Author Archives: drizad

About drizad

A self employed General Practitioner who lives with his lovely family in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. He dedicates his spare time serving people with precious information on climbing the Majestic Mountain of the Borneo, Mt Kinabalu. Reachable at drizad(at)gmail.com

Eastern Plateau of Kinabalu – alternative climbing route for hardcore climbers

Do you know that apart from the normal highly commercialize Summit Trail, Mount Kinabalu also has other trail routes for more advance mountain climbers? Mount Kinabalu, which geologically divided into Eastern Plateau and Western Plateau actually offers more adventure for those who really wants to feel the thrill.

Low’s Peak, which is situated on the Western Plateau is easily and highly accessible to most of novice climbers from around the world. However, King Edward and King George Peak on the Eastern Plateau requires more equipments and preparations as it involves more technical climbing.

The eastern plateau can be access from two routes:

  1. Bowen’s Route (Eastern Plateau)
  2. Kotal’s Route (Eastern Plateau via Eastern Ridge)

Eastern Plateau Map on Kinabalu - Bowen’s Route & Kotal’s Route
Click to enlarge

Bowen’s Route

The eastern plateau is about the same area as the western plateau but has a more rugged appearance, with more loose rock. Much more difficult to reach than the western plateau, the first recorded climb was not until 1956 when Myles Bowen and Harry Morris, employees of the oil company Shell, pioneered what is now known as Bowen’s route which starts as a rough track leading off to the right above Panar Laban. The entrance is not marked.

Campers’ Corner PhotoThe track initially leads down more than 300 meters (around 1,000 feet) to skirt a steep rock slab, then through scrubby Leptospermum and Rhododendron forest and through a rock gully to a projecting spur with lovely views, before rising slightly over some small rocky ledges to the rock cliffs at the base of the eastern plateau. From here it is rock climbing all the way, including a seven meter (23 foot) chimney. Aluminum ladders and ropes have been fixed over the most difficult parts of the climb, but this is still dramatic and memorable route and challenging for the non-climber. Permission must be obtained from the park authorities before attempting this route and all climbers must be accompanied by an experienced mountain guide.

Once up onto the plateau itself the terrain is less steep but still rougher than the ice-smoothed slopes of the western plateau, with King Edward Peak (4,086 meters/13,405 feet) to the left and Mesilau Peak (3,801 meters/12,470 feet) to the right. King Edward is the highest point on the eastern plateau but is dangerous even for experienced climbers.

The most accessible peak here, which requires nothing more than a long, hard slog, is King George (4,062 meters/13,330 feet) which gives sweeping views across Low’s Gully to Low’s Peak and the other peaks of the western plateau as well as of the north ridge sloping down into thick montane forest towards Gunung (Mount) Tambuyukon and to the eastern ridge leading down to Poring. A registration book is kept under a rock on King George Peak which climbers are requested to sign.

Kotal’s Route

Adventure Factors photoAnother route to the eastern plateau pioneered during the Royal Society Expeditions in 1964 takes 4-7 days, depending on how large and fit the group is and how fast it is able to travel. This route is sometimes called Kotal’s route after the guide who took the members of the Expedition to the Eastern ridge – though hard and steep, it requires no real climbing ability.

The route starts from Kundasang, goes across the Pinosok plateau and pass the mesilau cave, over the lanslide with Nephentes rajah on the other side of the Mesilau stream to the top of the hill, through ultramafic forest to the small Menteki river about 1,800 meters (5,900 feet). The second day leads up a steep narrow ridge before a 20 minute steep descent to the head of the Bembangan river at about 2,750 meters (9,000 feet), to camp for the night. Very fit climbers can reach this campsite in one day.

The next morning, after trekking back up to the ridge, the trail continues upwards to about 3,250 meters (10,700 feet). Here it opens out at the base of the Mesilau Pinnacles to superb views all around including the curiosity shaped Rhino Horn which blocked the path of the Royal Society Expedition up the eastern ridge from Poring. It is not possible to climb the Pinnacles here and one must continues scrambling around their base, up and down, always steep, often using tree roots and branches to swing down vertical sections of rock or ropes to cross particularly tricky stretches.

At the end of the third or fourth day at the Letingan stream campsite (3,050 meters/10,000 feet), you have gained no altitude but are about halfway round the base of the pinnacles. Excellent views looking north to Gunung Tambuyukon are had from this campsite. The next day the trail continues to wind around the pinnacles, even in one place clambering down a steep waterfall, using ropes, to the Ulu Mekado campsite (3,100 meters/10,200 feet) where, at last, the route leads you to the head of the Mekado valley and up the steep sloping granite onto the eastern plateau.

References:

  1. Globetrotter Visitor’s Guide Kinabalu Park, by Anthea Phillipps
  2. Campers’ Corner
  3. Adventure Factors
  4. Borneo Climbing
  5. Adventure Alternative
  6. Webshots Outdoors
  7. Kinabalu Mesilau-Low’s Gully Expedition 2001

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster

Jon Krakauer takes you for a front seat ride up the deadly slopes of Mount Everest, during the notoriously deadly expedition of May 1996. Barely escaping the mountain with his own life, journalist Krakauer remembers the team members and friends left on the mountain. Four out of eleven members died on the fatal mountain.

Inch by weary inch, step by shivering step, Krakauer takes us on his journey up Everest and introduces us to the members of his team. This book is so well written that you can feel the oxygen depravation and the cold, and are left feeling the personal loss of lives you come to know and care about as fully fleshed out people.

He brings to life the real concerns of guided ascents up Everest, the use of oxygen by guides, the inexperience of people who pay mega-bucks to be escorted to the world’s highest peak, the state of mind that thin air brings to the human mind, and the accomplishments and follies of those who attempt such an extra-ordinary feat.

The book includes a map, eight pages of glossy black and white photos, some dark pictures leading into every chapter, blurbs from different publications that lead each chapter, a bibliography, and an extensive postscript answering some outstanding issues that arose in DeWalt’s account of the same ascent called ‘The Climb’.

This is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in a long time. The story is compelling and the telling is honest. Krakauer speaks of his survival guilt with open poignancy and candor. He passes over his own hardships and applauds the heroism of those who helped to save many of the stranded members of the climbing parties. He reports on bottlenecks high up on the mountain, particularly on the Hillary Step, that cause costly delays and could mean the difference between life and death at such altitudes. If you’re looking for an exciting, heart pounding non-fiction read then look no further. I highly recommend this book. Enjoy!
A book review by Schtinky “Schtinky”, courtesy of Amazon.com

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster

Father & son great adventure up to Kinabalu

Sunrise by MattI received an email from Matt this morning. He went up to the summit of Kinabalu with his father, and share his story with me. I just would like to share with you his story, which he wrote on his Livejournal.

I met dad on Tuesday morning in Heathrow, and we arrived Wednesday morning (7 hour time difference). It was warm, and humid, being that the island is/was mainly rain forest. we checked into our nice hotel room, and spent 2 days chilling in the town of Kota Kinabalu. a bit of shopping and eating and laying by the pool was very nice. We only went to the state of Sabah, which is part of Malaysia, which was until 50 years ago part of the British colonies, so oddly enough they have the same electrical sockets on the wall! And they have a good grasp of English, which meant we did not learn much Malaysian, though I did a little, not that I will remember it for long I’m sure!

Friday morning we made our way to the bus station to catch a rusty old bus for 10 ringgit each, which works out at £1.50, half way across the island, and to the head quarters on Mount Kinabalu, famed for being a World Heritage Site, and the highest peak between the Himalayas and New Guinea. I felt i may have over packed, but I’m useless at traveling light. We stayed one night in the lodge there, and then Saturday morning we picked up our guide, which was not at all necessary, but we guess they insist we have them for insurance reasons, and to boost the local economy. Clarence was he, and he spoke a small amount of English.

