Mount Kinabalu – What an adventurous and special experience. We decided to start our mountain tour on Wednesday the 18th of February. Our climbing group existed in total of 6 people. Some were already experienced, for others was it the first climb. Everyone sat in the van with different thoughts: excitement, the feeling of the unknown and the feeling of am I ready or not.. We decided to start our climb from Mesilau. This was a 2 kilometer longer trail, but the scenery should be more beautiful than the Timpohon trail. The drive to Mesilau was already beautiful with all the mountains, the wide views and the nature. We could even see Mount Kinabalu, but the summit was hidden in the clouds. This made the mountain even more mysterious.
We arrived at Mesilau at the end of the day. You already could feel the difference in temperature, it was much colder! The Mesilau Nature Resort has a beautiful surrounding area full of nature. We even saw some monkeys jumping from tree to tree! After we dropped off our luggage in our lodge, a dorm we shared with the six of us, it was time for dinner. The dinner exists of four different dishes, it was a lot of food, but you really needed it for the upcoming days. After we had eaten enough, we went back to our lodge for a good sleep. Because the next morning…
Rise and Shine!! Put on your walking shoes, trekking clothes and pack you backpack; it’s time! Enjoy a heavy breakfast, to refill your energy to the fullest. Meet the mountain guide in front of the Mesilau trail. He will inform you about the trail, rules and safety regulations. He told us that we could walk our own speed and that he will stay with the one who is walking behind. At 08.30 hours, we started with our hike. After every 600 meters there was a shelter were you could rest. The rest was only about 3 minutes, otherwise your body would get too cold or stiff. In the beginning I thought, 600 meters, that’s quick. But soon I changed my mind and was happy that the shelters were there! The hike is very tiring, because you climb “stairs” all the time.
But the stairs are no real stairs, for one you have to take very big steps, the other exists of rocks or sand and so on. So when you see a shelter, you are very happy that you can relax for a while. After more than 5.5 km we reached the junction, with the Timpohon trail. From that point on all climbers hike the same trail.
The Mesilau trail is definitely worthwhile to trek. Imagine walking through the woods, seeing a waterfall, spotting the Pitcher Plant, squirrels trying to steal your food, seeing wide sceneries and the summit of Mount Kinabalu, walking through and above the clouds. You will forget that you are tired of walking and that it is hard; but the scenery is breathtaking!
Trekking from the junction, the path will gradually be even more precipitous. You will get higher and higher. The vegetation changes into woods full of bonsais and the finish point for that day will come closer. The quiet atmosphere while walking will make you feel one with the nature and you could just empty your mind.
After 8 hours of walking and climbing we saw the finish point for that day: Laban Rata. The hostel is at a point of 3272.7 meters high. At Laban Rata, we had our dinner. It felt really good to eat some warm food and get a little bit of energy again. After dinner, we were really in the mood for a warm shower. There was no hot water, but luckily we had the possibility to boil cold water to shower. Or at least, a warm traditional shower. This means that you mix the warm and cold water in a bucket to get the right temperature. After that, you have to scoop the water in a small bowl and throw it over you. For me, as a Western, it was quite an experience. But surprisingly, I felt fresh again. After the shower, everyone went to bed. Because the next day, or night, we had to wake up at 0130 hours!
We dressed warm because the summit will be cold, had some breakfast, put on our torchlight and then around 2.30am our mountain guide came to pick us up. The feeling while walking was a kind of strange. It was so dark and quiet, the only thing you can see was the area in front of you, where your torchlight was shining on. Furthermore, in the deep you see some villages, because of the small, tiny lights. And then I actually realized how high I was.
The climb became more difficult, between the 1 – 1.5 kilometer before the summit you had to climb and keep yourself balanced with ropes. I was very glad that it was so dark, so I could not see how (maybe) scary it was. And then, after the last ascend I reached the summit of Mount Kinabalu!! It felt really good to be at the summit before sunrise. And when the sun rises, it was so special. You see different colors, and you see how the world slowly awakes. This is not a view I have seen more often. It was so beautiful that I wanted to take a picture every minute.
After the sunrise, it was time to go back to Laban Rata, for our breakfast. Luckily it was much easier to descend with the ropes than I expected and it was not even that scary! And what a beautiful wide view we had, and again we enjoyed it to the fullest.
After breakfast, what felt as dinner because we were already awake for many hours, it was time for the descend via the Timpohon trail. It was an advantage that we took this one, so I could see the difference between both trails. The Timpohon trail, was also a nice trail, however you will not see the wide sceneries. Most of the time you just walk through the forest and see a lot of green.
The first few kilometers were very good; you already made it to the summit, it felt easy to go down, it went much faster and it was not tiring at all. Another thing was that you can support the people who were climbing that day. However, also the last kilometer was heavy. Every step takes a lot of energy and your muscles start to hurt. But you know you are almost there, so you will keep going. Then, after the final stairs you are there! You can say “I conquered Mount Kinabalu successfully” and you can be very proud!
The climb was an amazing experience! It was a great challenge to climb the mountain, however the views, the feeling and experience was so worth it! I will recommend it to everyone who is fit enough, and I will remember it forever. And if get the chance, it will do it again!