Bukit Takun, 14 April 2007
Shown Chong reports:
[Click on thumbnails for full size images]
We met, Min Chee, Eric and Chew, Simon and I on a beautiful morning at Kanching on 14th April 2007. Takun looked majestic but the isolation that it once knew had long been destroyed. Where its once verdant foot was – houses, shops, signboards and power lines crowded upon it. The bustle of people and traffic destroyed whatever semblance of serenity and peace was left of Templer’s Park. We rejoiced however at meeting up old friends again. I had not met MC for at least 38 years! He still looked the strong, strapping and handsome chap that he was so many years ago, only now more distinguished. Chew I did not know till that morning; Eric -an old friend was every inch the reputation that he had carved out for himself to be – a toughened and wiry small dynamo of a chap. Simon and I ..well..we looked like middle-aged doctors out for a spot of Tai-Chi.
Then 6 young scouts turned up. They looked well….vulnerable. They aroused our protective instincts – which in this day and age – there was in all probability simply too much of it.
We did not start the climb through the golf course but higher up near a rich man’s bungalow nestled somewhere half way up the hill; a route known apparently known to the HHH.
The Chimney (666 Kbytes)
Conversing with the young scouts revealed a few observations. They were ignorant of the territory they were traversing. They had no idea of the identity of the trees or the geology or the other floral and faunal elements surrounding them. The gibbons’ whoopings, the hornbills’ raucous cries, the sharma’s song, the crickets’ shrilling, the wild boars’ wallows, the elemental play of water upon limestone – these appeared to have had no meaning for them. They were not tuned to the environment they were passing – whether the forest here was pristine or disturbed, the eco-system rich or poor. There was so much that we could have taught them besides taking them out for what would seem to be an exciting adventure of legendary proportions.
Mid-way to the point where the sheer walls begin, we stopped at the caves where scouts used to overnight. It was also a favorite place for graffiti, and here 10th KL had left some. I thought that at sometime in their Takun climbing exploits, most if not all, climbers must have had contributed some – such was the momentous feeling aroused that the stupendous effort in climbing Takun merited some form of immortal recognition. Now wiser, I think that the best graffiti are those etched in our hearts and minds, not on limestone.Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints. A bit of personal fertilisers are ok!
I had initially planned to climb this year with my old friend and Takun veteran Simon. In 1995 we had climbed it together with my family, and a re-climb every 10 years was our target. We were interested not only in testing our abilities, nor only in the consummation of our love affair with Takun, but from a conservationist’s point of view to observe the changes taking place on this beautiful limestone massif. For example we knew from observations that few, if any climb Takun to its summit anymore, although its sheer rockwalls had been used by some for training in abseiling and the like.
The Loop had changed our plans to climb together.
Bringing the young scouts up gave the climb a totally different tenor. Whichever way we looked at it we felt we had to be responsible for their instruction and safety. So it was that through team effort we had to physically guide every scout personally up and down the cliff face; there being 5 of them meant climbing up and down the walls at least 10 times! It was an effort that was daunting and exhausting; it was an effort that Simon and I had foreseen and gave warning of when the climb was being opened to all. But we prayed for safe journey and good weather, and these were answered; the results were rewarding.
It is true that climbers have died climbing Takun before. The tree that Min Chee mentioned died too from exemplary service to novice climbers, but his memory has failed him ( Sorry-lah! MC!) . It served only as a first step on a long climb, sitting at the base, a thin wiry struggling sapling of a tree, that was stepped on, grabbed on, sat on, over-abused.
Personally I do not think that the young scouts will be able to climb again unsupervised, much less bring others up. It is not safe at this stage of their development and experience.They will have to undergo an apprenticeship, get to know Takun much more intimately in order for them to climb safely and with confidence. It is no wonder that there aren’t many climbers of Takun nowadays. The scouts of yesteryears who could have trained the younger ones are fast fading from the scene. In a way this is good for Takun. Its integrity can only be more secure with our passing.
18th April 2007
The reasons for climbing – rewarding views: