Climbing Mt Kinabalu website On Mobile Phone

You can now browse this website using your iphone or adroid phone as long as there is mobile web browser.
From my testing, both Apple's Safari browser or Opera Mini work perfectly well.

Here are some screen shots using Safari browser from my iPhone. Try it using your smart phone.





Here are some screen shots using Opera Mini.






The actual screen on my iPhone is much clearer than the photos above.

Getting There: Kinabalu Park Reception Office

Kinabalu Park Office and its Head Quarter located approximately 90 km away from Kota Kinabalu International Airport. From Kota Kinabalu city, you can rent a car or get a taxi to go Kinabalu Park. The journey takes less than 2 hours.

For a group of 6 -8 persons you can hire a van with driver to take your group from Kota Kinabalu International Airport to Kinabalu Park Office, where you register your attendance for the climb (** Important: you need to book your place to climb earlier before you come). The cost to hire a van big enough to fetch 6-8 persons (and luggage) in a group ranged between RM450 to RM500, it includes trip from Kota Kinabalu International Airport to Kinabalu Park Office AND the return trip from Kinabalu Park Office to Kota Kinabalu International Airport. Cost per person for such "return trip" (to and fro) transport van from KK International Airport to Kinabalu Park is only less than RM70 per person if you go in a group.

If you are going in a smaller group, i.e. 2-3 persons, hiring taxi is a solution. And I think it should only be a bit more expensive than the above.


View Larger Map

In our previous trips, we hired vans from the two car rental companies listed below. Frankly, I don't know them well. It is just that we had used their transport service of return trip transport to Kinabalu Park from KKIA.

First,
Bimaz Tours & Travel And Rent-A-Car Sdn Bhd (Co.625562-P) KPL/LN:3958 MATTA No.2904
Kota Kinabalu Sabah
Tel : (+6) 088 767214 | Fax : (+6) 088 766214
Second,
Syarikat Gunung Kinabalu
Contact person: Charles Kong
Tel : (+6) 088 492 535
Mobile : (+6) 012 869 7677 | (+6) 016 552 7177
Email : kcydavid@yahoo.com
One more,
We had not used their service before, but we add the info here purely based on goodwill and suggestion.
GBMS Management Services
Contact person: Hani NJ (and her blog)
Tel : (+6) 088 760 521
Mobile : (+6) 014 658 7181
Email : gbms.centre@gmail.com; hani_nj@yahoo.com.sg



Upon arriving at Kinabalu Park Head Quarter, you need to register your attendance at Reception Office. The receptionists will brief you about accommodation and meals arrangements and pass you your hostel room keys. You will be informed of a 6pm climbing briefing.

You will need to walk next door to Transport Office to arrange for tomorrow transport (it is a van) from Kinabalu Park Reception Office to Timpohon Gate or Mesilau Gate (depends on your choice of trail). This transport cost is NOT included in the price that you paid to Sutera Sanctuary Lodges for the climbing package. You can buy a good hiking pole here.

Again, you need to walk next door to Operations Office to confirm the names of your climbing team members and mountain guide arrangement. You also confirm if you and your team members want certificates.

All transport within Kinabalu Park Head Quarter, i.e. from your hostel to office, from your hostel to Balsam Buffet Restaurant, etc. are free. You just need to call Reception Office, which open 24 hours 7 days a week, for transport.

To the right is the door to Reception Office. To the left is the door to Transport Office.



After her short briefing on accommodation to a group of us, she asked, "Do you have any question?"
I could not resist and said, "Yes."
"Yes?" she nodded.
I asked, "Can I take a photo of you?"
Everyone laughed. She graciously said yes. So this is the photo.

You can find a bit more information at the mountain operator's, i.e. Sutera Sanctuary Lodges/ Sutera Habour, website here.

This is the Reception Office location at Google Maps.

More Resources
You can read more about flights and road transports.
You can read more about public transports to and back from Kinabalu Park at Lonely Planet's website.

Sea of Cloud on the Summit Plateau of Mount Kinabalu

It is not easy to climb to the summit of Mount Kinabalu. However, when you stand at the summit looking at the spectacular view, you will realise that all the hard work and difficulties are worthwhile.

The amazing clouds formation at dawn on the plateau.


Another photo on clouds.


The clouds look like sea waves. I used a zoom lens to take this photo during descend.


Beautiful view of South Peak and the cloud. Climbers must follow the rope to avoid straying to wrong path that can be dangerous.

