Season and Weather: Climbing Mt Kinabalu

The weather on the summit at dawn is quite stable, but the fogs come and go quickly.

View of Mount Kinabalu's Peaks from
Kinabalu National Park's head quarter.

Season to Climb Mt Kinabalu

February, March & April are the best months to Climb Mount Kinabalu. These months are non monsoon season and rainfall is little.

There are two monsoons that bring rainy seasons to Sabah:
  • South West Monsoon stretches from May to July
  • However, it is North East Monsoon covering October to January that brought heavy and frequent rain. This is the worst time to climb Mount Kinabalu due to the heavy rain brought by North East Monsoon.

Generally, other than late October, November and December, other months are acceptable choice.

There are several reasons why you should avoid rainy seasons:

1. Summit climb may be cancelled due to bad weather.

Laban Rata Resthouse (at 3,270 m (10,728 ft) above sea level) has limited beds that required early booking, When the summit climb is cancelled due to heavy rain and winds, visitors may have to spend the night at Laban Rata Resthouse, instead of climbing to the summit. For those who booked to stay for only one night will have to descent from Laban Rata back to Kinabalu Park Head Quarter the next morning without reaching the summit.

Watch this video on the flood on the Summit of Mt Kinabalu.

Climbers should expect fogs and drizzles even when the weather is considered good.

Rain water flows through the
walking path.

2. Heavy rain can be dangerous judging by the trails' conditions.

During heavy downpour, water flows through the walking path. It can be dangerous.

3. Keeping yourself dry is important due to low temperature

It is important to keep oneself dry as temperature can be very low at Laban Rata due to high altitude. At night, it can reach less than zero degree Celsius according to our guide.

Overall: on Season to visit

Due to the limited beds at Laban Rata Resthouse visitors may have to make booking as early as six months to ensure a place to climb Mt Kinabalu. Therefore, during planning time, choose the visiting month wisely.

Again, other than late October, November and December, other months are acceptable choice.

Weather at Mt Kinabalu

Generally, the best weather in a day is morning. Start your climb or descent early. During the day, the weather is fickle, it changes quickly.

Always expect rains when you are climbing Mount Kinabalu.

Flora in the the rain.

Our experience: Points to take note

  • We visited Mount Kinabalu in September when rainfall was increasingly more frequent. The weather in the morning is always better than later of the day.
  • You must have enough socks, shoes, gloves, T shirts, etc.
  • Even if you love jeans, don't wear it uphill. Jeans can be very heavy if there is rain.
  • Bring along 2 sets of disposable rain coats, OR, one water proof track suit plus 1 set of disposable rain coat. Some suggest to wear shower cap before wearing rain coat.
  • Water proof all your belongings, e.g. daily cloth in each plastic bag.
  • Always start early:
    • Kinabalu National Park (KNP)->Laban Rata (LR) (8.30am)
    • LR->Summit (2.30am)
    • LR->KNP (as early as possible to reach KN Park head quarter, airport and to catch your plane on time) and
    • Descent from LR not later than 10.30am.
  • Latest to reach KN Park by 5pm in order to have enough time to take good shower before departure to airport.(Approximately 2 hours to airport)
  • In our case, it seems early has better weather:
    • Day 1 up, rain from 2pm – 8pm
    • Day 2 down, rain from 12 noon – 5pm

Note: Visibility condition can change in 10 minutes.

The fogs were thick at 6.30 AM. But the condition changed quickly in 10 minutes. See next photos.

Clear sky at 6.40 AM. Visibility was truly bad just 10 minutes ago.

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