Category Archives: Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu trip report by Adam Helman

I met Adam when he came here with his two friends, Bob and Rob – just to climb Mount Kinabalu in June this year. They were on their quest to conquer all mountains in South East Asia and a string of volcanoes around this region which are declared as among the “Earth’s Fifty Finest” – the planet’s 50 most prominent peaks.

He claimed that the journey was an extraordinary experience, lasting five weeks and with general success;

  • Four of Earth’s fifty most prominent mountains;
  • Seven of the World Top 100 peaks (ranked by prominence);
  • Five island highpoints (Bali, Borneo, Java, Lombok, and Sumatra);
  • The Malaysian national highpoint, Mount Kinabalu.

Adam have prepared an elaborate trip report with 19 web pages and 176 embedded photographs for their trip.

One is required to have a guide on-trail. The lady, in her twenties, seems to be the only female guide of the bunch. We are issued personal ID badges with our names and date of entry – a system to foil those who would climb the peak without permission.

The hiking route is obvious and well-traveled. It is muddy in many places, with stairsteps cut to lower the effect of erosion. Some steps are quite tall, exceeding one foot. One annoyance is that the trail is nonuniform in grade. It is nearly level in some parts, and somewhat steep (at least for a trail) in others.

Read the rest of his story here.

Adam, guide and Robert

Mount Kinabalu climbing package booking for 2008 is now OPEN!

I have set up a new booking system for aspiring Mount Kinabalu climbers, after 3 months the old system was down. Mostly it is due to Sutera Sanctuary Lodges internal problem, where they have set up new rules and regulations for climbers starting from 2008 booking dates.

So, if you are planning to climb Mount Kinabalu in 2008, check out our whole new pages of climbing package information and booking form.


Thank you to Mr. Peter Chang, a freelance tour operator, who is humble enough to give me a hand on handling all those booking for Mount Kinabalu climbers. I won’t be able to do this booking system on my own, if not from his help. Of course, Aiden is still around to help me.

Have a nice booking!

Book your Kinabalu climbing package from

I started to accept quotation requests for Mount Kinabalu climbing since February 2007. Statistically, I have received more than 500 request, but from that number, Aiden and me could only process and handle less than 5% of it.

The major reason why we could not deal with the other request for the climb is that most of the request is made to close to the climbing dates. As I have mentioned before, climbing Kinabalu is selling like hot fried-bananas this year 2007, as it happens to be the Visit Malaysia Year. Most of the climbers who sent us the request, plan to go within 3 months from their request date. It is almost impossible to get a place for climbers to climb within that period of time as it is always full when we contacted Sutera Sanctuary Lodges. Sadly, we have to turn the request down because of this.

Sutera Sanctuary LodgesSecondly, Sutera Sanctuary Lodges has not given us a good cooperation on dealing with the bookings. It was really difficult to get through them – especially by telephone – and Aiden have to go to their office almost every other day to get the latest feedback on our bookings. It wears us down.

Lately, I heard that Sutera Sanctuary Lodges is going to increase the accommodation rate in Laban Rata starting from 2008. They are also going to have new rules and regulations on climbers of Mount Kinabalu pertaining the lodges in Laba Rata and the climbing packages. This is the highlight of our challenges.

So, at the moment, I am going to put down the reservation form for climbers, temporarily. As an alternative, climbers can check out our new affiliate partner, which will be handling all the climbing packages, until our problems is solved. have 2 packages specifically for Mount Kinabalu climbers – 2D1N package and 3D2N package – which will cost US$315 and US$370 respectively. The packages are meant for international climbers. I would suggest that Malaysian climbers to contact Sutera Sanctuary Lodges directly for Malaysian rate.

Book your climbing packages here:

Click “Asia” and search for Mount Kinabalu Package. I really hope that you can get a bed for the climb.

Good Luck!

Climbing Eastern Ridge (Plateau) of Kinabalu

I have explained before that you can climb the Eastern Ridge of Kinabalu, together with a geographical map form Google Earth. Fortunately, arkitrek climbed the route in 2006. He wrote about his trip with, and I have the opportunity to highlight his post here.

I am a little disappointed when we head downhill, away from those alluring pinnacles. ‘Need water’ we are told. ‘No water here.’ We skirt the base of the pinnacles until it is possible to descend into a dry gully bed.

‘Tidak air,’ announces Jus, confirming the obvious.
‘OK, where is air?’ I try not to sound impatient or concerned.
‘Next one.’ By which I presume he means the next watercourse.

