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Every year more than 55,000 people from all over the world come to Sabah for one purpose only, and that is to climb Mount Kinabalu, the highest Mountain in Malaysia. Standing at 4,095 metres, Mt. Kinabalu is also the highest Mountain in Borneo Island, the second largest island in the world after Greenland. The areas in and around Mt. Kinabalu have some of the world most diversified fauna and flora, well over 3,000 different spices have being classified to date. In recognition of the importance of this biological role and value, UNESCO has designated Mt. Kinabalu Park as a World Heritage site in the year two thousand.
Mt. Kinabalu is one of the easiest mountain to climb. Any person with an average fitness can complete the task in just 36 hours, one and a half days. Whether one is young or old is not a problem. Through out the year organised Senoir citizen groups, with an average age of seventy, especially from Japan and Europe are often seen going up and down the Summit Trail. The best time to climb Mt. Kinabalu is during the dry season from March to May. For the rest of the months be prepared for the downpour anytime, particularly in the afternoon. Climbers can also experience four different climate zones in a day, from the lowland dipterocarp forest to the alpine meadow zone. At the summit the thermometre has an average reading of zero degree Celsius annually, except during January and February when the temperature at the summit can drop even further, to a chilling -1 degree Celsius.
The most important thing for climbing Mt. Kinabalu is to secure a bed at Laban Rata, without that, Sabah Park will not issue a permit for the climb. As there are limited accommodation at Laban Rata, a maximum of 180 beds on any given day, one is advised to book in advance. sometime the booking needs to be made as early as six months before the climb. Small groups of two or three stand a better chance in booking, as sometime there are big groups cancellation. Booking can be done at Sutera Sanctuary Lodges at Wisma Sabah next to Wisma Merdeka in Kota Kinabalu, and the price for a bed and four meals starts from Rm 208.
Next, one would need to decide which trail to take. The most commonly used trail and also the shortest is the Summit Trail, which starts at Timpohon Gate (Power Station) and stops at Laban Rata for a short rest, before the ascend to the summit in the early morning. From Timpohon Gate to the summit, Low Peak, the distance is 8.5 km. The Mesilau trail is about 2 km longer than the Summit Trail, but it is less steep and it offers a much more fascinating view. For those who are interested in landscapes, small animals, and floras, this is the trail to take. The Mesilau Trail starts from the Mesilau Resort and it will meet up with the summit trail near Layang-Layang Hut, 2,702 metres. Climbers can also choose to start with the Summit Trail, while coming down on the Mesilau trial, or vice versa. In this way climbers get to kill two birds with one stone.
Sabah Park has opened up a new trail called the Kotal's Route. This trail includes part of the route taken by the Royal Society Expeditions in 1964. This trail starts from Mesilau Resorts and ends at King George Peak on the eastern plateau. For more information on this trail do contact Sabah Park.
On the day of the climb, permit fee, insurance fee and guide fee must be settled before one is allowed to start climbing. For those who prefer the service of the potters, they can be arranged at the Kinabalu Park Headquarters. Since September 2008 Sabah Park has a new guide and potter fee, check Kinabalu Park Climbing fees for more information.
Here are some of the important things to prepare before the climb:
8.5 km of ascending and desending do take a toll of your feet, so proper climbing shoes do come in handy. Avoid long toe nails, they are going to hurt when descending from the steep slopes.
Torch light or head light
Helps to light up the trail during the dark hours in the early morning, which start at around 3 am. Battery should last about 3 hours.
Very useful for handling the rough rope at the rocky steep face, and they also help to guard agaisnt the cold.
Getting wet here can be very unpleasant.
To protect the face from the strong and biting cold wind after Sayat-Sayat Hut.
Help to heave one up the uneven steps, and putting less pressure on the legs.
All the trouble of preparing and the tired legs after climbing will be forgetton when one reaches the summit. The view and sensation feeling up at the summit are well worth your every penny spent to get here