Tribute to Valerian Joannes

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TRIBUTE TO VALERIAN JOANNES  (25 Nov 1987 to 5 June 2015)

I met Valerian in January 2014 when I was on assignment for Sabah Tourism Board & Sabah Parks Board of Trustees to develop guidebooks for the Kinabalu Park, Malaysia’s First World Heritage Site. I was also working on a coffee table book on Kinabalu Park which was just recently published this year.

My assignment was to capture the beauty of the gardens of the Laban Rata area and the adventure of Via Ferrata. Scheduled to shoot the via ferrata the next morning,  I was advised to attend a training session that evening.  A jovial Valerian introduced himself as “Ian” and even before the official training he was already goofing around.

Ian was Mountain Torq’s trainer and mountain guide, the company operating the via ferrata at Mt. Kinabalu rock face, the world’s highest and asia’s first via ferrata.  There are 2 routes to choose from, Low’s Peak Circuit and Walk the Torq. Both are equally thrilling and beautifully crafted to get you out onto the bare mountain walls. And the best part is, that you don’t even need to have any mountaineering experience to do it. It’s professionally guided and safe for anyone to try.

Since I was there for a photo shoot, Ian advised us to start the ascend to the Low’s Peak Circuit at 4.30 AM to catch the sunrise on the way up. Ian was a superb trainer and guide and he gave me and my assistant John Lee, a breathtaking experience scaling through the rock face of Mount Kinabalu.

Some of the images of Ian captured from this photo assignment were eventually published in Sabah Tourism Board’s official tourism guidebooks to Kinabalu Park, exhibited at Kuala Lumpur Photographic Festival and published in international travel magazines. Ian also used the picture as his profile pictures in his facebook account.

On the 5th of June, 7:15am local time, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.0 struck Mt Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. At that time, Valerian Joannes and Ricky Masirin were guiding a group of passionate and amazing students on the via ferrata, when the rock avalanche which was created by the earthquake came tumbling down the mountain face. Both of them gave their lives in their attempt to protect their charges.

I am deeply saddened by this tragedy and would like to pay a tribute to Valerian through this collection of images which I have captured (most of them he has not even seen or published). Though we have only spend 12 hours together, this collection of images will show you Valerian’s daily job of providing so much happiness and joy to the thousands of guest that he has enlighten by his hospitality, smile and the sheer beauty of the via ferrata experience at the majestic Mount Kinabalu. His smile and cheerfulness shall forever be remembered. A copy of this images will also be given to his family and friends for remembrance.  Valerian leaves behind his parents, brothers and sisters and fiance.



If you enjoyed viewing this collection of images, you can further contribute an act of kindness by donating to the families of Valerian Joannes & Ricky Masirin through this link:

This donation fund is set up by Mountain Torq and every cent of donations received will be given to their family.



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