All You Need To Know About The Asahan Trail For Gunung Ledang/Mount Ophir!
Gunung Ledang (1,276m), or Mount Ophir, is a popular hiking destination for amateurs or first-time hikers. Gunung Ledang/Mount Ophir is only 1,276 m but it is the highest mountain in Johor, Malaysia.
There are 2 main trails to the summit. The commonly used Sagil trail (or also know as Lagenda) and the lesser known and supposedly tougher Asahan trail. To find up more about the Sagil trail, you can read up on my original post. This post concerns the lesser known and used Asahan Trail.
I only decided to do the Asahan trail because I was quite bored of organizing the Sagil trail.
The Asahan Trail is a slightly more challenging hike to Sagil from my research. It is still an achievable day hike of around 5 hours up and 4 hours down, with more switchbacks, more rock-face and ropes, and a lot lesser ladders. So I thought, it sounds pretty doable, let me bring a group there. Little did I know I was in for a long long adventure!
Personally, I liked the Asahan Trail more than Sagil route because there are lesser people doing it, and less wait on the ladders! However, the facilities surrounding Asahan isn’t as comfortable. I did this hike in February 2020 and had quite a crazy memorable experience!
Honestly for my trip, I had in my mind a nice dinner and me treating everyone dessert/beer. Moreover, there were people in my group from the healthcare sector and I genuinely thought I could give them a treat as this was done in February during the beginning of Covid-19. However, as it turned out, it became one big adventure!
WHY YOU SHOULD GO
Mount Ophir used to be most climbed mountain in Malaysia, with its proximity to KL, Malacca and Singapore. Many Malaysians and Singaporeans used to climb it regularly, especially noticeable if you climb it on the weekends. However, ever since they increased the prices 3X in 2019, lesser locals have been going to hike Mount Ophir. This means it isn’t so crowded now. The prices for the Asahan trail is the same as the Sagil trail.
To be fair, it is still relatively inexpensive to do Ophir/Gunung Ledang when you compare to other hikes in the region with the intensity. One thing about Singaporeans and hiking is that there are limited hikes you can go around the region without a high cost or time spent travelling. You could go to Indonesia or Taiwan to climb the higher mountains, but the flight costs will set you back at least a few hundred dollars.
Additionally, the Asahan trail is relatively unknown. It is not really for the more casual hikers, as there is no shortcut route like on Sagil to the summit.
Asahan to me is more fun than Sagil and has 2 rock faces to ascend and descend. As compared to Sagil, the rock face section is longer and more thrilling!
So if you are looking for a challenging hike to do on a weekend, Ophir Asahan trail is for you! Especially if you have done Ophir before via Sagil/Lagenda, you should definitely consider doing the Asahan trail at least once!
Do read on my experience the Asahan hike to decide if it is up for you!
*If you wish for someone to organize the trip for you, check out: http://www.littlemonsterstravel.com/ophir/ and contact me via email: [email protected] / Website/ Whatsapp +65 88531035/ +65 97511216. If not read on!
HOW TO DIY THE ASAHAN TRAIL
The registration and transport requirements to DIY Is the same for Sagil and Asahan, the only difference is the location. Therefore, there are repeated information.
In terms of planning, these are the main steps.
1) Decide which route: Sagil vs Asahan
2) Decide whether it should be a 1 day itinerary or a multi-day itinerary
3) Decide whether it is a 1 day hike or camping hike (different prices)
4) Decide whether you wish to extend before or after the hike
5) Register for the hike, arrange for transport, and other accommodation if relevant
There are only 2 main things logistically which needs to be arranged before hand. Registration and transport. These are also the only necessary expenses. Expenses for registration is mainly for the guide and some registration fees.
The most important is reserving or booking of the slots. This is because they will need to arrange for the guides. They generally do not accept on the spot registration. After which, there are some admin matters to settle when you arrive for the hike!
All visitors must register with the national park first. There are limited slots per day. To register, contact the national park directly and tell them which date and how many people you want. You could call to reserve the number of people first. Courtesy dictates that you give an accurate number as there are limited slots. Unless it is peak season (like holiday season), you should be able to get the slots.
To contact them, either fill up the form through the website, email them, call them or whatsapp them (yes it works!).
Location: Gunung Ledang National Park
http://tamanhutanlagenda.blogspot.sg/ The previous website is taken down now. They have a newer and nicer website: http://www.johorparks.gov.my/gunung-ledang/attraction/climbing/
https://www.johornationalparks.gov.my/v3/gunung-ledang/ (Somehow they took down their newer/nice website which was reasonably functional. I got a feeling they are still changing the website)
Email : [email protected]
Call/Whatsapp : +60197772057
I found the best way is to call and whatsapp them. They might take longer to respond via email. They have different people manning the registration books. These are the details you require.
It would be good to register as soon as possible. The website suggests 1 month in advance. This is applicable for any hike on Saturdays.
However, it should be fine if you do it 2 weeks in advance unless you are looking at a Saturday or it is really peak season.
- Number of people
Please give the confirmed number of people as there are limited permits per day. My experience is that they are quite okay with you changing a few people. If not, just give a really good estimate to begin with. They will call you closer to the date to confirm it.
- Date of arrival/climb
- Route – Asahan Trail (1 day summit or camping)
There are various packages, such as camping etc. However, I suggest to just go up to the summit during the day and come back down. It is the simplest and only thing worth doing.
TIP: After you have registered, print out a piece of paper with all the names of the people going, nationality and passport number. This will speed up the process of registration when you are there. I will touch more on the registration process below when you are at the park.
There are a few ways of doing Gunung Ledang hike. I am only listing the relevant ones here. The Day-Hike has a different cost compared to the 2D1N Camping hike.
For a 1 Day Hike, it cost around 70 SGD per pax now. This is a fixed price regardless of how many pax you are, as compared to the old tiered pricing. I have complained a few times to no avail, but I guess they might change it next year. For Malaysians, it is around 50 SGD, so there is a chance of doing it below 80 SGD.
The guides are provided by Gunung Ledang National Park itself. You have no choice about it unless you request for a specific guide! After organizing Ophir a few times, I found out that I’ve always had some issues with the guides. This is also hearing some stories from other people.
I have realised that the guides for Mount Ophir / Gunung Ledang are not particularly helpful. They are mostly not proactive and will just help to the bare minimum or lead the way only. I have many experiences (and heard from others) of the guides disappearing during the hike. Also, they don’t really tailor according to the needs of the group. A similar thing happened for my Asahan hike so read on later to find out! Not to say that all their guides are bad, but don’t expect too much from them!