Dawn on the Plateau of Mount Kinabalu's Summit

Twice, I was unable to reach Low's Peak before dawn. Both times, I was at the plateau near Donkey Ears Peak at the dawn break. Both times, the experience was wonderful.

Beautiful dawn at the summit of Mount Kinabalu.




South Peak at dawn. The cloud is beautiful.


Panar Laban Huts: Accommodation at Laban Rata

Panar Laban Huts (3,314.3 meters above sea level) located at approximately 200 meters away from Laban Rata Rest House. It is a short distance uphill walk. If you are allocated to stay in Panar Laban, after reaching Laban Rata Rest House, you will go to the Reception counter to get your keys and towels.

Panar Laban Huts are made of two huts. There are 4 beds in each hut. Both huts come with attached pantry with basic cooking facilities. You can boil water for tea or to cook instant noodle. Hot water is useful here as the bathroom has no hot water and you have to walk 20 meter away to the bathroom. The water is very cold here. I poured hot water to my towel. Then I wiped my body with the hot wet towel, instead of bathing.

Panar Laban Huts


The toilets and bathrooms at Panar Laban. It is reasonably clean, but don't hope for 3 stars.
The cozy beds in Panar Laban Hut

These are the pro and con staying at Panar Laban instead of Laban Rata Rest House.

Pro
1. You have full control of electricity (Those who stay in Laban Rata Rest House has no control over the switches of electricity.)
2. Fantastic views
3. Attached pantry. You can boil hot water and have instant noodle.

Con
1. Need to walk downhill to Laban Rata Rest House for buffet meals.
2. Need to walk outside to go toilet.



Though it is not heated, from my experience, the temperature in the hut is not cold. There is sufficient warm blankets in the hut. You can find more information about accommodation at Laban Rata, Panar Laban, Gunting Lagadan, Waras Hut, etc. at this website.


The view at Panar Laban is beautiful. The building at the bottom left of the photo is Laban Rata.
Mountain at the back of Panar Laban Huts.

Mountain at the back of Panar Laban Huts.


When you make your booking, remember to confirm with the receptionist your preferred accommodation, i.e. Laban Rata Rest House, Panar Laban, Gunting Lagadan, Waras Hut, etc.

More Resources

Mobile Phones on Mount Kinabalu

Mobile Phone Signals

In both my climbs, September 2010 and September 2011, the only mobile service available at Laban Rata Resthouse was Maxis. There was no signal from other service providers at Laban Rata.

For summit, there was no signal above Sayat Sayat which is the last check point before reaching summit's plateau. Therefore, at summit, i.e. the plateau near Donkey Ears, South peak, Low's peak, etc. there was no mobile phone reception.

(Edited on 18 Feb 2012: a reader informed that his Celcom network works and "managed to have mobile coverage all the way up till just before the summit, i.e. on the plateau before the final 100m climb up the rocks to Low's Summit." Amazing Celcom.)

Phone Chargers

You can bring along your phone charger to Laban Rata. There is electricity.

In Laban Rata Rest House, the main building, electricity is not stable and all electricity shut off after, if I remember correctly, 7.00 pm.

However, for other lodging huts around Laban Rata Rest House, i.e. Panar Laban, Waras Hut, Burlington Hut, Gunting Lagadan Hut, etc. you are in control of the electric switches. The electricity here is more stable.

Laban Rata Rest House 3,270 meter above sea level at Mt Kinabalu

Laban Rata Rest House is the place for climbers to rest, eat and sleep before the summit climb at night. It is a big building located at 3,273 meter above sea level with large and small dormitories, a restaurant serving buffet dinner, supper and breakfast and a store with post office that sell and rent clothes and some climbing accessories.

You can read more about Laban Rata at wikitravel on Laban Rata. This is another website about the facilities at Laban Rata Rest House.

The store at Laban Rata Rest House that sell and rent clothes, etc.
Go to the Reception to collect your towels and key. 


Getting There
Starting from Timpohon Gate, you will climb 6 km upward to reach Laban Rata Rest House. With average fitness, you will probably take about 6 hours to reach the rest house. Generally, climbers start the climb before 9.00am and reach Laban Rata before 3.00pm. Once you reach Laban Rata Rest House, remember to get your towels and keys (if you stay at Panar Laban, Waras Hut, Gunting Lagadan, etc.)

There is a nice map on the road to Laban Rata from the operator of Mount Kinabalu. Click here for Laban Rata's map.

We were at Laban Rata Rest House's restaurent waiting for dinner buffet to start.


Hygiene and Bath
Whether and temperature is COLD and water is freezing at Laban Rata. You will probably want to clean yourself after the 6 km climb but there is no hot water here, except for a small dormitory (that is still elusive to me). The rest house provides dry towel though.

