Friday, February 03, 2017

Geek in the Hills: Mount Kinabalu

Wow, how have six weeks passed since I was in East Malaysia heading up Mount Kinabalu? I have been to West (Peninsular) Malaysia many times, but have never been to East Malaysia. There were numerous little logistical challenges with my trip to East Malaysia.

Firstly, Sabah Park authority requires all climbers to have permits and a guide. The fact that there are only 100 permits handed out per day, and that one has to apply for a permit months in advance concerned me.

I didn’t want to end up being part of a massive group, so I decided to go for the option of using Mountain Torq. Their key differentiator is that they own the world’s highest via ferrata, located on the higher slopes of the mountain.

I flew into Kota Kinabalu (Kinabalu city) on the Sunday from Kuala Lumpur, and stayed with friends. Early the next morning, we were picked up in a mini-bus and I slept across a couple of seats for most of the 2 hour journey as the mini-bus driver defied death with his driving antics.

Opposite the park entrance we stopped at a local eatery to pick up a simple lunch, then entered the park and registered. We had to provide our legal documents and were issued with individual passes on lanyards. We were also introduced to our (mandatory) park guide.

The guides are local to the area and all appeared friendly, but they are not necessarily mountain guides in the IFMGA sense. On the bright side the route is not technical, so they are there mainly to keep pace and to answer all of my inane questions about the mountain and surrounding areas.

From the park offices there was a couple of mile drive to the head of the trail in a smaller car. Depending on which company you book with, this transport may not be available for free. The alternative is to walk it, but the road is narrow with no pavement, and vehicles careened round corners haphazardly.

Even on the descent I opted against walking this stretch. At the trail head, there is a final opportunity to purchase (rather unnecessary) snacks. You have to pass a control point as you enter, and from here the trek up the mountain truly begins!

The walk up was intentionally slow to aid acclimatisation. We were lucky with the weather on the ascent, as the rain held off. Trainers are sufficient for this walk; I wore rock approach shoes all the way to the summit.

I wore Patagonia trekking trousers which zip off into shorts, plus a short-sleeved top. A hydration bladder kept me hydrated, although there were six or seven water stations along the way, so one would be OK with a smaller water container.

I didn’t drink from them and can’t vouch for how safe that water is to drink! On the way up there are also basic toilet facilities, which were kept in good condition (bring your own toilet paper if required).

Onto the more interesting aspect – the views!

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Geek in the Hills: Mount Kinabalu