2D1N Camping Hike
One thing to note for the camping hike is that it doesn’t include your camping equipment and food. So if you were to do a camping hike, you have to bring your own tents/sleeping bag/dinner/stoves etc, and they have to be declared. Sagil is quite nice to camp because you can visit the Twin Falls, but for Asahan, you should only do it if you want to go at a more relaxed pace.
The picture above is for Sagil, but it applies to Asahan with the exception of the “Twin Falls”.
For me, I always suggest a day hike because I honestly rather sleep in Singapore or back in a hotel? I mean I can see why some people would want to camp in Asahan, but the hassle is too much for me!
1 Day Summit Hike
Extra Guide Cost
An extra guide costs 270RM/ Guide.
It is only worth it if you have a big group with inexperienced people, but I would NOT recommend because I don’t have a good impression of Ophir guides.
Admin Matters For The Hike
The park for both Sagil and Asahan is only open from 7am, so it will not be possible to hike earlier. So to give yourself the highest chance of summiting in time, do reach at 7! The rubbish declaration and other admin takes around 30 mins, followed by a briefing from the guides which takes another 15 minutes. Most people start at 8am!
That only applies to the day-hike. If you are doing the camping hike, you can start anytime from 7am – 11am (latest). They will not accept you past 11am, so it would be best to reach by 10am if you are doing the camping hike!
The reason for the timing is because of the cut-off time.
There is always a cut-off time for Gunung Ledang/Mount Ophir. For the Asahan hike, the cut-off is supposedly 11am at CP5, or by 2pm at the summit.
The cut-off time is not a strict cut-off time, there is some flexibility for it. It is meant as a guideline so that one will not end up walking in the dark. The cut-off time should be no problem for most people if you are reasonably fit. If you are not, you can persevere past the cut-off time. The only implication is the overtime charge or deposit which you will put.
I don’t like to think about the cut-off time because it creates a lot of mental pressure, and actually coming down slightly late is okay. I would rather try to complete Gunung Ledang by 8pm than turn back at CP5 just because I missed it by half hour.
Having said that, the cut-off timings are a good gauge for your fitness and progress. Moreover, Asahan trail has no short-cuts! If you are struggling a lot, I think the best is simply to turn back at 1pm if you haven’t reached the summit for the Asahan Trail.
Note: It was because I semi-disregarded the cut-off timings that I had an adventure on my Asahan hike!
You can choose to pay on the spot, or do an online bank transfer. If you are DIYing, I would suggest for you to pay on the spot. If you are nice to them, you can try to ask them to give you the “Malaysian price” ha ha (low chance though)
There is now a deposit of 200RM you have to pay. It is made up of 2 components, the rubbish deposit and the overtime deposit.
The deposit used to only be 100RM, but it has been increased to 200RM. I can imagine it is because of the number of hikers who descend late. This is a compulsory deposit and only in RM. Do remember to collect the deposit when everyone has descended!
Rubbish Deposit: 100RM
>> This is for the rubbish declaration. So every piece of rubbish you left in the mountain, you will be fined 5RM per piece.
Overtime Deposit: 100RM
>> For every hour after 7pm, there is an overtime charge of 50RM per hour. This means, if you reach back at 9pm, you will only get your rubbish deposit back of 100RM. However, it also means they buffered for 4 hours of overtime.
Rubbish Declaration + On-Site Registration
Upon reaching the park, there are a few things which needs to be done.
1) Registration Form: Name + Signature + ID of all participants
>>You can print this before hand to save time.
2) Copy of Passport/ID of all participants
>> If you don’t have it, they can photocopy/take a picture of it on the spot. Sagil has a proper office, but Asahan doesn’t really have so just ask them to take a picture of it.
3) Rubbish Declaration Form
This is provided by them. You have to declare every single item brought up. Do note that they are not going to check everything when you descend, especially if you are late! It is a random check on the items when you come down. So when you descend, do remember to settle this first!
Although the form filling is quite a hassle, I think it is good because it makes people really think of what they are bringing up for the hike! Of course, please do not litter on the mountain and bring everything down!
Tip: Do it responsibly, but one way to get around counting everything is to under-declare what you have brought up
GPS: 2°24’30.1″N 102°35’32.2″E
The park will give you this location: https://goo.gl/maps/GPdeocE2dCbmYuzy6
Or ask you to google LAMAN TIGA BUDAYA, TAMAN TEMA AIR
The location is slightly past the park, as you go along the narrow road, it will be this small gate with a big patch. It is recognizable by the registration building.
The easiest way is to use the GPS.
TIP: There are no nice proper facilities for a group around, so try to use the toilet before you reach Asahan!
It is located in the Gunung Ledang National Park, in the Asahan District, Johor, Malaysia. Tangkak is just around 45 minutes to an hour away from Malcacca, and is 2.5 hours away by road from Singapore. Asahan is another 30 minutes from Tangkak.
From Singapore, take a bus to Larkin terminal. From there, take another bus to Tangkak. I am not sure if there are direct buses to Tangkak, it is highly likely that you must take buses to Segamat or Muar and from there change buses. For more information on how to get from Segamat, you can refer to this website.
Alternatively, make your way to Malacca and take a transport from there to Tangkak. Again, from Tangkak you will need to get another vehicle or taxi to get you in to Asahan. As the journey is longer from Tangkak, expect it to be more expensive as compared to travelling to Sagil/Lagenda Trail.
It is just quite troublesome if you wish to go by public transport. However, it is the cheapest option. Your total journey cost can be less than 20 SGD.
So you would only wish to do this if you have the time to travel the day before.
The best way is to hire your own vehicle/drive over there. This is even more important for Asahan as compared to the Sagil route due to the accessibility!
Honestly, self-driving is definitely the cheapest, but I can’t imagine having the energy to do so! So if you were to self-drive, it should either be a camping itinerary or a multi-day one. I would suggest to combine a trip together to Malacca/JB or Kluang.
However, if due to lack of time, you could just hire a vehicle from Singapore. The ideal range of people to get is at least 6 so that you can hire 1 vehicle. The cost range should be around 50 SGD (per pax). This price only works if you get the driver from JB usually =)
If you wish to hire a vehicle, do let me know!
The itinerary is the same as Sagil route. However, do take note that it takes longer from Tangkak to Asahan. Most people do it as a day-trip, but because Asahan is longer and harder, there are more people who consider doing it as a camping itinerary.
If you wished for an extremely short trip, you can follow my itinerary which means meeting on Friday Night/Saturday Morning and coming back by Saturday night. This means you still have 1 more day of the weekend to relax! Also, most people are working on Fridays so meeting later allows everybody to have enough time to pack and take the last train!
