Proving that age is no barrier in achieving his dreams, Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, 72, scaled all the way up Mount Kinabalu, recently.
According to NST, The Sabah Deputy Chief Minister had earlier told his friends he wanted to scale the mountain and as expected, they were skeptical.
Apart from his age, Jeffrey was still recovering from a horrific car accident in 2007 that injured his spine, paralysed him, and confined him to a wheelchair for four months.
However, at 6.30am on May 7, the septuagenarian put all sceptics to shame and reached the summit.
His climb was also part of efforts to promote the Jom Sihat programme and more importantly, the diversity of Kadazan Dusun Murut cultural costumes in conjunction with this year’s Kaamatan.
He was determined to climb the mountain, long revered to be the final resting place of the Kadazandusun Murut (KDM) people and made plans from January this year.
He had planned to reach the summit and later change into their traditional costumes to promote the diversity of the KDM people.
In preparation for the climb, Jeffrey said he used to walk around his house in Inanam every morning and evening.
On May 6, Jeffrey who is also the organising chairman of the state-level Kaamatan or harvest festival, led the group of 50 climbers up the mountain, arriving at the Panalaban Base Camp at around 4pm.
They then began the ascent to the summit at 2am yesterday, reaching the top around 6.30am.
After spending about 30 minutes at the summit, Jeffrey descended the Kinabalu, finally reaching the Timpohon Gate shortly before 7pm.
According to Jeffrey, it was a very difficult journey especially after Layang-Layang and the last climb to the summit from Panalaban.
In fact, Jeffrey said the team almost did not make it to the summit at all due to heavy rain.
They were told by the Chief Ranger at 2am that since it was pouring, the planned ascent could only be made at 3.30am, weather permitting.
If not, the expedition would have to be cancelled or postponed.
“But I said Akinabalu will not disappoint us. He is just clearing the path for us and we will be rewarded with clear weather. True enough it was fantastic up there.
“In the end, I’m glad I was able to participate in this expedition. I’ve always believed that we can all achieve whatever we set our minds to. If you really want something, go for it,” he said.
Jeffrey was also accompanied by his wife Datin Seri Cecilia Edwin.