Hiking Adam's Peak for the unfit

Hiking Adam's Peak for the unfit

Adam’s Peak, locally know as Sri Pada, has an interesting history. The mountain has significance in almost all major religions. In Buddhism, it’s believed to be the footprint of the Buddha. In Hinduism, it’s the footprint of Shiva. While in Islam and Christianity, it’s believes to the first footsteps of Adam on Earth. 

Many people climb the mountain as part of a pilgrimage. Some, like myself, do it as a touristic stop. The mountain is beautiful from the ground. But it provides even better views once you climb its high peak. I’m not the fittest person in the world. I was a bit timid about climbing it. But, I did just fine. Let me tell you about it.

O, I forgot to mention that I did the climb in the middle of the night to watch the 6am sunrise.

 
Adam's Peak location in Sri Lanka

Adam's Peak location in Sri Lanka

 

The distance between Delhouse Bus Station and Adam's Peak is mare 4.9 kilometers. But, the climb is still no joke. There are over 5,500 steps to go up. Adam's peak is 2,243 meters tall. The Delhouse Bus Station is at a rough elevation of 1250 meters. So, more or less expect to climb about 1000 metes over 5 kilometers in about 3 hours. Doesn't that sound fun to everyone else with a desk job too?! 

In all honesty, it was tough for me to climb it. My legs hurt for at least three or four days after. But, it was worth it. It's just three hours, give or take. Do it! I have no regrets.

 
 

What to bring

I highly suggest doing the trek at night. The sunrise is so worth it. I'm going to gear this post for that. 

  • Some cash, 500RS should be enough for a person
  • At least two bottles of water of 1L or more each
  • A sweater/something warm (it's cold at the top, trust me)
  • A wind breaker wouldn't hurt
  • A head lap or torch
  • A buddy or a guide (more on that later)
  • Something sweat, glucose is your friend here
 

It takes some time to climb it

This photo was taken at 5:15 am. 

This photo was taken at 5:15 am. 

Depending on your fitness level it will take you anywhere between 2 to 4 hours to do the climb. It took me 3. If you want to see the sunrise aim to get there at least 30 minutes beforehand. I'd recommend 45 minutes to an hour before.  Although the sun doesn't rise till a specific time, the sky starts turning beautiful colours way ahead of time, naturally. Getting there earlier allows you to see the complete sunrise from complete darkness to a light day. You don't want to miss it by still climbing. Plus, it puts a lot more pressure on you to get moving while you're still going.

To put thing in perspective, the sunrise for my climb on December 1st was 6:07am.

 

Before the climb

I did this trek with a Hungarian friend I met a few days ahead. We stayed in the near by town of Dalhousie. We knew we had to be at the base of the climb at 2 am. Dalhousie is exactly there. Some people stay in Huttin and take a tuk tuk. I don't recommend that, it's at least an hour in the tuk tuk, one way. You'll want a shower and a bed near by when you're done.

If you can eat a small breakfast. Something like a few pieces of fruit which have glucose and water is a great start. I wish I've done it. I went on an empty stomach in the morning. Paid the price. But, whatever you do, drink at least half of your water bottle before you start your climb. You'll sweat it off, I promise. The last thing you want to do is be dehydrated. 

Lastly, do some light stretches beforehand. It will be painful after word with or without them. But stretching both, before and after the climb will decrease the pain.

 

And, now, the climb

Look at how harmless this looks 

Look at how harmless this looks 

That's what the second part looks like. For about an hour and a half of climbing.

That's what the second part looks like. For about an hour and a half of climbing.

The mountain clim can be divided into three different parts. The first part is pretty easy. It's going uphill a little. No big deal.

One of the first stops on the hike is a buddhist temple. There are many on the way to the peak. But, they stop every body there, there is even a sign at a fork in the road pointing you to it. You can avoid it. It's up to you. There, you will be given a blessing by a monk in a form of a writs band. Shortly after they will ask you for donations. Give what you can. But don't forget to keep some money for buying water, tea or breakfast later. I don't have a photo for this, unfortunately. 

