Category Archives: Climber’s Tips

Bring enough fuel on your Mount Kinabalu climbing trip

I received an email from a 71 years old climbers who were ill informed about the severity of the mountain, especially for those who were unprepared. Dour, wrote this to me:

I traversed the Mesilau trail in September this year.
We were ill prepared. And did not have enough food for the trip.
I am an experienced tramper and easily cover 11km in 4-5 hours. We were not advised about extra food. I took plenty of water 2 litre bladder as well as two 650mls bottles.
We all suffered from lack of fuel because we were not advised of the severity of the landscape.

I am 71 years old and have been outdoors most of my adult life in all sorts of weather including snow and ice.
Having said that I have good memories of the trip.
I took wet weather gear, boots, not sneakers and a hiking pole as well as my normal hiking clothing. Wearing shorts and snow putties as well also helped.
I wish I had seen this site before we left.

So, moral of the story: Please pack extra food and fuel for the climb. I personally suggest that you bring some instant noodles, bread loaf and tuna/sardines, chocolates, nuts and raisins. You can also buy some hi-tech energy bars and gels in which a bit more expensive but surely can give you the extra fuel if needed. I had personally consume few brands of energy fuels – PowerBar, GU, NUN, Hammer and Hi5. Honestly, I am not a person who can consume those type of fuel (bars and gels) for a long time. It’s just taste very artificial. Take it with some proper food. You will like it.


PowerBar energy bars

There is a restaurant at Laban Rata Resthouse. However, the food and drink prices there are ridiculous. Don’t waste your money there, unless necessary.

Climbing Mount Kinabalu in ONE DAY – A story from a friend…

This post is originally from the comment for climbing Kinabalu in ONE DAY post previously. I highlighted his comment for all of us to share.

Here is my account of climbing Kinabalu in a day

Mount Kinabalu

The morning was crisp and fresh with a chill to its tail that would make me rethink the shorts-and-T-shirt decision. As I trudged from the hostel to Park HQ there was an eerie silence in the air. Few people had stirred from their slumber at such a time as 06:30. The mountain reared up in front of me, the freshly risen sun casting a golden luminesce over the peak; beckoning.

I’d arrived the previous day around 12:00 and had set about organising the one-day climb. I was met with blank faces at Park reception when I siad that I wanted to climb Kinabalu in a day. The woman there referred me to another woman who sent me to a man that sent me in search of a Mr. Daikin – The Head Park Ranger. This took me 100 meters up a steep incline to another building where, after being relayed through 2 further people, I found Mr. Daikin. I believe the hunt for the elusive Mr. Daikin and the trek up the hill were cunning testers to see if you were up to both the mental and physical challenge of summiting Mount Kinabalu in a day. Having finally found Mr. Daikin I left 2 minutes later with his blessing – all he had needed was to see me and judging by his approval I guess he must have been happy with what he saw.

The breakfast buffet was only just opening when I crossed the threshold. The look I received from the half dormant staff seemed to question why (out of choice) I would be active at such an hour as this as they feigned smiles and distractedly accepted my crumpled breakfast coupon. The spread that lay before me was a welcome sight after the endless sea of nasi goreng and fried noodles that had flooded my digestive system every breakfast, lunch and dinner for the past month.

After quickly polishing off my first portion of scrabbled eggs, potato wedges, baked beans, chicken sausages and turkey bacon (alas pork is as hard to come by in Malaysia as sunshine is in England and is met with similar shock) I stole a glance at my watch; 06:45, just enough time for a second helping. With limited food supplies in my bag and with the knowledge there was no 7-Eleven halfway up the mountain I decided to pack as much in as possible, to which end I must apologise profusely to my guide who was behind me the whole way up and down that mountain. I’m sorry for the consumption of such quantities of beans and the extra eggs didn’t make the situation any better. However it should be noted that I too fell foul of my own flatulency – hot air rises and on that mountain I must admit I was at times traveling at a speed less than that of mine own wind. At moments such as these I assured myself that my fart couldn’t have possibly overtaken me and that the smell must solely be down to the sulphuric composition particular to volcanic mountains. Subsequent research coupled with observations along the climb revealed the truth that Kinabalu was no more volcanic than the molehills that erupt in our garden with concentrated invasiveness, like acne on an adolescent face.

