Don’t quit now

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Climbing Mount Kinabalu, Part 4

After I realized I had to hike all the way down, over 8 kilometers, I realized I didn’t have much time to dillydally at the top. Time to get moving! As we started to make our way down I noticed something else. There were still a ton of people making their way up. Some looked defeated as we walked by them. Others looked downright mad. I wasn’t insulted because I knew how they felt. We stopped and chatted with a few of the people we stayed with the previous night. They were chipper, even though they missed the sunrise. No matter what, they wanted to make it to the top. Wishing them luck we continued our trek down.

Now that it was light out I saw all that I had climbed in the darkness. How in the world did I manage to do that? Trembling a bit I continued.

When we reached the stairs I had to laugh. Earlier in the morning, when I had to hold onto a rope, I said I would no longer hate the stairs. I lied. Now that the rope bit was past me (it wasn’t as scary on the way down in the daylight) I cursed at the stairs. The Better Half was ahead of me, still snapping all of the photos. At one point, the Better Half cautioned me that the stairs were slippery. The very next second I heard a crash. It wasn’t me that fell, but the Better Half. Poor thing. No major damage was done fortunately.

Caution: Slippery when wet!

Caution: Slippery when wet!

We made it to our lodging for a quick bite and to check out. During our second breakfast, it was around 8 a. m., we chatted with three other people. The woman who had said earlier that she wanted to skip the climb and sleep had actually turned around after the rope bit. The other couple having breakfast was the third group to reach the summit. They had to wait for an hour for the sunrise and said that it was freezing. All of us discussed how dangerous the climb was. The girls were more open about being terrified and said that on many occasions they wanted to cry. I had felt the same way. One girl exclaimed, “They really should warn you are scary this climb is.” At the time, it was clear that none of us were happy with our decision. Every one of us had heard how awesome the experience would be. We didn’t agree. It was brutal. And now all of us had to hike another 6 kilometers down. Several of us said our legs were shaking from exhaustion and worried about how we would continue the trek down.

I didn’t have long to worry about it. Our guide showed up and we were the first to head down. Our breakfast companions had to wait for the rest of their buddies to return from the summit.

Clouds were rolling in.

Clouds were rolling in.

The hike down wasn’t as strenuous as the hike up the previous day. The most difficult part was the fact that all the rocks were wet and slippery. We knew it was going to rain later in the day so we wanted to make it to the bottom before we got caught in the rain again. This meant I couldn’t stop as much as I wanted to. The closer we got to the bottom the more my right leg kept giving out. At times I thought someone would have to carry me down. They do have mountain taxis, which are porters who strap you to their backs and carry you down for a fee. We saw one mountain taxi the previous day and a child from our lodging had to use one after reaching the summit. I was determined to get down on my own. My right leg was determined to give out. We battled the entire time. Eventually I had to slow down. One of the couples we had breakfast with passed us. Not a good sign.

Then the rain came. Really? Hadn’t I suffered enough? My mood deteriorated even more. Soon I was hiking all by myself. Let’s just say I wasn’t the best of hiking buddies that day. I grumbled a lot. Each time I maneuvered my right leg down a step I groaned. Curse words were plentiful. The only thing that mattered to me was to get off the mountain. It wasn’t pretty, but I managed. And my apologies to the mountain for all my bad language.

By the time we reached the base I could barely walk. We collected our luggage that we had stored and waited outside for our ride. We had a five hour ride to our next destination. I was hoping I would be able to get some rest in the car. My driver had other ideas. It was the single most terrifying cab ride I ever had in my life. I may write more on that next week, but not sure I can handle reliving it.

A few weeks have passed now and I can reflect on my climbing experience. I’m glad I did it. At the time I regretted my decision—cursed myself really. Now I’m proud. One of the first things I unpacked on my return was the badge I had to wear around my neck to prove I had a permit to climb the mountain. I have it hanging by my desk. I did it. Would I ever do it again?

Not a chance in hell. But there are other mountains out there. We’ll see.

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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69 Responses to Don’t quit now

  1. Caroline says:

    I can imagien how you cursed while doing it but also that you are glad you did it.
    A lot of naked rock…

  2. congratulations, up and down, And I thought the potty training I’m doing was an uphill struggle

  3. T.F.Walsh says:

    Wow… so impressed. Well done. I would have probably chickened out.

  4. I was so looking forward to reading this and you didn’t disappoint! Well done to you both…you are better people than me…I just wouldn’t have done it 😦

  5. bulldog says:

    It sounds now like it was hell… but I’m sure with time to come one remembers all the good things and funny things that happened… come on Kilimanjaro must be next on the list… I’m sure you can do it…

    • TBM says:

      If you mentioned Kilimanjaro a week or two ago I would have scoffed at the idea. Now, it’s a possibility. I better keep the training up.

  6. That is a climb of a lifetime. I wish I can one one day. It must me awesome to stand on top of the world and just breathe that clean fresh air while enjoying the view.

    • TBM says:

      Being at the top was an incredible feeling. I hope everyone can feel that at one point in their lives. thanks for the retweet.