3.30am is the alternative timing instead of 1am and take the hired transport to Gunung Ledang National Park as it only takes 2.5h there. However, if you don’t have a car, it will cost more to take a cab to set location and you will have to wake up at a weird timing. Personally, I would rather deal with the lack of sleep or sleeping in the vehicle.
1.00 am : Meet @ Marsiling MRT
1.30 – 4am : Transport to Gunung Ledang via Tangkak
5.00 am : Breakfast at Tangkak
6.30am : Tangkak – Gunung Ledang National Park
7.00 am : Arrival @ National Park counter – Registration & Tagging items (checking in)
8.00 am : Start climbing to the top
12.00 pm : Arrive at the peak (safety time at the peak until 2.00 pm)
1.00 pm : Descend back to the base
4.30 pm : Arrive at the park, clear the items and wash up.
5.00 pm : Leave.
5.00 pm – 8.30pm : Reach back JB
8.30pm : Go for dinner or go back to Singapore
You will reach Tangkak pretty early so you can have a long breakfast or sleep in the vehicle while waiting for the park to open.
As I mentioned, Ophir is actually a good day hike from the surrounding region. You can plan a 2-3 day weekend trip to Malaysia like Malacca or JB and include Ophir inside. My suggestion is to either stay in Tangkak or Malacca the 1st night, and have the day after Ophir in Malacca / JB.
If you can set off earlier on Friday night, you can take a bus or hired transport to Malacca. From Malacca, it is only 1hour to Gunung Ledang. This way, you will get a good night rest and only need to wake up at 5+am to travel. After the hike, you can spend the next day exploring Malacca or JB and gorging on its variety of good food and justified by a substantial workout aka Gunung Ledang 1 day hike.
Assuming you have around 4 people and took the hired transport : Guide : ~40 SGD Transport : ~35 SGD Your expenses should come up to only 75 SGD in total. If you can get more people, it becomes way cheaper! If less than 4, consider taking the bus instead and it will be less than 50 SGD in total for you!
2019 Update (For Singaporeans): Based on 4 pax
Guide: 70 SGD
Transport: 35 SGD
Estimated Expenses: 105 SGD
If Malaysian, just reduce it by 20 SGD.
What to bring :
It would be best to minimize the things to bring up the mountain as it is a long hike with a huge altitude gain. Also, at the registration you have to declare everything you bring up, so it will speed things up if you minimize your items.
- Some snacks for the hike – Make sure to have a plastic bag for the trash as you need to bring them down. There is no lunch, so dapao (takeaway) your lunch from Tangkak or from home first.
- Trekking clothes (cover your legs please and no jeans ideally) /Raincoat for wet weather.
- Proper hiking shoes or shoes with good grip as you will walk up rocks and the forest
- Hand gloves – To prevent rope burn!
- Clean clothes to change to after the hike – Can leave it in the car
- Water bottle – There is one stop point on the way up and one on the way down to fill up water.
- Small day pack – Don’t bring too big a bag for the hike!
- Mosquito repellent – You will want this
- Camera – Phone camera is usually enough because the lighting is quite bad during the hike.
- Money – To pay the guides and registration.
THE ASAHAN TRAIL
Asahan Trail Hike Details
There is a more updated map but I don’t have a good image of it. Some people stop at CP6, because that is the rock face section. However, after CP 6 there is still 2 more CPs and it connects to Anjung Mahligal which is the summit.
|Starting Point – CP 1||319m||1.65km||45 min|
|CP 1 – CP 2||514m||1km||35 min|
|CP 2 – CP 3||581m||1.1km||30 min|
|CP 3 – CP 4||648m||1.5km||40 min|
|CP 4 – CP 5||837m||1km||60 min|
|CP 5 – CP 6||948m||0.3km||45 min|
|CP 6 – CP 7||1078m||1.8km||60 min|
|CP 7 – CP 8 (Summit)||1287m||0.7km||60 min|
** The above is just a gauge. I buffered a lot of the timing. For most of you, if you are reasonably fit or experienced, you can shave off 10-15 minutes per CP
It seems like quite a straight forward hike, except there are some areas and switchbacks to take note of. From CP 4 – 5, there is a long descend before ascending again. This means ascending on the way back also.
The are 2 parts with the rock face section. First is from CP 5- CP 6, and another one near the summit.
CP 7 – CP 8 is the hardest part of the trek to me! After the rock face and reaching CP 7, it is another 1h+ to the summit. Once again, there is a descend again before ascending. I consider this the most tiring part because mentally you are done after the rock face and expect to only ascend to the summit. Instead, you have to descend again, only to ascend!
There is only 1 waterpoint, and that is at CP 6. The trail is the same way up and down so you’ll pass it twice, if you make the effort because it is located at the campsite at CP6. CP6 is at the rock face, and the campsite is situated slightly to the right of it. Other than that there is no other water point so bring enough water!
About Asahan Trek
This part onwards will be about my Asahan hike in February 2020. It will give one a sense of what the hike is like, as pictures are a good reference. I ended up waiting at the park until 2am (due to the guides etc), so read on if you wish to know more in details!
Singapore -> Breakfast -> Asahan
Same as before, we set off from Marsiling at around 1am. We reached Tangkak extremely early, at 3.30am. There was a lot of time. The usual Chinese breakfast area with the Mamak stall just beside was no longer open. Instead, there was this old uncle who was open at 3am, and selling Chinese mixed rice.
It started raining and I tried to sleep for awhile, before waking up at around 5am. There was another stall across the road selling Chicken/Char Siew Rice and noodles. I wanted to support the old man who was handling all the food by himself, so I got some coffee from him. Actually, my standard breakfast is usually eggs and toast. I suspected that despite this old man making good “Cai Fan”, I don’t think they would be good at the eggs. Not to my surprise, I regretted my order as the eggs were not cooked properly. However, his curry rice/cai fan looks really good, especially the way he roasted his pork and stewed his other meats!
The chicken rice stall open in the morning was Jin Yuan Hao Chicken Rice Shop: https://goo.gl/maps/QecajDgsyNeQaYJp9
The Cai Fan place, also known as Sun Meng Restaurant : https://goo.gl/maps/dC8vzsSDyNA6ARN98
Asahan Registration Office
The drive to Asahan took longer than expected. There are some signs directing us to the Asahan entrance. After driving past the water park, there was a small house on our left, an inconspicuous gate on our right and farmland. I wouldn’t have known it was a registration point except for the fact I had the GPS and I recognized the registration office from the pictures.
