A Singaporean fell to his death while training for a competitive climb on Mount Kinabalu, Malaysian police said yesterday.
Mr Woon Tai Kiang, 36, is believed to have fallen about 150m into a ravine after slipping off the trail, and died of serious head injuries, according to rescuers and police.
Mr Woon was a familiar face in the ultra-running circle. Friends remember him as an avid and passionate trail runner who was serious about his training sessions and often shared running advice.
Technical support manager Joshua Lin, 47, who has known Mr Woon for more than two years, said the running enthusiast was so committed to the sport that he would travel to Malaysia, the Philippines and even Switzerland to race.
The Straits Times understands that Mr Woon's girlfriend flew to Kota Kinabalu yesterday afternoon. He had been in Kinabalu for a few days before the incident.
Accountant Michael Aw Yong, 53, who got to know him two years ago through running, said the ultra marathoner was always trying to challenge his limits.
"He was a true buddy, someone who would not hesitate to go out of his way to do things for his friends," he added.
Outside of running, his friends say he was humorous, humble and always had a smile on his face.
It was not Mr Woon's first time attempting the Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon.
He had been training on Saturday for the climbathon to be held on Oct 16 but failed to report back to the Sabah Parks authorities at midnight.
Park officers and a mountain search and rescue (Mosar) team checked Laban Rata, the guesthouse closest to the summit, and other lodgings around Mount Kinabalu but called off the search because of bad weather and low visibility due to fog.
The Fire and Rescue Department joined park rangers after 6am yesterday to resume the search and found the climber at about 7.30am.
Mr Woon's body was found in a ravine near Sayat-Sayat point, about 3,700m above sea level. The checkpoint is the last stop before reaching the 4,096m summit at Low's Peak.
It took rescuers about six hours to take the body down the mountain.
The police then sent the body to a hospital for a post-mortem.
The trail to Low's Peak was reopened in December after the June earthquake last year, which killed 18 people, including seven pupils and two teachers from Tanjong Katong Primary School.