This week, I chatted with two outdoor instructors and was pleasantly surprised to find out that the three of us had something in common. We started our outdoor journey at Mount Ophir!
Mount Ophir is a mountain located at the border of Malacca and Johor states in Peninsula Malaysia. It is 1,276m in height, high enough for climbers to feel the cool air and sometimes be in the clouds. I personally find the trek up Mount Ophir to be interesting and there are a few unique stages of the climb.
You will begin with a steep ascent that simply takes your breath away followed by a 2-hour ascent to a magnificent campsite at Kolam Gajah with a refreshing river to take the sore off your weary legs. The next stage is called “KFC” which means Killing Field Centre which poses high steps but also has a high tendency for bee attacks. You will then get to do cool crawls through caves and climb over a massive rock face which scares your wits when you look behind into the seemingly empty horizon. The hard word will be rewarded with a nice stroll on a ridgeline full of Bonsai plants that make you feel like you are in Japan. A few more bursts and you will meet the summit!
(At this point of writing, I could only describe verbally because I have not been able to upload all the physical photos of my past climbs. Well, they were all taken before the digital cameras era.)
Now back to our conversation, the three of us started our outdoor journey on Mount Ophir at different times. How amazing! For me, my first climb was when I volunteered for a Muslim youth group chaperoning their participants. I could still remember our memorable 12-hours descent from the base camp to the foot. The call was made because we were behind time and were low in food supply hence the decision to head down. But little did we expect that descending down a mountain in total darkness would take us that long!
Did the experience make me regret climbing the mountain? Nope!
In fact, I continued to climb Mount Ophir for 15 times. Every climb was uniquely different. There was once when we bumped into Malaysia’s Special Forces. In another climb, we met an old man who was climbing his 100th time up the mountain. I also remember meeting Singapore’s adventurer, Mr. Khoo Swee Chiow and spoke to him for a bit.
The people who I climbed with also made a difference. I’ve climbed Mount Ophir with friends, youth groups, out-of-school kids, volunteers and corporate clients too. It is interesting to recall how people made a difference to each climb.
I must admit to be extremely fortunate for deciding to stop climbing it late 2006 and join Outward Bound Singapore. I was ready to be a young adventurer-entrepreneur! I cannot seem to remember when but an incident on my last climb made me think if I was prepared to manage any emergencies.
A few months after joining, there was news of a Singaporean trainee teacher who died after a tree fell on his tent at night. That could have been me! I was so thankful for The Almighty for giving me the inspiration to join OBS and be properly trained as a professional outdoor educator.
In my 6 years in OBS, I further invested my time and energy (and money) to go for more training beyond the provided ones including a Basic Mountaineering Course, Sport Climbing, Abseiling and Sailing Instructor certificate and Patrol Lifeguard Course. Of course, not forgetting the leap-of-faith to pursue the MSc Degree in Outdoor Education in Edinburgh in 2012!
I have been away from Mount Ophir for a decade and I have decided to go back to my roots and bring people up this awesomely legendary mountain.
So what exactly does Mount Ophir offer?
- Scenic climbs throughout the journey including rivers, waterfalls, caves, boulders, bonsai, clouds and fresh air.
- Awesome people to meet along the way.
- A great escape from our busy life.
- Sufficiently challenging yet doable trek.
- A day dash or slower 2 days climb.
Trust me, the mountain is worth the experience.
I’m in the midst of fixing some dates for a climb this October. If you prefer, you can approach me to organise climbs for your own group of friends or family. We can start with a minimum group size of 9.
***I’ll defintely be back with more photos to do justice to the mountain!