Climbing Mt Kinabalu, the terrain

Terrain of Mount Kinabalu:
The climb of Mt Kinabalu through Timpohon Gate starts with walking downhill. It is a short walk until you reach a waterfall. This is probably the best scenery that you could have until reaching 5km.

I agree with most opinions that I heard or read in blogs or websites that Timpohon trail has very little scenery to be worth mentioning. As I am really not a person into nature, so I am perfectly fine with the scenery or, well, simply lack of scenery of the trail.

After the waterfall, it is all the way uphill.

From Timpohon Gate to 5km, the hike is relatively easy if you don't suffer from altitude sickness and you have correct walking strategy of conserving energy by walking at your own pace.

Since early this year, I have been hiking with my friends up a hill nearby, Bukit Gasing, on most Sunday morning. We start before dawn and walk with torchlight. It usually takes us 35 minutes to reach the top and another 20 minutes back to the bottom of the hill. In the last stretch of Bukit Gasing trail before reaching the "peak", there is a final uphill walk of 320 - 350 steps.

That stretch is not a difficult walk, but it is just keep going uphill for 320 - 350 steps.

And yes, the entire 6KM of Timpohon Trail toward Laban Rata is not more technically challenging than the last stretch of Bukit Gasing. In fact, I consider the first 5KM walk to Laban Rata Resthouse to be easy, technically. The only thing is that the trail is simply steep and long for hikers to not to feel tired.

We have got the best scenic view in 5km.
5km: I wish I had taken better photo here. It was
really beautiful, even with fog covering the
mountain top. 

5.5km onward. Walking on the stones.
I found the last 0.5km toward Laban Rata is extremely tiring, though technically easy. I found it challenging to balance myself  walking on the stones due to altitude sickness. I moved slowly as every quick move would caused a rush of blood up from my neck toward my head. My ankles were aching.

5.5km onward, altitude sickness caused me to find it
difficult to balance myself walking on the stones.

Laban Rata to Sayat Sayat
You will probably start the climb at 2.30pm after the buffet supper at Laban Rata Resthouse.

There are two parts in this stretch of route. The first half of the route towards Sayat Sayat checkpoint is an uphill walk on staircases and rock faces. Again, a simple but steep uphill walk.

The second part of this route requires you to hold a rope, walk horizontally on a ladge (at a slope approximately between 45 degree to 70 degree) for a while, and ultimately pull yourself up with the rope on a slope.
Photo in Alice's camera. Zoe pulled herself up the slope.
A very short distance. The next stop is the last check
point, Sayat Sayat.

After the slope part, you will reach Sayat Sayat, the last check point hut before the summit. This is the place where you confirm, with the guard sitting in the hut, your attendance to the peak. When you are back to Kinabalu Park Headquarters, you will receive a colorful certificate to prove that you had reached the summit.

Sayat Sayat is also the last toilet place before reaching summit. Therefore, it is advisable to clear your bladder there. Don't miss the toilet here. There is no more toilet above this line.

Sayat Sayat to Summit, Low's Peak

After Sayat Sayat, you will walk on a big wide slope all the way to the summit, Low's peak. It is a big wide rocky plateau on top of the mountain. The plateau is steep. It is extremely uncomfortable for my ankles to walk on the steep rock face. A few times I thought I was about to twist my ankles.

The altitude is high and the oxygen is low. I could not move fast then, as every simple move seems to be a strenuous exercise. This is the place, right after Sayat Sayat and before Donkey Ears peak, that many said that they were pondering to give up the climb or regretting of climbing the mountain, etc. At that point, I only regretted why I brought my heavy SLR.

Ultimately, at approximately 5.30am, I had to stop at somewhere near Donkey Ears Peak to rest and to watch the sunrise.

From here onward the difficult part is over. It is all the way up to the foot of Low's Peak. We followed the white rope laid on the ground. The rope leads the hikers to Low's Peak. Don't walk too far away from the rope. There was a fatal accident when an English girl, Ellie James, lost trace of the rope and walked astray in a foggy weather.

Climbing Low's Peak is easy. Yes, you will use hands and legs to climb. But it is easy as like you walk a few steps and climb on a table, and walk two steps, climb on another table, etc.

I found these two very funny articles sharing their experience of climbing Mt Kinabalu from Teun and Derek. Teun is a Dutch. He did not make it to the summit. He has an interesting account on how he struggled the climb. While Derek is a Canadian. His writing is comprehensive and  funny.

Terrain of Mount Kinabalu: