Category Archives: Mount Kinabalu

4th Special Olympics Mt. Kinabalu Challenge – Flag off ceremony

I am back to my clinic today. After having a very exhausting trip up and down Mt. Kinabalu on Friday & Saturday (18th & 19th April), I am now back to my usual work. Feels good to be back, but missed the fellowship with other volunteers, Special Olympics athletes and escorts.

I am not sure how to write this, as writing every bits and details would bored you up with the schedules and things that I did. I don’t think what I did would matter to you most, as what I did was just climbing up Kinabalu (which almost all of you did). The main star in time around was a group of 40 special athletes from this region, that never climbed the mountain before.

What I think I would do is separating this Special Olympics post into several series of post over the next few days, with a lot of photos (maybe 10 photos in one post) during the climb. I am going to photoblog this post and the next few to give you the picture on what I have did with these athletes. I snapped more than 100 photos. It will take some time for me to upload all…

This few photos were taken during the flag off ceremony by our newly appointed Sabah’s Ministry of Youth & Sport, Mr. Peter Pang at Timpohon Gate on Friday, 18th April 2008.

SOS -flag off

Early morning view of Majestic Kinabalu seen from Bundu Tuhan Retreat Center. We stayed here for one night before we start our climb the next morning.

SOS -flag off

SOS -flag off

SOS -flag off
Our new Sabah Minister of Youth & Sport, Mr. Peter Pang, whom officiating the flag-off ceremony.

Special Olympics

Freddy (an athlete) with his escort, Dr. Lai from Kudat. Freddy is a hyperactive child. He managed to reach the peak.

Special Olympics

Harris (with dotted cap) is a Down’s Syndrome guy from Sarawak. He only managed to reach the Rockface.

Special Olympics

We have to take photo with the sponsors…

Special Olympics

Special Olympics

Special Olympics

To be continued…

Looking for a mountain guide name Billy Sapinggi

I received an email from one of Kinabalu climber yesterday. He is looking for his mountain guide name Billy Sapinggi, when he did the climb in December last year. If you have any information on the guide’s whereabout and phone number, please drop a comment. Here is Noor’s email:

Hi, my name is Noor. I’m from Johor Bahru.

Firstly, I would like to say that I really enjoy reading your blog, I find most of the topics interesting / informative.

Doc, I need help!
In December last year, I, and 10 other people attempted to climb the majestic Mount Kinabalu. Sadly, only 3 of us reached the peak, not including me, due to the weather conditions.

Anyway, our guide was Billy Sapinggi. He was extremely helpful and nice and jaga-ed us well. Next time we climb (next year, God willing), we would love have him as our guide again.

The upsetting part is that we did not get a chance to thank him for all his help! This is because when we descended from the mountain, he was still up there with 2 people from our group, and we couldn’t wait for them as our vans were ready to bring us back to our apartment.

When I got back home, I started browsing the internet in hopes of finding his number. I even called Sabah Parks, but I was given a wrong number. I emailed Sabah Parks, and again, they gave me a wrong number. I found 2-3 blogs where the climbers’ guide was Billy, but they didn’t have his number either.

So, I thought of asking you whether by any chance at all you have Billy Sapinggi’s number or know where I might be able to obtain his number.

Thanking you a great bunch in advance.

PS : Good luck on climbing with the Special Olympic team! 🙂


Thanks Noor! Hopefully somebody could give you an answer.

I am climbing Kinabalu – again…

I am climbing Kinabalu again on 18-19 April. It is not going to be a leisure climbing this time, as I am standing by Special Olympic team, as a medical doctor.

This is my second stand-by duty for Special Olympic. The first was in 2002, in which I had to sleep in Layang-Layang hut for one night. For your info, Layang-Layang Hut is NOT meant for casual climbers. It is actually a staff quarters, which don’t have heater and very basic necessities.

This time around, I won’t be staying in Layang-Layang, as they have revised their schedule.  And the event is listed in Sabah Tourism website here.

