Mount Kinabalu (Gunung Kinabalu) DAY 1: – Hiking Adventure #6

Mount Kinabalu is situated in the East Malaysia state of Sabah on the island of Borneo. It is the place where you could see breathtaking sunrise from above the clouds, 13,435 feet (4095 meters) above sea level.

We’ve finally achieved our dream – hiked up Mount Kinabalu and got back home safely despite some mishaps. We had to go through a number of challenges just before the hike – Alfred hurt his back while lifting a heavy bag just hours before the hike – but we decided to continue as he could still walk; in the middle of the hike, the sole of one of his shoes came off and we had to secure it with a string; had to continue our hike despite the weather condition – it was raining heavily; and me falling down somersaulting during the descent haha! We didn’t allow all these to dampen our spirits and we kept going.

It’s amazing what the human body can endure when you have an end in mind. Despite the obstacles, we persevered and took one step at a time and learned to listen to our instincts. We both respect nature and believe that no one should under-estimate the mountain – there’s something sacred and spiritual about the mountain and we gave our utmost respect to it.

Our itinerary on Saturday (the day before the hike):

  • Arrived at Kota Kinabalu at 9.20 a.m. on 24th October 2009 (Saturday).
  • Checked into Cititel Express – it’s simplicity is aluring despite the size of the room (the room is very small and compact – but the modern interior design makes up for its size).
  • Packed our bags – separated the items which we will be carrying and the items for the porter to carry.
  • The next day, after breakfast at the hotel, we were picked up at about 7.30 a.m.
  • We made a pit-stop along the way to Kinabalu Park – we had to wait till 12 p.m. before the ascent for the Climbathon participants to finish the race.
The views during the pit-stop before Kinabalu Park
At Kinabalu ParkAt Kinabalu Park with our guide (in the middle)
Day 1: First Phase of the climb – Day climb from Timpohon Gate up to Laban Rata following the summit trail (Length of hike: 6 km hike; 1407 m):

The entrance at Timpohon Gate to the rest point at Laban Rata resthouse (3,272m above sea level) should take 5-6 hours to reach for average fit person, after which you will check-in to dormitory style accommodation. The little markers at the side of the pathway that indicated how many kms left to Laban Rata was really helpful in keeping us motivated and moving.

  • Since it was Climbathon day (from 24-25th October 2009), we had to wait till 12 noon to start our hike – so that the path is clear for all the participants to descent.
  • We started our hike from the Timpohon check point at 12 p.m.
  • From here the trail rises steadily as a series of rough, uneven steps, right up to the overnight huts at Laban Rata (3,272 meters/10,735 feet). Along the way there will be 7 shelters (pondok), where each shelter have toilets and untreated mountain water source. The shelters afford the weary some well earned rest at intervals and the water tanks will make it easy for you as you do not have to carry heavy water bottles with you.
  • Initially, the weather was fair. At about 12.30 p.m., it started to drizzle – and we were went like “Oh, oh! Let’s keep on walking”. The guide mentioned that it rains almost everyday – since it was approaching the monsoon season. After a couple of minutes, it started to pour heavily – we kept on walking, knowing that waiting does no good – we have to reach the accomodation facility at Laban Rata before it gets dark.
  • After a gruelling 5 hours hike, finally we reached Laban Rata at about 5.00 p.m. – all drenched and cold. It felt so good to walk through those doors into a warm dining area.
  • Took a quick shower – to our horror, the water heater was not working! The water was icy cold – and I had to bite my lips and take a quick icy-bath. It took me hours to warm myself up as the hostel room was not heated as well. Shared the room with two friendly Australian girls – despite getting drenched from the rain, we managed to giggle about the whole episode.
  • Had a early hearty dinner (we were starving!) at about 6.00 p.m. and we settled into our bunk beds . The whole night, I could hear our roommates moaning from fatigue and the cold. I couldn’t sleep that night as I was excited about the next day’s hike up to the summit (despite knowing hat I had to wear my completely-wet-shoes – that part which I was so not looking forward!).
Before dinner, we went to the balcony of the guesthouse to admire the sunset – it was breathtaking – foams of clouds lining the rays of the setting sun. It was just darn cold standing outside – especially with the icy-cold-shower-effect.The dining area:

Note: Packed lunch is provided before the start of the hike, and early dinner at the Laban Rata guesthouse. 

Things to Bring (Timpohon gate to Laban Rata):
  • Since it is a day climb, it is usually warm and sunny (unless of course if it rains). So lightweight clothing like T-shirt is sufficient.
  • Good hiking shoes (a high-cut shoes is preferred to prevent ankle injury).
  • Hiking sticks (I absolutely need it!)
  • Cap
  • Water (Dilute the oral rehydration salts in the water)
  • Raincoat (You can buy disposable raincoats at Kinabalu Park)
  • Face towels
  • Tissue papers
  • Insect repellent
  • Chocolate, nuts, energy bars, cookies (I enjoyed my NIPS along the ascent to Laban Rata – it kept me going! – it’s funny how chocolate tastes much better while hiking Mount Kinabalu).
  • Your backpack. Better to have a waterproof one. We packed everything in double plastic bag in case it rains – and rain it did!).
  • Camera
  • Towels, toothbrush and toothpaste.
We asked the porter to carry most of the things needed for the night stay at Laban Rata – it came up to 10 kg – most of the weight is from the water bottles. The porter charges RM 8 per kilo of weight to be carried up and down. The stuffs we carried are water bottles for the first day hike, cameras and food.
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2 Responses to Mount Kinabalu (Gunung Kinabalu) DAY 1: – Hiking Adventure #6

  1. classyadele says:

    Congratulations on ur hike! Totally agree with u bout the choc bit. I think choc tastes better in a cold context, as compared to a hot, sweltering situation. Many a time we've been warned by elders not to each too much choc for fear of getting a 'sorethroat' (because it's heaty). So why did choc taste esp good for u – simple…choc has fat to keep u warm (because ure so skinny, girl!). Not forgetting the fact that choc has drug-like effects as a mood-elevator, hence by eating it while climbing the mountain, accords u that 'being rewarded' effect. So while the hike was practically breaking ur back and testing ur stamina/strength levels – the choc was a 'fast remedy' to make u feel happy, albeit temporarily (but enough to get u through the whole trek lah) 🙂

  2. AGAPE says:

    Yes, babe – for the next hike, I will be armed with loads of NIPS!

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