July 21, 2013

Stairway to Mount Kinabalu

Continuation from here ...

We woke up early the next day. Excited for the climb, and partly thanks to the early sunrise. 

The first thing I did when I woke up was looked out of the window, and let out a huge sigh of relief. The fog was gone. It was a very beautiful day. Thank you Allah.

 view from the hostel balcony

By 8 am, Brooke and I started walking to Kinabalu Park HQ. The hostel is about 1 km from the main road, and from the main road it is another 1 km to the entrance of the HQ. The hostel provides shuttle van to the HQ (for RM15 per way) but we thought a walk there would be a good warm up. *stretched muscles*

So we walked for half an hour to get there. A good walk indeed!

 entrance road to the Park HQ

The Kinabalu Park covers a staggering area of 754 sq. km. Established as a state park in 1964, this botanical paradise is blessed with an astonishing variety of flora and fauna that ranges over 4 climate zones. So even if you don't have the stamina to climb the mountain, you can still visit the Park to enjoy the serenity of the place. There are numerous trails around the Park for you to explore or you can follow the guided trail walks. 

the mountain as seen from the HQ

At the HQ lobby, we needed to register ourselves, fill in a form and then we were given a souvenir tag for monitoring and identification purpose. Afterwards, we met with our assigned mountain guide, Safar.

At around 9.15 am, we grabbed our lunchpack from Balsam Restaurant and took the shuttle van to Timpohon Gate.

Among the essential items that you need to bring for the climb are energy food, such as chocolates and biscuits, and water. If you forgot to bring it, don't worry. There's a mini market right at the gate.

I already brought some energy bars but just in case, I stocked up some Cloud 9 and Kit Kat. The price for all the items are slightly higher on the mountain, so you might wanna stock up whatever you need before starting the climb. There's also walking stick to aid your climb.

When everything's ready, we checked in at the guard house. Mount Kinabalu, here I come!!

It's 8.72 km hike to the summit.. kau mampu?

There are two trails that lead to the top, the Timpohon Trail and Mesilau Trail. Most climbers take the Timpohon Trail cos it's shorter. Mesilau Trail is 2 km longer, but the trail is a good one for people who are interested in plants and wildlife. These two trails meet at KM4 from Timpohon Gate.

As we crossed the gate, interestingly, the climb began with descending stairs. haha... Just around 400 metres from the gate, we came to Carson's Fall.

 From here onwards, the trail winds up a steep staircase. -_- Before the climb, I always heard people saying Mount Kinabalu is one of the easiest mountain to climb. Even a school kid can do it. Seriously? Well... that's what motivated me. If a school kid can do it, why can't I?

Anyway, it's one of the easiest cos it's all stairs! You don't require special skills to do the climb, you only need basic fitness level. Just climb up the stairs yo!


more stairs

 Depending on your fitness level, the climb takes about 3 to 6 hours to Laban Rata. Along the trail, there are 7 shelters for you to take a rest, wait for your climbing groups, and make friends with other climbers. The shelters are about 500 metres to almost 1 km distance from each other.

What I like about these shelters is that they put up information board about the area. You can read what flora and fauna you may come across, as well as the geological info. There's also untreated water tank in case you want to refill your water bottle.

Every half a kilometre, there's a marker so that you can keep track of your climbing progress.

500 metres doesn't sound so far, right? But my God... I felt it took forever to reach the marker from the last one. Well.. prolly cos we were ascending, and the trail wasn't straight of course.

Along the climb, I didn't bother to listen to my mp3 cos I was afraid I wouldn't hear if Brooke or Safar called out for me. Thus, the only sound I tune to was the sound of my surrounding. It was actually quite peaceful and calming which is the key to keeping focus. 

My advice for those who wants to climb; just climb it at your own pace. Sometimes Brooke was faster so she left me. Or sometimes I was in front. Safar would always be behind us, making sure we were OK. All the mountain guide will wait and walk behind the last person in the group so you don't have to worry if you are slower than your friends. He'll wait no matter how slow you are.

As we ascend higher, the forest becomes shorter. Thus, allowing superb view of the mountain as we follow the trail upwards. Do note that the thinning air makes it harder to breathe and you might suffer from altitude sickness. Brooke told me she didn't feel well, as she started to feel headaches. So we climbed up slowly, taking rests at all the shelters.

Oh.. wanna know something sad happened to me during the climb? Just after KM2.5, while I was busy taking pictures, my camera suddenly died on me!!! The lens was somehow stuck and the camera refused to restart. T______________T

I whatsapp-ed (did I tell you Maxis' network coverage was good all the way up to Laban Rata?) my sister asking for help since she was using the same brand. She said there's nothing I could do. She told me that her camera had the same problem before and she had to send it to the service centre. Whattheeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!

So yeah... pardon the quality of the pictures after this as they were all from my phone.

pitcher plant

As I mentioned, the Park has a rich diversity of flora and fauna. Among them is the insect-eating pitcher plants for which Kinabalu is famous for.  

In the meantime, we continued walking up the never ending stairs...

and took pictures whenever we found a beautiful spot. haha...

the mountain was covered by fog just as I was about to pose.. erghhh!

Finally after 6 hours, I made it to KM6 or better known as Laban Rata. For someone who had zero training and a first timer on this mountain, it was a fairly good time.

Halfway there!! Suddenly I didn't feel tired anymore.

Laban Rata resthouse

do you see a rainbow?

 Located at an elevation of 3273m, this is where all climbers overnight before continuing the climb to the summit early in the morning. There are a number of accommodations here; Laban Rata, Gunting Lagadan, Waras Hut, Pendant Hut and Panar Laban.

The main resthouse is Laban Rata, where the reception and the buffet hall is. We checked in here and were given the key to our dorm in Gunting Lagadan. As Gunting Lagadan is located higher, and about 15 minutes climb from Laban Rata, we decided to wait for the dinner.

Then, while we were having dinner, it rained quite heavily. Oh noo!!! But at the same time, I thought it was good. Better now than later in the morning during the climb! Luckily the rain subsided just as we finished dinner. So we continued the climb to our accommodation. 


to be continued ...


[ Climbing Mount Kinabalu - the Cheapest Way ]
[ Stairway to Mount Kinabalu - the climb to Low's Peak ]

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