By the time I reached Park HQ, paid for my guide, permit and transport to the base of the trail it was getting on for 07:15 and I was already regretting the decision to stock my stomach to the gunnels. Developing a stich as I walked the 20 meters from the minibus to the base of the trail did not do my confidence a world of good – if I felt like that after an 18 second amble how would I feel after an 18 kilometer climb? Would I even make it?

At 07:30 the gate to the summit trail was unlocked and I was the first person to set foot on the base that day, little did I know I would also be one of the last off it many hours later.

The first kilometer sailed by, the green marker sign restoring the hope in my heart that I might actually be able to make it; 1km down and 7.7km to the summit. I naively only counted the distance up, neglecting the prospect of the descent and thus not including it in my calculations. In hindsight this would actually turn out to be an invaluable motivator for me, though I didn’t know it at the time. Had I counted the distance back down as well it is likely that at some point along the way I would have given up – the daunting prospect of an 8.7km descent too much for me to bare both mentally and physically. Once I made it to the summit then I would worry about getting back down, but once at the summit there was no giving up – giving up would mean perishing on the mountain, there was only one way down.

Each half kilometer was marked by a small green sign telling you how far you’d come and what altitude you were at. Comparing ascent to descent I must say it is a far better feeling seeing how far you’ve come rather than how far you’ve left to go in a sort of glass-half-full, glass-half-empty way. My glass was brimming on the way up and was definitely half full by the summit. On the descent it went from half empty to being completely dry.

I’m surprised I missed the first green sign that would have read ‘0.5km’. After my sighting of the ‘1km’ sign I eagerly anticipated each subsequent one. I was told that in order to complete the climb in one day I must be at the 6km mark by 10:30. This was where 99% of people stopped for the night and spent the night before proceeding to the summit the following day. Most arrived at the 6km mark by early afternoon.

To avoid any distraction and in a vain effort to keep my morale high I removed my watch. The last glimpse I got of it as it disappeared into my pocket told me it was about 08:30. Without the temptation there the time passed by quickly as too did the meters, both horizontally and vertically. The white strip of skin on my wrist was forever taunting me, the tan line left by my watch being its only visible presence, but I remained adamant that the contraption would stay in my pocket – until the first check point at least.

I rewarded myself with short breaks after each section that was particularly grueling or vertical, some lasted longer than others – the sections that is. The breaks never lasted more than a couple of minutes, my guide was very insistent that we keep moving. Later I would discover that his quick pace did not concern me making the check points at the required times, just that he did not want to miss the last bus home and have to pay for a taxi.

I refused to let myself rest halfway up any tricky incline knowing full well that after I rested setting off again would be very difficult. Better to rest at the start of a flat section (I use ‘flat’ in the loosest and steepest sense of the word) thereby easing myself back into it when I set off 2 minutes later. My guide seemed perplexed by my irregular stops. He had either never climbed with someone who took rests or (more likely) hadn’t encountered someone who planned quite to the extent I did. In fact I’m sure I was behaving completely counter to the way most people did. Later during my descent I would observe people stopping at the foot of a great vertical incline, preparing themselves for the ever-looming lactic acid that was poised, ready to build itself up in their calves by the milligram, or milliliter – I’m not sure in what units one measures lactic acid. Just to clarify – when I say ‘calves’ I mean the lower leg muscles, no one was attempting the ascent on baby-cow-back.

