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Climbing Mount Kinabalu
Gunung Kinabalu is Malaysia’s highest mountain and the twentieth most prominent mountain in the world. Also known as ‘Borneo’s roof’, climbing this imposing peak is a real challenge and our insiders guide tells you all you need to know about your journey to the summit.
The highest peak in Sabah’s Crocker Range, climbing Mount Kinabalu is an exciting addition to any itinerary through Borneo for the active adventurer. The immense and impressive Gunung Kinabalu was declared Malaysia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, and is protected as part of Kinabalu Park. Sacred to the local Kadazan Dusun people, they believe that the spirits of their ancestors dwell at the top of the mountain. Its summit (Low’s Peak) measures in at 4,096m, so scaling this lofty jungle mountain is no mean feat!
You don’t have to be an expert in mountain climbing to tackle Mount Kinabalu, as it is considered by most to be a relatively straightforward ascent, taking the majority of visitors just two days to complete (ascent and descent). Although you don’t have to be an athlete, you should still be in a good health and fitness condition before attempting to climb the mountain.
Along with your camera and a sturdy pair of walking boots, bring lightweight layers, a hat, sunglasses and plenty of snacks for an energy boost when you need it. Insect repellent is a must, along with a large water bottle (which can be refilled at each shelter as you ascend the mountain) and a raincoat, as tropical downpours are not uncommon.
Starting amongst the gardens of the National Park HQ, you’ll register and meet your mountain guide. You’ll be transferred by road for about 15 minutes to Timpohon Gate, the entrance to the summit trail and the start of your climb. On the first day, you will walk for approximately 6 hours (not including rest stops) along gravel and sand tracks, past Carson’s Falls and on to the rough, uneven steps that lead you to Laban Rata. You will then spend the night in one of the many rest houses on the side of the mountain, where you can sleep, shower and eat.
The next day you will be woken well before dawn for a very early breakfast, before starting out on the trail. From Laban Rata, you will ascend a series of wooden ladders to the edge of the treeline at Sayat-Sayat, where the steep tracks give way to flatter terrain. The ascent continues, with ropes for guidance at the more challenging sections of the climb, as you reach the flat granite slabs of the summit after about 3 hours.
If you make it to Low’s Peak before dawn, you’ll be rewarded with the most glorious of sunrises appearing above the clouds.
Once you’ve conquered the peak, you’ll begin your descent. Take it slowly, as your legs will be tired from your mammoth climb. As you make your way down, be sure to admire the beautiful array of wildlife and flora embroidering the mountain that you might have missed on your steep climb up. As you descend through the cloud forest, look out for the abundant native orchids, pitcher plants and the magnificent Low’s Rhodedendron, with its vast golden flowers almost shining amongst the swirling mist.
Interested in climbing the impressive Mount Kinabalu?
Call our specialists on 020 3141 2850 for help planning a tailor-made trip.