Are you planning to climb Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Malaysia and one of the most popular climbing destinations in Southeast Asia? If so, you probably have many questions about the climb. Here are some of the frequently asked questions that climbers typically ask:
Q: How difficult is it to climb Mount Kinabalu, and what should I know before attempting the climb?
A: Climbing Mount Kinabalu can be a challenging experience, even for experienced hikers. Climbing Mount Kinabalu requires good stamina, but anyone in reasonable shape should be able to do the climb. There is no technical climbing skills needed, a good preparation like cardio workout, running or step climbing 2 months before the climb would definitely helps. The climb typically takes two days and involves steep ascents and descents, with high altitude and changing weather conditions. It’s important to be physically fit, properly equipped, and prepared for the climb. It’s also recommended to acclimatize to the altitude by spending a few days in the area before attempting the climb.
The first 6 km of the trail is moderately steep wide trail, that has medium to big steps, from Timpohon Gate to Panarlaban area (where all the accommodations are). The trail is well defined with distance markers at every 0.5 km interval. For the comfort of climbers there are shelters for climbers to rest, and toilets along the way. Fort the second day hike to the summit, the first 850 meters is via rocky steep stairs and steps while the remaining 2 km are over smooth granite surface. The summit trail route is marked by guided ropes which can be used as climbing aid all the way to the summit.
It’s best to book with a licensed tour operator who can provide guidance and ensure your safety during the climb.
Q: What is the best time of year to climb Mount Kinabalu?
A: The best time to climb Mount Kinabalu is generally from March to September, during the dry season. However, the weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to check the forecast and be prepared for rain and changing weather conditions.
Q: What is the cost of climbing Mount Kinabalu?
A: The cost of climbing Mount Kinabalu varies depending on the time of year, the type of package you book, and the number of climbers in your group. Generally, the cost includes park fees, accommodation, meals, and a guide. It’s important to book with a licensed tour operator to ensure a safe and enjoyable climb.
Q: What equipment do I need to climb Mount Kinabalu?
A: You will need proper hiking boots, warm clothing, rain gear, a headlamp, a backpack, and a water bottle. It’s also important to bring sunscreen, insect repellent, and a first aid kit. Some tour operators may provide equipment, but it’s best to check beforehand.
Q: What is the altitude of Mount Kinabalu, and what are the effects of high altitude?
A: Mount Kinabalu’s peak is at an altitude of 4,095 meters (13,435 feet). High altitude can cause symptoms such as headache, nausea, and fatigue. It’s important to acclimatize properly, drink plenty of water, and take it slow to prevent altitude sickness.
Q: How cold can it get at Mount Kinabalu?
A: At night the temperature inside the mountain accommodation is about 10 to 15 degree Celsius. While the temperature at the summit trek can be below 10 degree Celsius and sometimes may even drops to freezing point.
Q: What clothes should I bring for the Mount Kinabalu climb?
A: The first day of the hike, leggings or track pants would be good for the hike. Do wear multi-layers for your top, a quick dry t-shirt, and have a jacket that you can easily put away once it started to warm up. Do have a poncho or raincoat handy in your daypack in case if it rains. As for the second day of the trek, in higher altitudes you will need to have at least 3 layers on to protect yourself from the cold weather. The first layer is a quick dry synthetic material shirt (either short or long sleeve), next a good quality fleece jacket as the second layer and finally a windproof jacket as the outside layer. As for the pants, you can opt for waterproof or windproof trekking pants, you will also need a pair of gloves, a beanie and compulsory to have a headtorch.
Q: What shoes are recommended for the trek?
A: A pair of good running shoes or trekking shoes with good traction. You may also choose to have mid or high-cut shoes for better ankle support.
Q: Can I climb Mount Kinabalu without a guide?
A: No, it is not permitted to climb Mount Kinabalu without a guide. Guides are required to ensure the safety of climbers and protect the mountain’s fragile environment.
Q: What should I expect during the climb?
A: The climb involves hiking through lush rainforest and rocky terrain, with steep ascents and descents. The second day of the climb typically begins in the early morning to reach the summit for sunrise. It’s important to pace yourself, stay hydrated, and listen to your guide’s instructions.
Q: Can children climb Mount Kinabalu?
A: Children under 10 years old are not permitted to climb Mount Kinabalu. Children between the ages of 10 and 18 must be accompanied by an adult and have a medical certificate stating that they are fit to climb. When climbing with children, you would be required to have an extra mountain guide for your child.
Q: What should I do if I experience altitude sickness?
A: If you experience symptoms of altitude sickness such as headache, nausea, or fatigue, it’s important to rest and drink plenty of water. If your symptoms worsen, it may be necessary to descend to a lower altitude. Your guide can provide assistance and advice.
Q: Do I need a trekking stick for the hike?
A: A hiking stick is an aided advantage to have especially for the descend, as after two days of climbing your legs muscles started to feel the strain and having the walking sticks will helps to reduce the strain on your joints when going downhill. Hiking sticks can be rented from the Kinabalu National Park Headquarters at RM15 per stick.
How much drinking water is needed for the trek?
You should have at least 2 litres of water for each day of the hike, and you can get to refill your water at the Laban Rata restaurant.