En route to the 6km marker – that of the Laban Rata Guesthouse – I saw few climbers, only a handful of guides and the one other guy that was also attempting the one-day climb whom I played leap frog with (in the metaphorical sense. Literal leap frog is not to be advised when mountaineering, though truth be told I have never heard of casualty nor fatality from it, my instinct merely suggests it’s not such a good idea.)
The reason I frequent the use of the word ‘attempt’ when referring to the climb is for purely statistical reasons. When signing the disclaimer form it is explicit that you must make specific checkpoints, you must obey your guide and if conditions decree that you cannot continue then you must admit defeat – if you are willing to oblige by the above then you may ‘attempt’ the (non-refundable-in-case-of-failure-don’t-sue-us-if-you-die) climb. Statistically speaking something like 50 people ‘attempt’ the one-day climb every month and of that only 15 succeed. Being a student of mathematics it’s not difficult to compute the 30% success rate. The Park Ranger said that the conditions on an average day gave 50-50 odds of making it to the summit. As well as being a student of mathematics I also consider myself a student of logic. This made the disparity between the 30% success statistic and the 50% prediction by the Park Ranger easy to explain: 50% of failure is attributed to adverse weather conditions, therefore through impeccable logic the remaining 20% of failure must be down to exhaustion or failing to meet the other stipulated requirements.
So it is with that in mind that I can proudly say when I got to the ‘6km’ marker and pulled out my watch from my pocket it read 10:20. The checkpoint came at a welcome time and it appeared as if my guide might afford me more than the customary 2-minute rest – may be the buses were running late that night. I had enough time to purchase a much needed bar of Cadbury’s finest fruit and nut chocolate. The void it filled in my stomach being approximately equal to the one it left in my wallet. 8 ringgits was a price I was willing to pay for that small bit of sugary goodness – I had also not encountered Cadbury’s very often during my travels.

If I thought I would have time to savour the six tiny chunks of chocolate (as sparsely interspersed with raisins and hazelnuts as pork in Malaysia) then I was grossly deluded. No sooner had I sat down and peeled off the wrapper with all the care of Charlie fondling his first Wonka bar when my guide caught my eye from across the room. The look on his face said “we should be heading off soon” coupled with “and give me a bit of that chocolate bar” followed by a softening of the eyes that seemed to add a “please”. When he turned for the toilet I consumed the entire sweet before the second hand on my watch had time to move. I then readied my small backpack containing camera, water, track-suit bottoms, a long sleeve shirt incase it got cold and a large bar of Malaysian Maryland Milk Chocolate which I had bought in a moment of forgetfulness – not remembering how Asian chocolate has the tendency to turn to dust the moment you sink your teeth into it – some extra compound they add to it to prevent it melting in the hear. It does the trick but the resultant product can no longer be defined as chocolate, it’s enough to make the Frys turn in their graves – in fact for all I know they are buried in the stuff for it bares as much resemblance to soil as one of Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas towers does to its twin.

It is with shame I must confess that I offloaded much of this chalk-let bar on unsuspecting climbers whose opinion of me must have changed rapidly – form one of fondness at being offered a large chunk of chocolate to one of distain when they realised my kindness was in fact a selfish ploy to offload some unwanted weight.

Upon returning from the toilet my guide readily accepted my offering of chocolate – taking more than would normally be socially acceptable in such a situation but I wasn’t about to complain. He had a gimlet look in his eye that suggested he knew full well I had substituted Cadbury’s for Crap. Disclaimer: I am willing to change my review of Maryland Milk Chocolate but only if a sufficient sweetener comes my way, so to speak. I’d settle just for a refund of that chocolate bar in all honesty.

We exchanged few words as we left the guesthouse; no more than 10 minutes after arriving. The first 6km had taken its toll on me but not quite in the ways I had expected. Sure enough my thighs, calves and ankles were aching a lot but I had also been anticipating a shortness of breath. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the climb had little effect on me aerobically; it was anaerobically that it really got me. I discovered muscles I never knew I had and discovered the limits to the muscles I was aware of.

Nevertheless – 6km down (or rather ‘up’), 2.7km to go, I had got this far without too much trial or tribulation, the notion of not summiting was now banished from my conscience, my watch was back on my wrist and I was aware the next checkpoint was the summit which must be made by 13:00.

There were 5 more little green marker signs to pass, each separated by 500m. I can run 500m in under 2 minutes. 500m on flat, solid ground is preferable to 50m of the mountainous terrain and takes less time. From the guesthouse to the 7km point the trail was at its steepest with steps, ladders and ropes to haul yourself up – relieving some weight from your legs and passing it on to your arms. The ‘7km’ marker marked a noticeable change in the terrain as the overgrowth and trees cleared leaving a baron, sparse, rocky expanse. Although desolate looking some of the meters gained here were amongst the kindest; where inclines were sometimes as low as 25%. However my stops became more and more frequent, lasting longer and longer, the relief they brought lasted less and less until it was no longer possible to gain any extra energy from a break.

