Gunung Irau – 9th highest in Peninsular Malaysia

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Care to climb a top ten highest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia at relative ease?

No Top Ten Highest Mountains Feet Meters Location State
1 Gunung Tahan 7,185 2,190 Tahan Range Pahang
2 Gunung Korbu 7,162 2,183 Ulu Kinta Perak
3 Gunung Yong Belar 7,156 2,181 Titiwangsa Range Pahang
4 Gunung Gayong 7,129 2,173 Ulu Kinta Perak
5 Gunung Chamah 7,122 2,171 Gua Musang Kelantan
6 Gunung Yong Yap 7,113 2,168 Ulu Kelantan Kelantan
7 Gunung Ulu Sepat 7,089 2,161 Temenggor Kelantan
8 Gunung Batu Putih 6,993 2,131 Kg. Woh, Tapah Perak
9 Gunung Irau  6,923 2,110 Brinchang, CH Pahang
10 Gunung Benom 6,913 2,107 Jerantut Pahang

Gunung Irau is undisputedly the most accessible and the easiest to climb amongst all of Peninsular Malaysia’s top ten highest mountains. It is the ninth highest standing at a height of 6,923 feet or 2,110 meters, a mere 262 feet or 80 meters lower than Gunung Tahan, the highest of them all. But in comparison to Gunung Tahan, climbing Gunung Irau is a walk in the park due to two reasons.

Firstly, the track starts at the Gunung Brinchang trunk road which is the highest paved road in Peninsular Malaysia. This means that you do not start at sea level or in the lowlands but at a relative high altitude of about 6,000 feet.

Secondly, a return trip from the starting point to the peak can be done comfortably within 7 hours which means that there is no need for heavy overnight packs. Comparatively, all of the other ten highest mountains require trekking over longer distances, climbing much higher elevation and involve overnight camping unless you are a  physical extreme junkie where in one case, I know a lady who managed Gunung Korbu in an 18 hours return trip marathon instead of a  4 days normal trek.

My first attempt at Gunung Irau was in August 15. Mei & I left K.L. 3.30 in the morning to meet up with our friends who had put up the night at the Kwan Tee Temple in Kg Raja.

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Earlier stories of hearing a lady sobbing into the night at the temple, prompted us to forgo our sleep and took the wee hours drive instead. We managed to reach on time at 6.30 am for the rendezvous. There were a total of nineteen of us. Break fast came next and promptly at 7.30 am we started driving to the starting point of the track. Unfortunately, our leader’s GPS took us to Brinchang town instead. We were delayed for about 30 minutes when Ee who has been to Irau before, took over the lead and directed us to the correct road and we were soon going past the Pallas tea plantation heading towards Gunung Brinchang.

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We could hear a light air craft hovering above us and the next thing we knew, we were bombarded with white coloured pallets. For a moment we were stunned. It felt like we were attacked by a WWII Zero. The white pellets fell from the sky like rain hitting our car, the road and the surrounding tea plants. Then we realised that the pellets were fertiliser which is been sowed by the plane. What an interesting start to the trip?

We continued our drive up the mountain until we come across a concreted resting hut with a wooden staircase at the side. This is the starting point for Gunung Irau. We promptly parked our cars but with the new digital photographing culture, we lost another good 30 minutes as everyone wanted get their pictures taken.  01

We finally started 9.45 am. Being a big group, there was a queue at the starting point. Mei & I pushed ahead as we did not want to be stuck with the stragglers. The starting point is a series of wooden stair case leading to a wooden broad-walk which ran about 200 meters.

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It was very scenic and we could see the mountain ranges though the trees. At the end of the boardwalk, we started descending. This intrigued me as I thought we were supposed to be climbing.

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The descend took a good 30 minutes before we started climbing again. The terrain consist purely of roots and mud. It was a lot scrambling using all fours. The climb was longer than the descend and just when we thought it was never ending, we reached a summit just before noon. It was a beautiful spacious summit. We were pre-warned that it was a false summit so we knew we still have some ground to cover. Janice & Justin caught up with us 5 minutes later.

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After a short rest, the four of us set out for the Irau summit together.

Again we have to descend and as it was already past noon, we hurried as the turn back time was 2.00 pm.  After 20 minutes, we started the climb again. It was a good 30 minutes to finally reach the summit at about 1.00 pm. Yes, we reached the ninth highest mountain in Peninsular Malaysia.

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We managed to rest a good 20 minutes before the second group arrived. All in nine of us made it to the summit. The rest were either too busy taking pictures of the scenic track or they were stopped at the false summit by Mr. Liau, our organizer who insisted a turn back time of 2.00 pm at the summit or 1.30 pm at the false summit. This was to ensure that everyone has enough time to get out before night fall.

I was pleasantly surprised that the track wasn’t too tough but it was very interesting especially the mossy forest which we have to trek through. The terrain was very challenging and muddy. It involved a lot of scrambling and climbing over trees and roots.

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We left the summit at 1.45 pm and backtracked the same way back. Normally, the return trip is faster for the other mountains as it would be mainly descent but the Gunung Irau trek is shaped like a “W” where we have to descend and then climb to the false peak before descending again and climb the final stretch to reach the starting point. We couldn’t really improved on our returning time. As a matter of fact, I was tired out at the final ascent stretch and was relatively slower.  Nevertheless, we made it out before 5.00 pm and it was a truly great trek. It was most enjoyable!

