Sunday, 16 September 2012

Climbing Mount Kinabalu. "A Guide To A Climb of A Lifetime"

Mount Kinabalu in Malay, Gunung Kinabalu is a prominent mountain on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. It is located in the East Malaysian state of Sabah and is protected as Kinabalu National Park, a World Heritage Site. Kinabalu is the highest peak in Borneo's Crocker Range and is the highest mountain in the Malay Archipelago.

Mount Kinabalu (4095m) is the tallest mountain in South-East Asia and is situated in the Kinabalu National Park in the province of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo. Thousands of tourists visit Kinabalu National Park each year and most come with the intention of climbing Mount Kinabalu.

Fortunately, Mount Kinabalu is one of the easiest peaks in the world to conquer. It takes just two days and climbers don't need any previous experience at mountain climbing. At sunrise, the views from the Mount Kinabalu's summit at Low's Peak are spectacular, making all the effort worthwhile.

Most climbers take two days to ascend and descend Mount Kinabalu. The eight-kilometre climb generally starts from the the Timpohon Gate near park headquarters (1800m), with an overnight stay at one of the guest houses at Laban Rata (3273m), before pushing on to the summit early next morning. Mount Kinabalu's summit is usually reached in time to view the sunrise, before returning to Laban Rata for breakfast. Climbers then descend the mountain, generally reaching the park headquarters by mid-afternoon.

Anyone with a reasonable level of fitness and the willpower to push through fatigue and discomfort can climb to the summit of Mount Kinabalu. It is achievable and incredibly rewarding.

One of the main attractions of climbing Mt Kinabalu is its accessibility. Prospective climbers don't need any previous experience at high altitude, nor do they require any specialised equipment.
However, weather conditions can change rapidly on the mountain. A clear, warm day can suddenly turn into heavy sleeting rain in a matter of minutes. Climbers must be well prepared for any eventuality.

All bedding requirements are provided at Laban Rata, so there's no need to take sleeping bags and the like. Meals can be purchased relatively cheaply at Laban Rata, so climbers need only provide snacks and lunch on the first day (if it's not provided by a tour group).
As such, the trip can be completed comfortably with a small backpack of about 35-40L. A larger pack will be fine, but keep weight to a minimum. After all, it's hard enough climbing the mountain without lugging any unnecessary weight!

All climbers must purchase a climbing permit from the park headquarters before they depart. This will be checked at both Laban Rata and the Sayat-Sayat hut closer to the summit, so there's no way around it! Permits cost RM100 for non-Malay adults (RM40 for children), while Malay adults pay RM30 (RM12 for their children).

The park also requires that all climbing groups hire a guide to accompany you on your trek up the mountain. The actual cost of hiring a guide varies from RM70-100, depending on the size of your group, but a guide can be responsible for eight people at most.
Finally, each climber must also pay an insurance fee (RM7) before they embark on the climb.

tourgroup.jpgA tour group preparing for their climb at park headquarters.kinabalu.jpgMt Kinabalu, as seen from park headquarters.timpohon.jpgThe sign at Timpohon Gate, marking the start of the climb.
earlytrack.jpgStairs are common in the early stages of the trek.pondok.jpgPondoks, or rest huts, are dotted along the track every kilometre or so.earlytrack2.jpgThe rainforest becomes more lush as you ascend the mountain.
trackmap.jpgA route map is posted every kilometre along the climb.waterfall.jpgEnjoy the rainforest surrounds while you've still got the energy!layang.jpgLayang-Layang hut marks lunch - and the start of the hard stuff!
labantrack.jpgThe track becomes more rocky and barren past Layang-Layang.pitcher.jpgWhile rare, pitcher plants can be seen alongside the track.landscape.jpgJust before Laban Rata, the landscape changes dramatically.
pondoksign.jpgClimbers are left in no doubt as to their position on the trail.
After four hours on the track, finally - Laban Rata guest house.
lowspeak.jpgLooking back towards Low's Peak at the start of the descent.spire1.jpgStunning views as climbers descend past the eye-catching South Peak.


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