Time was slowly but surely running down and the summit was still not in sight. I yearned to see the peak, to have a tangible goal that I could rest my eyes upon, if not my feet. My guide said that you could see the summit from the 8km marker but that we had to be there by 12:30 at the latest to have any hope of getting to the summit by 13:00 (and for him to have any hope of getting the last bus home). The 8km marker was a tangible goal – a white cross atop a false peak and as I headed for it I refused to allow myself another rest before I reached it. On the way I passed the other guy (a German named Manuel) flat out on his back, arms and legs splayed out in a star formation. I resisted the temptation to join him there and told him I wasn’t stopping until I had reached the 8km marker and saw the summit.

I adopted a similar star position upon reaching the marker. I raised my head slightly and looked back down the mountain. I was amazed at how long it took to cover short distances and yet the German guy was a veritable ant in the landscape.

Climbing Mount Kinabalu – from a Muslim’s perspective

Yesterday I received an email from one of my fellow colleague – a doctor – who had an experience serving Kota Marudu Hospital during his early years of services with the Ministry of Health, Malaysia. He is a Muslim like me, and when I read his email, I knew that I forgot to mention in any of my writings before – how do we organize our prayer during the climb.

This ia a post for Muslim climbers. Other believers can also get benefits from this post, in case one of your climbing buddies is a Muslim.

This is his email:

Assalamualaikum Dr Izad.
I need to ask your advice / opinion.

Firstly I’m M.F., a medical officer from IMR , KL – before this doing my housemanship in HQE and MO in Kota Marudu hospital. I and several my friends plan to climb Mt Kinabalu on March 2009.

There’s 6 of us and apparently only 5 beds available – 3 in Laban Rata and 2 in Gunting Lagadan Hut. So should I take this place – I’ve heard that in Gunting Lagadan they didn’t have any  heated water.

How’s the condition like in the hut – if you had the experience of it, or should we reduce our group to 3 and every body will stay in Laban Rata.
Furthermore –
how’s about the Solat place?

If we stay in the dormitory – is there any praying area. I’m not asking for a comfortable place but at least there’s a place for us to pray.

How about when you ascending in the early morning? Is there any place that we can stop by for the Fajr prayer?

Ok – hope to get your reply soon and I’m really appreciated on what have you done in your blog.
BTW – missing Sabah as working in Peninsular not as nice as in Sabah – traffic jams, not so-friendly people etc.
Sabah is still the BEST place.

Waalaikumsalam F,
I am really glad that you send the email. It’s a fault of mine for not writing about the climb from a Muslim climbers perspectives. Your email is very revealing, as I am going to make it as a blog post, so that our Muslim climbers can learn.

In the first place, DON’T ever cancel the booking, although you have 3 beds in Laban Rata and 2 beds in Gunting Lagadan. Take all 5 beds. If you are lucky, there will usually be last minute cancellation whereby 1 of your group member can squeeze in. Just don’t quit contacting Sutera to ask about that one bed. You may get the chance.

Gunting Lagadan is not as bad as you think. I climbed the mountain 5 times and stayed in Laban Rata only once. Although they don’t have heated room and intermittent heated water, it’s still one of the best option for you to stay overnight.

The only thing that I complain about Gunting Lagadan is the distance of the place to Laban Rata. As Gunting Lagadan is higher than Laban Rata, you have to climb up and down to get your meals from the restaurant in Laban Rata. It’s quite annoying, especially if you are totally out of energy.

About solat: I did my prayer at Gunting Lagadan’s veranda. You just have to make sure you bring your own sejadah (prayer mat). The Qiblah is quite easy, as Gunting Lagadan hut is facing west. As long as you are facing the sunset, it will be fine.