It was awesome walking up though the rainforest, not too wet, not too hot, but not much wildlife. We stayed at the base camp, Laban Rata over night, and at 2am Sunday we headed up to the summit to catch the sunrise. It was well funny all 170 people walking in a line up the mountain with head torches in the dark! The sunrise was excellent! We didn’t stay long, and headed back down to grab our stuff and make the descent to the bottom. It was ok, we took our time as dad’s knees aren’t great these days. The last Km was a killer, and now 4 days later I still can’t walk all that well, my muscles are on a drive to grow, and still recovering from the massive exhaustion.

Laze at the hotel’s poolAfter that we checked into our hotel, and Monday morning got us a rental car. We drove inland, saw a waterfall. The road were between excellent, and partly falling down the mountains, with pot holes that we could barely get through. we made it to sandakan in the evening, this is the second major town. It used to be where they exported all of the logs from when they removed half of the rainforest. They now export palm oil, which we saw 100’s of kms of palm trees on our way. It was a bit of a dull town.

Tuesday morning we headed to sepilok to see the orangutans at the rescue center. They were fun and cute. And after we had a relax being pretty tired.

Yesterday we had to drive back across the island (500km) stopping at some hot springs, and a tea plantation. I drank tea for the 1st time in my life this week!!! I have no plans to make it a habit. Then we had a lovely 20 hours on planes and waiting in airports, the flight from kuala lumpur is 12 hours! I’m knackered, but have until monday before I have work, which I damn need! mmmm, my own bed for the first time in 3 weeks :D, and no need to wear ear plugs!!!!!!!!!!! YAY

10 Blog Traffic Tips

Click here to get The Blog Profits Blueprint

In every bloggers life comes a special day – the day they first launch a new blog. Now unless you went out and purchased someone else’s blog chances are your blog launched with only one very loyal reader – you. Maybe a few days later you received a few hits when you told your sister, father, girlfriend and best friend about your new blog but that’s about as far you went when it comes to finding readers.

Here are the top 10 techniques new bloggers can use to find readers. These are tips specifically for new bloggers, those people who have next-to-no audience at the moment and want to get the ball rolling.

It helps if you work on this list from top to bottom as each technique builds on the previous step to help you create momentum. Eventually once you establish enough momentum you gain what is called “traction”, which is a large enough audience base (about 500 readers a day is good) that you no longer have to work too hard on finding new readers. Instead your current loyal readers do the work for you through word of mouth.

Top 10 Tips

10. Write at least five major “pillar” articles. A pillar article is usually a tutorial style article aimed to teach your audience something. Generally they are longer than 500 words and have lots of very practical tips or advice. This article you are currently reading could be considered a pillar article since it is very practical and a good “how-to” lesson. This style of article has long term appeal, stays current (it isn’t news or time dependent) and offers real value and insight. The more pillars you have on your blog the better.

9. Write one new blog post per day minimum. Not every post has to be a pillar, but you should work on getting those five pillars done at the same time as you keep your blog fresh with a daily news or short article style post. The important thing here is to demonstrate to first time visitors that your blog is updated all the time so they feel that if they come back tomorrow they will likely find something new. This causes them to bookmark your site or subscribe to your blog feed.

You don’t have to produce one post per day all the time but it is important you do when your blog is brand new. Once you get traction you still need to keep the fresh content coming but your loyal audience will be more forgiving if you slow down to a few per week instead. The first few months are critical so the more content you can produce at this time the better.

8. Use a proper domain name. If you are serious about blogging be series about what you call your blog. In order for people to easily spread the word about your blog you need an easily rememberable domain name. People often talk about blogs they like when they are speaking to friends in the real world (that’s the offline world, you remember that place right?) so you need to make it easy for them to spread the word and pass on your URL. Try and get a .com if you can and focus on small easy to remember domains rather than worry about having the correct keywords (of course if you can get great keywords and easy to remember then you’ve done a good job!).

7. Start commenting on other blogs. Once you have your pillar articles and your daily fresh smaller articles your blog is ready to be exposed to the world. One of the best ways to find the right type of reader for your blog is to comment on other people’s blogs. You should aim to comment on blogs focused on a similar niche topic to yours since the readers there will be more likely to be interested in your blog.

Most blog commenting systems allow you to have your name/title linked to your blog when you leave a comment. This is how people find your blog. If you are a prolific commentor and always have something valuable to say then people will be interested to read more of your work and hence click through to visit your blog.

6. Trackback and link to other blogs in your blog posts. A trackback is sort of like a blog conversation. When you write a new article to your blog and it links or references another blogger’s article you can do a trackback to their entry. What this does is leave a truncated summary of your blog post on their blog entry – it’s sort of like your blog telling someone else’s blog that you wrote an article mentioning them. Trackbacks often appear like comments.

This is a good technique because like leaving comments a trackback leaves a link from another blog back to yours for readers to follow, but it also does something very important – it gets the attention of another blogger. The other blogger will come and read your post eager to see what you wrote about them. They may then become a loyal reader of yours or at least monitor you and if you are lucky some time down the road they may do a post linking to your blog bringing in more new readers.

5. Encourage comments on your own blog. One of the most powerful ways to convince someone to become a loyal reader is to show there are other loyal readers already following your work. If they see people commenting on your blog then they infer that your content must be good since you have readers so they should stick around and see what all the fuss is about. To encourage comments you can simply pose a question in a blog post. Be sure to always respond to comments as well so you can keep the conversation going.

4. Submit your latest pillar article to a blog carnival. A blog carnival is a post in a blog that summarizes a collection of articles from many different blogs on a specific topic. The idea is to collect some of the best content on a topic in a given week. Often many other blogs link back to a carnival host and as such the people that have articles featured in the carnival enjoy a spike in new readers.

To find the right blog carnival for your blog, do a search at http://blogcarnival.com/.

3. Submit your blog to blogtopsites.com. To be honest this tip is not going to bring in a flood of new readers but it’s so easy to do and only takes five minutes so it’s worth the effort. Go to Blog Top Sites, find the appropriate category for your blog and submit it. You have to copy and paste a couple of lines of code on to your blog so you can rank and then sit back and watch the traffic come in. You will probably only get 1-10 incoming readers per day with this technique but over time it can build up as you climb the rankings. It all helps!

2. Submit your articles to EzineArticles.com. This is another tip that doesn’t bring in hundreds of new visitors immediately (although it can if you keep doing it) but it’s worthwhile because you simply leverage what you already have – your pillar articles. Once a week or so take one of your pillar articles and submit it to Ezine Articles. Your article then becomes available to other people who can republish your article on their website or in their newsletter.

How you benefit is through what is called your “Resource Box”. You create your own resource box which is like a signature file where you include one to two sentences and link back to your website (or blog in this case). Anyone who publishes your article has to include your resource box so you get incoming links. If someone with a large newsletter publishes your article you can get a lot of new readers at once.

1. Write more pillar articles. Everything you do above will help you to find blog readers however all of the techniques I’ve listed only work when you have strong pillars in place. Without them if you do everything above you may bring in readers but they won’t stay or bother to come back. Aim for one solid pillar article per week and by the end of the year you will have a database of over 50 fantastic feature articles that will work hard for you to bring in more and more readers.

This article was by Yaro Starak, a professional blogger and my blog mentor. He is the leader of the Blog Mastermind mentoring program designed to teach bloggers how to earn a full time income blogging part time.

Get more information about Blog Mastermind HERE.

Altimeter Watch buying Guide – for your climbing trip to Kinabalu

Timex Altimeter WatchI met a group of Mount Kinabalu international climbers last week, who are an educated bunch (one of them is a professor in mathematics), whom like to climb mountains from all over the world. They are very fanatics about being at the highest altitude of the mountain they climbed – and they even bring their own GPS on top of the mountain! Okay, you may not be as fanatic as them, but maybe an altimeter watch is a good companion for you to know at what altitude you are while climbing Kinabalu.