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20 Responses to Gunung Irau – 9th highest in Peninsular Malaysia

  1. Pingback: Mountains Of Malaysia « Roaring Forties

  2. shorthorse says:

    T’was a tough climb for me … required upper & lower body strength … so it was draining physically … not to mention the bruises & cuts …. But can never forget the feeling … as if we were in the middle of a “Lord of the Rings” movie set…. phenomenal!

  3. asme says:

    It was tiring but a really nice climb. One of the best.

  4. Jane Lee says:

    I will want to go, I want to be where ‘Lord of the Rings’ is…. hopefully not too long to wait..

  5. asme says:

    It is tougher than Buah Bunga but an equally nice climb.

    • Henry says:

      You do mean Bunga Buah, right? If you’ve been there lately, you’ll cry at how high the shrubs have overgrown … another 3 months and the trail will disappear. (Was there 14Jan.) Plus the presence of leeches is not helping any >_< :H

  6. asme says:

    Bunga Buah or Buah Bunga?? We were there in November and the scrubs were taller 6 feet. No leeches then. Will definitely want to make a trip there again in the next 3 months. Thanks for the visit and info, bro!

  7. Freedom says:

    hey can i know if there are checkpoints along the way for a 5 mins rest??? And roughly how long does it take to reach them. Thanks!

    • asme says:

      There are no real check points but you could practically stop and rest anywhere along the way.

      The real rest point would be the false peak which is about two hours hike. From there to the peak of Irau would be another one and a half hour.

      Plan for a leisurely 7 hour return trek unless you are superfit. Could probably do in 5 hours.

  8. Peng Aun says:

    Is it safe to hike up Gunung Irau alone?
    Is the track clearly marked?
    Any high possibility of getting lost?
    Any leeches?
    TQ

    • asme says:

      No leeches in this mountain, the trail is quite clearly marked and it is too far from civilisation for the normal drug addicts or petty bandits to hang out. So it is relatively safe.

      Having said that, you can get lost quite easily due to rain, exhaustion or simply not following the trodden trail.

      Best to go on Sundays when there are other trekkers, if not, having a GPS with sufficient batteries is essential.

  9. cchin says:

    Revisited the place in May this year.. so much as changed! They even have that rest stop and wooden plank walk (which is good). Last time it was all mud (someone actually sank into a quick mud pool!) and it was very easy to get lost when the mist came in suddenly and quickly.

  10. barchan says:

    Thanks for all the info folks. Inspiring experiences! I’m hiking up on 20th Aug 2011. Anyone 1 2 join? Meet at brinchang tower at 9am

  11. Rj says:

    C.R.A.T will go up Irau on sept 2.

  12. Pingback: Mountains Of Malaysia « Everything You Want To Know and More

  13. Pei Ting says:

    Hi,

    My name is Pei Ting and I am interested in leading a group of students (age 20-25) on a trek up Gunung Irau. I really enjoyed the photos and the description for this trek long and thank you for giving such a detailed description of your trip to Irau .
    However, I would like to trouble you by asking you several questions I have with regards to the trek. It would really make the planning a lot smoother. Thank you for taking time to help.

    1) I understand that vans may not be able to get to the starting point of Gunung Irau and a 4WD is needed. How did you go about hiring the 4WD? If possible, I would truly appreciate it if you could leave details of your drivers.
    2) Are permits needed for the climb? If needed, how can it be done?
    3) Are we allowed to camp at the peak instead of the false peak? Are there any campsites at the base of Irau? How many tents can be pitched at the false peak and peak?
    4) Is a guide needed for the trek? If not, is the path well-defined enough for self-navigation?
    5) Where is the last water point before the trek up Irau?

    I understand that there are many questions here, but I am grateful for you taking time to help us out.
    I believe the trek would be a lot smoother with your help. Thank you very much.
    If needed, communicating via email would be fine too.
    Contact: ptlian.2013@economics.smu.edu.sg

    • asme says:

      Hi Pei Ting,

      I am very sorry for this late reply. Have you gone ahead with your trek.

      Sorry I do not have any contacts for the 4WDs but if you get to Cameron Highlands a day earlier, I am sure you can get hooked up with some drivers who will be most glad to earn an extra buck. Or you may opt to try driving up and just park when the roads gets too rough. It would be probably an additional 1 km trek uphill on the broken tarmac road.

      No permits required. The trek is pretty clear and should not be a problem for experienced trekkers.
      If you are all newbies, then a guide should be compulsory. It is best if you have a couple of GPS with you for emergencies.

      There are flat spaces at both peaks which can accommodate easily 5 tents or more. It would be safer to camp at the false peak which is lower to avoid lightning strikes.

      I have gone up Irau 3 times but all day treks. Would not know of a water sources.

      If you are into camping, would suggest you climb Mount Yellow and camp there. This is adjacent to Irau (about 1 1/2 hours from Irau peak). Was told that the scenery there is much better.

      Good luck. Cheers!

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