How do they do it?

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We could never have made it to the summit of Mount Kinabalu without the substantial aid of our friendly porter/guide. He carried over 10 kgs of our luggage on his back, while we had another 12 kgs between us in two day packs (mine being by far the lighter of the two!) He also guided us over the treacherous terrain and was constantly checking that we were managing. He had a walkie-talkie and kept in close contact with the others in our group as well as the authorities at the gate. When we stopped for a breather, usually taking the chance to have a long drink and something to eat, he simply crouched down and enjoyed a cigarette! As we were carefully negotiating the rocky steps, we would have to step aside for another porter carrying something incredibly heavy up to the base camp, which reminded us that almost everything up there has to be carted up on someone’s back! The porter in this photo is carrying a gas cylinder. They seem so sure-footed in their cheap plastic shoes and they run back down having deposited their loads at the top. They are extraordinary people.

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