It will be a bit awkward praying in that space as it is an open space, but I am fine with that. My experience was that non-muslim climbers who stayed in Gunting Lagadan will not disturb you, as they usually can see you praying on your sejadah.

You can otherwise pray inside the room, but it’s too small. You will not be able to sujud properly. Laban Rata rooms are usually bigger, and more conducive for you to do your prayer. You just need to inform your non-muslim room mate what will you be doing, so that they will not disturb you.

For the subuh (fajr) prayer, I usually bring my own sejadah and a bottle of mineral water. Some of my friends didn’t even bring the prayer mat. They just pray on the rock surface, as it is always suci & bersih. I performed my prayer at Low’s peak with my wuduk from the bottled mineral water. It’s a perfect time for you to pray at the peak, as most fit climbers will arrive around 5.30am.

You may have to find a spot further away from the Low’s Peak tip (where the plate is), and most probably have to sit to perform the prayer. It’s quite dangerous for you to perform the prayer standing, as the surface is uneven.

It is also good for you to bring your own Qiblah compass. Quite difficult to determine the direction at the peak. I have mine anywhere I go, especially during this kind of trip.

Yeah, I know that most Peninsular people who have worked here say the same. They always miss this place.

Good luck!

Ruhaizad, Muslim climber

Hiking pole (or ordinary walking sticks) for your Kinabalu climb

I did not use these during my earlier trip up the mountain, as I was really fit and did not have knee injuries. However, after I sustained meniscus tear of my right knee (thanks to Sundays football @ Yayasan Sabah field) a year ago, I had to use a hiking pole for my last trip up April this year. And the pole has helped me a lot on bearing my weight while going up and down the mountain, relieving some of the burden to my right knee.

I also received an email from one of my readers, saying that she sustained knee injury, just 50m away from the peak, in which, she had to turn back because of the pain. Apparently, it was an old injury, but she did not bother to seek medical advice before going.

And guess what? She also sustained meniscus tear of her knee and had undergone laparoscopic surgery to repair her meniscus. If she happened to get an advice from a doctor before the trip and maybe using a proper walking/hiking pole to climb Mt. Kinabalu this episodes of event may have been avoided.

So, should you use hiking pole on Kinabalu?

  • It is not a necessity for healthy person with good knees, but for those who have problems with your knees, or even ankle and still want to climb, a good hiking pole is a must. Otherwise, you may end up like our friend above.
  • Hiking pole is also useful if you are lugging heavy loads up (except the porters).
  • Hiking pole will help you bear some weight that is put on both of your knees. By that, it will reduce some pain, as the climb up and down is very strenuous compared to your daily usage of them.
  • It will also increase your hill climbing power by spreading the load more evenly around your muscles.
  • It can also increase endurance, aid in crossing soft and slippery ground, especially if you are climbing during wet season and aid balance on uneven ground. Three legs is always better than two in this type of terrain.

However, you must also take notice their cons;

  • It may keep your hands full – I would advise that the hiking pole is only used during the first phase of the climb, as the second phase of the climb will need you to use both of your hands to hold the guide rope.
  • You may need to invest on some good hiking pole, in which many of us do not want to do it, as they claimed that the pole will only be used once in a lifetime. While the branded hiking pole can cost you more than RM100, buying some generics pole (made in China maybe), may saves you up to 70% of the price. Or, you may want to buy the mountain guide’s walking wood sticks – which will cost you only RM3. It’s just an ordinary sticks but some climbers claimed that it has “super power” that kept them going. They will usually sell it to you while you are in the bus from Kinabalu Park HQ to Timpohon Gate.
  • It can also get in your way while walking through some technical sections, in which, Kinabalu do not have much.
  • It can be ineffective you are not using it the correct way.

Now, let’s talk about the features:

  • One or two poles? One pole is a benefit, but two will have bigger benefits. Up to you.
  • Telescopic adjustable length or fixed length? While telescopic adjustable length hiking pole can be adjusted to your height, it can be a bit costly than fixed length poles. But, it will give you more comfort on having a pole that is correct for your height.
  • Shock absorbers or not? After much research, I would recommend you to choose the one with shock absorbers. It will help while you are climbing down the mountain, as much shock can be absorbed when the load of your body fall on the pole.