Read more about the hygiene and bathing issue at Laban Rata here.

Food & Drinks
Buffet dinner available at approximately 5pm - 6pm. Lights at Laban Rata off at approximately 7pm and climbers sleep until 1.30am. Buffet supper is served at 2.00am. Most climbers eat and start their summit climb at 2.30am. It serves free flow of hot coffee and tea during dining hours. Cold water is always available at the dining area for climbers to refill water bottle.

Food is...simple and ok. It is buffet with sausage, eggs, rice, mee, chicken, vegetables, etc.

The buffet breakfast close at 10.00am. After that you can only order a la carte, which you need to pay extra. Most people manage to come back to Laban Rata Rest House after the summit climb by 10.00am.

Climbers have their supper/ breakfast buffet at 2.00am early in the morning before starting their climb to summit.

Beds and Sleep
Laban Rata Rest House and its dormitories are heated. Therefore it will not be cold inside the building. The bed is comfortable, though it is not so easy to sleep at 7pm and wake up at 1.30am to the summit. The dormitory we slept has 10 beds (in one big room). Men and women share the same dormitories, there is no segregation.

At Laban Rata, there are a few more hostels other than the Laban Rata Rest House itself, i.e. Panar Laban, Waras Hut, Burlington Hut, Gunting Lagadan Hut, etc. They are located withint 200 meters away from Laban Rata Rest House. However, since the only restaurant in this area which is in the rest house, those who stay in these hostels will have to walk to Laban Rata Rest House to have their meal.

These are a few photo of Laban Rata from other website.

You can read about some discussion of Laban Rata at lonely planet forum here.

Laban Rata Rest House's view from top. I was standing at Panar Laban taking this photo.

Sayat Sayat Check Point at Mt Kinabalu

I was looking down from the plateau of the summit at Sayat Sayat check point. To me. the most mesmerizing part of the entire climb of Mount Kinabalu is the descent from the summit. You can see the grandiose landscape while you walk downhill. My magical moment is not the point when I stood on the highest point of the mountain, Low's peak, but when I walked down the rocky plateau looking at the magnificent rocky formation of the summit.

Click on the photo to see the larger version of this photo that gives you perspective.

The hut is Sayat Sayat check point, at approximately 3,700 meters  (12,140 feet) above sea level. Look at the people at distance right side of the photo, then you can see the scale of the mountain.


Balsam Buffet Restaurant at Kinabalu Park

We had buffet meals at Balsam Buffet Restaurant in the evening before the climb, the next morning before the climb and the afternoon after descent from the mountain.

The mountain climbing package offered by the park operator, Sutera Sanctuary Lodge, include 7 meals, i.e. 6 buffets and 1 pack lunch. We had 3 buffets and were given one packed lunch in Balsam Buffet Restaurant. We had another 3 buffets meal at Laban Rata, i.e. buffet dinner on arrival to Laban Rata, buffet supper before we started our mid night climb to summit and the breakfast returning from the summit.

Below are the photos of Balsam Buffet Restaurant:








Weather at Low's Peak of Mount Kinabalu

For both of my climbs (19 September 2010 and 16 September 2011), the weather during the climbs from Laban Rata to to Low's Peak, summit of Mount Kinabalu (mid night 2.00 am to dawn and late morning 9.00am) were good.

There were no rains. The sky above was clear, although at times there were mist. For instance:

The sky was clear initially at approximately 6.16am on 16 September 2011.

Low's Peak, Mount Kinabalu. At 4,095.2 meters (131435.7 feet) above sea level, it is the highest peak in Malaysia and arguably the highest in South East Asia too. 




But it was all misty two minutes later. As below.

A misty Low's peak at the summit of Mount Kinabalu.


I remember it was freaking cold with the strong mountain wind.

Another view of misty Low's Peak.


But in just another 20 minutes, the sky was all clear again.
Clear sky, 6.40am 16 September 2011, at the plateau of Mount Kinabalu's summit.


And it was all clear when we reach the top of the mountain at 7.05am, 16 September 2011.

However, I can't claim that the weather on the summit is fickle, for in both of my climbs the weather had been dry and the sky was clear, no rain, from 12.00 mid night to 10.00am.



I can only suspect such good weather is due to the altitude of cloud. At night, it is cold and the cloud goes down. In the morning, the sun heat up the cloud and the cloud moves up. Therefore, when the cloud is below the summit in the night and dawn, the weather is always good. And when the cloud is above the summit in the afternoon, the weather becomes unpredictable.

