Mount Kinabalu climb day 1 - The Ascent

Mount Kinabalu Travel Blog

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We woke up early, beautiful sunny day, and went right to breakfast up by the check in.  We started at 830am so most of the day hikers weren’t in yet (they arrive after 930-10) so there is some benefit to staying at the lodge.  You can sleep in and beat the queues!   Breakfast was adequate and I bought a packed lunch from the canteen.


We went up to the registration and met our guide, Wilfred.  This guy was amazing.  He was kitted out in 1970s era wind breaker clothes and had a rucksack with a man made hole in the top to allow his large umbrella to poke though.  He had on rubber shoes and chain smoked fags.  This image of Wilfred would stay exactly the same for the next two days regardless of climate or altitude.


We took the Timphon Gate route which kicks off about 5km from the lodges.  You can walk this but you can also pay $5 and get a lift ��" take the lift!  The 5km is not scenic and will only slow you down for the next 7km you are about to embark on.  There is a check in guy at the gate and he rented us sticks for $3 (approx) to hike with upon recommendation of Wilfred and many other hikers.  It starts out in the woods with a down hill, a nice stream and moderate temps.


This all ends after 1km of so where you meet the wooden stairs, then the naturally cut stairs, then the stone stairs, then the root stairs and even the bloody rest stops have cement stairs.  You’ll read everywhere there are tons of steps on the way up the path, this is not a lie!  It isn’t so bad though, you take your time and use your stick and before you know it you’re knocking of kilometres.

  Around 11pm we started seeing trail runner ��" nutters who sprint up and down the mountain in trainers everyday.  They can do the climb in 2 hours or something foolish (took us 2 days).


You also see the sherpas.  They have man made kit and haul all the food up to the lodge, amongst other things.  These people don’t look up so get out of their way!  They pass you coming up behind you and coming down in front of you.  We stopped for lunch at the ¾ marker and I cracked into fried chicken, cheese sandwiches and crisps.  It was splendid.  The normal hikers were coming down now looking tired but happy and we exchange minimal formalities as we all trudge on.  By 1pm I can hear the thunder and think back to yesterday’s view.  Get up the hill I’m thinking before the rain!


The clouds had rolled in by now so the views were scarce but you could feel the altitude and the chill set in.   We arrived at Laban Rata by 230pm.

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Almost there ��" a night in the huts on Mt Kinabalu.


We didn’t get into Laban Rata (the main, heated, hut) because it was full.  You need to book months (5+) prior!  We got in to Pendant hut under the scheme that we’d be also doing the ‘Walk the Torq’ which is an excursion on the world’s highest Via Ferrata.  Based on how tired I am now and the effort required for the final steps I’m thinking no, but we’ll see.


We get into the hut and secure our bunk bed in the room with 10 other bunks.  Only 2 other people of the expected 25 are here now and there are a few books to read and hot tea to drink.

  I think I had 8-10 cups of it.  By 4pm most others are there and I attempted a shower in the basement.  There was no hot water and you can imagine how cold water gets at 10k feet.  This will forever be the coldest shower I ever take because I simply won’t do it next time.


Somehow it was worth it though and I put warm dry clothes on for the night.  Dinner starts at 5pm or so and we get right down there because the next day’s climb kicks off at 2am and we need sleep!  Before dinner there was a training exercise on the Via Feratta that we all did to ‘learn the ropes’ and equipment.  I’m sceptical of this 1 hour exercise that takes place after I reach the summit.  Dinner was typical mass made noodles and curries which I thoroughly devoured.  I took 3 or 4 servings because I just burned a week’s worth of calories on the way up.  By 630pm it was back to Pendant hut to tuck in for sleep.  Sleeping was no issue with the 25 others as we all pretty much passed out.

Mount Kinabalu
photo by: Deats