Friday, November 11, 2016

The Nutrition Nomad: Mount Kinabalu Summit, Sabah, Malaysia

The Mount Kinabalu Summit trail was one of the hardest hikes that I have ever done. Admittedly, completing it in one day was tough because you ascend more than 2200m in a day (and then have the steep steps to descend). I gave my hiking pole to a Canadian guy who had twisted his ankle on the descent. 

So, without the extra support, with the altitude changes and the many stairs, my legs were like jelly by the end and I needed to hold the hand of my guide, Jamulis at the end of the day. I could hardly walk for the next couple of days. In saying that, this walk is absolutely possible for all people from young to not-so young.

Doing it over two days allows you to take your time but also, to reach the summit for sunrise. However, with the difficulty of the one day climb, I was rewarded with the summit without the crowds!

Start: Timpohon Trail, Kinabalu National Park (1866m)

Time: The 17.5m return hike is usually done in 2 days and 1 night but there is a limit of 100 permits (and places to sleep) each day. I actually completed the return hike in one day (at the time, in 2011 they allowed 4 people to do this each day).

Grade: Medium- Hard (While the surface is mostly even, there are many stairs and it is quite steep)

Highest Point: Lows Peak (4095m)

Special Notes: Due to the Malaysian earthquake in 2015, the trail closed due to damage. In September 2015, it reopened to allow 100 climbers to the Laban Rata point (6km). The entire summit trail is set to reopen on 1st December 2015.

Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain in southeast Asia. The return hike starts at Timpohon Gate within Kinabalu National Park. I stayed in the National Park the night prior and met my guide, Jamulis (guides are required to walk the trail) the next morning at 7:00am where we got our ID tag and set off.

The trail meanders through various types of vegetation from more dense forest of chestnut and oak, to mossy lush greenery to Laban Rata. If you’re lucky, you can see some various wildlife including squirrels and beautiful local birds.

There are shelters that run along the trail and markers about every kilometre of the track to give you an idea of how far you have walked. A great majority of the climb is with the support of man-made, mainly wooden stairs. Some people love this safety and support, but I am not a fan of having stairs on trails and find them harder on my body, especially on the descent.