The second part gets much more tedious. That's when all the stairs start coming at you. The continuous steps started around 45 minutes into the climb. Personally, these gave me the hardest time. I became very slow very quickly. That's also when my Hungarian buddy left me behind. He was essentially running around on the stairs. I noticed I was starting to slow him down and annoy him. I told him to go on with out. 

It wasn't really that dramatic. Just as he left, I met these two Irish women who were taking a break. I tagged along with them to the very top. They were climbing with a guide they hired for 3,000RS. I didn't have a hear to tell them I heard you shouldn't pay more than 500RS. They were struggling up the top too. But I had it worse. I had to stop ever few minutes. It was a lot. Mostly, it was the pain in my legs.

You can try a couple of things to help with that. Try walking up sideways or going up zigzagging form left to right. I must say it didn't feel great. People were passing us ever few minutes. But I was at least in good company. One of the women, Patrice, made the climb a lot more fun - at least for me. She kept on cursing her friend who recommended the climb. Threatening and cramming bloody murder in his name. It was hilarious. One of my favourite lines definitely has to be "What the fuck is happening?!" as if we're in the Blair Witch project. It was great. 

One thing the girls mentioned was that the day before someone was trying to sell them glucose. They laughed at them. Now they realized, the merchant was laughing at them back. After maybe 45 minutes to an hour of some serious struggling, we stopped at an open tea shop. I ordered a milk tea. It was very sweet. I think they spike it with sugar at night, before going down, I stopped at the same shop, ordered a milk tea again and it was bitter. Who knows. But, I also ordered a soda. O, what a difference it made!

Our little group sans the dog.

Our little group sans the dog.

Our tea stop was about 20 minutes away from the third part of the stairs where they get extremely steep. While sipping our over sugared teas, we ran into an Australian guy who we saw multiple times over. We would pass him when he was resting and he would pass us when we were resting. He joined our little group to the top as well. Did I mentioned we had a stay dog come with us almost all the way too? He was very smelly. 

 
The third, the last and the toughest part

The third, the last and the toughest part

 

The last hour 

he last hour of climbing proved to be annoying. But, I was determined to get to the top before 5:30 am to watch the sunrise unfold. With my burst of energy, I decided to lead the troops. We slowed down a little. We weren't climbing as fast which means were needed shorter breaks. But we did take many of them, although they were quicker. 

It worked, we made it to the top around 5:25 am. It took me from the time we left our hotel room to the peak exactly 3 hours. Once I was on top, it was freezing and we found a big bunch of people. Probably around 70 people, maybe more. It was a small and crapped space. It was also windy like hell. I was freezing up there! I had two t-shirts, one long sleeved shirt and a wind breaker on. It did nothing. (Shortly after, I found my Hungarian friend from earlier. He claimed the thing in under two hours.) 

Now, enjoy some fantastic photos from the top.

5:22 am

5:22 am

5:33 am

5:33 am

5:46 am

5:46 am

6:04 am

6:04 am

6:07 am

6:07 am

 

Adam's Peak's shadow

 
This photo was edited for the dramatic effect. 

This photo was edited for the dramatic effect. 

If you're up there in the morning, run over to the other side of the mountain. It's not always visible but sometimes when the lighting is very good, you can see the triangular shadow of the mountain. I was freezing so I didn't stay too long. But, many people hop on over to the other side when they are done taking in the sunrise. They watch the shadow disappear. It's a pretty cool thing to see. I mean, it's a perfect triangle! What!

This photo was not edited.

This photo was not edited.

 
 
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I am a freelance web designer who documents her travels with photos and words via Black Journal. Additionally, I work with small companies that want to re-brand their online businesses to create products that change lives of their customers all in the hopes of gaining more customers and retaining their current ones longer.