Shaharuddin at the peak of Saga Hill or Bukit Saga.
Reaching the peak of Mount (Gunung) Datuk.
Shaharuddin receiving a certificate of achievement from a Kinabalu Park representative. Jahirin Ginsos (centre) was his guide.

Shaharuddin Yusof took up mountain climbing after retiring and is loving the active life, writes Kasmiah Mustapha

LEAVING the corporate world at 50 changed Shaharuddin Yusof’s life forever.

Instead of taking it easy and enjoying his free time, he started business ventures. This included selling smoked catfish and also selling rice wholesale.

He also embarked on a hobby — hiking. Every weekend, he hikes up the mountains and hills in Selangor and Negri Sembilan — he has climbed Mount Datuk in Rembau, Angsi in Kuala Pilah, Berembun and Telapak Buruk (both in Jelebu), Tokwan in Broga, Nuang in Hulu Langat, Broga Hill in Semenyih, Saga in Ampang and Tabur in Melawati.

“I hike to improve my health and fitness. When I was working, I used to go to the gym, but only when I had time. I was not really active then.

“When I left the company, I decided not to grow into an unhealthy old man. I wanted to challenge myself, to do something extreme that I had never done before,” he says.

“It started with a few friends who were much younger. We wanted to keep ourselves fit. We hiked every weekend but there were times when I went alone. Unless there are family engagements, I will not miss my hikes.”

Shaharuddin says one should keep healthy, no matter your age.

“Recently, I went to my high school reunion and found that some of my ex- classmates had died or were suffering from chronic illnesses. Everyone had health issues,” he says.

“People should not assume that it is normal for senior citizens to be sickly. If there is a way to prevent disease, we should do it despite our age.”

BE INDEPENDENT

Shaharuddin says people need to be healthy and independent.

“What is the point of living to 60 or 70 years if you suffer from chronic illnesses and have to depend on other people? Just because you are over 60 does not mean you should stay home or sit around in mamak stalls. You must keep active,” he advises.

“I have diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol and I am on medication. Being active prevents my condition from getting worse. Of course, I watch my diet too.”

To challenge himself further, Shaharuddin decided to celebrate his 67th birthday on Aug 23 at the summit of Mt Kinabalu in Sabah.

He had always wanted to conquer the highest peak in the country and had signed up for the climb last year. However, the trail was declared unsafe then after an earthquake struck the area.

Shaharuddin was determined to achieve his dream when the trail reopened this year.

“Unfortunately due to the weather, I did not reach the peak. We were about 750m away when the guides asked if we wanted to turn back. It was windy, rainy and cold and the trail was slippery,” he recalled.

“I made the decision not to take the risk and turned back. It turned out to be a good decision because those who continued the climb said visibility was low at the peak.

“I am disappointed that I did not reach the peak, but I am proud to say that I can do it at my age. The climb was challenging but I managed to keep up with the others. I was the oldest in the group of 100 people.

“Every time I reach the peak of a mountain or hill, I feel happy. It does not matter that I am slow; the important thing is that I am pushing myself as far as I can. When you have a strong will, you can achieve the impossible.”

Next year, Shaharuddin plans to celebrate his birthday with another climb, a 13-day hike along the Annapurna Trail in Nepal.