Ironically it starts to rain and I’m not sure whether to put some more clothes on or to spread out our tent flysheet to catch water? Jus and Din also appear uncertain and are quartering the hillside presumably looking for a trail that will lead to the ‘next one’. No sooner have I made my decision they find the trail contouring an improbably steep spur that bounds our gully.

Western Plateau peaks of Kinabalu
Western (Ridge) Plateau of Kinabalu, seen in the morning from Eastern Ridge. Notice the shadow?

We scramble up and down over tree roots and boulders, traversing the mountainside in a pattern that will inevitably bring us into another drainage. Again we hear ‘tidak air’. It’s getting late and Matt and I are grinning at each other in a ‘this is starting to get interesting but we’re game for it’ kind of manner. Matt and I may be game but Emma lets it be known that she’s flagging.

I wonder how much she has left. I have found through experience of climbing with women that they tend to hold more in reserve than they let on. This compared to men for whom the converse is often true. I hold onto this thought and pray that tiredness does not result in accidents.

We should have found a campsite by now but we continue, descending a gully choked with logs and boulders. We’re moving away from that smooth granite toward steaming jungle ravines of indiscernible depth. We descend by lowering ourselves from mossy roots onto footholds of crumbling humus.

I have twigs down my back from stooping under branches and my knees are filthy from crawling. We pass a good flat camping site. Tidak air of course and it’s onwards and downwards. At the end of the day it gets dark and even our guide has to admit that we will have to camp with tidak air.

‘Tidak bagus’ (not good) mutters Matt. We chop out a small ledge from the moss and roots and manage to get two thirds of the tent onto it. After dinner of tuna mayo with crackers washed down with peanut butter, we mix the last of our water with some rehydration salts and pass the mug around.

You can read his whole story here.

He only used ‘ADIDAS KAMPUNG’, but still won the Climbathon ’07

Have you heard about ‘Adidas Kampung’? It’s a Made-In-China rubber shoes that is widely available here in Malaysia – black color shoes with 4 stripes of either white or yellow or even black in color. And some have studs too. For those who have climbed Mount Kinabalu before, you will surely notice it – as most of the porters and guides wears this shoes up and down the mountain, almost everyday to earn a living.

Adidas Kampung

I was not aware of the uniqueness of this shoes until I found out the news today. 21st Mount Kinabalu Climbathon 2007 ended last Sunday. Everybody knew that Spaniards won both the title, for men and women. I just don’t feel like posting the results of the climbathon, as you can get it elsewhere, mostly from online newspaper.

What struck me was, Safrey Sumping, a Mount Kinabalu mountain guide, got fourth place on the men’s open event. And he is the first Malaysian/Asian who won this race edition – WITH A PAIR OF ADIDAS KAMPUNG!!!

I read Borneo Post newspaper this morning, and feel very touched with his spirit. He even received a pair of running shoes from Agusti, the second place winner of the event, at the end of the Climbathon after Agusti spotted Safrey was wearing ‘Adidas Kampung’. (Some said that it’s the shoes that Agusti wears during the race).

Safrey Sumping

No mountain high enough: Malaysian participant Safrey Sumping reaching the top of Mount Kinabalu to clinch the fourth place in the Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon- The Star

I wonder how the result of the event will be, if Safrey use the proper mountain running shoes to participate!

I think Malaysian football team & athletes should follow his spirit. And to me, that’s the true “Malaysia Boleh” spirit!

And Good Luck for Safrey too, as he is set to become the first Malaysian to take part in the prestigious Federation for Sports at Altitude’s (FSA) Buff Sky-Runner World Series Championship.

Malaysia Boleh, Bah!

Melangkap Kapa – Mekado Valley – King George’s Peak – Sayat-Sayat Trail

Oh, this is even a rare trail. Kampung Melangkap Kapa is where the first group of the British Army who get lost in Low’s Gully in 1994 arrived after more than one week in the thick jungle.

Ian Hall and AG Shepherd with their guide, Jasrin and porter, Girul, track the trail in November 2006. From Kampung Melangkap Kapa, they walk through a very rough jungle terrain, through Mekado Valley, the unsung “baby brother” of Low’s Gully, and summit King George’s Peak on the Eastern Plateau, before finishing the journey back on the commercialize “Summit Trail”.

Melangkap Kapa - Mekado Valley - King George’s Peak - Sayat-Sayat Trail

I found Ian’s entry of his journey in, and he have written his story in a very detailed way. The journey, which an average climber would take one week to complete, they’ve made it in 5 days. A very nice entry indeed. Some excerpt of his entry:

‘So remind me again’ said Graeme, ‘the 10 guys from Sabah Parks did this route in 8 days and we’re trying to do it in 5?’

