The standard Climb up the mystical Mt. Kinabalu is via Kinabalu National Park, about 2 hours drive from Kota Kinabalu city. The first ascent is from the starting point at Timpohon Gate, about 30 mins drive from the Kinabalu National Park Headquarter. If you want to start the ascent on Day 1, it is advisable to arrive at the Park late morning the latest or else, depending on te weather condition, the Park may not allow you to do the first ascent due to dangerous condition (the fog will get too thick late evening). Most climbers prefer to stay overnight at Kinabalu National Park to not only aclimatize to the altitude but also to enjoy the magnificent flora and fauna at the Park before the assault on the next day/morning.
The first ascent is to climb (trek really) up to the 11,000ft area resthouse (Laban Rata) from Timpohon Gate where it is a must to stay overnight and recharge your energy. Should take a normal fit person an average 5 hours although some did it in 3. Participants at the annual Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon competition went all the way up to 13,400ft (4092.5m above sea level) and back in 2 hours. But its not really about how many hours. Its about the experience of trekking pass different vegetation zones from Oak and Chestnut to mossy and eventually to alpine type of vegetations, and observing the rare and exotic flora and fauna up there.
Early morning about 2 am or 3 am, the start of the second and more grueling stage - all the way to the summit. Should take a few hours. Some info can be found at the URL below:
One tip before the second ascent is not to eat any "red meat" for breakfast or else you will not likely to last the distance. Take some noodle and eggs, eat plenty of chocolates and take Glucose drinks. The sweeter the better for energy.
One important tip is to make reservation early. Given the popularity of the Climb nowadays, it is advisable to book at least 3-4 months in advance (or even much earlier during the peak season usually around mid-year) or else, you will be disappointed. This is mainly due to the limited accommodation at the Laban Rata mid-summit. In the event that there is no accommodation at the mid-summit, the Climb will not be possible (and won't be approved by the Park's HQ). Additionally, a mountain guide is compulsory.
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