Known in Malay as: Gunung Kinabalu
Location: Sabah, Borneo
Elevation: 4,095 m or 13,435 ft
Type: Granite (batholith)
Prominence: a World Heritage Site, tallest mountain in Malaysia and Borneo Island, 4th tallest mountain in Southeast Asia, and well-known for its rich flora and fauna
I’ve been wanting to climb Mount Kinbalu the first time I heard it. But I was never sure how would I do. Will I make it on top? I am a pessimist by nature and I worry too much. I’ve done a few mountain climbs before (Peak 2--the highest peak in Mt. Makiling; and Mt. Ampacao of Sagada in the North) but I’ve never done Mount Pulag or Mount Apo (highest peak in the Philippines) which to me, are the best preparations before climbing Mt. Kinabalu.
Internet searching tells me that despite its height, Mount Kinabalu “can be climbed easily by a person with good physical condition, and requires no mountaineering training.” I run regularly so I guess that would qualify me somehow. Still, I was doubtful.
Entering the Timpohon Gate, the start of the Summit Trail, which is also the checkpoint for every climber who want to reach the Low's Peak.
After entering the gate is a sketch of the Summit Trail. Every climber is required to have a guide (preferably 1-3 climbers per guide).
There are actually two trails that will lead climbers to the summit of Mt. Kinabalu: the Summit Trail and the Mesilau Trail. Although the first one is more popular, the latter is a more challenging trail with richer collections of flora and fauna. For first timers, I think it would be better to go for the Summit Trail.
Starting the trail
Rocky steps that get all muddy when it rains.
The summit trail to Mount Kinabalu is a mishmash of uneven and seemingly never-ending stair trails and a risky hike to the granite massif which will lead to the Sayat-Sayat Huts, the last shelter on the summit trail. Before reaching the summit, there are shelter stations with toilets, and drinking water.
Never-ending stair trails.
More stair trails
The climb took us two days to complete following an 8-mile stretch from the Timpohon Gate (1866 m) all the way to the Low’s Peak (4,095 m).
Start of the foggy trail
As we moved up to higher altitude, we noticed the changing of climate zones starting from lowland vegetation to the mountain oak (foggy part), coniferous forest to the alpine meadow plants, and all the way to the stunted bushes of the summit zone. The change in climate and altitude could subject climbers to altitude sickness or AMS (acute mountain sickness), ankle and knee injuries, stomach problems (maybe due to the untreated water from the mountain). Lucky for me, I never encountered any of those...except maybe insurmountable exhaustion and breathing problem at the summit zone.