding as it was before. Many who have scaled Trus Madi before the major renovation in 2011 reported that Trus Madi is tougher to climb than Mt Kinabalu. Now that I have experienced the trail on Trus Madi, my conclusion is that it is difficult to make accurate comparison between Trus Madi and Mt Kinabalu. While I agree that Trus Madi is “tougher” to climb than Mt Kinabalu, the “toughness” of both mountains are somewhat different.  Both mountains offer differing challenges. To help you understand better about the differences, I have identified two key points for comparison – Altitude, Terrain:

1. Altitude

Mt Kinabalu’s main challenge is in the altitude and it can be really cold from Laban Rata (est. 3,200m) onwards. Trus Madi is about half the height of Mt Kinabalu, there is almost no risk of mountain sickness, the cold is more manageable though wind at the summit can still post a threat. The trail head at Mt Kinabalu starts at 1,800m and Trus Madi starts at about 1,600m above sea level. The mountain huts on Mt Kinabalu is located at 3,200m, while Trus Madi’s mountain hut is located at 2,100m. This makes climbing Mt Kinabalu more breathless than Trus Madi, and chances of getting mountain sickness is higher on Mt Kinabalu. With the disparity in height, Mt Kinabalu’s trek distance from trail head is 8.5km while Trus Madi is 4.9km, Trus Madi is definitely less physically demanding to trek compared to Mt Kinabalu.

2. Terrain

Before renovation work on Trus Madi between 2011 and 2013, the trail up to the mountain hut was very adventurous and strenuous. It was also said to be not suited for the faint hearted, only for hard core trekkers. The dense forest trek involved walking on narrow trails and big trees with roots that required plenty of scrambling with hands. The hut on Trus Madi was less than basic, trekkers had to carry tents & other camping accessories to camp overnight for the summit climb. Trekkers also had to walk 2km on logging road before arriving at the trail head at 1,600m. Upon completion of the renovation work and reopen for climbing in 2013, Trus Madi’s mountain hut access point has greatly improved and made easy. The trail head can be reached by 4WD, and the trek up to the mountain hut is now on board walk, making the terrain similar or easier than Mt Kinabalu, but still there is a fair bit of vertical walking to be done. While Mt Kinabalu’s trail is well established and has clear path all the way up to the highest point, Trus Madi’s summit trail is more interesting and still as demanding. One needs to be a sure footer to do well in this trek; and the comfort level during the trek is also way lower as compared to trekking in Mt Kinabalu (such as higher humidity in Trus Madi).

In summary, the route to Trus Madi summit is far more challenging than Mt Kinabalu, though the air is richer with oxygen. It is a mountain worth an attempt. If you enjoy trekking in the west Malaysia mountains, you will enjoy and appreciate Trus Madi even more. There are many reasons you should trek up to Trus Madi:

  1. The peak is below 3,000m, hard to come by in our region;
  2. You get to enjoy the serenity in Tambunan and at the mountain hut;
  3. It can be done in four days like Mt Kinabalu, including flying in and out of Kota Kinabalu;
  4. Permit is easy to secure as it is less crowded; (at least for now, so climb it soon before it gets overly crowded)
  5. There is no need to carry heavy load to trek;
  6. The view from the summit is awesomely beautiful! (Ok, difficult to guarantee on this point, you sure need some luck :P )
  7. Probably the most important of all, you get to shower before and after your summit trek! :D

Contact us to arrange for a trek to Trus Madi. Email to Contact@aceadventure.com.sg

Hooray to more short treks!

~ Joanne Soo

To the roof of Africa and back

“So far the evidence that we have in the world points to Africa as the Cradle of Humankind.”
George Abungu, Director-General of the National Museums of Kenya.

It is in Africa that the oldest fossils of the early ancestors of humankind have been found, and it is the only continent that shows evidence of humans through the key stages of evolution. source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/africa/features/storyofafrica/index_section1.shtml

Mt Kili signboard

Africa is the world’s second largest continent; the largest continent is Asia. The highest point on Africa is the Uhuru Peak at 5,895m above sea level in Tanzania, also known as Mt Kilimanjaro, and widely acclaimed as the Roof of Africa! Mt Kilimanjaro is a popular peak – it is not only the highest peak in Africa, it is also one of the Seven Summits (the highest peak of each continent). It is with the aim to climb Mt Kilimanjaro that brought me, and five other female trekkers, to Africa. As a first timer visiting Africa, I am intrigued by the fact that I am visiting a continent where human life first began. While the continent is still prone to all ills of humanity, I believe that an open mind will lead me to experience a new Africa.

We flew in to Moshi where Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) is located. Before KIA opens more international flights to the world, tourists typically fly to Nairobi (Kenya) and take a 8hrs bus ride to Moshi. It is also possible to fly to Dar es Salaam (the largest city in Tanzania) and take a 7hrs bus ride to Moshi. As flying direct to Moshi is likely to be more expensive, tourists who want to save air flight cost can trade it with a bus ride (though I do not think it is a worthy trade off).

