Buatin Blandong climbs Kinabalu at 90, breaks own previous record

KOTA KINABALU: Nonagenarian Buatin Blandong has always lived an active life, from jogging long distances to cycling, boxing – and even learning silat.

Due to his immense love for sports and being active physically, he has rarely missed his regular jogs and exercise even though he is now 90 years old.

Recently, the former Sabah State Railway Department employee broke a record he “accidentally” created in 2015, by once again becoming the nation’s oldest man to scale Mount Kinabalu when he was 83.

“Back in 2015, I climbed Mount Kinabalu and after returning home, I found that news of me successfully completing the hike as the oldest Malaysian was in almost every local newspaper,” Buatin said.

“I did not think of creating any record during that time but when the papers mentioned my achievement, I vowed to do it again to break my own record,” he added when met at the house of one of his children in Putatan on Wednesday (Sept 7).

Recalling his preparations to make the Sept 5 climb, he said he had started training intensely since early this year.

The father of five went for his jogs and hiked a hill for a distance of 12km almost everyday, adding that he lost 5kg due to the training.

“There is a cemetery that I have to pass by but I just put my concerns and occasional fears aside, telling the spirits to not disturb me as I was just there to exercise,” Buatin joked.

As the dates for his hike neared, he prayed more and visited a priest to get his blessings for his mission.

He also did a body and health examination prior to that just to certify that he was fit enough to do the climb.

“On the day of us heading up to the summit, I actually passed out for a few seconds, but regained consciousness after that,” said Buatin.

He said it was raining both the days he scaled the mountain, but he managed to get through the cold, with his backache, lightheadedness and difficulty talking due to a numb tongue from the cold.

“I have to really thank my guide, family and friends for supporting me and assisting me throughout this climb,” he said.

Buatin managed to reach the summit at 2.20pm on Sept 5, and made it down to the starting point at Timpohon Gate at 6.15pm the next day.

He said although the time taken to complete this climb was longer than the average climber, it did not matter because he made it.

He said he could run down the mountain after reaching the peak when he was much younger and stronger.

“But now, I walk slowly. I take shorter steps,” said Buatin, adding that he hopes his story can inspire others to also pursue their dreams regardless of age or whatever reasons they may have.

He wants his achievement to encourage more Sabahans to try scaling Mount Kinabalu, and do things which they think they cannot.

He said Sabahans are more capable than they give themselves credit for.

Buatin also welcomed anyone who wishes to challenge his record, and just get out of their comfort zone.

Asked how he manages to stay fit until today, he said a healthy diet plus regular exercise and taking supplements were what he lived by.

He however said that each person has a different body type and they should practise what works best for them to stay healthy and strong.