What is Altimeter Watch?
Altimeter watch is a compact and lightweight watch that shows altitude, or in the simple term, a watch that shows the height of the earth above sea level. The watch will calculate the altitude by measuring barometric pressure changes whilst compensating for the effect of temperature changes. A change in pressure of 1Hg represents an altitude change of 1,000ft and a good altimeter watch can sense pressure changes equivalent to a 3m altitude change.

For your information, it is not necessary for you to have an altimeter watch with your Kinabalu climb, but for those who are curious (or a hardcore climber who would like to top up their gadget), choosing a good altimeter watch can be a very daunting task. After some research, I hereby state to you 10 basic simple guides (mostly on the features) on how to choose your altimeter watch, so that it will be easier for you to get one from Amazon.

10 features to look for in your Altimeter Watch are:

  1. Make sure that the watch, in the first place can maintain and display accurate time. Watch which has a time zone will be better if you are coming from the other side of the globe and planning to summit Kinabalu. Choosing a durable watch with a good battery lifespan can be an advantage if you plan to be away for a long time. 12-24 hours time formatting with date, day, week and month calendar would be one of the main criteria of the watch.
  2. Barometer – one of the two main features of the watch which will be use to calculate the altitude. Current barometric pressure which is calculated continuously should be shown on the watch while you are ascending and descending. Special feature like 24 hours barometric pressure reading chart would be a bonus, and the working range of the altimeter should be from -1600 to 29500 feet (-500 to 9000 meters). I don’t think anything more is necessary (hint: Everest is 8800m asl). The units of pressure used are millibar (mbar) which are numerically equivalent to hectopascal (hPa).
  3. Weather and temperature – the other main features that is important on calculating altitude. Weather forecast feature is an estimate of the weather conditions for the next several hours and is determined based on past and current barometric trends. Make sure that it is possible to change the temperature units from Fahrenheit to Celsius.
  4. Altimeter – the main feature of the watch. To get the most of the altimeter, it should be able to:
    1. Displays a readout of the present altitude (resolution to 1 foot or 1 meter, with display range from -1600 to 29500 feet (-500 to 9000 meters).The watch can be changed to report the altitude in meters and feet.
    2. Tracks and stores maximum and accumulated altitude over time.(Maximum altitude is the maximum altitude attained since the measurement was last reset, and accumulated altitude is the sum of all individual altitude increases measured since the last reset – this is NOT the same as net altitude increase).
    3. Display the altitude history, at least for the past six hours.
  5. Compass – Most altimeter watch nowadays are equipped with a digital compass. It should be able to provide the degree reading (at least the resolution should be up to 1 degree) and an abbreviated orientation (N for north, W for west, NW for northwest) on the watch. However, digital compass is only recommended to be used for general navigation. In situations where exact direction and navigation is required, I would recommend that a true map compass be used.
    • For Muslim climbers, having a Qiblah compass (a special compass that could show them the direction on Kaabah, Mecca) when climbing Kinabalu is almost necessary. It is because you will arrive at Low’s Peak just before dawn, and most probably you have to do the Subuh prayer (solah) near the peak. Having said that, knowing the degree of Kaabah from north is an advantage, as you can use your digital altimeter watch compass to find your direction through, without the need of bringing a separate compass for Qiblah.
  6. Chronograph is an extra feature which almost every watches have it. Chronograph functionality will allow you to measure the elapsed time between various events. It is a good feature to have if you want to measure your elapsed time of your ascend/descend on Kinabalu.
  7. Alarm would be another good feature to have on your altitude watch, especially if it includes altitude alarm. Altitude alarm is an alarm that will inform you the level of altitude you are at, provided that you set it up first at the desired level.
  8. Must be water-proof – to some degree. Generally, altimeter watches for climbing CANNOT be use during your SCUBA diving trip to Sipadan (as example). It has a small opening on the body which house a barometric and temperature sensor for the calculation of the altitude. Salt water from your SCUBA diving trip will definitely kill the sensor.
  9. Durable – a difficult feature to assess, as only time could tell. However, you could get the feedback from the user of the known altimeter watches brands from various sources around the net. One of the best place to check out is Backpackgeartest.org.
  10. Other extra features are backlight, navi-bezel, vertical speed, number of runs, degree of slope, altitude log recording and rate of ascent and descent will complete your altimeter watch.
  11. Did I said 10? Anyway, the altimeter watch that you choose must fit your budget! It would be no use if you buy the most expensive altimeter watch, but unable to pay for you flight to Kinabalu!

