Conquering Mt Kinabalu – Part 1

Posted by supaa_dry. Categories Travel

Actually it’s probably more accurate to say that it conquered me. Anyway, back to the post!

Every hardworking KL-ite needs a holiday every once in a while. It’s 4 months since I started work and I thought, “heck, I need a break!” Except that instead of going to a nice beach resort somewhere, I decided to climb a mountain… Yeap, not a very smart idea.

In case you didn’t know, Mt. Kinabalu is the tallest peak in Southeast Asia, standing at 4095m above sea-level. It’s pretty accessible, with flights going into Kota Kinabalu regularly from KLIA and LCCT. I managed to get my tix at about RM300+, and this was pretty last minute – if you plan your trip properly, you could easily get it for much cheaper.

Going to Kinabalu is no easy task, and I strongly recommend that you train adequately for it. I started training about 2 months before the trip. Among the things that I did were:

1. Squats and Lunges – gotta build up those leg muscles!! Best to do these with some weights!

2. Walking/running – this is to build up your stamina. If you do this outdoors, you should try to hit some hills, otherwise just use the incline function on your treadmill.

3. RPM – a high intensity cycling class. Nuff said.

And trust me, despite all that, I still died-ed on the way down and my legs were sore for a week afterwards!

After you’re all trained up, make sure you get some nice kicks for the trip. The trek can get pretty slippery and muddy so you want to get a pair of decent shoes. I recommend hiking shoes because they’re light and grippy. And it makes you feel like a hardcore hiker and not just some tourist (which you actually are)

like my shoes?

Now it’s time to packfor the trip. I packed really light because a) you don’t want to lug a heavy backpack up the mountain, right? and b) packing light looks cooler cos you’ll look like a seasoned traveler.  A few essentials are

1. Water – make sure you have a tonne of this because you can dehydrate pretty fast when you’re climbing a huge mountain

2. Torchlight and batteries – You’ll be ascending to the peak at 3 am in the morning – the sun’s not up yet!

3. Food – climbing makes you hungry. bring high energy food to snack on like nuts, snickers, protein bars etc

4. Raincoat – It rains quite often there and this can also double up as your windbreaker

5. Jacket/Sweater/Gloves – I kid you not. It gets really cold and windy there. Esp near the peak. I’ve lived through -32C winters before but I was FREEZING at the peak

As for the trip up the mountain, there are two trails. One is via the Mesilau gate and the other via the Timpohon gate. The Timpohon trail is 2 km shorter than the Mesilau trail, but it’s also less rewarding. I recommend taking Mesilau on the way up and Timpohon on the way down. You should attack Mesilau first when you have energy. It’s a beautiful trek with lots of flora whereas Timpohon is not as pretty. But the advantage of Timpohon is that the trail itself is a lot easier and there are a lot more steps. I recommend this on the way down when you’re already half dead and can’t be bothered to appreciate the scenery.

Map of the 2 Kinabalu trails

This map/signboard is the first thing to greet you when you arrive at the Kinabalu park. The next one is a view of the peak (not too clear in this shot because it gets very cloudy, but those two nobbins are where at the peak)

Once you’re there, check into your hotel and then just take the remainder of the day to chill out. Don’t tire yourself out as you’ll need all the energy you can muster up for the climb. Have a really good dinner – and if you’re dieting, screw the diet for one day. You’ll thank me for this piece of amazing advice. And if you want some extra oomph! for conquering the mountain, you should try to local Tenom coffee. That sh*t is potent yo! This baby will whoop starbucks anytime. I added FOUR creamers and it was still pitch black!

Tenom coffee without any creamer

Oh and one last thing… try to *ahem* “empty” yourself before the climb. You really don’t want to have to use one of the squat toilets on the side of the mountain, so throw big water first, ok?

Next up: The journey to the peak!


One Response to “Conquering Mt Kinabalu – Part 1”

  1. anon - September 28, 2008 / 9:20 am

    yeah don’t be cheapo like me and buy an “adequate” over-the-counter torchlight.
    a) i couldn’t see a thing!!
    b) it can be quite embarrassing when the light from your torch can’t even reach the ground and all around you, korean tourists are so lighted up you can probably see them from space.

    so if in doubt, always go brighter. trust me..!


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