Since 2008, the cost of climbing Mt Kinabalu has skyrocketed, and if you’re lucky, you may get a confirmed booking... five months down the line. What’s the deal with Malaysia’s iconic mountain?
Here’s the irony — climbing Sabah’s Mt Kinabalu, whose majestic peak tops out at 4,085m, is relatively easy; trying to wrangle a spot to climb, however, requires a fair bit of doggedness, an open schedule and, yes, money.
In the past year, regular climbers and tourists, both foreign and local, have been flooding the blogosphere, travel forums and media with complaints. Their main gripes are that the climbing cost is astronomical, the waiting list long and the service and infrastructure, substandard.
Even the first edition of Lonely Planet Borneo published last year devoted almost one page to the issues, raising the question: is it worth the hassle?
To climb Kinabalu, the average person takes about four to six hours to reach about three-quarters of the way to Panar Laban (3,270m), stays overnight at Laban Rata, and then completes the summit push before dawn the next day.
Unless you’re super-fit and can dart up the peak like the local porters, you’ll need to book a dormitory bed or a room at the Laban Rata guesthouse, since camping isn’t allowed.
All the lodges on the mountain — the Laban Rata Resthouse, Gunting Lagadan and Sayat-Sayat huts — are owned by the Sabah government under Sabah Parks.
In 1998, Sabah privatised the management of the properties, and in 2002, private company Sutera Harbour Resort was appointed to co-manage under the name Sutera Sanctuary Lodges (SSL), with Sabah Parks handling the park administration and collection of fees for conservation, guide, porter and climbing.
To prevent the mountain from being overrun, Sabah Parks limits the number of climbers to 192 people a day. Plus, park rangers enforce the rules on the mountain.
Continue reading at: A price too high to climb Mount Kinabalu