There are a lot of altimeter watch in the market nowadays, such as Suunto, Polar, Cyclosport, Oregon, Synchronic and Timex which has different features and styles to suit your individual requirements. Wondering where to shop for your altimeter watches? Chitika eMiniMalls is a one stop center for online shopping. It has thousands of merchants that could show you the desired altimeter watches that you are looking for. Mine? I am going to get one ASAP!

Recommended book – Globetrotter Visitor’s Guide Kinabalu Park

Book Description
A mecca of botanical diversity and home to a wealth of wildlife, Kinabalu is also one of the most spectacular and accessible mountains in the world. With abundant maps and illustrations and practical, informative text, this guide enables the visitor to make the most of Kinabalu’s unique attractions.

From the Back Cover

Kinabalu Park is one of the world’s hot spots for biodiversity and at over 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) high, is Southeast Asia’s highest mountain. The rich diversity of natural habitats is home to a wealth of flora and fauna, and has numerous other attractions for the adventurous traveler, including walking, trekking, climbing and relaxing in hot springs. This highly illustrated and practical guide is packed with essential information for the visitor to this unique area. There are 24 walks and trails in detail for all levels, with easy-to-follow route maps. This guide is packed with fact boxes and information panels on wildlife, plant life, visitor activities and other attractions. It contains essential travel tips including access, equipment, facilities, and useful addresses to enable the visitor to make the most of any trip. This book is illustrated with 50 full color photographs and many striking black and white vignettes and there is a complete checklist of all bird species recorded in Kinabalu Park. (6 x 8 1/4, 128 pages, color photos, illustrations, maps)

  • 24 walks and trails in detail, for all levels, with easy-to-follow route maps.
  • Packed with fact boxes and information panels on wildlife, plant life, visitor activities and other attractions.
  • This is a MUST HAVE book for those who like to have a handbook on Mount Kinabalu. I personally have this book and it has become the best source and guides for my website. I personally recommend this book for all of Mount Kinabalu adventure travelers and climbers.

    How to beautify your WordPress URL

    I’ve found a way to beautify our WordPress URL from this:

    http://www.mount-kinabalu-borneo.com/blog/2007/03/02/this-is-the-title/

    or even this:

    http://www.mount-kinabalu-borneo.com/blog/2007/03/02/?p=12345

    to this:

    http://www.mount-kinabalu-borneo.com/blog/this-is-the-title.html

    Why?

    1. Make your URL more visitor friendly and more ‘natural looking’.
    2. Search engine optimized.

    What do you need?

    1. A WordPress plugin, Permalink Redirect WordPress Plugin by fucoder.com.
    2. Make sure your .htaccess on your root directory is writable.

    How?

    1. Download the php or zip file from fucoder.com.
    2. Upload `ylsy_permalink_redirect.php` to the `/wp-content/plugins/` directory.
    3. Activate the plugin through the ‘Plugins’ menu in WordPress
    4. Select Option>Permalink and change your present permalink to custom: /%postname%.html
    5. Save and select Permalink Redirect to manage your new URL.
    6. Put your old permalink structure e.g. mine was /%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/
    7. If you have Feedburner, put the link inside also.
    8. Tick ‘Hostname Redirect’. It will make sure that your old permalink do not show “Error Page 404” to your visitors.

    Traditional Rungus Woman clothings and accessories

    I forgot to upload these photo after the Harvest Festival that was held on 30-31 May 2007. My family and I went to KDCA, where the festival took place in the mid afternoon. It was so hot, that my children was not happy and easily irritated with the noisy surroundings. My wife also complaining about the noisy surrounding and the unbearable heat (although she is native LOCAL people, and she SHOULD be familiar with this kind of event -which is not).