Q: What are the accommodation and facilities like at the mountain huts?
A: There are three types of accommodations at the mountain (Panarlaban), Laban Rata Resthouse, Pendant Hut and Kinotoki Hut. Laban Rata and Kinotoki provides bunk beds and blankets, as for Pendant Hut they have bunk beds and sleeping bags. Hot showers are available at both Pendant Hut and Laban Rata Resthouse, not at Kinotoki though. Meals are provided at the Laban Rata Restaurants and those staying at Kinotoki will take all meals (dinner, supper and breakfast) at Laban Rata Restaurant, Pendant Hut provides, their own supper and breakfast only dinner you will need to commute to Laban Rata Restaurant.
Q:Can I get high altitude sickness from Mount Kinabalu climb?
A: Mount Kinabalu is high enough for climbers to get acute mountain sickness (AMS), as the altitude of the mountain accommodations where climbers stay for the night is considered high (at 3,270 meters). Common preventive measures include taking altitude sickness medication and to pace yourself well throughout the climb.
Q: Do the mountain guides and porters speaks English?
Yes, all the guides and porters are able to speak basic English. Since we all have certain accents, the guides and porters would appreciate if you are to speak clearly and slowly.
Q: What is via ferrata?
A: Via ferrata is an Italian word meaning “iron road”, it is a mountain activity route with series of rungs, rails and cables attached to the rock face. Using harnesses and carabiners, climbers are secure to the cables for safety, to the crux of the via ferrata (a steel cable) that runs along the route and anchored at regular intervals to the rock face. Via ferrata can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of their climbing experience. inexperienced climbers a safety means to transverse precarious cliffs and enjoying the dramatic views and thrills of mountaineering. There are more than a few hundred via ferrata routes around the world but most of them are situated in the Alps. The via ferrata in Mount Kinabalu is the first via ferrata in Asia and also the highest via ferrata in the world. There are two different routes which correspond to two different levels of difficulty; the beginner level route – “Walk the Torq” and the intermediate level route – “Low’s Peak Circuit”.
Q: What is the difference between “Walk the Torq” and “Low’s Peak Circuit”?
Walk the torq, or in short is referred to as WTT starts at 3,520 meters and ends at 3,411 meters is an introductory route, which would be ideal for beginners and those who would like to have some fun activities after the summit Mount Kinabalu Climb. The highlights of Walk the Torq activities include the twin cable Monkey Bridge, the Tyrolean Traverse and the Balancing Beam.
Walk the Torq details:
Length of route 430 m
2 hours to complete
French grade PD
Highest point 3,520 m above sea level
Low’s Peak Circuit details:
or else referred to as LPC starts at 3,776 meters and ends at 3,411 meters is an intermediate route designed for those who are physically fit and seeks for further adventure. The total length of the route is 1.1 km with a vertical height traverse of 365 meters (not recommended for those with height phobia) and takes about 4 to 5 hours to complete the whole route. The LPC route is an extension of the WTT route, in addition it has some steeper descends, obstacles like a suspension bridge and the 3-cables Nepalese bridge.
Low’s Peak Circuit – LPC
Length of route 1.1 km
4 hours duration
French grade AD
Highest point 3,776 m above sea level
Q: What are the porters fee rates?
A: Porter can be hired on the spot at the National Park HQ; prior booking is not required. The porter fees are:
|Destination||Minimum Weight (kg)||Rate|
|Timpohon – Panarlaban||10||RM70.00 per way|
|Panarlaban – Timpohon||10||RM70.00 per way|
|Timpohon – Sayat Sayat||10||RM90.00 per way|
|Sayat Sayat – Timpohon||10||RM90.00 per way|
|Timpohon – Summit||10||RM110.00 per way|
|Summit – Timpohon||10||RM110.00 per way|
Minimum porter fee is at 10 kg, and with any additional weight from this will be charged based on rate per kg. These prices are endorsed by the national park. Porters are usually paid in cash at the end of the climb. It’s important to negotiate the rate and the weight of the load before hiring a porter to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding.
Q: Where can I store my extra luggage?
A: There is a luggage service at the Kinabalu Park Headquarters, which is at RM12 per piece of luggage. All luggage kept here will be given a claim tags, issued by the lodges, which you need to keep for luggage claim after your climb.
Q: What is an appropriate tipping for the mountain guide?
A: Tipping is highly encouraged especially for good services by your mountain guide, a guide of around RM50 to RM100 to the guide for the two days of climb is acceptable.
Q: Are there mobile phone signals at the mountains?
A: At most part of the trail from the Timpohon Gate towards the summit, there are several good coverage points for you to get phone signals.
Q: What does the insurance covered?
A: The insurance that comes with the mountain climb covers, accidental from the climb activity only. Therefore, we strongly recommend climbers to buy an additional travel insurance to protect themselves further, for instance lost of items such as camera, money etc and trip curtailment due to missed flight connection and many more that travel insurance covers.
Climbing Mount Kinabalu is an unforgettable experience, but it’s important to be prepared and informed before attempting the climb. By following these frequently asked questions, you can have a safe and enjoyable climb0