Training: Preparing Your Body For A Long Uphill Walk

Despite having height of 4,095.2 M (13,435 ft) above sea level, climbing Mt Kinabalu is technically easy. It does not require rock climbing skills. In most part of the trail you will just walk on steps or on a big wide slanting slope.

Full 6 KM of such uphill hike.

Never ending uphill walk.

Long hour, long journey, uphill.

To Be Fit

However, there is still a basic requirement of being healthy and fit enough for a long, never seems to end, uphill walk of 6km to Laban Rata and another 2.75km walk from Laban Rata (Laban Rata is to Mt Kinabalu is similar to Base Camp is to Mt Everest) to the summit.

You will probably start the summit climb at 2.30am and will reach the summit before 7.00am. You will probably reaching back to Laban Rata before 9.30am and will take another descending walk of 6km (6 hours) back to Kinabalu Park HQ the same day.

In total you will probably walk for 12 hours to 14 hours on the day you climb to the summit and descended back to the Park.


If you are not physically active you will probably need to train your body just a little bit.

1. Try a few rounds of hikes on the hills nearby until your body get a little more use to hiking
2. Try your equipments and hiking shoes in a real hike
3. Use the trackmill as often as you can to build up stamina
4. Walking up apartment staircase (but take lift down to protect your knee)

In my case, I am definitely not physically active. I don't like to play sport games and my work requires me to sit in the office always. ;-)

I started to train 9 months (!!) before the climb (NO, you DON'T need to train for 9 months to get up to Mt Kinabalu. Read on). One week once. Every Sunday 6.00 am, I hiked with my friends at a hill nearby my house for an hour. However, 9 months may be a bit too long.

Walking up hill in the rains.

Zoe, one of our Mt Kinabalu climbing team member, started to follow my Sunday climb 3 months before the actual climb. She started with physical conditions much worse than that of mine. Sometime she would missed a Sunday and came the next Sunday. In just a few hikes in the local hill, she improved tremendously. With the help of mountain guide, she walked up to summit of Mt Kinabalu with little problem.

It seems the climb was like a breeze to her, while I was struggling to climb due to altitude sickness. :-P

Even if you are physically active, you may still need to try to hike a few times. First, to let your body get use to long hour hiking and walking in the jungle trail. I slipped and fell a few times during the first two hikes of my training.

You climb up this stretch at night in the dark. Training with head lamp in the dark is definitely a must.

This would be your perspective during the night climb, if you can see in the dark.

Second, a 6 hour walk requires strategy of conserving energy and walk with consistent output. A good jogger understands this, but a basketball player may not. One of our fittest teammates suffered  from fatigue due to wrong walking strategy of rush-rest-rush-rest. Since he is fit, he just could not understand our advice of walking slowly and consistently. He struggled to reach Laban Rata late behind everyone and was unable to go for the summit climb during the night.

Ultimately, even if you climb without training, with right walking strategy, you may still able to make it to summit like the Deputy Youth and Sports Minister of Malaysia, Mr Gan Peng Shie. Read his Mt Kinabalu climbing story here. But of course, you are risking to hurt yourself, i.e. sprain your ankle, etc. and take medical leave just like him.

To Be Healthy

You need to be healthy. This is extremely important for the sake of personal safety. The mountain operator, SSL, includes special note below in the booking confirmation documents:

"It is recommended that all climbers should have themselves medically checked before attempting any mountain climb. If you have a history of suffering from the following ailments, it is highly recommend that you should refrain from climbing: Hypertension, Diabetes, Palpitation, Arthritis, Heart Disease, Severe Anemia, Peptic ulcers, Epileptic fits, Obesity (Overweight), Chronic Asthma, Muscular Cramps, Hepatitis (Jaundice); or any other disease which may hamper the climber."

Look at the yellow figurine to have a feel of the scale of the summit plateau. You walk on the rocky and uneven surface for more than 1.5 KM to reach Low's Peak. It is the most difficult walk of the entire climb.


Read about techniques of downhill walk

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