On the opposite, the weather from Kinabalu Park to Laban Rata is always unpredictable. Occasionally there are rains after 11.00 am till night. In both climbs, while we had clear weather in the morning at summit, we experienced heavy rains during descend in the afternoon.


You can read more about the weather and the seasons to climb Mount Kinabalu here.

Grace Hostel (Grace Lodge) at Kinabalu Park

Most people reach Kinabalu Park a day earlier before climbing Mount Kinabalu. When you book your place through the park operator, Sutera Sanctuary Lodges, to climb Mt Kinabalu, your package include a night stay at Kinabalu Park's Head Quarter before the climb.

In both of my climbs, we were arranged to stay in Grace Hostel. It is clean, cozy and comfortable. I like the bed. It is very comfortable.

This is how Grace Hostel looks like:
The living room of Grace Hostel.
More photos on room and bathroom here...

Mt Kinabalu Summit: South Peak Once More

16 September 2011.

This was the second time I climbed up to summit of Mount Kinabalu. The view was as stunning as the first time I came last year on 19 September 2010.

Last year, we got a cloudless clear sky below us (yes, below, not above) that we could see to the bottom of the earth. This year the ground was covered by heavy cloud. But both views of different years were equally beautiful and stunning.

Beautiful South Peak with ocean of clouds.
Click on the photo to see a stunning bigger picture.

If you like this photo, you can download it as your wallpaper.




A closer view of South Peak.
Click on the photo to see a bigger picture. 

If you like this photo, you can download it as your wallpaper.

For comparison, you can see last year's South Peak photo without cloud. Here is another stunning South Peak's photo that was taken last year on 19 September 2010.


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Timpohon Trail 3.0km to 3.5km (3) Approximately 2,500 Metres (8202 ft)

Step-by-Step Terrain of Mount Kinabalu:


Click on the photo to see the photo in full screen. It is spectacular.

Walking towards Laban Rata.
It is one of the rare flat stretches of path along the uphill hiking path.
This photo was taken at approximately 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) above sea level. We were just about to reach the 3.5km road signpost in 3 minutes time. I waited to let others walk further so that I could capture a quiet scene. The 11.55am noon sunshine brightened some parts of the path and the twinkling greenery.

It was on 15 September 2011, the second time I climbed up Mount Kinabalu.


If you like this photo, you can download it as your wallpaper.


Step-by-Step Terrain of Mount Kinabalu:


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Luggage: During the Climb to Mt Kinabalu

Luggage Arrangement

This was how we dealt with our luggage when we started our climb to Mount Kinabalu. You may do the same too.

In the morning before we started the climb we divided our things in luggage into three groups.

  1. Things that we DO NOT need to bring up to Laban Rata,
  2. Things that we need to bring along with us on the way up to Laban Rata, i.e. bottles of water, energy bars, a set of clean and dry clothing, raincoat, camera, first aids kit, etc.
  3. Things that we need to bring up to Laban Rata, but we don't need them on the way, i.e. clothes, sweater, etc.
Outside Operation Office, the porters weigh our luggage.

For items in Group 1, we packed them in plastic bags or luggage bag and left them at Operation Office of Kinabalu Park's HQ. The cost was RM10 per piece of luggage.

For items in Group 2, we put them into a lightweight backpack and carried the backpack to Laban Rata. I had 4 bottles of water, banana, energy bars, a set of clean and dry clothing, raincoat, camera, lunch pack (provided by Sutera Sanctury Lodges), etc. in my backpack walking up to Laban Rata.

For items in Group 3, we let the porters to carry the luggage for us. The cost for the porters to bring our luggage to Laban Rata (and back) was RM80 per 10kg.

In that morning of climbing Mt Kinabalu, we made luggage arrangement as above right in front of the Kinabalu Park HQ's Operation Office.

Mountain Guides

Beside the porters, the Park's operator, Sutera Sanctuary Lodges, requires climbers to engage at least one mountain guide for a group of 6 persons. For group of 8 persons, we were required to get 2 mountain guides. The cost for one mountain guide is now RM150 (started from September 2011) which include entire trip of going up and coming down. This cost to hire mountain guides is not included in the original package you paid to Sutera Sanctuary Lodges.

Personal Mountain Guides

You can engage a personal guide solely for yourself, on top of the mountain guide(s) for the group. With a personal mountain guide, you can get him to carry your backpack, hold your hand when you need strenght, etc. This mountain guide will not serve as porter to carry your group 3 luggage.