A letter from Mr. Bruce James

While I was away during our 12th Malaysian General Election (I was away for 2 weeks, back in Muar where I voted), Mr. Bruce James, father of the late Ellie James, emailed me. Here is the email:

I was, of course, interested to see your tribute to my daughter Ellie.

I notice that all the information comes from the internet press. Not all the details are correct.

For instance, Ellie was born in 1986 – December 2.

She was the cleverest person I ever knew and we miss her very much.

If she had not been so supremely fit she would have come down from the summit more slowly and not diverted from the path at the point where it went sharply left.

Ellie and her brother descended to the west of St John’s Peak. Subsequently, Ellie struck out eastwards and climbed the peak but became marooned on the east side of St John’s Peak and was marooned above a sheer drop. Her brother, Henry, stayed put and was discovered by one of the guides later the same day.

Some of the guides heard her cry out from this position but could not believe that she had arrived at a point which people had only reached previously with ropes and other equipment.

As soon as the weather cleared she was spotted immediately. She had tried valiantly to stay warm and must have know that in few more steps she would have fallen to a quicker death.

She died of hypothermia – but we don’t know when.

A question: Why did you choose to compile the information about Ellie?

Yours sincerely

Ellie’s father

Bruce James

And this was my answer:

Hi Bruce,

Thank you for your email. I was surprised when I received your email about Ellie. About your question why… Well, I guess, as I wrote a blog about Mount Kinabalu, it is good for the readers to know a little bit about the tragedy that happened on the mountain, so that climbers will take good care of themselves during the trip, and take the best safety precautions while on the mountain.

I hope the explanation is good, as I don’t have any other reasons for that.

And I am sorry for the incorrect information. I will of course,
publish your email in the blog, so that everybody knows about it.

Take care.


So, if you want to send him regards, just jot a comment below.

Where are other accommodation at Laban Rata?

Apparently Sutera have edited and upgraded their website. Gone are the basic information about the different types of huts that are available at Laban Rata. For seasoned climbers, they will know that there are 4 accommodations/huts in Laban Rata;

  1. Laban Rata Resthouse itself, which the only accommodation at Laban Rata which has heated room.
  2. Gunting Lagadan, non-heated.
  3. Waras Hut, non-heated.
  4. Panar Laban Hut, non-heated.

I was really surprised to see the website today, after receiving an email from one of my website visitors, saying that he could not find the huts that I mentioned from my website in Sutera’s new website. The old website showed each and every accommodation available in Kinabalu Park, Mesilau and Laban Rata, but this newly edited website did not show it.

Sutera Sanctuary LodgesThey only shows Laban Rata accommodation (Laban Rata Room 1, 2 & 3). All of the rooms are shown with a specific package which comes with it. And you will be shocked to death when you see the price!

Why they omitted the other accommodations from the website? Maybe they purposely (or is it by accident?) did not put up the other accommodations – Waras, Panar Laban and Gunting Lagadan – because it is not the same standard with Laban Rata.

Or maybe they just want to sell it to international travelers, which could afford that much money to spend climbing Kinabalu.

I used to spend only RM50 per bed in Laban Rata. Sigh…


I have helped thousands of climbers of Mount Kinabalu to book their climbing spot since 2006. If you want me to help you, just fill in the form below and send it to me. Thank you very much! 

Mount Kinabalu package in MAS Golden Holidays?

Dorene commented on one of my previous blog post about MAS Golden Holidays. It makes me curious to know more about it and how does it fares to both Malaysians and international travellers.

MAS Golden HolidayLet’s take a look at the first page of the promotion. The package was labelled as “Santai” package, and you could see that the price was stated “from MYR 1,090”. Don’t get fooled here, as it is the price if you are travelling from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu.

You have to pay MYR 1,370 if you are travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu (per person, minimum of 2).