‘They were not strong’ explained Jasirin, ‘fat’ he added with pursed lips and an expansive hand gesture.

He got the ‘map’ out again and counted our campsites. This time they came to 4. We could be on our way down the day after tomorrow he suggested. I looked up into the trees. Although I could not see it my GPS told me that there was still 2500m of mountain above us.

I trusted Jasirin to get us through but did I trust him enough to gamble on Graeme’s flight? Graeme had not climbed with Jasirin before so had little upon which to base his trust. It was a brave decision for him to continue but then as I have mentioned, to go back was already unthinkable.

Ian Hall, AG Shepherd

I personally contacted Ian for his story and photos. Within 24 hours, on behalf of Ian, Graeme replied and he even sent me an email on his view of Mount Kinabalu climbing. Here is his email:

I received an email from Ian Hall concerning your offer to put a link to our trip onto your website.
I do not have a problem with this.

Eventually, I might find time to assemble my own version of events surrounding this trip. It was possibly the hardest trip I have ever done and certainly something I could have been better prepared for.

Jasrin and Girul were wonderful and fantastically positive people and I feel my life is richer for having met them. Ian was right to add in his report that I understood that they had ambition to comlete the trip- on the evening of the second day, I realised that the trip was no longer about me but about the group and I had no questions for anyone concerning a possible return to Melangkap on the third day.

I would welcome your thoughts about the Dusun guides and would encourage you to promote their services as they value their mountain and have a tremendous amount of pride in it. They share that sense of pride with their visitors. Encouraging other visitors to place value upon these wonderful characters and to walk with them rather than simply to use them as access to the hill will maintain the good humour.

I was dismayed when I climbed Low’s Peak by the tourist route to see so many of the Dusun guides demoralised by the behaviour of their guests on ascent, summit and descent, dropping litter with absolute disregard. My own guide on this occasion had seen me fill my pockets with sampah on the ascent and at the summit, produced a large bag which we fille easily during our descent.

These guides should be given greater powers to revoke someone’s right to ascend if they misbehave in any way. Empowering them in this way may allow everyone to maintain a sense of duty towards the mountain and restore its dignity.

Graeme Shepherd

Ian Hall, AG Shepherd
Ian and Graeme, with Jasrin in the middle

You can read their long journey entry here:

When NOT to climb to the summit of Borneo

I received an email from our good friend, Cikgu Ismail, and this time he attached some photos that are very rare to see. It’s the photos of The Summit Trail, exactly around Sayat-Sayat Hut, (the second phase of the climb) which are heavily flooded with rain. Water from the bare rocks of Kinabalu come gushing down like a hurricane, which is really, really dangerous to the climbers.

I wonder how, in the first place, the cameraman get up there??? With those kind of weather, it really scares me, especially just below Sayat-Sayat, you have to hang on to the rope to get there!


Now, how on earth to climb down with the rope and the water???


I wonder how slippery the surface is!


It’s like a river…

Unwelcoming weather: rain...

The weather you don’t want to have…

Danger announcement

Cikgu Ismail with the ‘Danger’ sign on the rocks.


Now you know when not to climb by the authorities!

More climbers photos on Mount Kinabalu

I managed to upload GaneshC’s photos of his climb via Mesilau few days back. He emailed me with more than 100 photos of his latest journey up to the Summit of Borneo. These are some of the photos:

Sayat-Sayat Hut

Sayat-Sayat Hut. The last check point before proceeding up to the peak. This is the end of the tree line. Above this will be just rocks.

Mount Kinabalu -  A view from above

Try to spot the Laban Rata Rest House and the RTM Power Station…

If you want to see more, please feel free to check out Ganesh’s photos here:

Another set of photo comes from Leong, who climbed Mount Kinabalu on 31st July. He put all his photos in his Multiply weblog.


Pray for thanks GOD giving…

Close up view of a stone on the mountain

Nice abstract on Kinabalu, eh?

See more from Leong’s point of view on the Majestic Mountain of Kinabalu here:


Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Final Part): Ellie’s family fly home with her ashes

Sunday, August 26, 2001

KOTA KINABALU: The family of British schoolgirl Ellie James, 17, who died on Mount Kinabalu flew home with her ashes early yesterday.

Her parents, Bruce and Claire, and brothers Thomas, 19, and Henry, 15, left the state capital on a 6am flight on their way back to Britain.