    At last, we only went up to the Rungus Longhouse and I only managed to shoot 3 photos of Rungus women weaving and making beads. As far as I remember, we only spend about 15 minutes at the KDCA.

    Rungus woman

    Rungus woman

    Rungus woman

     

    How to choose a climbing backpack for your Kinabalu trip

    Choosing the right backpack is all about choosing a back that fits your needs! So before reading on take a moment to think about what you need a back for, you don’t want a 7000 cubic inches (ci) monster back for your trip up to the peak!

    Okay, let me show you backpacks that I used for my Kinabalu trip. So, which one do you think is suitable? You can get the answer at the end of this article. Read on.

    My backpacks up on Mount Kinabalu

    The first thing that you have to know before you start Googling for the best backpack for your trip is knowing the features of your Mount Kinabalu climb. Basically, it would be:

    1. A 3D2N trip up to the peak (the most is 4D3N, but sometimes climbers do it in 2D1N) is usual. It depends on your preferences.
    2. As the weather on Mount Kinabalu is mostly unpredictable and wet, it is good if you have a backpack that is slightly waterproof.
    3. It’s a climbing, hiking and trekking combined together.
    4. As it is not a ‘technical climb’, you would not need a backpack with special features and extra pockets.
    5. As an advice, have a budget in your mind, how much you are willing to spend for the backpack so you still have plenty of money to buy other items.

    Knowing all the climbing features of Kinabalu will actually narrow down your options to a more specific features of your backpack. Too big will be a hindrance for the climb and too small can leave you shivering while at the peak because of not enough clothing.

    First, let us learn about the anatomy of the backpack (so that you know which one is the best for you):

    Loading access:

    1. Top-Loading: Top-loading packs have one big hole at the top. Pro: These are stronger and more moisture resistant than panel-loaders. Con: They require more careful packing than panel-loaders, both to balance the load and to make items easily accessible.
    2. Panel-Loading: These have a large U-shaped front zipper, allowing access to more of the pack. Pro: You can find things faster, and don’t have to pack as carefully. Con: You can’t pack this as fully as a top-loading model, and zippers can fail.
    3. Hybrid-Loader: The best of both worlds. Usually a top-loader with vertical side zippers.

    Size (with image examples):

    1. 10 L (liter) ~ 625 ci (cubic inches) – my Body Glove backpack
    2. 20 L ~ 1250 ci – my Pierre Cardin backpack
    3. 30 L ~ 1875 ci – my Sony Wega backpack
    4. 40 L ~ 2500 ci
    5. 50 L ~ 3125 ci
    10L 20L 30L
    10L (~625ci) 20L (~1250ci) 30L (~1875ci)
    40L 50L L=liter
    ci=cubic inches
    40L (~2500ci) 50L (~3125ci)  

    (Anything bigger than 50L is NOT suitable for your trip up to Low’s Peak of Kinabalu, unless you are climbing up to Eastern Plateau of the mountain)

    Internal or external frame?

    • Internals feature a narrow, towerlike profile and integrate their framework inside the pack, behind the shoulder harness. The frame usually consists of “stays,” or flat bars, about an inch wide and 1/8-inch thick. Stays are usually aluminum and are configured in a V-shape. Alternative frame materials (such as composites) and stay-alignments (parallel, X-shaped; U-shaped) are sometimes used. Stays are removable and can be shaped to conform to your torso.
    • Externals connect a packbag to a rigid frame made of aluminum tubing. Externals ruled the backcountry until internal-frame design was introduced in the late 1970s. Internals have surged in popularity, yet externals are still a great choice for transporting heavy loads along trails. With an external, the pack’s weight sits more squarely on your hips; with an internal, the back, shoulders and hips share the load.

