This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The following interesting remarks are from a letter received by a correspondent from Hugh Low, Esq., Colonial Secretary at Borneo. who hag been the first to aacend the loftiest mountain of that island. The position of Kini-Balu is at the N.E. extremity of Borneo, in about 6° north lat., where it forms a most conspicu. ous feature from the ocean to the east, north, and south. It has hitherto erroneously been presumed to be volcanic, from its peculiarly steep summit, and the rugged crater-like ridges it presents on various sides, and probably as much from analogy, the lofty explored peaks of Java being invariably so. The discovery of its granitic structure is oo this account the more interesting. To the botanist, Kini-Balu seems to afford a rival in Rhododendrons to the Himalaya, and in Pitcher plants to any known country. In the same communication, Mr. Low informs us that he intends again ascending the monntain, and, if possible, reaching a higher elevation. We wish this adventurons and intelligent explorer every success.
Nothing is said of the difficulties and dangers that must have attended his journey from the coast to the foot of the mountain; they were doubtless many and severe, and we wait with anxiety for further particulars, which shall be laid at once be-fore our readers. "Labuan, April 28, 1851. As, when I had the pleasure of meeting you in England, you expressed a wish to know something of the mountain Kini-Balu, I have now the pleasure to inform you, that I have sent to Colonel Butterworth, the Governor of the Straits, a small collection of plants made there by myself, on a visit I paid to the mountain last month, of which I beg your acceptance. I enclose in the same parcel two or three small pieces of the rocks from different parts of the hill, by which you will perceive that the mountain is granitic, and not volcanic, as has been generally supposed. The view of the hill by which it is best known gives it a conical form; but that, I am inclined to think, is from its having been principally observed from the westward, where the end only of the mountain is seen.
I imagined I bad gained the top of the south-west end, but such could not have been the cose, as the height of the point I gained is by barometer only 8616; whereas the top, by triangulation had been found to be 18,600 feet. [Captain Sir E. Belcher, who visited this locality in the Somarang, in 1844, and published, in his ' Narrative' of that voyage, an admirable view of the mountain, drawn on the spot, by Lieut. Browne, estimated its height, from observations made at Labuan, Ambong, Tampas-sook, Mantanani, and other places in the vicinity , to be 18,698 feet. I ts summit was enveloped with mist, and from the difficulties which its outline and surrounding scenery presented. Captain Belcher did not attempt the ascent.] The highest parts are bare granite, and the ridge verynarrow,the side to the northward being sheer precipice. Two or three Orchids were growing on the rock at the extreme point I gained, when the thermometer stood at 62° at noon of a fine day. [ By this observation, the elevation reached by Mr. Low might have been assumed as between 8000and 9000 feet.] The whole of the ascent is exceedingly steep, but with no places with any great difficulty to surmount, as far as 1 went.
I remained two or three nights at an elevation of about 8000 feet, encamped under an overhanging rock, with a pretty considerable torrent rushing past it; the ravine of which was densely clothed with vegetation, including a fine yellow Rhododendron, forming a large shrub or small tree. In the same ravine grew also a Phyllocladus, a small leaved Dacrydium, and another curious Rhododendron, like a Heath.
One of the most remarkable plants was a new Dacrydium, which looked so much like a Spruce Fir, that I, at first, thought it must really be a cone-bearing plant. Of four species of Pitcher plant, one was of a very curious, and to me of quite a new form, and so large as to contain as much water as I could drink at a draught when thirsty, probably a pint; it was a strong grow-ing species, and after a rather long search I found it in flower; but all my specimens of it, together with many others, were thrown away by my lazy followers, during the descent, which we found very severe, aggravated as it was by being made in very heavy rain. This Pitcher plant was not found high on the hill, not more than from 2000 to 4000 feet. In all, I saw thirteen species of Rhododendron, in a distance of about three miles; some of those on the lower parts of the mountain epiphytal, and all that were in flower exceedingly beautiful." - Litera-ry Gazette.