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Visit where the locals will visit!

We arrived in Moshi in the early afternoon after 2 transits covering an average of 12hrs flight time. Tanzania is about 5hrs behind Singapore time; 12pm in Tanzania will be about 5pm in Singapore. We spent the remaining day resting in the resort. The next day, we visited Moshi town, about 20mins drive from the resort. The supermarket in town is quite similar to those we have here in Singapore.

You can buy mineral water from the supermarket, it is definitely cheaper than to buy it from the resort where we stay. It is worth to change some Tanzanian Shilling (TZS) to make purchases in a local store. Some shops/restaurants accept US dollars but it will be based on their exchange rate which can be really high.

 

 

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Team members of the IWD Kilimanjaro Challenge

The following day, with much anticipation, we got ready to start our 8-days trek on Mt Kilimanjaro. We have prepared for the trek for almost six months, it was time to face the real challenge. We took the northern circuit which offered excellent views from all sides of the mountain, including the quiet, rarely visited northern slopes; a journey that covered 95km on foot, trekking from an elevation of 2,000m to 5,895m.

Londorossi Gate

Expedition support crew were getting ready to weigh their expedition loads in an orderly manner.

We arrived at the Londorossi Gate (2,250m) by vehicle. This is the place where we saw the support crew of various expedition groups gathered to sort out the logistics and distribution of loads. It was conducted very orderly, and impressively efficient. After another 15mins of drive, we arrived at the Lemosho Gate – we bid good-bye to our vehicle commander and were all ready to embrace the beauty of the African forest and the mythical of Mt Kilimanjaro.

Sign-in at camp site

Sign-in at camp site

The first day of our trek saw us trekking through the rain forest zone; on the second day, after an hour leaving the campsite, the trail led us to a lower alpine zone trekking in an average elevation of 3,000m above sea level. The slopes were gradual, and hardly any steep ascent.

After 3 days of trekking, we arrived at Moir Hut which is at an elevation of 4,200m. It was from here that we felt the thin air taking a toll on our body. We took a short acclimatization hike to 4,370m then return to Moir Hut to rest for the evening.

Our first "WOW" moment view of Mt Kilimanjaro from the lower alpine zone.

Our first “WOW” moment view of Mt Kilimanjaro from the lower alpine zone.

After leaving Moir Hut, we entered the northern circuit camping at Buffalo Camp (4,150m), and then moved on to Third Cave. Third Cave campsite is officially recorded at 3,800m, however, my altimeter read 4,050m. The air remained thin, we were careful not to exert unnecessarily.

The team arrived at Third Cave Camp in high spirit.

The team arrived at the Third Cave Camp in high spirit.

From Third Cave campsite, we trekked another 10km up the moraine slopes to School Hut at 4,800m. We were already experiencing breathlessness as we trek up the incline slopes; by then, we have moved on to a high alpine and glacier zone. We had already spotted Mawenzi Peak, standing proudly from a far distance to the south-east since the day we trekked to Baffalo Camp, it felt closer as we approached School Hut. Mawenzi Peak is the 3rd highest peak in Africa, Mt Kenya (Kenya) is the 2nd highest.

Mawenzi Peak (5149m), the 3rd highest peak in Africa.

School Hut Camp at 4800m.

School Hut Camp at 4800m.

We made our summit climb from the School Hut, leaving at about 12am after a light supper. The first 2 hours was a gradual slope, after about 4-5hrs, the climb became steeper as we approached Gilman’s Point (5,685m).  From Gilman’s Point, we trekked along the crater rim that led us to Stella Point (5,756m), and from Stella Point, it would be about an hour to reach the Uhuru Peak.

Gilman's Point at 5685m

Gilman’s Point at 5685m

Stella Point at 5756m.

Stella Point at 5756m.

Uhuru Peak – 5895m (Summit of Mt Kilimanjaro)

After our summit climb, we descent to Millennium Camp to rest. The following day, which was the 8th day of our trek, we descent to Mweka Gate. We ended our 8 days’ climb on Mt Kilimanjaro in high spirit but a tired body. In summary, the trek got tougher each day as we gained elevation and the thin air made breathing difficult on slopes causing each step heavier than the last. It was challenging for the everyone, especially so that all the other ladies were climbing beyond 4,000m for the first time.

Apart from the scenic environment around Mt Kilimanjaro, the support crew who supported us the whole time had made our climb memorable and certainly felt like a queen in African style.

The team at Millennium Camp before descending to Mweka Gate.

The team at Millennium Camp before descending to Mweka Gate.

Post Climb Thoughts

The climb to the summit is not as technically demanding as when climbing the peaks in the Himalayas or Andes; but the high elevation, low temperature, and the occasional high winds make climbing Mt Kilimanjaro a difficult and dangerous attempt. An itinerary cater for acclimatization is essential, even the most experienced trekkers may suffer some degree of altitude sickness. The highest point on Mt Kilimanjaro is at an altitude which may cause water retention in the lungs leading to high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), or swelling of the brain – high altitude cerebral edema (HACE).  All trekkers will suffer considerable discomfort, typically shortage of breath, hypothermia, and headaches.

