Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in all Southeast Asia (4,101 m).
This mountain is one of the easiest to conquer. This means you won't need climbing gear or mountain climbing experience to reach the peak. There are
a number of fairly well-marked trails all the way to the summit. In fact the highest mountain in Southeast Asia is in
Myanmar (Burma), Kachin State. This mountain is Mt. Hkababorazi at 5881m. and
the nearest town for adventurers/trekkers is called PutaO.
The best trail is the Summit Trail, which is the standard climbing route.
This trail measures a distance of 8.85 kilometres to Low's Peak, the highest point of the mountain.
The Headquarters is situated on the southern boundary, at an elevation of 1,524m.
Restaurants and an exhibition centre are found here in the Park offices as well. It is only a 2-hour drive from Sabah's capital of Kota Kinabalu.
There were several fees to be paid upon arriving - a Park Entry fee, a Mountain Climbing Permit, accommodation charge, a bus ticket to the trail head, a fee for the guide.
It amounted to about RM90.
After having paid, you start walking to Laban Rata-Rata.
A young and fit person may be able to do this in 3 hours.
The weather can change very quickly from brilliant sunshine, to mist and clouds, to a torrential down-pour.
At roughly every 1 km break, there will be a rest hut. These have toilets and also water tanks.
You do not need to carry up enormous amounts of water as you can refill at these tanks. These extend all the way to 5.5 km which is the Laban Rata Guesthouse.
Be sure to bring some food and a torch for your climb. Most people stop at Laban Rata and then continue the climb the next morning at about 2:00 a.m.
Laban Rata is the first and only restaurant along the way and you can also rent sleeping bags, jackets and blankets. If you have reservations at Gunting Lagadan or Sayat-Sayat huts further up the mountain, they will bring you.
To get to Laban Rata requires a minimum of 4 1/2 hours and probably more like 5-6 hours.
From Laban Rata-Rata, it is about a three-hour climb to the top and the sun usually rises at about 5:15 a.m. It's dark, the path is very narrow and steep.
Here a torch is essential.
At the start the hundred or more climbers and guides are all together in one long line, so separation is difficult.
There is a thick guide rope to hold on to.
The mountain slope quickly becomes almost vertical as the endless, twisting path climbs out of the vegetated part of the mountain onto solid rock.
At the top, you get a really excellent view of the valley, especially in the early morning before the clouds set in.
Most people climb to the summit in time to see the sunrise and dawn creep slowly
over the land, illuminating the coast-line west and north and the dim ranges of hills to the south. In good weather almost all of Sabah can be seen before the
clouds come up (usually around 9.00 or 10.00 am) and it is time to begin the descent.
The effects of the climb down are often felt after.
On the way down you can take a glimpse into the dizzy gash of Lows Gully which splits the eastern side of the mountain. With the early start the descent to
Park Headquarters is easily done in one day.
Probably the easiest way to descend the mountain is to carefully run down the path. When you get to the bottom, there
may or may not be transport and you might well find yourself walking the 5 km path back to the Park Headquarters.
The climb down is difficult, if not worse because of the pounding at the knees, legs and feet.
Going back down the mountain is a hard thing. The big steps are a killer on the knees and muscles.
You can barely walk the next day!
Any suggestions for equipment:
Rucksack with a
waterproof plastic liner
Several "T" shirts and a long sleeve shirt
Several pairs of comfortable socks
Warm sweater or jacket
ports plus a choice of tracksuit bottoms/light-weight trousers (ensure you have enough to keep warm)
Neck scarf of "sweat band"
Strong training shoes with a high-grip tread pattern.
Torch with spare batteries and if possible, spare bulb
Toiletries including any medication you normally take