Wednesday, April 6, 2011

My Kinabalu Experience - 4093.4m

Date of travel : 25-28 March 2011

One word - suffering! (but the experience and scenery was breathtaking!)
But then again I suppose it's because that the weather was not in our favor. There always 2 sides of the coin - we endured rain all the way up but on the day of climb to the peak and Via Ferrata activity, we had sunshine till about 9am then it was raining the whole day again.... I guess we can be considered lucky? 

25 March 2011
We arrive in Kota Kinabalu and I was greeted by a surprise as Danny was at the airport! We went for lunch in town and then we were all transferred to Mesilau.
We stopped by KNP for arrangements of the climb the next day - guide and porters
We got into Mesilau at about 6pm and it started to rain.
When we came down for dinner it was still raining!
Beef noodles for lunch......

On the way to KNP we stopped by the floating mosque

At Mountain Torq office, Kinabalu Park

Bishop Dorm at Mesilau Nature Resort

Steamboat dinner, included in the package to Sutera Sanctuary
26 March 2011
We wanted to climb earlier knowing that it was a 8km trail and we had a timing to catch.
Breakfast is only served at 7am - one orders food at 7am and is served by 7.20am.
The gate for Mesilau trail only opens at 8am and we started our climb at 815am. It was raining.
The earliest climber (Chia) arrived at Laban rata at 3.30pm and I arrived at 4pm. (with Alvin, Esther and Shoo Chan) It rained all the way.
We quickly dropped our baggage at Laban rata and then went over to Pendant Hut for the Via Ferrata briefing at 4pm. Without this briefing, one would not be able to go for the Via Ferrata activity. We were all drenched and freezing cold. We had to endure this for 2 hours as the briefing ended at 6.10pm. By the time I signed the declaration forms, my hands were shaking until I could not write properly... body shivering from the cold. (They actually allow a grace up to 4.30pm - if you can make it at 4.30pm you can still join in the briefing)
The guys at Via Ferrata was great as they gave us cups of hot water..... without that to hold, we would really have suffered more!
After the briefing we then returned to Laban Rata for dinner (which starts at 5pm and ends at 7pm)
There is no hot water to shower at Laban Rata which was really very disappointing as how can one shower in cold water at 3900m ASL?
The lights went out by 7.40pm! So better get everything done ASAP....
The starting of the Mesilau trail - the gate opens at 8am
I love this scene... does not look like we are in Malaysia

That's a waterfall far far behind

A fall on the way up on the Mesilau trail

Pitcher plants

Doesn't it look like a layer of snow?

The bonsai area

More to climb!!!?

27 March 2011 (some of the pictures below are courtesy of other climbers.....)
Supper is served at 2am.
One can climb anytime after eating.
We started at about 2.45am. Beautiful weather.... at least there is no rain and we could still attempt to get to the summit which is a 2.7km walk (Laban rata is at 6km and Low's Peak is 8.7km)
I got to about 8.2km at 6.10am. There were a lot of people heading to the peak and I had to make a choice of going forward or to stop.
Via Ferrata starts at 7.30am (no grace/allowance is given - if you are late you do not get to do the activity), at 7.5km mark.
At the end, I rested and turned back for Via Ferrata - was at the starting point before 7am!
Via Ferrata has 2 routes the Walk The Torq and Low's Peak Circuit. The latter is a longer route is a good 5-6 hours activity. The record time of completion was 13 hours if I am not mistaken.
For us, we completed in 6 hours with 4 hours in the rain.
The reward? Breathtaking view from the slopes of Mt. Kinabalu, Laban Rata view from the top, walking across 6-7 vertical falls (seasonal due to the rain) and a view of Kinabalu's Niagara Falls. (that's what I see it as....) Not to mention other challenges like walking along the slopes with only a rope to secure you, walking on the hanging bridge, walking on wires.... the experience is endless!
My word of advice, if you are doing the Low's Peak Circuit, stay one more night at Laban rata.
For us, we finished the it at 1.45pm (back at Laban Rata), had a quick bite, change to whatever dry clothes we still have and set down on Timpohon route to descend the mountain.
By the time I got to the base it was already 6pm, imagine we started hiking at 2.45am and I stopped at 6pm with some others even later! Its not for the "unfit" nor those who are not up for challenges.
Well at least by the time we got transferred to KNP, there is hot shower facilities that we could use for clean up while waiting!
We were all then transferred to Poring Hot Spring Resort where we cleaned up almost everything of ours and dirtied the whole hostel. The hostel looked like it's been swept by typhoon!
On the way up to Low's Peak

The starting of the Via Ferrata Low's Peak Circuit at 7.5km mark

Laban rata below

A vertical seasonal fall due to the rain...
28 March 2011
Hot spring! You get it by turning on the taps into individual bath tubs (in the open) - wait for the tub to fill (which takes ages) but was quite an experience because then you get clean hot spring water everytime you go!
We then headed to Kg Luanti - what an amazing experience to be in the river fish spa. The fishes were about 25-30cm in length! Swims all around you, chasing after you for a bite of the fish food that you would be holding in hand. (giving you love bites too!) You can stroke them, play with them, feed them etc...... simply beautiful!
Hot spring tub

At the river bank getting a feel of the fishes
Next step is to get in
Next thing I know, the fishes are following me all around...

 So here's the recap of my experience... will I do it again? hmmmmm maybe not, but I would like to try the Eastern plateau! Never heard of? Here's what I was given....

Who's game for the challenge?


  1. Bravo, you manage this KK climb + Via Ferrata.

    Sure looks frightening on the Via Ferrata with the "dangling" wires.

    The Eastern Plateau looks like a Commando army training hike!

  2. NO worries! It looks more frightening than it actually is.... U get to see a diff view at Via Ferrata and its worth it!

  3. Hi,
    I'm just wondering if you did the climb with a tour company or through Mountain Torq? I'm heading to Sabah in about a month and want to go up via Mesilau and do the Low's Peak via ferrata as well. I figure I should probably book something as soon as possible as I have limited time in Borneo, and your itinerary sounds just right (I'll also be arriving at the airport just before noon and am keen to head to Mesilau that night).

  4. Hi Lucy,
    I arranged for all on my own.
    ie, for KK climb, through the Sutera operators and Via Ferrata with Mountain Torq.
    Usually for the KK climb, we have to book well in advance, 6 months to secure the space. If you are single traveler it may be easier to book.