As it is for 4D3N package, you will stay in Promenade Hotel (2 nights – the first and third night), and Laban Rata *dormitories on the second night. The price will includes most meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and transportation from Kota Kinabalu to Kinabalu Park.
*they did not state which dorm you will be put in. Or even heated or non-heated. If they play dirty, they will put you in the non-heated room (like Gunting Lagadan Hut) and still, you have to pay the full price.

You will start your journey from Timpohon Gate, means that if you want to climb via Mesilau, you either have to pay more or seek some other agents.

The package will also NOT including the guide fee, porter fee, insurance, entrance fee, certificate and climbing permit.

How does it cost?

MAS Golden HolidayStandard price (MAS Super Savers) for a return trip from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu is MYR 732, that means you are paying MYR 638 per person for other than flight expanses, provided that you go with another person.

Personally, it is too costly for me (and maybe some of local Malaysian climbers), as you could get half the price of the package, by taking Airasia and stay in one of the few nice hostels & lodges around Kota Kinabalu.

My 2 sen: Most probably SSL (or maybe Sutera Harbour Resort), is aiming on international travellers more than local travellers. They could earn more than double from one international traveller compared to our own national citizen.

It is because most international travellers travel in small group, compared to Malaysian which usually comes in big groups to cut cost. I don’t think they even care about us after all.

What do you think?

An email from Desmond Kong…

I received an email from Desmond Kong, a good friend of mine who is an avid mountain climber. He was really frustrated with Sutera Sanctuary Lodges. He also forwarded a chat transcript with his friend regarding the issue…

(Apology for the grammatical errors. I “cut & paste” the email to preserve the originality.)

Hi Ruhaizad

Since last year i hav told you that my friends and i are planning to climb Mt KK on 24-28 march 2008 and i hav told how exited am i about it. Until u forward me the website and the increase of price we were devastated. KK park hav package it. The price is ridiculous high of course is still very cheap for foreigners due to exchange rates. They do have local rates like what RM50 difference! Might as well dont have it. RM50 differences in USD is only $15 differences, the mat sallehs will laugh their way up to Low’s peak. Why should we pay so much to visit our own heritage it will kill local tourism. Just the climb alone it will come to Rm 800 if we climb Mersilau trail. Which i only spend slightly above Rm 1000 my 2006 trip. Including 1st nite at KK park (garden lodges ), 2nd nite laban rata, 3rd nite KK park (garden lodges). 4th nite camping in island, 5th day shopping at KK town & flew back. 6 of us each spend RM 1100 – 1200. We accept price increase as everything increases since petrol went up but not until like what 300%.

My friend even went to KK park when he was there for biz trip during Oct 07 remember & i ask u how come is not open for booking then u send me the new price website. When Jan 08 comes we saw the price went down to more reasonable price it gave us more hope as not everyone can afford not that everyone cant afford is it worth it or not as we also have our own commitment in financial. The person my friend s***** been coresponding is not responding. It make us very frustrated and now is fully booked and we burn our air tickets, 12 ppl’s air tickets. U can see my recent chat with him in msn the situation to book is totally disappointing which can be describe typical malaysian way of doing things.

After this incident i do not know we will climb Mt KK again. As is difficult to ajak ppl again. If go also i must find new kaki. Aiyah….

Des says:

so how is KK trip?

s***** says:


s***** says:

cannot book for climb

s***** says:

so, everyone’s out except sugu, hh and you

Des says:

y cant book huh?

s***** says:

so annoying… i’ve been emailing

s***** says:

remember i fwd the email for the rates to you all?

s***** says:

then when i email to book, no response…

s***** says:

i resend the email twice

Des says:

they din response?