This was a much smaller office as compared to the normal Ophir route at sagil, but the same registration process applied. They didn’t have a photocopy machine, so they had to take a picture of all our passports instead.
The toilet was situated on the right side of the building, behind the signage. There were 2 cubicles, but only 1 working. When I say working, take it with a pinch of salt. The lightbulb wasn’t working, the door couldn’t really be locked and it was honestly a very small toilet. You can’t really move around in it, so I can imagine showering would be really troublesome. Moreover, I was wondering how the 12 of us were going to shower after the hike! It would take a long time waiting for each other in just 1 cubicle.
There are some tentage to gather around and a signboard to do the briefing.
After settling all the admin, we gathered in front of the sign to do a final briefing. We had 2 guides for the 12 of us. The guide had a long briefing and tried to make jokes about how tough the trail is. They also mentioned the cut-off time at CP6. They decided to ask me if I wanted to enforce a strict cut-off point, I said no of course! I always want everyone to try first. I assumed the guides will make adjustments if someone was too slow.
However, on hindsight I should have responded slightly differently, because I think they took my response differently from what I expected. This was the start of the problem.
I was slightly impatient as the guide kept droning on about the various CPs even though we were all just raring to go. After I replied, “Yes, everyone will try for summit”, he joked “Oh sure, you also have a 4 hour buffer (due to the deposit)”. Also, he started prepping us that we might descend in the darkness so it would be better to conserve our phone batteries.
Looking back, perhaps that was the moment that he wanted to “teach me a lesson” as a trek leader or he had already judged my group hiking’s capabilities and expected us to walk in the dark?
I’m sorry I don’t have a clear picture of the updated map, the next time I am back there I will take a better picture!
After the briefing, there is only 1 thing left before we started. A group photo! I always take one before we start because it is one of the few times to guarantee that everyone is in the photo, and still smiling ha! We were quite a mix bag of people, and there were some first time hikers, some who haven’t hiked in 20 years, some in sport shoes (despite my advice ><) and one lady was 62 years old!
Everyone was kinda tired from the lack of sleep and all the admin, but looks like we were all ready to finally move!
CP0 (Asahan Registration Point) -> CP 1
We started at 8.11am. For the normal Ophir (via Sagil/Lagenda), the start is a series of well-defined and constructed steps. For Asahan however, you start just by walking behind the registration point.
Luckily for us, it wasn’t raining as we approached Asahan. It was still drizzling in Tangkak! I was so afraid that it would still be raining heavily when we reached Asahan, making the trek horrible. The sky cleared and the air had the fresh morning after rain smell. I was worried that the ground would be soaked and muddy but it wasn’t the case!
Once past, there is a drain and a small bridge. The bridge is made up of small logs so it can be slightly uneven to cross. After that, the trail finally starts.
It is a normal forest trail, similar to that of Ophir Sagil. The leaves littered the ground and was surprisingly untouched by the rain. It took us around 40 minutes to reach CP1. The trail was a gradual ascent at the start, with some parts over some branches and trees. There are some steeper moments, but it wasn’t anything unexpected, especially if you’ve been to a Malaysia hike before.
Although the trail is reasonably straight forward, at some points it can be quite confusing, especially the earlier CPs. This is because it is mainly a forest area and the trail isn’t used by a lot of people. You might turn wrongly and go “Eh? Where’s the path” as they kind of all look the same.
Luckily there are some markers along the way, especially on the trees so keep a look out for them on the way up so you can recognize the confusing parts on the way down!
One of the ladies was slower as compared to the rest. It was a clear difference by the time we reached CP1, as some of them had reached earlier. I was starting to think okay, we will need to split the group. However, I didn’t say anything when we reached CP1 yet as it was too early.
The guide was like oh another hour to CP2. (Note to self, this was the start of the misleading, gross misestimation of timings and distance)
CP 1 -> CP 2
From CP 1 – CP 2, it was surprisingly short. I expected another 45 minutes, but we took half the amount! We only took like 25 minutes to reach CP2.
The morning mist started rolling in, which gave a nice ethereal feel to it. It was like a magical adventure into the forests. I realised I was the only one really taking pictures, the rest were just so focused on the hike!
There was a nice mushroom which ended up being a marker for me on the way back!
My usual mandate is. to walk for 1 hour and rest for 5 minutes. As CP 2 was so short, I was like, “oh don’t need to wait, keep going” as the rest were faster than us because I was walking with the last person and the sweeper guide.
However, the lead guide went “No, let’s wait, because we should give encouragement and morale to the last person.” Well, once he announced like that, it became a social guilt to leave the last person behind. On hindsight, as the trek leader, I should have forced the issue after that (will explain later). But at that point in time, when I heard him phrase it this way, I thought well okay I don’t want to make a big deal because its only CP2 and its true that being the last person can be demoralizing!
So we rested for awhile before continuing to CP3. At this point, I felt that the amount of time the others took to reach CP2, was almost similar to the time they rested! It was not very efficient.
CP 2 –> CP 4
CP 2 to CP 3 was reasonably short also. In fact, CP 2 and CP 3 onwards had a lot more gradual ascents and flat ascents as compared to going to CP 1! The trail is quite similar all the way to CP 4. It is just ascending up the forest roots.
I was enjoying the fresh forest air which I had missed. The misty trees was a nice welcome to the hike. I remembered perspiring buckets when I was hiking the Sagil trail, but for this I was doing okay. It wasn’t as humid or hot due to to the morning mist. Well, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t humid though, I was still perspiring, this is Malaysia afterall.
I also liked the fact that there was nobody around the trail. It was really only us.
We took another 45 minutes to reach CP3, but I think an average person would take only 30 minutes. We took another 40 minutes to reach CP 4.
Once I reached CP4, I could see the rest waiting for us. Basically they have been waiting at every checkpoint for the last person.
At this point, I once again requested for the front to go ahead. I could see the fast people looking impatient, but the lead guide once again gave the same spiel. He also mentioned that once we reach the top, we would split up and race down, and not wait for our friends (as if mocking us that we would abandon our friends). Also, he added that when we reach the top, he would let us descend at our own pace and it would be very quick.
Well, when the guide says like that to the whole group, it is hard to go against him. Additionally, as it was my first time on the Asahan trail, I was afraid there would be points I didn’t know how to go and wasn’t so confident.
On hindsight I learnt that I should have just stood my ground and taken control by insisting that we don’t need to hike together and we can just split in a reasonable manner. Looking at the speed, I should have just left the last person behind with the sweeper guide, asked the fast group to go ahead but wait for us at every check point and gone with the middle group! Ah well hindsight is perfect.
