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sutemi

Kinabalu Climb, Malaysia

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sutemi

Hi all,

 

Here my first trip report, nothing to do with mongering but I hope it’s interesting for some of u guys anyway :NiceThread1:

 

One of my colleagues asked me one day if I would be interested in joining him to climb mount Kinabalu. Since I like outdoor stuff I said yes within a blink of an eye, although I don’t have any experience with climbing or ever climbed anything higher than some hills in central Germany during my time in the army. Anyway, we asked around in the office and soon we had 2 other guys who wanted to join us, plus my missus. The wife of one of the guys also wanted to join, but later on pulled out. So we were 5 people, good enough. 

 

2 of the guys went to Kota Kinabalu a day before our climb to do some river rafting. On this trip they met a single Scottish girl (teacher in Bangkok) and she asked if she could join our group; she apparently didn’t really like the idea of doing the trip alone with her porter, plus she liked the fact that we already had a girl in our group. Of course no problem, so eventually our group was 6 people, which is the ideal size as also the rooms in the guesthouse have 6 beds.

 

This brings me to some facts about the actual travel and the mountain: Although it is written in many places, mount Kinabalu is not the highest mountain in South East Asia, as far as I know it’s number 5. There are a few higher ones in Myanmar and Indonesia.

 

Nevertheless, Kinabalu is still more than 4000 meter high and climbing up is thus not a walk in the park. One doesn’t have to be Reinhold Messner, but a certain fitness level is IMO absolutely recommended. I consider myself as in fairly good shape and I had a hard time, especially on the way down (my knees really hurt) and also during the first night from the altitude. For this many people complained about nausea and general sickness, especially when one is not used to these heights. Pretty much everybody in our group had something, like headache or a bit vomiting. There were also a few people in the guesthouse who didn’t make it up to the peak because they were so sick, they had to stay in bed until the rest of their group came back.

 

So the whole adventure usually starts that the group books a package, it is not allowed to do the climb alone, a guide is necessary. This guy usually also carries the luggage in case someone doesn’t want to carry it by himself. I didn’t do the whole booking process; my colleague did, in case someone wants the details I can get them. The price was around 600 Ringgit per person if I remember right for the 2 days one night package, that’s about 6000 Baht. This includes the accommodation and buffet in the guest house halfway up the peak, the park fee and the fee for the porter. But of course the guys like to get a tip in the end… :Think1:

 

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Apparently it is also possible to do the whole climb in one day, but this is only an option for people who have some experience and are also really fit. Packages for this are available, but we didn’t even think about it.

 

So we took a flight from KL to Kota Kinabalu and stayed in a hotel, Novotel, pretty good. In the morning we got up fairly early (don’t remember the exact time, but it was too early to get breakfast in the hotel) and were picked up by our guide. Followed by that around 1.5 hour drive to the starting point of the actual climb. There are two starting points, Timpohon Gate or Mesilau. The difference is the distance to the guesthouse, Timpohon Gate is about 6 kilometer and Mesilau about 8 kilometer. Obviously Timpohon Gate trail is more steep, and people also say it’s more beautiful. So we took this one, which is the most popular one anyway. If I would ever do the trip again I would choose the other one as I think it’s more knee friendly.

 

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Before we started we had a good Malaysian breakfast in a shop nearby, and then we went into the park to register. There it is also possible to rent walking sticks (highly recommended!!) and also headlamps, which are absolutely necessary for the second day. Headlamps we brought by ourselves, but walking sticks obviously not, so everybody got a pair.

 

And off we went…in the beginning it went a few meters downhill, but then a steady slope up. Mainly steps made of wood or carved in the rock. There is not much to say about the whole climb, it was just absolutely beautiful. The jungle and the mountains, very very nice. For people who like that of course, someone who is rather a beach person probably doesn’t share my enthusiasm...

 

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Every 500 meters or so are huts, where people can just sit and chill out a bit, also toilets are there. Pretty nice maintained. After about 6 hours of steady climbing we reached Laban Rata guesthouse. It was already a bit chilly over there, so jacket would be necessary. The guest house itself is pretty shabby, run down. Although understandable, considering the fact that everything has to be brought up by porters. So not much stuff for regular maintenance. On this evening there were maybe 80 people there…hard to guess. We had some food (which was pretty good) and then a quick (ice cold!) shower and then bed time. I think we went to sleep around 20:00. The reason for that is that people are obviously pretty tired, but also that the group starts the second part of the climb at about 2 in the morning, to catch the sunrise on the peak. The height of Laban Rata guesthouse is about 3200 meter, so as I mentioned earlier, people who are not used to heights like this get sick easily.

 

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So we got up around 1:30, quick breakfast and then we went for the second part up to the top. As it’s 2 in the morning, it is pitch black and also very cold, so for the second part warm and water resistant clothes and a head lamp is really necessary. We saw a few guys trying to get up in shorts and T-Shirt. They didn’t really inform them or underestimated the weather, I don’t know…but they didn’t make it, had to go back after some time.