The correct length for you?
Ideally the length of the pole should be adjusted with your forearm horizontal while holding the grip. But it can be changed to shorter length when climbing up (because the ground is nearer) and longer when climbing down (because the ground is further).

Swiss Gear Hiking Pole

Hammers HP5 Anti-Shock Hiking Pole with Compass & Thermometer

Flashlight for your Kinabalu climb

Flashlight (or some call it torchlight) is an essential equipment that you should have for your climbing trip up Mount Kinabalu. Flashlight will be use during your second phase of the climb, from Laban Rata (or Pendant Hut if you are staying with Mountaintorq) to the peak in the dark. The journey will start around 2 am, in which it will be pitch dark if it is not full moon.

Ordinary flashlight or headlight?
I received a question from one of fellow climber who asked whether he should have an ordinary flashlight or headlight (or headlamp) for him. From my personal experiences, having a headlamp while climbing Kinabalu will give you more advantage than ordinary flashlight.

During the second phase of your climb, you will be going through the dark with only a white rope to guide you for nearly 2km. Almost all the time you have to use both your hands to hold the rope to prevent yourself from falling, and at some places, you may have to scramble with both your hands and legs.

Having a headlamp (or headlight) will free one of your hands from holding a flashlight. It will then gives you more stability with your both hands free while going through that 2km stretch with rope on uneven surfaces. I used an ordinary flashlight in my first few climbs, in which I have to hang it on my neck when I got to scramble and hold the rope up the trail.

Ordinary incandescent (filament) bulb or LED?
Flashlight with ordinary light bulb (with bulb and tungsten filament to omit light) are actually history. However, do not be surprised when you find a lot of those while shopping for flashlight in Kundasang town or even Ranau. (Yeah, my father in law still use it at night in Tinangol). Nowadays, the trend shifts from light bulb to LED (light emitting diode) because of several advantages of LED:

  • It’s high shock and vibration resistant
  • Low power wattage draw, puts less load on the battery
  • Long life
  • Fast turn on/off time (in nanoseconds)

However, I have to tell you that LED bulbs advantage is not in brightness. They are commonly lower in brightness than standard incandescent bulbs. They also emits less heat. In my past experiences, it is true. The only disadvantages of LED flashlight is most probably a bit pricey than ordinary incandescent flashlight.

You can check out these flashlight from

Energizer LED Headbeam handsfree Headlight Flashlight Head Lamp

Trident Headlamp Flashlight, White LEDs, Batteries, 2 Straps, Yellow (ST61050)

1.25 Watt LED Power Chip Headlamp Flashlight (COSTT7455CP) summer sale. Get your backpack for your next Kinabalu trip!

Backpack is an essential items for travelers cum climbers like you. I just received an email from about their sale on a lot of their items. If you are planning to find the suitable backpack for your trip, you should check out their sale now, as most of the promotions will end on 31st August 2008.

I have written a blog post about how to choose your backpack on your Mount Kinabalu climbing trip here. You may want to read it first before you go to to shop. It will give you an idea what type of backpack is suitable for you and your trip. You may not want to buy a small backpack for your South East Asian 3 months tour…

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Climbing gloves for Mount Kinabalu climbers

I thought it was a small matter to most of us. But the truth is, it’s not. I received an email from Miss M (not her real name) asking me on what type of gloves that she could use to climb Mount Kinabalu.

  • Can an ordinary gardening gloves would do?
  • Do I need a water proof gloves, in case the climbing gets too wet and I don’t want my hands to be freezing?
  • When will I use the gloves?
  • Do I need to wear the gloves all the way from Timpohon Gate to the summit?
  • What would you suggest the type of gloves that I should buy?
  • Can I get the gloves in Kota Kinabalu / Kundasang / Kinabalu Park?

The above questions are all not from her only, but from various resources for the past few years of my writing on Kinabalu. I will try to answer the questions in a collective way, so that every new climbers will benefit from it.

