A grueling experience, but you can do it with proper mental preparation. If you are considering to do a hike up to Mount Ophir, this post will help you prepare yourself for what to expect. At 1267m, Mount Ophir is the tallest peak in Johor, and is ranked the 6th hardest trek to conquer in Malaysia. The entire hike to the summit and back will take you around 9 to 11 hours. While the trek will test your grit, endurance and perseverance, it will also offer you the peace and tranquility of nature and reward you with a sense of achievement. Read on to prepare yourself for the trek, or check my other post for tips to prepare yourself for any trekking vacations!
1. Be greeted by the stairways to heaven
The very start of the Ophir hike is a flight of stairs. I was told that there was approximately 700 steps by a local guide, even though online information have indicated it to be around 400 steps. While the stairs are not too steep and relatively manageable, it took my group approximately 1 to 2 hours to overcome it. To me, it feels like the objective of the stairs was to wear us out, like the long marches ahead of the ultimate battle.
2. Go on all fours and bow down to the might of nature
Behold the mighty mountain. Throughout the climb, there will be points where you are expected to go on all fours, scrambling up the slopes on your hands and knees. There will be ladders that you will need to ascend, ropes to scale, rocks to burrow, or steep steps to climb. At this point, you will wish that you had a pair of light gloves with you.
3. Complete the Killer For Climbers challenge
Perhaps the most gruesome part of the climb is when you start the KFC route. Climbers named it after Kentucky Friend Chicken, except in this case, it meant Killer For Climbers. The route starts shortly after a stream where you will have your lunch and break. Hike upwards slowly, with each step that you take approximately the height of your knee (between 50cm and 1m). This will last you for a couple of hours before you reach the top where the land tapers off to a gentle slope again.
4. Challenge your fear of heights
Scaling the big boulder using ropes was probably the highlight, but also the ultimate challenge for the hike. This will take place during the KFC route. You will need to scale up a big boulder, approximately five metres in height, using only ropes. If you can, stop mid-way, and turn your head around to enjoy the picturesque view. But don’t look down as it will remind you about what might happen if you fall off the ropes. Use the ropes on the extreme right if you don’t feel confident. If you have intense fear for heights, there are ladders to the side of the boulder to help you clear this part of the trek. Take comfort in the fact that you are probably not too far from the peak when you reach this point.
5. Enter the tranquil garden after a grueling climb
All of a sudden, you have reached the 700 metres mark. The steep slopes tapered off to a gentler, milder, trek. And the rainforest is nowhere in sight. Instead, the air is much cooler, with greenery all around you. Beautiful ferns, pitcher plants and shrubs streteched for miles ahead. Walk through tunnels formed by branches of low lying trees, with colorful flowers attracting the chirps of birds. Suddenly, you are in wonderland.
6. Up some rocks to the summit
After all that you have went through at KFC, the remaining hike to the summit should feel like a breeze. At the summit, depending on God’s will, you will either good view of the surrounding landscape, or like us, we just saw clouds everywhere.
7. Descending seems easy but it is not
Coming down is usually the toughest part of any hike. It is also where injuries may happen. At this point, you are worn out, legs are aching and your body screaming to go home. Your knees and ankles will probably be wobbling in pain. Go slow. Take care of your knees. You will need to descend down a series of slopes. Even though there are some ropes to help buffer your descend, you might need to grab on to branches or get down on your butt to get off the mountain. Take care of your knees and look forward to seeing the stairways where you started off in the morning (Though I didn’t find a need to, you can consider a hiking stick to help you manage the descend).
Hike is tough but you can be prepared for it
Overall, the Ophir hike is quite tough for beginners and should not be underestimated. Tough as it may be, with some training and preparation, you can still overcome it and find a rewarding experience for yourself. You can read more about some tips to prepare for a trekking trip here. Or if you are already convinced to proceed with the challenge, find out more about how to plan for a trip to Mount Ophir.