CP 4 –> CP 5
The group started to slow down slightly because they were all willing to walk with the last person. It was a nice gesture but in my mind I was thinking are we going to make it? I felt the pace was too slow and was getting panicky.
After sometime, I told the rest to just overtake. It was too slow for my liking and I preferred to push the pace to ensure people are motivated and a lower risk of people being tired and walking in the dark.
Soon, I was left with the 62 year old lady cause she was starting to slow down. She wasn’t the slowest though, so it was quite an inspiration. Even though her last hike was Mount Kinabalu some years back, I could see that she could naturally hike! She could keep going, just slightly slow.
CP 4 to CP 5 was the start of the switchback. There was a slight ascent first at the start, before going straight down. It was quite tiring because it felt like a dismissal of all our previous effort when we started descending. The descent was around 15 minutes and around 100m! After that, we had to ascend again. It can be quite merciless if you are unprepared for it.
I was okay but in my mind I was thinking, “Omg when I am damn tired on the way back, I would have to walk this damn uphill on the way back! Argh!”
It honestly felt a lot longer than the 45 minutes we were supposed to take. I expected to see the rock face at CP5 because that was what I was told it would be, but it was just another sign greeting us.
As I was walking at the back and knew I was at least 20-30 minutes behind the fast group, I was actually so shocked to see the rest waiting when I reached CP5 that I was like “How come you all are still here, shouldn’t you all do the rock first?” In my mind the rock will take some time, so it was better to have them go first. Everyone just replied that the guide told them to wait and the lead guide continued on the same reasoning again.
Looking back, I realised that because I was more worried about the older lady and the last person, and also worried that the middle group might get lost, I didn’t have the mental space to deal with the guide at that point, which was a mistake!
So everyone had to wait for the last person, of course the moment the last person reached the 1st group continued. However, this was another 20 minutes of wait, and looking at my watch it was already 11+ when we reached. I thought, “Hadn’t we already missed the ‘cut-off time’??”
Although it was not that bad because the general group speed is quite fast, but I didn’t want to delay everybody and stopping for so long wasn’t so good because it makes one feel more tired.
So we tried to take only a short break before heading to to the rock face.
CP 5 – CP 6
Now it finally gets more exciting. From CP5, it still takes another 30-40 minutes of uphill before you reach the rock face, also known as Padang Batu! In fact, the rock face is only at the end of CP5, just before CP6. CP 6 is actually on the rock face!
The best part was that it started drizzling over the rock face, like exactly over it. God wanted to give us a complete hiking experience I guess, as we had all sorts of weather conditions and terrain conditions for this hike. As if we were not tired enough, the drizzle made the rock face more daunting and slippery.
I watched the rest of the group who had already ascended, relaxing and waiting on the top of the rock face, enjoying the view and looking at us struggling.
Soon, it was my turn. It looked pretty steep. I was wondering if the Padang Batu at the Sagil side was similar, but I couldn’t really remember. Having done Ophir Sagil twice, this should not have been an issue for me. However, the rain cause the surface of the rock face to be quite slippery, and I was really scared of that. Moreover, I made the mistake of not tying my shoes tight.
Tip: Tie your shoelaces and shoes tightly before doing the rock face!
All this cumulated in me looking like a turtle scrambling up. I looked extremely “unglam” and embarrassing as I skittered up the rock.
I didn’t even dare to use the rope because I wasn’t confident in my shoes, so I was just walking up the rock face and using my hands a lot, trying my best not to slip as I scrambled up. As I was carrying my big orange bag and really fearful of falling down, I ended up reaching down to the ground with my hands like a noob going up, or like an elderly with bad hunchback.
The lead guide just stared ahead passively and didn’t bother at all.
It felt steeper than the Sagil side and slightly longer in distance also. There is one long rope, and another rope that runs across which makes it like a cross shape. It starts off slightly gradual, before getting steeper. Also, there is a crack in the middle so it makes for better traction.
By the time I made it up, It looked like everyone was waiting for some time already, especially the fast group. In fact, they looked like they have warmed down. I felt so bad for them, but CP6 had a nice view of the area so nobody was complaining.
But I looked at my watch and it was noon already. I was starting to feel panicky. I asked the guide, if there was enough time, and he said “Don’t worry, later when you all descend, it will be like the wind. Very fast, maybe 2-3 hours only.”
2-3 hours? We took like 5 hours to get to CP6, and just 2-3 hours to descend? Especially when it was drizzling? I didn’t think too much about it yet as I was focused on getting everybody up.
Seeing how the last lady was struggling even more now, I could sense that her body condition wasn’t very good. I decided to walk with her from CP6 onwards because it was so tough watching her struggle up the rock face.
CP 6 – CP 7
Everyone was excited after CP6 because honestly, doing the rock face is always fun and quite thrilling in a sense. There is always a slight adrenaline rush to walk up such a rock face. The trees opened out for a fantastic scenery at the rock face. After all, we have been staring at trees for the past few hours!
However, from CP 6 – 7, it is back to the same forest trail and more uphill. It is the longest stretch, in terms of distance, around 1.8km? It took us around an hour plus. I honestly thought CP7 was very close to the summit. You can see the telecom tower from afar and I was like YES I AM GETTING THERE!
I really expected CP 7 to be really close to the summit.
If you are feeling tired on the way to CP 7, CP7 is really soul crushing and demoralising. It has a nice view of the summit, but you can only see the chasm and how far apart you are!
CP 7 is a nice outcropping of rocks with the summit and the broadcasting/telecom towers in the background. I can imagine it being a nice place for a photospot! At that point in time, looking at this image made me feel really depressed because it only showed how far away the summit was! The sign was to the side of it.
Everyone was waiting at CP 7 once again, and the guide was pushing for us to have lunch there. The time was around 1+pm. If we had lunch, we would reach the summit super late. Therefore, I told the group to have some snacks and push on instead. The older lady was feeling faint at some points in time because she hadn’t been drinking water or eating enough. We immediately quickly gave her more food and I forced her to drink isotonic and a lot more water. The weather was quite cooling so she didn’t drink much.
TIP: If you feel faint, please slow down, or stop, drink more water and eat some food, especially sugar please!!
If she had fainted, I would have been really afraid. I mean, the mountain wasn’t worth it, Ophir isn’t that worth it to go to the summit. So I told them if they were not feeling well they should stop at CP 7 and turn back.
In fact, I feel that you should turn back at 1.30pm, wherever you are. So if you have reached CP 7 by 1pm, just have lunch there and u-turn so you will reach down in a respectable time.
