Forming a ridge of natural splendour on the edge of Kuala Lumpur, the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge is highest natural quartz formation separating urban landscape and tropical greenery.
It is an unmissable sight. Beyond the glittering glass towers of hotels and office spaces, mountainous shapes welcome the first rays of sunlight to the valley. Collectively known as the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge, or the Gombak Selangor Quartz Ridge, these hills stretch 14km, from Gombak to Taman Melawati. At just an average of 200m wide and 367m above sea level, these hills form an abrupt ridge, partitioning the natural jungle from the concrete one.
The Gem Inside
It is the longest quartz and highest formation of its kind in the entire world and is speculated to have formed millions of years ago, as early as the Upper Cretaceous age. When the Earth underwent the mass dinosaur extinction and the super-continent of Pangaea started to drift apart, a vein of magma formed.
Repeatedly cooling and cracking, the fault movement of tectonic plates resulted in a concentration of sediment and minerals settling in the hollow of the vein. Magma crystallised under the pressure, and crystals of quartz, the second most abundant mineral found on the Earth’s crust (behind feldspar) formed.
The sheer collection of quartz grew from a quartz vein to a quartz dyke, running through granite and other minerals of the land. As a human population was established, the location soon became known as the Old KL-Mersing fault zone. The quartz found in the dyke are mostly milky-white, and the granite-quartz combination proved extremely resistant to weathering and corrosion.
Wonder of the World
Geologists and land surveyors have marvelled at the formations of the quartz mountain, noting that four impressive structures such as the dome, the table, the ramp, and the tower are mostly intact, a rarity to be found so close to a large, modernising city.
The noticeable topography of elongated crags protruding in a cresting gradient has often been likened to a spine, and its size lends to the imagination of a resting dragon. As such, many have affectionately referred to the ridge as the Dragon Back Ridge or Dragon’s Backbone. Others have also called a particularly pointy section the Cock’s Comb, reflecting its similarity to the crest of a rooster.
Not only that, the flora and fauna that are endemic to the area have also shown some distinct evolutionary traits found only on the mountain due to different soil and terrain compositions. Five out of the 265 total plant species recorded in the area are found only on the crags, and the elusive rare Serow goat claims the steep slopes as its home. Gibbons, wild fowl, and other animals also reside in the forest.
These special formations and endemic life are what pushed many to make the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge to be nominated for UNESCO Preservation Consideration for World Heritage Site, a status shared by other fantastic geoheritage areas around the world such as the Serengeti National Park, and the mixed heritage of the Machu Picchu mountainous temple.
The highest points of the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge are located a mere 20 minutes away from the city, in suburban area of Taman Melawati. Accessible via one of its hillsides known as Bukit Tabur, this is a popular hiking spot for adrenaline seekers. The steep craggy walls offer quite a challenge to intermediate climbers, as some spots are nearly vertical to ascend. Much tactical awareness is needed, as well as muscular endurance. The access points are splintered into Tabur West, a moderate climb with checkpoints facing the city, and Tabur East, a more extreme hike offering spectacular views of the Klang Gates Dam.
At certain spots on the trail you’d even get to see the best of both worlds, with the city on one side, and the reservoir on the other. Both routes are a guaranteed four-hour ordeal for the energetic and brave, for many of the higher paths are full of sharp rocks, direct sunlight, and open air. Take heed, there have been reports of hikers getting lost and (fatally) falling off the sides of the crags, so caution and care is advisable.
The Klang Gates Dam is the region’s main water source, channelling water to the city and majority of the Klang Valley. Surrounded by the Gombak Forest Reserve, this portion of greenery continues to naturally aid in tapering the carbon emissions released by the city.
A Looming Threat
In 2010, a proposal involving the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project saw the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge as an obstacle to connect the eastern states of Pahang, Terengganu, and Kelantan to the western half of the Peninsula. Development projects highlighted a tunnel being dug right through the ridge as means of constructing the highway. Destruction of the ecosystem leading up to the quartz mountain was bound to affect the area almost immediately, let alone the drilling of the stone.
Many campaigned to halt such an imminent threat to the precious area, calling for the gazetting and preservation of the reserve. Apart from loss of habitat, the project was eventually cancelled also due to concerns of polluting the central dam. The highway since has been rerouted to head down to Jelebu in Negeri Sembilan before banking to the east.
While the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge has just passed a tentative moment in its long ecological history, similar threats are unfortunately being faced by other, equally fascinating, areas of Malaysia we still have yet to learn much about. The Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve, for example, faces deforestation of a grand scale, and its unique peat swamp forest is under immense threat.
These areas represent an irreplaceable form of Malaysian identity, and could easily contribute to eco-tourism, education, and recreation industries if handled responsibly. Like the Klang Gates Quartz Ridge, the Malaysian rain forest possesses many aspects of being scientifically precious to the study of Asiatic evolution, and no collection of condo blocks or malls can ever match its value.
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