Honestly speaking, I did not use high tech, waterproof gloves in my past climbings. I only use the ordinary Made-In-China nylon gloves that is usually used for gardening and small house contractor that cost me around RM2 per pair. I bought 2 pairs and wear both pairs during my past climb up the mountain.

Mine is in white colour…

There are two major reasons why you should have a pair of gloves while climbing up Kinabalu;

  1. To protect your hands from rope burn during the second phase of the climb and protect from the rough rock surfaces when you need to scramble once in a while on the barren rock face.
  2. To protect your hands from freezing while climbing up the summit at night in the dark, moreover if you are climbing during wet season.

The above reasons basically answers the questions on what type of gloves that you should choose, but seeing from my personal experiences, the ordinary nylon gardening gloves that I used does not gives you full protection for both conditions. The gloves (at least) could only prevent your hands from rope burn, but not from the cold night climb.
Get your gloves from EMS

However, if you check out any outdoor stores, getting a specialize gloves for this kind of climb can surprise you. The price may be way out of your budget. However, getting a good and proper gloves for your climb may differentiate your climb from “good” and “bad” if weather is not on your side.

Waterproof gloves is quite expensive, but you should consider it among your choices. Belay gloves and rappel gloves is not necessary, but I would recommend it if you are planning to go on via ferrata route. Your hands will thank you if you decided to invest on those kind of glove, as you are going to hold ropes, rocks and metal all the way on the via ferata trail.

You are not going to use the gloves all the way from Timpohon Gate, but only during the second phase of the climb from Laban Rata. It’s a night climb, and the temperature can go down to 5 degree Celcius. Cold weather will makes your fingers numb and cramp, so a good and suitable gloves is almost necessary.

Oh, you could get the ordinary gloves that I used while you are here in Sabah, but bare in mind that the gloves that I used are really not suitable. You should get the proper one, moreover if this is the only time that you could manage to climb Kinabalu!

Verglas Plus Gloves – Women’s by Black Diamond

Legend Glove – Men’s by Black Diamond

Petzl Cordex Light-Weight Belay & Rappel Gloves (Black or Tan)

Metolius Belay Climbing Gloves

Reader’s Mailbag: Climbing Kinabalu with children

I received another email this morning. Patrick asked me about climbing Mount Kinabalu with his children. If you have climbed Kinabalu with your children before, please share with us your opinion. Here is his email:

Hi Ruhaizad

Thanks for the Kinabalu newsletter that I have just received, it was very helpful. I am climbing Mount Kinabalu at the end of July with 3 children aged 10 and 11, I wonder if you could help me avoid any serious mistakes and help me improve our chances of reaching the summit, please? A little about ourselves…

I’m 52, British, married to a Malaysian from Sarawak. The children are my son, 11, daughter, 10, and a niece, 11, from the interior. I attach a photo to help you see (I’m standing with my wife and son, and my daughter has black hair).

All 3 children are fit (though not particularly trained in endurance), especially my daughter and the niece. I have been training since November and now consider myself quite fit, by UK standards anyway. None of us have any medical issues, except my son is quite prone to nosebleeds… I would appreciate your comment as to whether you think this could be a serious issue at higher altitudes.
It is good for you to exclude other medical problems that related to your child’s nosebleed with you family doctor. Some illnesses that are related to easily bleeding (such as platelet problems and haemophilia) may become worsen in high altitude due to increasing external stressor. If all other things excluded and your child nosebleed is nothing more than Little’s area capillary fragility, then it would be safe to climb with some precaution of recurrence and the simple treatment during the climb.

We have been to the base of Kinabalu before and stayed for a few days, we understand the need to acclimatise, so plan to stay at Kundasang for 2 1/2 days before starting the climb.
Generally, climbers of Kinabalu do not have to acclimatise at Kundasang, as the altitude is not that high for training. Acclimatisation will usually occurs along the way up the mountain, with most climbers will feel some changes at the level of Pondok Mempening. You just have to climb slowly, and most climbers have sufficient time acclimatising at Laban Rata.

The week before last we climbed 3000′ up one of the UK’s highest mountains, and managed that OK – 2 weeks before we come we will repeat that.