However, nobody wanted to turn back. I asked the ‘last lady’, do you wish to go to the summit? It’ll be hard and painful, if you want I’ll help and we try, if not you should rest here and turn back here. She replied “I want to go to the summit”, so then I replied, “Okay, we’ll try”. It was always in my belief to try to help as long as one puts in all the effort.
CP 7 – CP 8 (Summit!)
CP 7 – CP 8 has 3 main highlights.
First, the moment you leave CP7, it is a straight demoralising descent. It isn’t very long, but by then it is enough to make you curse. After descending, you have to ascend again until you hit the next highlight.
The next highlight is the 2nd rock face. This time, the rock face is much longer and steeper. There are 2 routes to the rock face. The left rope/left side is the easier and safer route. It is also shorter in terms of the rock face because it leads to a ladder portion. The right side is the “adventurous” route. It goes up the first section of the rock face, followed by a 2nd section. It is also a lot quicker to go by the right side and you’ll need some arm strength.
The 2 routes split and met up near the summit. Once you hit the 2nd rock face, it is extremely close to the summit, like 10 minutes away.
The group easily split into two. The “humji” or “scaredy cats” like me, or the fearless souls who simply went to the right route.
The guides don’t really help with the ropes as I can imagine it is quite hard to. They just watch you and only help if you are really struggling like you have no leg strength left at all. To be fair, the only way to ascend the rock face is by your own willpower.
One of the guys in the group was wearing an older hiking shoe so the soles came off, and he still went the right route! These people making me worry! But my stance has always been, as long as you feel confident, that is the most important. So I encouraged them to go ahead if they felt okay.
This time, I tied my shoes properly and had an easy time going up. I wanted to look after most of the people who were more afraid therefore I did not risk going up the more “adventurous” route. Everyone in the fast group ascended via the right rope.
For the left rope/easier route, you will first face the rope part which was steeper and narrower than the previous rock face. After which, there will be a series of ladders, before hitting the split road to the other trail (to Sagil/Lagenda) and to the summit. From there it would be only a few minutes to the summit.
Of course, the final highlight is the summit!
I realised the sweeper guide wasn’t really doing anything for most of the hike. Even when seeing the last person struggling really hard, he didn’t really help. Only when she really couldn’t do the rock face anymore, did he pull her by the bag. I was like What! At this point, she needed help to speed up to get to the summit because we were quite late, so in my head I was thinking “Man no use letting her go up by her own effort, just help her already!”. So I gave up and ended up carrying her bag all the way from CP 6 actually.
It felt really inefficient to have 2 people taking care of to 1 person and I was worried about the rest of the group. I always have issues with the Ophir guides and their way of guiding. Although I understand that it is good to encourage hikers to do so in their own effort, but seeing them struggling so much and not helping isn’t doing anyone a favour!
A scary moment happened when she reached the summit. She started to blank out and almost fainted!! I saw her face go pale and told her to stop and hold my hand. Slowly by slowly, we reached the summit! After 7 hours and 8km later, it was already 3pm by then!
3pm! Super late. Actually most of the group didn’t reach that much earlier before us also. Most of them reached around 2.30pm. The delays at each checkpoint were wearing them down. I quickly got all of them to rest and have their meals. Being too worried to eat, I didn’t touch the Kembara pack at all and gave it away.
Luckily for us, the drizzle was only for awhile at the rock face. We had pretty good weather and clear skies at the summit. I thought back to my first trip to Ophir where it was cloudy and there was no view at all!
I went over to talk to the guides, to express my concern over the time as well as my concerns over the descent. To me, it was important to manage the last lady, as well as the older lady on the way down. I can imagine it would be even scarier on the descent, especially on the rock face because it was slippery due to the rain.
They assured me they would do their jobs and that our descent will be fast. 2-3 hours they mentioned again. I estimated at least 3-4 hours for the fast group, and maybe faster if they could run down.
The clouds started to come in and it looked like it was going to have a thunderstorm. The fast group people were getting impatient and I kept looking at my watch. It was 4pm before we finally departed, but of course not before a final summit picture! Although we were extremely late, I was really happy that all of us made it to the summit safely!
I wasn’t really tired even though I haven’t been training or hiking. I think it was the reasonable weather as compared to the extremely hot and humid Malaysia hikes. Perhaps my body is just so used to this “no sleep” Malaysia hikes already. Maybe, it was the adrenaline and worry that was keeping me going, but I felt fine without food and much water.
I had brought the 3.7L Coleman Water bottle + 3L waterbag up in case people needed extra water. This time, I had a feeling it would definitely be useful.
The Descent (In Darkness)
I guess this was the start of the nightmare. The clouds were rolling in and we had to leave plus it was quite late. Some of them were worried about descending, so was I. We had to go down the same way, would it be possible for us to descend down the steep parts?
The guides decided to take action. For safety, we all had to descend together. This was fine until we reached the CP 7 rock face because of the 2 different paths. Same thing, the group was split into 2. You would image that the guides will split into 2 also, because the descent is more slippery and dangerous, but they decided to both help the “weaker” group who took the easier path.
So this slowed down by a lot. One of the guys said the “adventurous” route was way too slippery and luckily managed to come over to our side. The first picture below is going down via the “adventurous” route. The other pictures with the ladder is the easier route.
I honestly have no idea even until now, the need for 2 guides to head down the “easier” route because it was so narrow. They couldn’t really help much also as they both went ahead and I was the last person. As we had to go down 1 by 1, it took a really long time.
I had to wait for everyone to descend before it was my turn. By then everyone was ready to go and the guides joked that they were going ahead. Actually, maybe they were not joking because they thought I was alright, but I was genuinely scared!
It looked steep and slippery, but I guess with tied shoelaces it was actually not so bad going down. One just need to reverse the body of course and trust the legs. However, I still wanted someone looking out for me rather than doing this alone so I kept pleading “Please don’t leave me behind” while the rest laughed. Look at their evil faces when I took the picture.
Once we cleared this, we had to descend and ascend again to CP7. Everyone had more energy now due to lunch and rest so it was quite fast. The last lady was starting to slow down after the initial burst, so I ended up carrying her bag most of the way.
We persevered past CP7 to CP 6 rock face. By then, it was 5pm. I expected everyone to have gone ahead but I was shocked to see them all waiting at the rock face!
“What the hell are you all still doing here? Its 5pm!”
“The guide told us all to wait”
Apparently once again, the head guide told everyone to wait at CP6 until. the last person reached. I was incredulous. It was 5pm and we were still at CP6!! Why were we still gathered here? Couldn’t they head down the rock and wait there because the rock face takes time?