Edited in 7 Jan 2012:
However, they may charge you for the backpack that they carried for you by weight, KG. So ask them first, if they offer to help you to carry your backpack. In our case, the personal guide of Sept 2010 climb did not charge my teammate. In Sept 2011 climb, the personal guide, after the descend, insist to charge my teammate by weight of the backpack. This is on top of the personal mountain guide fees that we had paid to hire him. Dealing with locals, sometimes we are dealing with their own sense of logic trying to make a few bucks more from their labor work. Ask about price first, before engaging their service.

Checklist to Climb Mt Kinabalu

It is important to have a checklist to climb this mountain.



This is a summary of checklists from various posts. You may follow the links in the checklist below for details explanations of why we need these items.

You may also print out this Mount Kinabalu checklist here from Google Docs spreadsheet or download PDF file.

Checklist in Spreadsheet
Checklist in PDF


 


Clothing to Hike
1. Four sets of clothing that include T-shirt, pants, underwear & socks.
Set 1 from Kinabalu Park HQ to Laban Rata
Set 2 from Laban Rata to Peak and back to Laban Rata
Set 3 from Laban Rata to Kinabalu Park HQ
Set 4 clean shirt leaving Kinabalu Park
  • 4 T-shirts
  • 4 pairs of pants, i.e. Bermuda shorts and at least 1 lightweight (and water resistant) track pants. Don't wear jeans during the climb. Jeans will be heavy if it rains
  • 4 pairs of socks and underwears

St John peak. The second highest peak.



2. Other Clothings
  • a pair of good trekking shoes
  • a pair of Kampung Addidas
  • a pair of slippers
  • a pair of knee guards & ankle guards
  • a headband or baseball cap
  • a towel (optional, as there are towels provided in Laban Rata and Kinabalu Park HQ)
  • a pair of gloves (to hold your hiking pole and fence at the side of the trail). Cotton gloves is good for summit too but it will get wet.
  • rain coats (disposable type is lighter in weight, 2 sets)
  • water proof jacket or wind breaking with hood to cover ears (temperature may drop below zero degree Celsius during rain or night)
  • spare socks and underwear, just in case if rains

Near Sayat Sayat check point.


3. Other Clothings for Night Climb to Summit
  • a layer of thermal wear outside T shirt
    • some simply add a few more layers of T shirts
    • some may opt of lightweight jumper/ sweater instead of multi layers of T shirt
  • Beanie, to cover ears in cold whether
  • Note: water proof your clothes by putting each set of clothes in different plastic bags.


 



Gears & Equipments
  • Headlamp (Important: you must have this to climb safely during the night. Make sure you check your battery before you start.)
  • Battery for the headlamp
  • One small lightweight hiking backpack to carry 2 - 4 bottles of water, a few energy bars, a set of dry cloth, etc.
  • Shrinkable hiking pole. You can buy wooden stick from mountain guides at RM3 (US$1) right before the climb. Due to a new rule to reduce impacts on environment, we can no longer buy the wooden stick from mountain guides. (However, in our previous climb, we managed to buy proper hiking poles (shrinkable) at the Transport Office (beside Reception Office) of Kinabalu Park Headquarter.)
  • Plastic bags (black garbage bags and small plastic bags to keep your clean cloth dry)
  • Whistle (in case of emergency in bad weather and visibility)
  • Hair dryer (blower) is extremely useful to dry your wet clothes. Your shirts are likely to get wet due to sweat and rains.


We climbed this stretch of trail during night.
Climbers must wear headlamp as both of their hands will be holding on the rope.


We climbed this stretch at night. We have to use both hands to pull the rope.
Therefore headlamp is a must. We cannot hold torch light.


Rest, drink water and eat...

Food and Drinks along the climb
  • Snacks, i.e. energy bars, chocolate, dried fruit, nuts, jelly beans, etc. for the climb
  • Bottles of water (at least one litre, preferably in small bottles)


Small First aid Kit
This small first aid kit list originally comes from this Mount Kinabalu website.
  • Headache tablets
  • Bandaids
  • Antiseptic cream
  • Crepe bandage
  • Triangular bandage
  • Safety pins
  • Cotton buds

Body
  • Cut your toenails. It can be painful when you walk downhill with long toenails.
  • Sunscreen cream
  • Sunglasses
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Altitude sickness tablets (buy from pharmacy or clinic)

You can download or print out the Mt Kinabalu checklist at Google Docs Spreadsheet here or PDF here.


Mt Kinabalu. View from Kinabalu National Park.


Morning view of the land from Mt Kinabalu summit.


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