That’s the positives! The negatives include the fact we havent booked accommodation yet, either on Kinabalu or Kundesang, nor booked a guide. Wonder if you could advise on these, please? We stayed at Pine Lodge in Kundasang before, which was fine, though there were roadworks there then and the walk from the market to Pine Lodge was rather difficult especially at night. My wife is not joining us for the climb, she will wait for us in Kundasang. I have read the Sutera site – is that the best (or only?) place to book?
Yes, unfortunately, Sutera Sanctuary Lodges is the only accommodation provider for Mount Kinabalu climbers – at least for the ordinary climbers. However, if you are adventurous enough, Mountaintorq is another option, in which you have to take their via ferrata package to get up the summit.

Although we are from UK, we come to Malaysia in order to see relatives (rather than as tourists) and need to work on a fairly small budget. Though obviously without compromising safety, and without making it so difficult that we noticeably reduce our chances of reaching the summit.

Do you have any advice for us? Hope to hear back from you soon, please use ‘reply-all’.
Most of the advice on climbing Kinabalu is here in this blog and my website. I hope you will find it helpful.


Anybody wants to give opinions?

5 medications you should have for your Kinabalu climbing trip

Medical preparations for your trip up to Kinabalu is one of the important thing to do before you start your climb. While novice climbers think that the medication in the first aid kit is enough, some of experience climbers think that it is better to have some extra medications in hand, in case of unexpected requirements. These would be my personal list of medication (based on my medical background), that I would bring up on my trip. These are the medications that I brought during my past climbing trip.

  1. Panadol, Uphamol aka paracetamol or acetaminophen. It is a good medication to relief pain, headache, fever and discomfort due to cold/flu & following dental procedures. Normal dosage per tablet is 500mg, and I usually prescribe 2 tablets 3-4 times daily. However, in climbing context, you can take 2 tablets of paracetamol if you have muscular pain during the climb, and may repeat 6-8 hourly. You can take it either before or after meal. One special precaution on Panadol is that it can leads to kidney and liver failure if taken in long period of time, or overdosage.
  2. Ponstan, aka Mefenemic acid. A slightly “powerful” medication than paracetamol, used to relief mild to moderate pain including muscular, traumatic and dental (tooth) pain, headache, menstrual pain, post operation and post delivery pain. Also suitable for Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. I usually use ponstan for those who feels that panadol is not powerful enough to control pain. Normal dosage per capsule is 250mg, and to be taken 500mg (2 tablets) during the pain, 8 hourly. You have to take ponstan after meal because it can cause some gastric irritation (gastrik aka ‘dugal’ in local language). Long term usage can cause stomach ulcer, kidney and liver impairment.
  3. Lomotil, Beamotil or Dhamotil. An almost a “wonder drug” for diarrhea and uncontrolled loose stool – an event spoiler for anybody. It contains diphenoxylate HCl 2.5mg and atropine sulphate 25mcg to stop your purging. A good medication to take if you have a very sensitive stomach and bowel movement. Can be taken before or after meal, but suggested to take 1 tablet after each unformed stool. If you don’t have this medication, you may have to divert every few hundreds meter of the Summit Trail into the bushes to “get the job done”.
  4. Maxolon aka metoclopramide. A medication used to relieve vomiting and nausea. Nausea that can be caused by food poisoning or even acute mountain sickness can be alleviated with this medication. To be taken 1 tablet, 10mg 8 hourly, usually before meals. I usually advise person who take maxolon to take their meal 30 minutes after ingesting maxolon. Not suitable for children.
  5. Piriton aka chlorpheniramine maleate. Another wonder drug for allergic reaction and runny nose. Scientifically put: allergic conditions including hay fever, urticaria, agioedema, vasomotor rhinitis, allergic eczema, atopic and contact dermatitis, insect bites and pruritus. Basically, it is used for anything that cause you to itch and nose congestion. It can be taken with or without food, 4mg 4-6 hourly, with maximum of 6 tablet a day. However, piriton is known to cause sleepiness and inability to concentrate, but minimal if you are climbing.

You can get almost all the medications from your nearby pharmacy. However, if you are unsure, better ask your doctor/physician to help you.