They were seen carrying a small tajau, a locally made ceramic jar, containing the ashes of Ellie who was cremated on Friday.

The family from Cornwall, England, was scheduled to hold a memorial service for Ellie when they reach home.

Another ceremony will be held in Germany where her parents are based.

Ellie’s body was recovered on Aug 22 near the summit plateau of Mount Kinabalu. She and Henry lost their way in the thick fog while descending from the mountain’s highest point, Low’s Peak during the early morning hours on Aug 16.

Their parents raised the alarm when the two siblings failed to return to the Laban Rata resthouse near the summit by 10am and park rangers immediately conducted a search for them.

Henry was found six hours later near St John’s Peak where his sister had apparently left him so that she could seek help, but she was never seen alive again.

A post mortem at the Queen Elizabeth hospital here showed that Ellie died from prolonged exposure to the sub zero temperatures near the mountain summit.

Her family has set up a memorial fund to help among others the people of Kampung Kiau Nulu at the foothills of the mountain and to provide equipment for the mountain guides of Mount Kinabalu.

Mount Kinabalu Tragedy: A tribute to Ellie James (1985-2001)
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 2): Setback in search for girl
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 3): Signs that missing British girl still alive
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 4): “Spirits” had lured Ellie astray
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 5): British girl found dead on Mt Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 6): Ellie’s parents set up memorial fund to help villagers
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 7): Family of British girl who died on Kinabalu to cremate her

Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 8): Sabah Parks rangers and guides have CM’s support
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 9): Blame it on no one but Ellie, says father

Resource: The Star Archive

Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 9): Blame it on no one but Ellie, says father

Saturday, August 25, 2001

KOTA KINABALU: British teenager Ellie James who died on Mount Kinabalu was cremated here yesterday as her grieving father told the British media that no one was to be blamed for the accident.

The family bade an emotional farewell to the 17-year-old schoolgirl during a special prayer conducted by Anglican priest Rev Chak Sen Fen at the Fook Liew Siew Funeral Parlour at Jalan Tuaran.

Present at the 11.15am ceremony were her father Bruce James, 54, mother Claire, 49, brothers Henry, 15, and Thomas who works as an instructor with the Outward Bound School in Kinarut.

Ellie, who went missing on Mount Kinabalu on Aug 16 while descending the 4,095m Low’s peak with her family, was found sprawled on a 60« slope about 500m below the St John’s Peak on Wednesday.

“Ellie was a true child of nature and was as happy in Cornwall, where we used to live, as she was in Sabah,” said Bruce.

“She was extremely taken in with the local Dusuns and their efforts to preserve their land and their heritage.”

Bruce told the London based Daily Telegraph that no one should be blamed but Ellie herself.

Dismissing claims that the local Dusun guides may have acted irresponsibly, he told the newspaper that “people are always looking for scapegoats but the only scapegoat here is Ellie for bravery which could, in retrospect, be interpreted as recklessness.”

He said his daughter and son Henry got lost on the Low’s trail when they headed straight instead of following the rope which shows ‘left’.

Henry was found by searchers six hours later.

“People get lost on Dartmoor. They get lost on the Brecon Beacons. It’s just an awful, awful accident. Nobody is to be blamed,” the paper quoted him as saying.

Bruce said he last saw Ellie and Henry near Low’s Peak at 6.15am on Aug 16.

“They were so pleased to see me and had said ‘Oh dad, you made it.’ I said I would follow them down.”

They decided to go ahead to relate their achievement to their mother Claire who did not make the final assault to the summit as she had sprained her ankle.

“But they took the wrong turn. Henry keeps talking to himself on how he missed the turning. The white rope is visible even in thick fog. But the fact is they did it and it was a fatal mistake,” said Bruce.

The two siblings later realised that they were lost. Ellie then built a shelter out of lumps of granite and they huddled together as it was getting very wet and windy.

At about 12.30pm, Bruce said Ellie told Henry she was going to get help.

“What happened (to Ellie) after that is speculation.”

Mount Kinabalu Tragedy: A tribute to Ellie James (1985-2001)
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 2): Setback in search for girl
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 3): Signs that missing British girl still alive
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 4): “Spirits” had lured Ellie astray
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 5): British girl found dead on Mt Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 6): Ellie’s parents set up memorial fund to help villagers
Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 7): Family of British girl who died on Kinabalu to cremate her

Mount Kinabalu Tragedy (Part 8): Sabah Parks rangers and guides have CM’s support

Resource: The Star Archive