  7. It’s simple. You are my hero :).

  8. aFrankAngle says:

    Congratulations …. and thanks for kicking any thought of doing this out of my head. 😉

  9. and now, everest? 😉 *ducking and running*

  10. bocafrau says:

    It really sounds like a strenuous experience all in all. I don’t know if I could manage something like this. I would have to seriously train to be able to do it. We used to go hiking all the time and we had some pretty decent mountains in Germany but obviously nothing like this. I hope, the rest of your vacation was more relaxing!

  11. Madhu says:

    Again…great job TBM! But you have strengthened my resolve never to attempt it 😀

  12. lynnsbooks says:

    What an achievement. I’m not sure I could have done this – having no sleep would have about seen me off! I’m a sleep monster and very grumpy with less than seven hours.
    Lynn 😀

  13. restlessjo says:

    Fantastic achievement. You should be so proud. I know somebody else who did this climb and know I could not attempt it myself. I’m impressed. 🙂

  14. Sweet Tooth Travels says:


  15. As if the climb up wasn’t enough! I would have to finish too, though, otherwise all that suffering for nothing. It’s good to hear you don’t regret doing it. Now you know what you’re capable of when the chips are down. Hope your leg is OK now!

  16. pattisj says:

    This doesn’t sound like a fun thing, at all. I don’t have the adventure bug to try challenges such as these. That taxi ride must have been something! I’m glad you came back home safely, and all in one piece! Hopefully, they all still work, too!

    • TBM says:

      I was so happy when the taxi pulled up to our hotel. I had been warned that they drive super fast and crazy, but I didn’t expect it to be so terrifying.

  17. samokan says:

    you definitely need to make the t-shirt with the “I survive …” phrase 😀

  18. The Guat says:

    That was so funny. I know that at the time the climb down felt grueling and brutal and you were cursing everyone left and right, just as I would have been, because I probably would have fallen down like your dude. But it’s the retrospect that gets you. Always in retrospect you think “Damn, I am awesome for doing that. Pinche awesome.” The fact that you have the permit hanging is reminder for when you’re having a bad day, you can remember all the profanity, bad moods, rope burns and slippery rocks and laugh and think “Holy Crap I can’t believe I did that … but I did,” and then smile. 🙂 It will make for a good story for when your book comes out. 🙂

    • TBM says:

      I’m surprised I didn’t fall. Usually I’m the one that does and mostly on the easiest part. Maybe that’s why I didn’t. There were no easy parts. Straight up, straight down. I’ll have to remember this experience for a book.

  19. nrlymrtl says:

    Of course the Safety Person in me wants to know how they handle injuries, both small and large, on the mountain. Human taxi? Airlift? Put you up at the nearest resthouse until you can walk out? If the hike was more strenuous than you expected, others probably end up in the same situation without the success story.

  20. fgassette says:

    I don’t know anyone who did what you did under such difficult circumstances. Can’t wait to tell my grandchildren of your courage and determination. Better yet I am saving your post on this experience for them to read. CONGRATULATIONS! “What ever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Hill, Napoleon


  21. speechless with admiration and respect.

  22. A mountain taxi? Yes please. 🙂 You deserve a long massage and a hot bath.

    I hiked up Haleakala volcano (10,000 ft) in Maui to see the sunrise. It was at the same time the most gorgeous and terrifying experience of my life. And this tops that, hands down.

    • TBM says:

      I did some hiking, not the volcano, in Maui and it wasn’t easy so I feel for you. Gorgeous and terrifying–I’ll have to keep that in mind if I go to Maui again, which I hope to. Such a lovely place.

  23. Novroz says:

    Hahaha I said that when I first climbed a mountain…I will never do this again! Few days after we were back to our routine, I asked my friends, when are we going to climb again?

    Too bad, work and other things had kept me from climbing mountain again. I only did it in college.
    Congratulation on your climbing experience 🙂

    • TBM says:

      I used to hike all the time, now I just can’t find the time. When I lived in Colorado I would even hike early in the morning before work–it was easy living in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Now I have to plan a lot to be in the mountains.

  24. Fergiemoto says:

    I guess if the literature warned about how dangerous the climb was, only a few people might want to attempt it. Hopefully they advised about the amount of training and preparation that was required. Unless I had an injury or something that would make it unwise to continue, I would likely be telling myself I had to finish or I would regret it, especially since I had come so far already.
    You will have many memories and stories to tell now about this experience, which probably only a few people can do. Congratulations again! Wow, what a great feeling it must be!
    Hope the both of you have recovered from this climb.

    • TBM says:

      We have recovered. The Better Half didn’t struggle nearly as much as me. I was sore for a week, but now I have no issues.

  25. niasunset says:

    WOW! I am impressed too. Wonderful voyage, post, photographs. Thanks and Love, nia

  26. fendikristin says:

    congratulations! 🙂 I felt just the same like you at first I cursed my decision but then I’m really proud of myself but still thinking millions of time to climb another mountain LOL

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  29. Congratulations on successfully completing the climb! Though I know how it feels when things aren’t going your way while climbing. That feeling of wanting to simply turn back and call it quits is so overwhelming, it’s hard not to listen to it.

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