Standing tall on the 4095M peak of Mt. Kinabalu to witness a panoramic view of Sabah is the dream of many adventure seekers. The mountain is regarded as one of the highest in South East Asia and climber-friendly. There are several folklore stories about this sacred mountain which make this fabled giant so unique. But, what is it exactly that gets the climber so adoring to conquer this mountain? It must be the unprecedented challenge and best of all, it’s such a beautiful mountain.
To scale Mt. Kinabalu, it is highly recommended to do a 3D/2N expedition. Your tour package will cover accommodation in Kinabalu Park or Mesilau and a stay in a resthouse on day 2. Advance booking, preferably 6 months ahead is required to secure accommodation for your climb. You are required to register for climb permit, buy insurance, pay for a mountain guide and a porter if you prefer (optional at a surcharge) at the Park Headquarters. All these will be arranged for you should you book through a tour operator.
There are two routes to consider. The main route is through Timpohon Gate in Kinabalu Park, which is immensely shorter and involves straightforward ascending where you can imagine yourself climbing a never ending ladder. In contrary, if you climb from Mesilau Gate, what will await you is the indescribable thrill of getting the best sights of Mt. Kinabalu. In other words, you are to take a much longer yet leisurely side path that allows you to marvel at wild flowers, rare pitcher plants, creeks, bonsai-like shrubs, figs and oak trees, and of course our star of the expedition, the majestic Mount Kinabalu. Both routes will meet about two kilometers to the Laban Rata Resthouse. Whichever route that you take, you can rest assured that it’s not a climb under scorching hot sun. The paths are always sheltered by lowland rainforest to mountain forest and sub-alpine forest. Sometimes, mist and breezy cool temperature will accompany you up to your resthouse.
A normal trekking speed will take you to the resthouse in late afternoon. It all boils down to your level of physical fitness. Therefore, ample preparations such as doing regular exercise months before the trek is vitally important if you are a novice. Upon arrival at Laban Rata (with heater) or Gunting Lagadan Resthouse (without heater), check in, take a hot shower and be prepared to savor a well deserved dinner at the only restaurant there. Both Western and Asian cuisines are served but don’t expect a gourmet experience at 10,730 feet above sea level. If the weather is clear, you will be treated with a romantic sunset! Advisable to retire early to bed as we need to get up as early as 2.30 am to gear up for the final phase of expedition.
Get up to take some hot coffee or toasts before we meet our mountain guide who will again meticulously ensure that we trek safely. As you progress further, you will notice you are stepping on bare solid rock where some of the points are rather challenging. Endurance and the will to see a rewarding sunrise will definitely lift your spirit to touch the highest peak called Low’s Peak. Don’t forget to look around at other peaks such as the iconic South Peak which reminds us of the top of an ice cream.
As you push yourself to the limit, you will find yourself perched on the summit of Low’s Peak. Mission accomplished! The time would be around 6.30am-7.00am to be at the top – just in time to catch our much anticipated sunrise from the horizon. If weather permits, you will be able to see Kota Kinabalu as well as the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park islands from afar! Other significant view worthy to take note is the second highest mountain in Malaysia called Mt. Trus Madi. Snap as many pictures as you like as remembrance before we descend to Laban Rata. Thick mist will fast catch up sooner or later.
After having complete breakfast, packed and checked out, we will descend the mountain and expected to reach the Park Headquarters around 2.00pm or later. It would be a very fulfilling experience. Just combine the satisfaction of conquering your fitness barriers, fatigue and most remarkably, you are victorious for reaching 4095M or 13435 feet on your own effort. A certificate will be issued to you as acknowledgment.
A word of precaution. Some of you might experience altitude sickness which could affect you during the climb. The symptoms include nausea, dizziness and diarrhea. Therefore, be sure to read and prepare the necessary items or medications to bring as provided by your Tour Consultant.Items to bring: Sun block lotion, personal toiletries, hat, good walking/trekking shoes, windbreaker, towel, torchlight, waterproof gloves, raincoat, water bottle, energy food and personal medical kit including headache tablet and paracetamol for altitude sickness.
See Tour itinerary
By Willie Ki
Pix: Joebonaventure M, Hong Yu Moi, Esmerelda Marie, Abigail Julian, Tanya Tobiassen, Susan soong & Amalina