I was throughly annoyed and slightly panicky. The best part was the guide was relaxing at CP6 camp which meant I had to cross the rock to find him. Apparently the guide wanted to wait for the sweeper guide to switch positions.
Rather than wait, I decided to make the decision and asked the fast group, “Are you all okay? Confident?”
The answer was a resounding “Yes!!” and clearly they felt annoyed at having to stop for so long for no reason.
Even though the view was quite nice at CP6 due to the evening sun, we were getting baked for no reason and it was clear we would walk in the night! I was also afraid that the fast group would lose their way but clearly walking in the dark was the worse option because they could just stop and backtrack if they felt lost.
After they promised to stick together in the group, I told them to go ahead and run out of the forest before it got dark.
The moment I did that, the lead guide came running over and angrily asked “Who told them to go”?
Faking ignorance, I claimed that it was too hot on the rock and that they wanted to go down to the shade in the forest. Was there a problem?
“Yes! Who asked them to go? You?”
The guide was clearly annoyed and he kept making a fuss about it. By now, the last lady and the sweeper guide just reached. So both of them started saying that “It was easy to get lost”, “Cp3 onwards has 8 split roads”, “It was very dangerous”, “No appointed leader in the group”.
So I calmly said, “Oh they can at the forest, they are just there”, but the guide just replied “Never mind, just go ahead”.
In my head, I, and definitely the rest who were there was wondering about “So much for telling us we could descend very quickly”. Secondly, if you were so worried you could easily go down the rope and stop them, or I could shout for them to stop, but they didn’t want me to stop the fast group also.
Instead, the guides switched position. So the sweeper guide became the lead guide, and he went down the rope first. This was followed by them asking the rest of us to. go ahead. I had an extra headlight so I passed the guide just in case before descending as the last man.
The rock face had dried out by the time we reached and it was so much easier to descend. In fact, I could descend without using the ropes! The weather really made a difference.
Just a bit of context, the fast group consisted of 4 people. There were 12 of us. The last lady was with 1 guide. So it was 7 of us as the “middle” group. I knew the last lady would be okay with the guide, so once I headed down, I saw the middle group and I asked them, “Where is the front guide”?
The front guide had disappeared on the pretext of catching the “fast group”, and disappeared. So it was just 7 of us by ourselves. It was 5.30pm and fear was creeping into my body with every retreating sunlight.
I pushed the group and told them we should try to walk as fast as possible, without stopping until it gets dark. We managed to walk from CP 5 – CP 3. It was hard to keep the group together as people were tired and at different speeds. So 2 of them was slightly faster, I told them to try to exit if they could before darkness!
So it was 5 of us now so I kept pushing them even though everyone was exhausted. I had no idea how the 62 year old lady could keep going! It was mainly descent, until the CP4 switchback!
By then it was almost dark. Feeling okay, I carried 2 other person’s bags as well as held their hands on the ascent.
“Cheatcode” I said, it wasn’t the time to feel embarrassed, I wanted everyone out before dark! My mind was also, “Omg how late are we going to reach Singapore? What about dinner??”
Luckily I still had water so I was able to provide them because quite a few of them had run out by then. We had been walking for almost 10 hours by then.
The darkness set finally at around 7.30pm and we were forced to use headlights. We were on the way down CP3 then and I was afraid of getting lost because of the guides’ words, however there were no issues.
On hindsight, their words really didn’t make sense!
Throughout the walk, we didn’t see the front guide. With my limited internet connection, I found out the fast group reached down around 7.30pm and the front guide was with them, so I asked them to please tell the front guide to come for us.
Armed with phone lights mainly, I led the way in the dark. I had an extra phone and an extra headlight (which was given to the guide). I knew I had my Suunto watch as a backup in case I got lost.
Descending in the dark is a lot slower, I think also because you are more careful, more afraid of spraining your ankle (and someone did!), more tired and it is harder to navigate. It took us a lot longer to descend.
All the positivity was mainly used up and we were running on fumes and just getting the F*** out of here. We saw some light from afar and thought, “Maybe that’s the exit!”, so we kept going. I kept shouting also, hoping for a response. Occasionally, we heard motorcycle sounds in the distance. It felt close, but my watch was telling me something totally different.
I wanted to hope, but I knew we were still some distance away. So I kept quiet and just kept walking.
We kept chasing the light, feeling energised. 10 mins, 20 mins, yet we still haven’t reached. We forgot about it, only to see it again later. Another 20 mins, we could clearly see the light now.
One of the ladies with us asked, “IS THAT THE EXIT!??”
I checked my watch, and my heart sank. I could see the altitude and distance, we were not quite there yet. Yet what were the lights? Was it the guide? Did he come back for us finally? Can I stop worrying about getting lost?
So shouting (I make bird sounds or go Woohooo), I walked ahead first. Then I heard some sounds, human sounds, sounds of relief “OMG Thank god its you guys!!”
Ah the 2 people who went ahead first were lost! It must have been terrifying for them to have been lost in the dark. Moreover, they were both first-time hikers!
I looked over and exclaimed, “What are you doing over there?!”
They were not that far from the trail, but a few meters away and it was hilarious to see them standing in a patch of branches not knowing where to move when the trail was so close. Actually, they were really close, just made a slight wrong turn because they didn’t go under the branch.
It was sort of a greek tragedy to see them again. On one hand, we were really happy to see them, and vice verse. On the other hand, it wasn’t the exit yet!!
We knew we were close because we had just gone past CP2. I thought CP 1 was the exit, but one of them reminded me that we still had CP 1 – CP 0.
So we had no choice but to keep going after a short break. Luckily, I managed to find the trail all the way without using my watch. This gave me a front of being confident, which was important because the others were all exhausted and fearful. I had to appear calm and tell everyone its alright evem though I was anxious inside. In fact the older lady was really positive! She was like we should take some pictures! I was slightly annoyed at her suggestion because all I could think of was going out, but looking back I wished I took more!
I learnt this from my client that day, or a reminder to myself.
I have many experiences walking in the dark, but for some of them, this might be their first, or even their first time hiking. There was no point in causing more fear and panic in the group. I could have enjoyed it more, be more in the moment. Afterall, we were already in the situation where we had to walk in the dark for a few hours,
There was nothing much I could change except have a more positive mindset. I really wished I had taken more pictures and videos because those would have been memories for the group even if they might have been annoyed at that time.
The group might feel more assured or happier by being more positive and enjoying the “walk in the dark”. However, I was honestly too focused on getting everyone out as soon as possible.
After another hour plus, we finally reached out. The guide, who was with the fast group never reached us! Instead he just waited near the entrance.