s***** says:

still no response

s***** says:

so i call

Des says:


s***** says:

call and call and call

s***** says:

either engaged or ring no one answer

s***** says:

so i wrote and faxed

s***** says:

no reply

s***** says:

so i just keep calling la

s***** says:


s***** says:

different times

s***** says:

then finally i get thru

s***** says:

oh, before that i call kinabalu park

Des says:


s***** says:

they said the number is correct

s***** says:

try again

s***** says:

so i keep trying lo

s***** says:

finally on cny eve, i get thru

s***** says:

they tell me that the girl who was answering my emails not working there anymore

Des says:


s***** says:

and they have only 2 staff working but there are 6 lines

s***** says:

and that it is all fully booked

s***** says:

i keep talking to her cos i dont want to put down the phone

s***** says:

cos so hard to get thru

s***** says:

so, like that lo

s***** says:

sugu and hh dont mind going to jalan jalan

Des says:

so finally is fully book n we plan so early for nothing

s***** says:

yeah, remember, i was there in their office in october last year

s***** says:

to book but they said not open for booking yet

Des says:


Des says:

next time wan to plan also no mood, when book air ticket

Des says:

so r u going jalan2?

s***** says:

dunno la…

s***** says:

like no real purpose like that…

s***** says:

i will have to discuss with the girls to see what they wanna do

Des says:

that is hard without purpose

s***** says:

dont really wanna waste 1 week’s leave jsut to jalan

Mount Kinabalu is NOT the highest mountain in South East Asia

Rants and raves about the height of Kinabalu were audible last year, 2007. I knew that Mount Kinabalu is not the highest mountain in South East Asia, but I did not know that Mount Kinabalu was ranked 5th on the highest point in SEA.

Dan Low is the person who was responsible for the information to be conveyed to me. LeongWK was the first person who raised this issue but I did not take it seriously, until I read a blog post by Bisean. Fortunately, we share our information together through Multiply social networking platform and I am glad to be connected to a group of people who are really concern about our World Heritage Site.

You can read the heavy discussion in Bisean blog, which some of the commenter did not really agree with the facts. They gave a very different description and definition of the countries and the borders of Asian continent and South East Asia, in which, according to their definition, Mount Kinabalu will rank differently on the highest point list of mountains in this region.

We could actually argue the facts on the border definitions, but personally for me, it is not as important as taking the responsibility to take care of the mountain.

Most importantly, our young generation must be teach to love our mountain and take care of our environment. No point having the highest mountain in South East Asia, but nothing is done to preserve the heritage.

By the way, I think it’s about time we change our Malaysian Geography syllabus, by not mentioning Kinabalu is the highest mountain in South East Asia. Our neighbouring countries may get insulted with it.

I hereby give you the 10 highest peak in South East Asia, courtesy of Dan Low…

1. Hkakabo Razi, Burma (5881m)
Hkakabo Razi

2. Puncak Jaya, Indonesia (5030m)
Puncak Jaya

3. Trikora, Indonesia (4751m)

4. Mandala, Indonesia (4701m)

5. Kinabalu, Malaysia (4095m)

6. Kerinji, Indonesia (3809m)

7. Rinjani, Indonesia (3727m)

8. Semeru, Indonesia (3677m)

9. Fansipan, Vietnam (3143m)

10. Agung, Indonesia (3142m)

P/S: Anybody could tell me how many of them are NOT volcanic mountain?

I have helped thousands of climbers of Mount Kinabalu to book their climbing spot since 2006. If you want me to help you, just fill in the form below and send it to me. Thank you very much!

World’s highest “via ferrata” now on Mount Kinabalu!

While poking through the net, surfing around technorati, I found a very interesting blog post by kenjj about the newest adventure on Mount Kinabalu – via ferrata. So, what is via ferrata?

A via ferrata (Italian for “iron road”. Plural vie ferrate. In German, klettersteig) is a mountain route which is equipped with fixed cables, stemples, ladders, and bridges. The use of these allows otherwise isolated routes to be joined to create longer routes which are accessible to people with a wide range of climbing abilities. Walkers and climbers can follow via ferratas without needing to use their own ropes and belays, and without the risks associated with unprotected scrambling and climbing. – Wikipedia

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu

I found out that there is a new company which provides the adventure activities – Mountain Torq – that was just started on September 2007 (only running for about three months). The interesting thing about them is that, they have given Mount Kinabalu climbers other options of activities and accommodations, apart from the usual climb up and down Low’s Peak.

