mountaineering with suunto ambit

A redo entry as there was some problem to the original html link

Trying it out…

Recently got a Suunto Ambit HR, and wanted to share a little hands on experience with it at the outdoors, plus I wanted to get out for some activity, mountaineering, physical exercising, stamina building or endurance test, something that I haven’t done in quite sometime, mostly because of my busy schedule and recuperating from my little knee injury (mount kinabalu descent). Thinking that the pain was over, I did some mountain trekking at Indonesia, kawah Ijen, that was a few month back. However, that annoying biting pain was still there although not as intense, but still… very recognizable and uncomfortable!  I wanted to make sure I rehab my knees as well as possible so I stayed passive for few month. Took some chondroitin for medication and went to the gym keeping fit.  Now as my leg is feeling better it seems to be the right time to try trekking again. The third reason is, some physical, endurance and stamina training would do some  good for me as well.

my chondroitin medication..

The chosen location…

Mount Serapi, part of the Kubah National Park. I would have chosen Mount Santubong instead, but since some “people(s)” are collecting payments for entry fees, parking fees and what ever fees, I decided to ostracize Mt Santubong for now and better off with paying the national parks, At least I know where my money is going and with an entry fee of RM10 for adult and RM5 for children and senior citizens, that’s basically it.

summit trail

The park is not only the most visible but also one of the most accessible of Sarawak’s National Parks. 22 KM from the city, 2500 feet at the summit an awesome waterfall with adequately challenging trails to choose from. More info here.

the waterfall stream flows down to few stages below not seen here.

Mt. Serapi is not a first time for me, I’ve been here a few times trekking and exploring so the track is quite familiar. First time trekkers coming here, there wouldn’t be any problem also as the trails are clearly marked, precise to the map and markings are visible. Getting lost inside the park is not easy unless you deviate from the original trail and decide to make one of your own. Which is proven to be difficult at a thick tropical rain forest.

Favorite functions in Suunto Ambit.

I won’t be doing a detail and comprehensive review, operating instruction or any of that. Enough already that they have all that info at the official site, and online forums gives a lot of support as well. All that I have to say is that It is a great piece of device and share what I like about the watch;

  1. Altimeter function. I know how high I have climbed and descent during the duration of my trek. Consistency is what I observed on the displays. The watch exhibits constant change according to the markers and my moves. As with most altimeter reading equipment, they need to be adjusted accordingly to the specific area to get an accurate reading hence the need for a correct reference point.

    altimeter function.
  2. Exercise function. A recording of your activity. Records the heart rate (need to pair with the HR belt), your distance traveled, speed, duration, calories burned etc. Each exercise information display can be customized accordingly to our needs when connected to the moves count website.

    distance and temperature covered
  3. Navigation. With the GPS function available, navigating and saving your location or point of interest (POI) as the menu on the watch defines it,  for later reference is a great help and convenience. Setting routes and waypoints in the watch which is done via a computer before your activity is not much of a high priority to me but I have used it previously to find a location and the accuracy is reliable. Nearing the end of the trail while still in exercise mode, I set the watch to find the return point and it did within the accuracy of 5 metres. The advantage of pointing out our return point to me at that time is that, after 5 hours of walking alone in the jungle, I got the extra motivation to keep going, as I know how closer it gets 😀 . Exploration, jungle trekking, is just easy with this watch. But you need to set the way point first before hand so without a detail or reliable map, knowledge and reference data of that area, the waypoint may be misleading.
  4. Compass built-in the watch is also accurate and reliable, tested it with my mechanical compass and there’s no doubt of it.
  5. Viewing data, back home afterwards, uploading all that info for later viewing in monitoring all the statistics we get a great sense of achievement and motivation to do better and push the limit the next time.
  6. Real time information display at your wrist. Gives me the  motivation, the drive to accomplish and the needed consistency to achieve target, thus making the activity time worth while. The display setting, can be customized according to our preference.

Buttons design are well placed and spaced, I’d imagine there wouldn’t be any problem pressing them even when wearing gloves. The display is large and while the LCD contrast and view might be impaired if seen under a bright sun, it is not an issue to me. After the exercise, upload the exercise information to the moves count site and keep track of performance. All that information, I never had before, limits the training progress and potential, but now with adequate information at my disposal, I can plan my activity and more importantly  monitor performance and progress. Is there any improvement or not and from there create a suitable schedule, either to maintain or increase intensity. I was quite surprised myself during this session as It seems I was performing better than my previous visit. Less resting or stop, consistent climb and not feeling too tired… Perhaps all those rest and gym training paid up.

The not so fun part

Downside to this device is battery time. The more you use the GPS, the faster the battery drains. Setting it to record the GPS with a one minute interval helps saves the battery a bit and you got a battery life of 50 hours, instead setting it to record at 10 sec interval would give you a 15 hours battery life. (information from brochure) So basically, after every day after an intense activity like this, the watch should be charged if we are to continue the next day. The supplied USB charger and connector plus a plug adapter or external power bank, seems the alternative option if you don’t want to always connect it to the PC.

Pictures on the way.

Not much pictures as that was not the main interest for that day, but still managed to get few shots on the way for some story telling. Carrying a 50D up and a lens would make me silly if I was not planning to get pictures 😀

Bird waste

The birds made quite a mess here.  It looks yucky but not all that terrible. I could still rest a while under the shade a this hut.

who’s everone..
the trail to choose from.
Little bug
view of the city
some religious ritual done here..
this picture at 2010

the same trunk I guess… wonder how it would look like another 20 years..

the tree trunk now..
used to be a hut here…

A good day..

It was a good trek that day and was surprised myself there was not any rain at that time considering the raining season now and it’s been raining every day here. Bought along my poncho as I was confident that it would rain. For my knee, I used an Adidas knee support, can’t remember when I bought it but it was comfortable and I think that it sort of helped my knee, In fact I probably will get another one for both legs. Made good time in climbing as well. 1 hour ahead of the scheduled 3 hour 30 minutes that it would take to the summit and I felt alright, compared to my previous climb. Didn’t pant that much as well. 😀 . It was an enjoyable trek and great exercise. As for the suunto ambit, I got the chance to test and see how it performs, Really like the functions it has to offer, easy information and accessible while doing your activity. GPS, heart rate monitoring, distance, direction, speed, records, navigating and all the extra information it can collect is just awesome. For an active outdoor person that likes trekking and exploring, this device is an additional bonus, no regrets.

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