    10 smart features of current available backpack:

    1. Generously padded hipbelts (unlike the thin cloth waistbelts found on Sixties-era backpacks) represent a major advancement in pack design and greatly enhance your ability to carry tonnage up the mountain.
    2. Most consist of various grades of foam: open-cell foam for cushioning, closed-cell or molded foam for firmness. The hipbelt should straddle your “iliac crest” – the 2 prominent bones on the front of your hips. This is the area where your pelvic girdle begins to flare out, providing the hipbelt with a stable, fortified foundation.
    3. Some internal packs place a thin but stiff sheet of plastic between you and the packbag. Often this is a material known as HDPE, or high-density polyethylene. This adds stiffness to the frame without adding much weight. Plus, it prevents objects in your pack from poking you in the back.
    4. Internals sometimes include some type of mesh or foam panel that rests near the middle of your back. This is an attempt to separate the pack from your back and encourage some air flow between the two. It offers modest help. Here is a trail-tested truth: Count on having a sweaty back if you tote an internal.
    5. This involves the shoulder straps (padded and contoured), load-lifting straps, a sternum strap and belt-stabilizer straps. So-called ladder suspensions typically allow you to reposition the shoulder harness in 1-inch (or, preferably, smaller) increments. The more fine-tuning a pack permits, the better the fit.
    6. Common materials are packcloth (a sturdy grade of nylon) and Cordura, a burly fabric with a brushed finished. Both resist abrasion and are coated for water resistance. Cordura is tougher and a bit heavier. Ballistics nylon, a strong, lightweight material, has popped up in newer pack designs and seems to work well. Internals usually offer an “extendable collar” or “spindrift collar” – additional nylon with a drawstring closure that allows the main compartment to stretch higher and hold extra gear.
    7. Many internals allow you to detach the “floating lid” pocket from the pack and convert it into a fanny pack or daypack. That’s a handy feature for your second phase of your climb up to Low’s Peak.
    8. Water-bottle holders/hydration pockets: Externals offer plenty of side pockets where you can stash a water bottle. Internals rarely do, although several now offer elasticized mesh “holsters” on the side where you can keep small bottles handy. Hydration systems (water reservoirs, or bladders, connected to a long sipping hose) have boomed in popularity. Many high-end packs now offer such systems.
    9. Lash points allow you to attach even more gear to your pack if you feel the need. Climbers should look for hiking pole loops and daisy chains (a series of small loops where you can dangle gear, such as carabiners). A so-called shovel pocket holds items tight against the back of your pack; it’s a good place to stash wet things. All of these extras, of course, add weight to a pack.
    10. Some of the backpack manufacturer have also designed a backpack that is suitable for women’s back. For example, Deuter have actually made their SL system a special backpack “from women for women”.

    Deuter SL for women

    (Image courtesy of Rock Creek Outfitters. Click to enlarge.)

    Enough with all those technical things. So, what would be the best for you? I have some little tips from my experiences…

    I used 30L backpack {C}, waterproof with panel loading access for several of my 3D2N climbing trip to Kinabalu. I once used a 10L Body Glove backpack {A}, but find it a bit too small. With 30L I could lug more foods (as it is expensive at Laban Rata), medicines and first aid kit for the group I escorted. My 30L has an internal frame, nice padded hipbelt and sternum strap which I actually got it as a gift when I bought my 29 inches Sony Wega television 6 years ago. It also has double mesh side pockets for my water bottles. As the backpack does not have a detachable pack, I also brought separate lumbar/waist pack {D} for the second phase of the climb.

    I never use my 20L {B} as it is my computer backpack. It has a notebook/laptop compartment, which I usually use during my travel back to Peninsular Malaysia by plane.

    But that’s just my choice. I don’t know about you. If you think that you are going to do more activities other than climbing here in Sabah, you might want a bigger backpack (which you can actually keep it at Kinabalu Park while you are climbing up the mountain) and another smaller 10-20L backpack just for the climb.

    Recommendation: You can choose from numerous number of available brand (or Made-in-China-without-a-brand), as long as it has all the features that you are looking for, value for money and durable. I personally would recommend that you check out Chitika eMiniMalls which have a lot of choices. Feel free to use their search button if you want something else. Deuter, The North Face, Gregory Alpinisto, Eagle Creek, Arc’teryx – to name a few recognizable brand around.