Wednesday, January 31, 2018

[Activities] Climbing the highest mountain in Malaysia

Have you climb the highest mountain in Malaysia? It was my third climb.  Why stop at one?

I have always thought that I'm an adventurous person growing up.  I would climb trees and was active in sports (running short distance mostly).  I had, though, probably gone through a phase growing up and shut myself out from the world somehow.   I hated everything then.  I guess things do change, for the better.  I've discovered myself  again and have started opening up to the world.  

Whenever I wanna try something new, I'll overthink and  would probably find ways to avoid it.  Not unless I have paid for it, then it would be impossible to back out.  That was the first time I climb Mount Kinabalu in 2012 via Mesilau Trail.  I never knew booking a slot/slots was that tedious (especially for a big group) till I did the booking myself.  I've also climbed in 2013 via Timpohon - Summit Trail.

I would probably climb every year, but I got into running and ultra running.  Hence, why I didn't have time to do other stuff.  My life revolves around running so much.  This might be new for my new readers, but I'd injured my spine 3 years ago and still recovering, if you call not stopping what am doing is recovering.  That's another story for another time.  Anyways, back to booking, I'd booked for 2 slots to climb in November of last year.

Am sure there's plenty of blog post about this but here's my personal experience for sharing purposes.

Your options (for Sabahan and Malaysian):
Option 1: Via Sutera Sanctuary Lodges (Laban Rata Resthouse)
  1.  RM150 Sabahan rate (accommodation and meals (packed lunch, dinner, supper, breakfast, late lunch), it was RM120 in 2017), Malaysian rate could reach up to RM1k - to be paid at Sutera Sanctuary office at KK Times Square during booking/allocated days.
  2. Permit: RM50 (RM30 for under 18) - to be paid at Sabah Park office at Kinabalu Park.
  3. Insurance: RM7 - to be paid at Sabah Park office at Kinabalu Park.
  4. Conservation fee: RM3 (to be paid at the entrance to Kinabalu Park).
  5. Certificate: RM10.60 (color, if you reach the summit), RM1.06 (black and white, didn't reach summit) - only collect when you're back from Laban Rata the next day.
  6. Guide: RM230 (max 5 pax per guide) - to be assigned to you on day of the climb or you can request a specific guide.
For booking, can go to Sutera Sanctuary office at KK Times Square or contact 088-487466.
  1. Transport: RM17 per person (return trip from Kinabalu Park to Timpohon Gate) - KOKTAS next to Sutera Sanctuary office at Kinabalu Park.
  2. Porter: RM65 per 10kg (from Timpohon gate to Laban Rata).
Option 2: Via Sabah Park (Lemaing Hostel)
  1. RM212 Malaysian rate, no Sabahan rate (accommodation and meals).
 Amount to be paid during booking inclusive permit and insurance = RM269.

Everything else same as above.
More info. about this via Sabah Park website, here.

You also can book a slot with travel agency like Amazing Borneo, Sticky Rice Travels and etc.

Things to prepare for your climb:
  • Good trekking shoe/adidas kampung (as long as you're comfortable) - I have tried various trekking shoe and even adidas kampung during my climb.
  • Rainjacket/raincoat.
  • Water - you can refill at every checkpoint.
  • Headlamp/torchlight.
  • Food/snacks - to your need.
  • Windbreaker/jacket - for climb to the summit.
  • Medicine if needed. 
  • Trekking poles (I use this when going down). 
  • Slipper (optional).
Did I missed anything?
I highly recommend training before you climb.  Hiking or running few times a week helps.  Imagine not training and receive a lot of shocks to your body for this climb.  I never tried going without training but it's just a no-no.  Bukit Padang is a good training area for those who wanted to prepare themselves before a bigger climb.  Just do the stairs to the peak or just the stairs for 3 to 6 months depending on how often you exercise.  No joke okay.

The day finally came (so excited).  We opt to stay a night in Kundasang.  Booked a room at Kinabalu Valley Homestay for RM45 per night via agoda.  I think this is the cheapest that I found and you can pay at the homestay.  No upfront payment.  Just in case there's last minute cancellation.  But best book a room early unless you wanted to sleep in the car for the night.

Kinabalu Valley Homestay
Sunset view from the homestay.  Looks like a crocodile
Thought we check out the town area for the new mural and Crystal Hill (been wanting to go here like forever).  Also had late lunch at a nearby restaurant. 

It rained.  Should I panic?  Apparently raining the day before the climb is better than raining on the day itself.

New mural spotted.
Crystal hill :)  short hike with beautiful scenery

On the day of the climb.  Went to Sutera Sanctuary office, met my guide for the first time, made payment at Sabah Park office and off we go to Timpohon gate.

Tags are to be worn at all times.

It is 6km from Timpohon Gate to Laban Rata via Summit Trail.  A person would take 3 to probably 6 hours to reach Laban Rata (depending on fitness level).
Briefing from our guide
You will need to sign off at the counter before leaving Timpohon Gate (same goes with returning from Laban Rata).  Climbers must leave the gate by 10am (gate closes).  There's a shop selling food, drinks.  Got this kuih from there.  Fried chicken smells so good but it wasn't ready yet.

The first thing you see after the gate.

500m from Timpohon Gate is the Carson Falls.  There are a number of huts along the trail with toilets for climbers to rest.  But don't rest too long.

Distance markers, this could be your worst nightmare going down.  It felt longer lol.
You will cross path with porters along the path.  Don't be intimidated with the amount of heavy loads they are carrying and you'll be surprised at how fast they go up and down with that heavy load.  And here you are complaining about your 6-8kg backpacks.

