Climbing Mount Kinabalu

The day started off great! Our tour agency picked us up from our hostel on time and we were well on our way to the foot of Mount Kinabalu where we got registered and assigned our tour guide, Alfred.

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The driver drove us up to Timpohon Gate at an altitude of 1,866 metres where we started our 6km trek up to Laban Rata, where we will stay for the night before the climb up to Low’s Peak (summit).

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We also walked past the results of last year’s Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon. Yes, there are people that crazy to race and climb Mount Kinabalu and complete it just slightly over 2 hours.

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After signing in at the gate to confirm the commencement of our climb, we started our 6 km trek. We had no problem trekking the first 5 km. Sure you get greeted by various terrains, from man-made stairs to stone paths but it was still manageable. We hung out with a couple of climbers from Hong Kong so it was quite fun as everyone were chatting and joking around.

Along the way, we see many porters carrying things ranging from foodstuff to gas tanks up the mountain to Laban Rata. Some climbers also hire porters to carry their backpacks up the mountain too. We were constantly amazed by how fast they were even though they were carrying a heavy load of things.

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It was the 6th km that did us in. Our knees started to hurt very badly and the joints felt like they were going to come apart! The terrain has changed from stairs to huge rocks. We really struggled for the final kilometer up the mountain and we took around 3 hours just to get up there.

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Finally, we reached Laban Rata which is around 3,272 meters above sea level. This is where we will be having our dinner and staying for the night and prepare for our climb.

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This is only the first leg of the climb. The real challenge is the ascend up to Low’s Peak which is 4,095 meters above sea level at 2.30 a.m.

We had an early dinner and slept early so that we have enough rest before the ascend. At 2  a.m., we were up and getting ready with all our climbing equipment, essentially just a head flashlight and gloves. We heard from people who completed their climbs that we should have a light meal so that we won’t puke our guts out on the way up. So for supper, we just had 2 toasts and some eggs.

Unfortunately, by the first 500 meters the joints on our knees were back and it became clear that we won’t be able to reach the peak. We had to turn back and do the walk of shame back to the Laban Rata resthouse. It’s sad, but I didn’t want to injure myself. We headed back to our room and slept in till 8 a.m. when we will get ready to check out and climb down the mountain.

Getting down the mountain was easy, especially after a couple of hours of sleep. We made it down a few hours faster than the time taken to trek up the mountain. We were brought to a nearby restaurant for tea break before issuing us our Mount Kinabalu certificates (black and white ones because we did not make it to the summit) and then drove back to our hostel.

Though we weren’t able to make it to the summit, it’s still an awesome experience climbing up Mount Kinabalu. Many people whom we met along the way up were surprised that we tried to climb Mount Kinabalu without climbing any mountain before and praised us for being adventurous.

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I’ll definitely be back to Mount Kinabalu to make another attempt for the summit one day.

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