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Mt Kinabalu (Sabah province, Malaysia)

Sat 15 Feb, 2020 6:42 pm

I’m wondering whether anyone has had the opportunity to climb Mt Kinabalu. If so, would you be willing to reply with any observations and how easy or difficult to organise.
I am planning a visit to peninsula Malaysia and I’m thinking of visiting Sabah and Sarawak if the planets align.
Many thanks in advance!

Re: Mt Kinabalu (Sabah province, Malaysia)

Sat 15 Feb, 2020 10:06 pm

Easiest way to climb Kinabalu is to join one of the organized tours.
For example, WorldExpeditions

Re: Mt Kinabalu (Sabah province, Malaysia)

Sun 16 Feb, 2020 8:00 am

Thanks Paul! However, I was really after personal observations and recommendations.
Kind regards,

Re: Mt Kinabalu (Sabah province, Malaysia)

Thu 02 Apr, 2020 9:18 am

Hi Ben,

I've climbed Mt. Kinabalu 7 times now - however not in the past 5 years - so my info is not fully up to date - also I've never done the summit Ferrata climbing route at the top - next time. My wife's family are locals from Kota Kinabalu. Things have changed a lot over the past few years - thanks to disrespectful foreigners and backpackers just turning up without bookings/guide, wandering around and not abiding by the rules of the mountain - so the rules now are much stricter on how you climb the mountain. Unfortunately they've even had to install chain mesh fences with locked pedestrian gates at several choke-points/checkpoints along the route to scrutinise each climber 'accreditation' and that they're in the company of their official mountain guide. You must carry your issued climbing ID/lanyard at all times. Also note: You can not 'camp' anywhere up on the mountain either - must stay in the mountain accomodation. In the past I've found you will have to book a climbing/accomodation slot WAY in advance as they only ever permit about 120climbers/night to stay on the mountain at the 10,500ft accomodations. I have an inkling that most of the slots are block-booked out by local tour companies way in advance and only release their leftover slots later when not purchased. Even with our strong local 'connections' I've often found it difficult to secure a climbing slot. I think booking through local tour companies is about the only way I think. (Can be done online through the tour company website) You cannot just 'go it alone' - you must have an official mountain guide, insurance, 'accreditation' (mountain ID) and mountain accomodations (prebooked/paid). Also you cannot just go up/down in a day - not permitted. I remember about 15yrs ago it used to cost me about AUD$120/person including accomodation, guide, insurance (but without food/drink or gratuities) but now the price is really excessive (especially if you want to take a family along) - but these days it does include meals. Somebodies making a huge profit! Although it can be challenging if you're reasonably fit and able it's quite doable. I've seen 80yr old Japanese hiking groups do it, my daughter did it when she was 5yrs old and on one trip I even saw one of the strong local porters carry a huge, heavy poly water tank up on his back! I recommend staying at the Laban Rata resthouse (~10,500ft) as it has some heating and used to have a single, basic hot shower albeit with very limited hot water - that may have changed though. This hut is relatively spacious and has meals, drinks etc. My favourite hut to stay in though was the small Sayat Sayat hut - way up clinging to the granite slopes near the summit (~12,000ft) - but that is not permitted anymore and is only used as a checkpoint for climbers.

Re: Mt Kinabalu (Sabah province, Malaysia)

Thu 09 Apr, 2020 11:16 am

Thanks for that info Stew, it's a walk that I'd like to do one day.

Re: Mt Kinabalu (Sabah province, Malaysia)

Sat 18 Apr, 2020 11:04 pm

Stew's post is on the money. You have to book months in advance, however the exception is if you book with the company that does the via ferrata. They have their own lodge and aren't quite as booked out.
I'd recommend the via ferrata as it adds extra excitement. It does cost a bit though so if you are not sure, then don't book it beforehand but just rock up for the training around 1pm. I think 99% you will get in as many people book via ferrata but don't end up going. When I went I would say less than half that did the training did go through with it. (too tired, didn't make the summit, weren't in time etc)
If the Mesilau route is open, I'd do that for the extra scenery.
I got to the summit 10 min before sunrise. Get your guide to put you on the pace for that. Getting to the summit too early and it will be too cold to stick around. A bit later and there will be a hoard arriving to obstruct the views.
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