From my past climb, I have always carried my own bag, weighing around 7-8kg.  I would also go as fast as I could, coz I was following my friend.  Not this time.  I took all the time I want and take as many photos.

It was a more relaxing hike and I had so many beautiful photos to show off!

Hypergear bag, waterproof mwahaha but was a bit straining for my shoulders coz no support.

Had my lunch or I should say brunch at before 11am at Layang-Layang hut.

Packed lunch: fried rice with egg, wish there were soy sauce and chili padi
Met fellow runner friend who's also a mountain guide, jan men men ah, laju ni urang.
Are we there yet?
If you're lucky, you get to spot pitcher plant before it wither.
I know it was my slowest going up but seems like not that slow also.  Arrived Laban Rata around slightly before 1:30pm.  Took plenty of photos there.

New constructions at the right side.
Checked in our room at Laban Rata Resthouse and showered.  It was my first time staying at this resthouse.  Previously stayed at Gunting Lagadan, twice.  There's water heater at this resthouse but runs on solar.  There is water heater (which doesn't run on solar) at Lemaing hostel.

Chilling in the room till early dinner and sunset
Me, loving the cold weather
Early dinner.  Hungry.  Our guide suggest we drink plenty of water before our climb tomorrow morning.  Boiled water is RM5 per jug.  I'm full of water.

Sunset at 6pm, don't just love clouds? 

Doesn't this look like a crocodile to you?
Supper at 2:30am.  Urgh, I can't eat at this hour.  You don't need to carry your backpack to the summit since you'll be back after, but you could bring a small pack (if any) for your camera, small water bottle and etc.  Don't leave your valuables in the room.

Started our climb slightly after.  It is 2.8km from Laban Rata to the Summit.  Everyone goes up pretty much at the same time.  Go up slowly and not go too fast.  I noticed that the numbers during this time is not as high as my previous climb.  Probably because of the limited slots available.

Low on appetite

I remembered the last time I went up like it was yesterday.  Going up was easy.  I had a lot of gas and was burping a lot.  I wasn't going up as fast but I think it felt easy coz I haven't stop training after TMBT.  Occasionally would stop to check on my friend.  I think breathing wasn't as easy but it wasn't that bad either. 

We reached sayat sayat before 4am and waited a bit.  I think we were there a bit too long, it started to get cold.  There's toilet at the check point!  I though felt like vomiting, I vomit gas only.  Friend gave me cloud 9, that helped a bit.

You'll also need to check-in and show your tag here for record purposes (also need to leave by certain hour).  I think this was my best climb to date coz I had a lot of nice photos and I also didn't wear too thick like last time.  I wore a buff and cap to cover my ears, dri-fit shirt, a windbreaker and long tights.  In comparison to my last 2 climb, I wore at least 2 layers and wanted to take off my jacket on one of those climbs.  

Sunrise!  Thank god for good weather!

The last time I was here, I needed somebody to pull me up.


Went down after sunrise and when we were done with photo taking.  

Always a runner
Donkey's ear

Me with the clouds.  More like on a platform hehe
Stairs stairs stairs, wow so many
Back at Laban Rata before 9am, waited for my friend and packed before we had breakfast.

Breakfast, I wished the congee is warm/hot.  

Low on appetite

Left Laban Rata after breakfast.  

Descending.  I have always run down with my friends after a climb and legs would be jelly if I stop for rest and the soreness would be worst the day after.  This time around, I'd walk slowly.  But I guess when you're so used to walking really fast for a race, somehow your slow is not that slow at all.  I would wait for my friend occasionally but somehow I lost track of time and went too fast, oops.  I felt really bad and stopped awhile to wait for her but I didn't see her, I also slowed down and kept looking back,  but I decided to just go ahead coz our guide is with her.  I also used both my trekking pole.  I would bump into other guides and we would be talking and it was enjoyable.  I think I've never do this in any of my climb.  I didn't stop for breaks and kept moving.  I was a bit hungry and it rained. 

Had my raincoat on but after awhile the rain stopped and I was so lazy to take it off.  Just went ahead till I reach the last 2km mark.  Then it hit me, my back felt like it's slowly dying.  Took my raincoat off and put down my bag for awhile to stretch.  My shoulders were so tired.  After few minutes, continued back, I think I would be good if I hear the waterfall.  But it felt far.  Keep walking till I finally passed the waterfall.  Going up to those stairs to Timpohon Gate got me like claptrap crying stairs, but yeah, I made it back in 3 hours.

Waited for my friend a bit and we went back to Kinabalu Park via the transport that we had arranged going there and got our certificates.  After effects, my plantar and my lower back gave me minor problems.  Still manageable.  It was probably just hunger.

You should get back to Timpohon Gate by 4pm (guide works till 4pm only, please take note).

Buffet late lunch
Had late lunch at Balsam Cafe, wish food could taste better though, this wasn't that great.

I gotta say, this has got to be the best climb up to date, just coz I had the most fun and I enjoyed my company.  I also think coz I was talkative and friendly this time around and not just rush down like I always do on my previous climb. 

If you ask me if I would ever wanna climb Mount Kinabalu again, I would probably say yes.  Look at how beautiful this place is.  So, what are you waiting for?  Plan your trip!

Feel free to ask any questions about planning your climb to this mountain and will try to help as much as I can.  

Thanks for spending time reading this long post.

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