We finally exited around 9.30pm, 5+hours descending from the summit. 7 of us by ourselves. The 4 people in the fast group? They managed to get a vehicle and go back to Singapore first (luckily!).
We were so happy to exit and couldn’t wait to just stop and take off our shoes. However, our vehicle parked at the house (where the guy in charge of Asahan stays) and it was still another 100m from the registration office!
Of course at this time, there was no one checking for the rubbish declaration or the deposit because I had forfeited it by then.
The best part, there was no food, no cold drinks. We had to walk back the 100m in order to go to the toilet, which had no light and was extremely cramp. Nobody wanted to entertain the thought. The house didn’t have a toilet but had a hose.
It was pitch black a few metres away and we could see the star-studded sky. That was a bright spot in the darkness! It was quite nice. to walk under the stars and enjoy the cool weather.
(Once again, I really regret not taking more pictures)
The ladies went to the vehicle to change, and I went to the darkness to wash with the hose and change. I was literally buck naked a few metres from everyone and nobody could see me. It was quite an experience!
The last lady was still walking down with the guide so we thought she would take some time. We had to wait for her before leaving for Singapore.
Worn out and stoned, everyone took their time to clean up. By the time we were done, it was 10.30pm already, yet she wasn’t out.
We had to drive at least 15 minutes to a nearby place for dinner as there were no shops opened nearby. By the time we had finished dinner, it was 11.30. I was really worried and so were her friends. I kept thinking that we should have persuaded her at CP7 not to go to the summit, or I should have enforced the cut-off time. We packed some food for her and headed back.
The rest slept in the vehicle while I waited outside, waiting for the news. Seated outside with the driver and the other guide. I couldn’t sleep, even though I had hiked for at least 12 hours and had not slept the previous night also.
I realised the guide’s job was to take the motorbike and bike around to make sounds. It brought me back to when I was hiking in the dark and heard the sounds. It had some use because it gave some form of encouragement, but surely HIKING BACK FOR US WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER?
So we waited, getting sparodic news from the walkie-talkie. The guide’s walkie talkie had limited battery so he only communicated back once in awhile. The good thing was throughout the whole time, news was that she was safe just slow.
12am, 1am. My mind was going slightly delirious at this point, due to the worry, the guilt, the lack of sleep. I started thinking, what if something happened inside? Is she really okay? What if the guide did something?
They were ridiculous unreasonable thoughts but that is what worry does to you.
I asked the Asahan guy, what was the latest time? 8am. They told me one couple walked until 8am. That was 24 hours! Insane!
2am. Finally we got news that she was reaching. I saw the headlight in the distance so I walked over to the office to wait for her.
2.20am, she finally reached! Her perseverance and determination were really amazing! To her credit, she was still sane, just really tired. She even had the ability to change in the toilet with limited light! I would have just collapsed. I can’t imagine walking until 2.20am, in the dark alone (with the guide), feeling like it is never-ending. It must have been so tough. I was really thankful she persevered.
I gave the guides a quick tip before departing. Despite our disagreements, and me not understanding their rationale, to be fair to the guide he did walk with her until 2am. Guess what was his final words to me?
“See, next time listen and follow the cut-off time”
What? Did you want to walk until 2am just to prove that? Also, I was confident that all of us, except the last lady would have made it out by sunset if we didn’t keep waiting. It was a learning experience for me, but until now the guides’ actions made me scratch my head.
We reached Singapore at 6am, along with all the Malaysians crossing the border on a Sunday. It was a real crazy adventure as it was almost 30 hours since we left Singapore.
After the trip I asked the lady, did she regret walking till 2am? Should I have forced her to turn back at CP6/7?
No, she didn’t regret. At that point, she would also most likely argued and refused to turn back. However, I had enforced the cut-off point, she would have understood but be disappointed.
This made me feel better, but I had a lot of learning points after this trip! So this concludes my long Asahan adventure!
Mount Ophir or Gunung Ledang is a solid dayhike. The more I do it, the more I can understand why it is a training hike. It trains your endurance and mental strength. If you’ve read my story, DON’T BE AFRAID IT ISN’T THAT TOUGH!
Personally, in terms of the terrain, I prefer the Asahan trail. This is because the Sagil/Lagenda trail for Mount Ophir/Gunung Ledang has too many ladders. Perhaps the cooling weather on my hike made the difference, but for now Asahan is more fun for me. It is also more fun because I feel that it is slightly more challenging and the rock faces is longer and more enjoyable!
Unfortunately, Asahan is such a decrepit place. I don’t look forward to bringing a group there due to the lack of facilities. I guess if you are driving in yourself it is not an issue, but for a group or getting a private van, it is not the nicest place to go!
So, I would suggest Asahan only if you have an experienced or reasonably fast group. Another way is to have a turnaround point of 1pm, unless you happen to know you are fast enough. This will allow the group to have enough time to descend by 6pm, exit for dinner and a better toilet somewhere else.
Asahan isn’t say out of your reach even if you are slightly unfit or not very experienced. Don’t be too afraid by my post! I just think you need to be mentally tougher, and training up for it would be good.
Also if you are going in your own vehicle or a smaller group it would be easier (less guilt for holding people back). If you are far from the summit at 1pm and feeling really exhausted, it might be wise to turn back if not be prepared to walk in the dark!
Most people descend Sagil by 4-5pm, and there is a short-cut for Sagil. However, for the Asahan trail, there is no shortcut and the average descent time is around 6pm. It will be good to buffer a longer time for Asahan.
I read other blogs where they only took 4 hours up and 3 hours down (I think I can do it) but I think that is only for reasonably fast people!
It was the first time I’ve finished Ophir so late at 2am, and the first time I’ve done a Malaysia hike that ended so late.
I firmly believe we only took so long because of the guides, and the fact that it was drizzling on the rock face which made it very slippery on the way up and down. The rock face sections were way way easier when it was dry. This, coupled with the odd decision of the guides to hold the group back at every checkpoint caused the delay. I’ve seen the other blogs and see “average looking” people finish by 6.30pm. So It is actually doable! It just depends on your condition on that day!
So if you have done Ophir/Gunung Ledang before via the normal trail (Sagil/Lagenda), do check out the Asahan trail at least once, especially if you’ve done Ophir/Gunung Ledang multiple times before!
I think Asahan trail is worth a try at least once! I can’t believe I’m saying this for Mount Ophir/Gunung Ledang ha ha!
For more links on Mount Ophir/Gunung Ledang Asahan Trail, do check out these links. There are not much information on Asahan trail, so you might need to use google translate for the Malay blogs. I used them for reference!