On my journey to the top plodding at an elevation between 5,700m and 5,800m – an elevation that is not new to me – my heart was working laboriously. Very often when we focus so much on keeping a pace, we often neglect that we may be pushing ourselves harder than necessary. It strike me that I am not immune to any high altitude risk, I too may be susceptible to a sudden cardiac arrest at high altitude. I began to slow down my pace; giving my heart a break, focusing on exhalation to slow down my heart rate.

Sammi Teh

Sammi Teh

Sammi who has only been up to 3,200m before climbing Mt Kilimanjaro was hit by altitude sickness that caused her to sink into fatigue earlier than expected. She recounted her thoughts on trekking above 5,000m for the first time. “I felt helpless, confused and kept questioning if there is any limit to the power of ‘mind over body‘ at that elevation; I knew that my body was tired, yet my mind remain determined.”

Liyana Low

Liyana Low (photo credit: Liyana Low)

The youngest among us is Liyana, and being young did not make her climb any less strenuous. She said “I was tired from the lack of oxygen – every step grew heavier. But each step I took was one step closer to the top, and that was what kept me going. Celebrating my 27th birthday at the top was the icing on the cake!”

Dominique Low

Dominique Low

Dominique caught a flu and had fever the day when we trekked to Buffalo Camp. She managed to recover a little after taking a cocktail of medicines like anti-histamine, Panadol. She weren’t ready to give up yet. She recalled the midnight summit push that we took on a full-moon night “At 5,000m, you feel the biting cold in your bones. Your fingers and toes are numb. Breathing is difficult, you are drowsy, your eyes are half-closed. Each step takes a huge effort and muscle in your body tells you to stop. Then you hear a voice – one step at a time, if your mind is willing, your body will adapt – I stop to blow my nose, drink more water, take a deep breath then keep on walking.”

Veronica Lim

Veronica Lim

Talking about cold, Veronica has it all ready to battle it. From thermal base layer to down jacket to goretex outer-shell, she knew exactly how to keep her body warm with the gear she brought with her. That was not all, her mental strength was crucial in helping her to stay focus despite the cold and the seemingly endless ascent in the dark. She said “I told myself to think happy thoughts and keep going.”

Julia Chua

Julia Chua

Each of us have different threshold to cold, and Julia is probably the one who has a higher threshold to cold among us. She would stroll around the campsite while most of us stayed in our tents. A highly positive trekker, she shared about her experience on the summit day. “At the beginning, I spent most of the climb looking at the moon. I thanked God for its light, its watchful presence over us. I liked the way it traced the outline of the terrain. As it got higher, music started to play in my head. From songs on the radio i heard a few days ago to the cheers of Swahili that we sang at camps, to which I’m sure i got every word wrong. When we have gone beyond the 5,000m mark, there was silence. No one spoke to each other for a long time. I didn’t know how long it was going to take for us to reach Gilman’s point or even to the summit, and at that point i was afraid to ask. How long are we going to stay on this side of the mountain? And then the sun came up, changing shifts with the moon, painting the rocks with gold. At that moment, a quote popped into my head, like my brain was trying to comfort my body. It goes

“I just want you to know, 
That i would like you to stay.
No matter how hard this day gets on this mountain,
It’s okay. It’s okay…”

The Purpose of our climb to the Roof Of Africa

Trekking at high elevation is tough. We are not there to suffer, but to challenge personal limit, and to create an awareness to help the less fortunate.  Life is meant to make beautiful and happier. If you wish to help a low-income family teenage girl’s life slightly better, you can help by making a cash donation.

Your donation will help secondary school girls to have proper meals and for transportation. Life skill programmes are conducted to help instill in the teenagers a sense of self-worth and to learn skills such as personal hygiene and financial management.

We are supporting Project Pari in a small way – by undertaking a journey to scale Mt Kilimanjaro. Through our climb, we hope to create an awareness to all women, specially Singapore women, to get out of the traditional view that women are fragile physically and psychologically. Women can live our dreams, and we can help others live their dreams too. If you are reading this, do join us to support the efforts of Project Pari.

How to Donate?

Donation can be made online to: “Donate to Programme” , “Ace Adventure IWD Challenge 2015 for Project Pari” at this SGGives website link: https://www.sggives.org/SGGives_P_CharityDetails.aspx…

For more information on Project Pari: www.zonta-singapore.org/service-projects.html

Please send in your donation before 31 March 2015. Asante Sana! (Thank you very much).

And I shall end off with a Swahili phase:

Hakuna Matata!

It means Don’t Worry, Be Happy!

Joanne Soo
Expedition Leader
IWD Kilimajaro Challenge 2015