Photo by Yves ANDRE
The Comprehensive Guide to Climbing Mount Kinabalu
If you are looking for the ultimate and comprehensive guide to Mount Kinabalu, you have found it. Mount Kinabalu is renowned around the world for its majestic view, challenging peaks, and rewarding climb.
In 2000, Mount Kinabalu made it to UNESCOs World Heritage List. This means that special measures are being taken for the preservation and protection of Mount Kinabalu for the present and future generations. However, before you get started on the journey, it is best to be informed and learn everything that you possibly can about the destination. That said, let us get started.
Kinabalu means the revered place of the dead. It is the belief of the local Kadazan people who inhabit the area that there are spirits who make their dwelling place at the top of Mount Kinabalu.
Another piece of ancient folklore states that Kinabalu translates to Chinese widow. This theory holds that a Chinese prince once climbed the mountain to obtain a large pearl being protected by a ferocious dragon. The prince then married a Kadazan woman. However, it was not long before he left the woman and made his way back to China. The wife went to the mountains with a broken heart and turned into stone.
Sir Hugh Low is credited with being the first person to successfully climb Mount Kinabalu. This happened in 1851. However, it is important to note that he did not reach the highest peak of the mountain as he believed that it was only accessible to birds.
English botanist Lillian Gibbs is credited as the first woman to climb Mount Kinabalu. She was able to take home with her over a thousand botanical specimens that were subsequently put on display in the British Museum.
Level of Difficulty
The level of difficulty of Mount Kinabalu is precisely that: difficult. In terms of statistics, it is 26 kilometres long and it would take approximately two days to climb it. The maximum altitude of Mount Kinabalu is at 4,095 metres. Walking up Mount Kinabalu is steep and demanding to say the least.
The altitude also climbs up pretty quick. Climbing the mountain is not advisable for beginners or those who have trained insufficiently.
The climb begins at 1,500 metres of 5,130 feet above the ground. As mentioned earlier, the mountain has made it to UNESCOs World Heritage List. This is due to the fact that up to 6,000 plant species can be found here.
While the climb up Mount Kinabalu can be gruelling at times, it is also infinitely breathtaking.
Preparation before Climb
It is of extreme importance to be prepared before attempting to climb any mountain. Mount Kinabalu in particular because of its level of difficulty. While scaling Mount Kinabalu will definitely be tough, it is certainly not impossible as it has been done many times before.
Having said that, what preparation needs to be done before the climb?
First off, if you are already engaged in a regular form of exercise such as running, power walking, or other cardiovascular activities, you are on the right track. Age is not a factor herefitness is what is most important.
Another important topic to discuss is what equipment you will need when climbing Mount Kinabalu. The good news is that no specialized equipment is required. However, weather conditions tend to be unpredictable on Mount Kinabalu and that said, you need to be prepared for anything.
The first thing that you need to know is that beddings will be provided at Laban Rata. You only need to pack snacks and lunch on the first day as meals can be purchased at Laban Rata as well.
You will need a backpack that is at least 35-40L. Remember to try not to choose a bag as the less unnecessary weight you have with you while climbing Mount Kinabalu, the better.
Here are some items that are essential:
- waterproof jacket
- woollen or fleece gloves (Ragg Wool Insulated Gloves on Amazon.com are great)
- lightweight jumper
- lightweight pants (Blackhawk Men’s Lightweight Tactical Pant)
- trail shoes
- woollen hat
- spare socks and underwear
- water bottles
- camera (I use Canon S100)
- water purification tablets
- plastic bags
- small first aid kit
Feedback from Past Climbers
According to one TripAdvisor reviewer from Pulau Penang Malaysia:
It’s definitely worth for the tears and sweat. Opt for Mesilau Trail for way up. You could see beautiful flora and fauna, scenery and fresh atmosphere!
Another reviewer on TripAdvisor from Albano Laziale, Italy stated that:
When you reach the top for sunrise at 5:30 in the morning all your efforts will be repaid with the beautiful view and strong, amazing feeling. Keep this feeling with you as long as you can, live intensely the moment and enjoy it because after that moment you will start to descend, painful descent, and if while you are going down you find a knee, is probably mine, bring it back to me. Please.
What to Expect
When thinking about what to expect, what is important to keep in mind is that every bit of preparation will come in handy. That said, the weeks leading up to your climb up Mount Kinabalu, use every spare minute that you have to prepare your body for the challenge up head.
When going for walks or runs, choose trails that feature sharp inclines just like the ones found on Mount Kinabalu. This will give your body a sneak peek into what is up ahead. Start walking two to four times a week for 45 minutes. If you are in any way injured, do not attempt to do the climb until you have completely recovered.
Things to Notice/Cautious
While climbing Mount Kinabalu is safe, this only applies if you choose to stay on the track. Doing otherwise puts you at serious risk of injury and other dangers.
There are several incidents of climbers getting lost and being climbed during the climb but majority of the time this only occurs when they veer of the marked track of Mount Kinabalu.
Poor weather is often a factor in these incidents. The key is to listen to your guide at all times.