 

The climb from now on was considerably more difficult. The first day we had mostly steps, which was demanding for the muscles but still convenient. The second day climb is on pure rock. The only thing to hold on are ropes which are connected to the rock with big nails. A friend of mine said that for him the second day was easier, but for me it certainly was not. In addition to the more difficult climbing circumstances also came the weather (it started raining heavily after a while), the lack of sleep and the fatigue from the day before.

 

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Eventually we made it. All of our group made it to the peak. The last few hundred meters were really really REALLY difficult, but eventually we were standing on the peak. Although because of the terrible weather and the clouds we didn’t see a nice sunrise. Actually the sunrise looked like shit. And for this we went up in the middle of the night…

 

Anyway, down we went. The way down was now really difficult as the rain came down heavily; in the meantime the second part of the climb was blocked for people due to the weather conditions. So that means for the guys who thought to sleep in a bit and start the climb during the day it was bad luck. I was just happy that we had the ropes to hold on, but a few times I slipped anyway and so we reached the guesthouse soaking wet.

 

In the guesthouse we had something small to eat after clothes change, and then we went down to the bottom gate. As I mentioned earlier, the way down was a nightmare for me as it was a huge impact on the knees. So next time the longer, but less steep trail.

Somewhen in the afternoon we reached the bottom gate and were picked up and driven back to the hotel, next day flight back to KL.

All in all I can highly recommend this trip if someone is into this kind of stuff, the whole scenery is stunningly beautiful and well worth the effort. But please don’t underestimate the physical demand of it. There are plenty of websites with information about the climb but if u guys want to know more, like where we booked our tour, let me know.

 

Sorry for the bad quality of the pictures, I think I went a bit overboard with the resizing and compressing. If you are interested I can upload some more and in better quality…

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Dalef65

Good report and interesting stuff.

 

I think this was the mountain where a group of British Army Squaddies got stranded in 1994.

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sutemi

Good report and interesting stuff.

 

I think this was the mountain where a group of British Army Squaddies got stranded in 1994.

 

Yes, there's even a movie about it.

 

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Edited by sutemi

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Scumbag

Thanks for the report.

 

One thing I will say is about being 'used to' the altitude. My understanding is that you don't build a resistance to it. Those exposed to altitude don't find it any easier to return to the same altitude after the acclimatisation has been lost. What is important to recognise is that some people's bodies handle high altitudes better. There is no way of knowing how your body will handle altitude beforehand and being very fit has no affect on acclimatisation.

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sutemi

Thanks for the report.

 

One thing I will say is about being 'used to' the altitude. My understanding is that you don't build a resistance to it. Those exposed to altitude don't find it any easier to return to the same altitude after the acclimatisation has been lost. What is important to recognise is that some people's bodies handle high altitudes better. There is no way of knowing how your body will handle altitude beforehand and being very fit has no affect on acclimatisation.

 

Right, sorry i probably didn't express myself properly...lack of english  :WhoSaw1:

 

What i meant is that people who are living in high places anyway will most likely have less problems than people like us, who are all flatlanders. It was indeed obvious that some little Thai girl (like my wife) had less problems than some muscular, super fit guy who was vomiting all the time and couldn't continue. 

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Scumbag

Right, sorry i probably didn't express myself properly...lack of english  :WhoSaw1:

 

What i meant is that people who are living in high places anyway will most likely have less problems than people like us, who are all flatlanders. It was indeed obvious that some little Thai girl (like my wife) had less problems than some muscular, super fit guy who was vomiting all the time and couldn't continue. 

I was just helping your understanding. Young fit people often get themselves into problems due to them moving too quickly to higher altitudes not allowing for proper acclimatisation.

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Dalef65

Cheers for pointing me in the direction of the movie,I didn't know about it.

I will find it and watch.

 

Good stuff.

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kash buc

Thanks for the great report. I was in in Kota Kinabalu a couple of years ago and I wanted to do this climb. But in the end I wussed out and passed. The big thing that scared me were the reports of the climb down and how bad it was on the knees and hips. I'm in my late fifties now and the downhill hiking gives me more trouble than the uphill.

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sutemi

Thanks for the great report. I was in in Kota Kinabalu a couple of years ago and I wanted to do this climb. But in the end I wussed out and passed. The big thing that scared me were the reports of the climb down and how bad it was on the knees and hips. I'm in my late fifties now and the downhill hiking gives me more trouble than the uphill.

 

Yes, you are right the impact on the joints is bad. An option might be to stay one more day in Laban Rata guesthouse, they also have 2N3D packages as far as I know. With that you do the second part of the climb to the peak, then come back and rest for the remaining time of the day. It is certainly worth it as the area around the guesthouse is very nice as well, so no problem to hang out there for a day. Plus the food was surprisingly good for a place like this. I believe they even have beer up there, but the prices would put Zeta Bar in Hilton KL to shame :LOL2:

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