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Book on geologist Bowen's historic Mt Kinabalu climb

Published on: Monday, June 16, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Everyone knows Sir Hugh Low because he is the most published name for making the first recorded climb to the Western Kinabalu rock-face summit plateau in 1851, but no one knows the other Kinabalu hero - Myles Bowen, a Shell petroleum geologist who pioneered the climb up the treacherous vertical rock-face of the Eastern Summit Plateau in October, 1957, together with his climbing partner, Ross Urquhart.

Actually Sir Hugh Low had never set foot on Low's Peak after whom it is named.

It was John Whitehead who first scaled Low's Peak.

But why has it taken almost 100 years after Hugh Low's historic climb that somebody like Bowen decided to climb what everybody says is a much bigger and much more beautiful Eastern Plateau?

Dr Ravi Mandalam, editor of new book entitled 'The Bowen's Route Chronicles' says the reason is simple.

"Nobody dared because of the vertical rock-face!" he noted.

But fearless Bowen and Urquhart dared, did it and became the unsung heroes as the first humans to use technical climbing to overcome the vertical rock-face and even managed to scale both King George Peak and King Edward Peak and back within one day, on October 23 1957, from their base camp in Sayat Sayat.

So here are two Eastern Plateau pioneers who have been dwarfed by a much more dominant name called Hugh Low.

To do Bowen and Urquhart due justice, the Sabah Society managed to secure the climbing photographs and dairies of both Bowen and Urquhart and compiled them in a book which will be launched today (Monday) by Tengku Datuk Zainal Adlin at 7pm at the Sabah Society Office, Damai.

Adlin said since Kinabalu Park is a World Heritage Site, the book on Bowen's historic climb to the Eastern Plateau makes it an invaluable document that befits its world fame.

Publisher Datuk CL Chan said the idea of the book is not to make money out of it but more on preserving its historical value.

Unfortunately, Bowen died of cancer last year, before he has a chance to see his effort published in a book.