Saturday, February 11, 2017

Twenty Something Travel to [Mount Kinabalu]

If you have been consistently reading my blog even during my non-active period, I actually wrote a post on my climb with my friend, Zhong Hao, to Mount Kinabalu. I want to re-document it because that was really a memorable experience for me. I wonder when will be the next time that I will be on the peak again. Rather than narrating the story from day one to day n, I think it will be more useful if I categorise my experience like how I used to do for the series. So apart from sharing my experience, I hope this actually provides some preparation and climbing tips for those who are interested in climbing! 

(Note: due to the earthquake in 2015, there may be changes to the trail, climbing costs and permits. Do check out their official website for latest updates here.)


One thing not-so-intimidating about Mount Kinabalu is this: despite it being the highest mountain in the Malay Archipelago, the summit (known as Low's Peak) is actually pretty accessible by persons with average physical condition. In fact, no mountaineering equipment is required for the entire climb. All climbers are requested to hire a mountain guide to complete both ascend and descend to ensure safety. As long as you are careful, the climb is generally safe if you do not attempt funny things. Before the climb, I actually visited a very informative website which provides advices on accommodation, transportation, mountain conditions, climbing route etc to visitors. Visit them here. Do note that on days, the summit can be closed for bad weathers or maintenance. The dates are normally stated at their official website here

Preparation

I would not say there is no need to prepare at all for this climb. You have to do basic circuit training to make sure you are physically fit enough to not suffer when you descend. It will take you around 2 days to complete the climb and descend. 

However, I have my own list of 'power tools' for the climb, which kept me from fainting and giving up. They are 'power tools' for a reason. Thank me later.

1. Headlight
You can get it at the Kinabalu National Park gear shop, please do get extra batteries just in case.

2. Empty Mineral Water Bottle
You can refill it at each resting stop during the climb.

3. Red Bull
If you haven't drunk Red Bull before, this may be super effective for you. I feel myself so energetic after drinking one sip on the second day of ascend. It saved me from draining.

4. Chocolate Bar
Eat along the way during your second day of ascend and descend. It keeps you warm.

5. Layers of clothing, thick socks, beanie and water-proof gloves
However. the golden rule prevails: minimal packing, only essential please

6. Rain coat and walking stick
Rain coat is available for purchase at the gear shop and the walking stick is available for rent before the trail. 

Transport

We actually took a flight from Singapore to Kota Kinabalu operated by AirAsia. The two-way flight ticket was around RM500. Here's a tip: please plan to stay for at least 5 days if you are a person with average physical condition. This is because you will end up not being able to walk due to muscle pain after the climb (maybe that's just me). For transport wise, the area in Kota Kinabalu is not so accessible by public transport other than taxis. So, do prepare some money for plain transportation when you intend to go somewhere not within walking distance. Accommodation therefore plays an important role in a case like this. Choose the location of your stay wisely!

Accommodation

When we reached Kota Kinabalu, we stayed at Borneo Backpackers Lodge. If I am asked to rate this lodge, I would rate it 5 stars! It's near to the eateries, a huge mall, massage parlours etc. As we arrived there at night, we decided to stay in the city for a day before heading to the National Park. Beds and toilet cubicles (shared) were clean. I opted for a mixed dorm as it was cheaper. People there were really friendly and nice! What's best was when we descended, we could send our dirty and wet clothes to wash at a small price.

When we arrived at the National Park the next day, we stayed at a guest house and began our climb only the day after so that we could get used to the altitude and weather.

What To Expect

The climb normally starts at 8.30am in the morning, and you will reach Layang-layang to have your lunch. Then, you will proceed with your climbing journey all the way up to Laban Rata, which you will stay overnight. By the time we reached Laban Rata, it was around 3pm. Dinner was served at 4pm and you are expected to sleep after that. Your mountain guide will wake you up at 2.30am to continue climbing to the peak to catch the sunrise. The descend started at 8am and we reached the base around 6pm (timing may vary based on your physique). We took the Timpohon trail for the entire climb and there was a more difficult but faster trail, the Mesilau trail. However, the Mesilau trail is permanently closed now due to inaccessible paths after the earthquake in 2015. 











  



With our mountain guide, Maikin.
A big thank you to our wonderful mountain guide, Maikin, for offering to piggyback me down although I declined because I wanted to do the whole climb myself though my legs were barely functioning during the descend, and of course Zhong Hao for being super supportive and encouraging during the entire climb! 

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