Lucky for me, while checking up their new website on this new thing on Mount Kinabalu, I found out that their main office in Kota Kinabalu is just across the street of my clinic. I went there last Monday during lunch time, and fortunately, I-Gek, their sales & marketing director was there.

We just have an informal conversation on our passion about Mount Kinabalu, and how hard it is to get a slot to climb nowadays. Apparently, they are very busy, as they are going to have their launching ceremony this Saturday, 15th December 2007 at Kinabalu Park.

During that short period of time, I managed to get more information pertaining the climb, the activities and the accommodation that they provide. In summary, these are the things that we ought to know at the moment:

  1. Pendant Hut, Laban RataThey have a newly build hut/lodges on Laban Rata – Pendant Hut, which is non-heated, bunk-beds that could accommodate 30 climbers. This is a good options for climbers who could not get through to SSL for bed. However, they have set their own rule; if you are planning to stay in their hut – you have to, at least, pick one of their activities on their via ferrata, apart from the usual Low’s Peak trip.
  2. They are the only sole provider for via ferrata, equipments and staffs, and they are not related to SSL.
  3. You have three options of via ferrata that you could choose – Walk the Torq, The Low’s Peak Circuit and The Preamble. More coming soon!
  4. As they ONLY provide the activities, you have to book for accommodation in Pendant Hut from their designated travel & tour company. This also means that you still can do their activities although you stay in one of SSL’s huts in Laban Rata.
  5. Having said the above, they welcome ‘Walk-ins’ at either Laban Rata / or at Pendant hut. It will be on a first come first serve basis and weather permitting.
  6. They are the world’s highest and Asia’s first via ferrata located at 3,800m, offers a range of routes designed to match everyone’s ability and endurance.
  7. They did not disclose the pricing structure. You need to contact them to ask for quotations. *Please mention my name/website/blog when you contact them. You may get a special treatment for mentioning it. And they will know how powerful blogging-advertising works!

This new activities has made Mount Kinabalu more interesting than just up-down climb. And I am now working on how to work together with them to promote their activities in my website and blog. Stay tune for more info.

For those who are going to be at the foot of the mountain (Kinabalu Park) this Saturday, 15th December 2007, just drop by their launching ceremony. I won’t be able to be there. Send my regards to them if you happen to crash in their party.

Need I say more? Just check out their photos which I have extracted from their website (I got permission on this. Thanks, I-Gek!). Cheers!

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu

Via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu


I have helped thousands of climbers of Mount Kinabalu to book their climbing spot since 2006. If you want me to help you, just fill in the form below and send it to me. Thank you very much!

New 2008 rule for climbers of Kinabalu

I heard rumours about new rules and regulations by Sabah Park Authorities for climbers of Mount Kinabalu. Starting from 1st January 2008, all climbers who decided to climb Mount Kinabalu MUST apply for the CLIMBING PERMIT first, before proceeding to book accommodation from Sutera Sanctuary Lodges.

Not like the existing booking system, whereby you must book your accommodation with Sutera Sanctuary Lodges first and only get the climbing permit the day you start your climb.

I think the Sabah State government is getting their hands on this whole booking-accommodation-with-one-provider thing, as they may have realize that there is a very big flaw and issues on our heritage site. *Some* parties are making huge money out of this issues and it is about time they do something.

At the time I wrote this post, no specific guidelines that I could give as the discussion is still on going. They have to create a new booking mechanism for climbers, and I am still waiting for them to announce it as soon as possible.

You can discuss the issues in the comment area, and hopefully *somebody* from the authority will listen to our voices.

Watch this space for new updates.