Chronology of Malaysian Mountain Exploration (1851 – 1986)

An old friend of mine wrote this chronology in one of the forums on Mountains of Malaysia, based on the book by John Briggs. It seems that the book, Mountains of Malaysia is another rare book to be find nowadays. He even photo copied it from our Malaysian National library, as it is almost impossible to get a new copy nowadays. Last publication of the book was in 1988.

I love to highlight the time and people involved on climbing mountains in Sabah during the period of time.

Mountains of Malaysia by John Briggs

1851 ~ Hugh Low reaches summit region of Kinabalu. he is the first
man to look down the 900-metre depth of Low Gully

1857 ~ Spencer St. John makes first recorded attempt by outsider to
climb Mulu, but only reaches Banarat

1858 ~ Spencer St. John & Hugh Low climb up 1,000 metre on Banarat.
First ascent of South peak, 3,933 metre on Kinabalu
(Spencer St. John)

First outsider expedition to reach area of Gunung Murud and
Batu Lawi in present-day Sarawak(Spencer St. John)

1880 ~ Sultan Ahmad of pahang sends first expedition to GunungTahan
in northern Pahang. Expedition blocked by Teku Velley

1884 ~ Kulop Riau and William Cameron discover flat land in the
middle of the Main Range in Peninsular Malaysia
Survey Expedition discovers ancient ruins, 1,000 years
old, on the summit of Gunung Jerai in Kedah

1888 ~ First ascent of Low’s Peak, 4,101 metre, on Kinabalu by John
Low’s Peak is highest point between Burma and New Guinea.

1891 ~ The Resident of Baram (Hose) is the first outsider to climb
Bukit Dulit in Sarawak

1905 ~ First ascent of Gunung Tahan by Bulang, Che Nik, Mat Arisand
Mu’min on the Wray-Robinson expedition
Survey expedition makes first ascent of Gunung Gerah in the
north of the Main Range in Peninsular Malaysia

1906 ~ Survey beacon erected on summit of Gunung Tahan

1908 ~ H.C. Robinson and C. Boden-Kloss are first outsider to reach
the present-day Cameron Highland

1911 ~ The Resident of Baram (Douglas) makes first government
expedition to Bareo in kalabit Highlands of Sarawak
Curator of Sarawak Museum (Moulton) leads first expedition
to Batu lawi. The Furthest point is half-way
up the saddle between the two peaks

1920 ~ Tama Nilong from Long Terawan discovers the route throughthe
rock cliff up onto the south-west ridge of Gunung Mulu

1922 ~ Curator of Sarawak Museum (Mjoberg) makes first ascent of
Gunung Murud, 2,423 metre – the highest mountain in Sarawak

1932 ~ Oxford Expedition to Sarawak
Tama Nilong and Edward Shackleton make first ascent of
Gunung Mulu; the Curator of Sarawak Museum
(Banks) and A.W. Moore are first outsider to climb Bukit

1941 ~ Japanese force capture Kuching on 25 December

1945 ~ Z Special parachutes into the Kelabit Highlands at Bareo

1946 ~ First ascent of lower peak of Batu Lawi by Tom Harrisson,
Lejau Unad Doolinih and five other Kelabits From Bareo

1956 ~ Myles Bowen and Morris discover a route from the Western
Plateau of Kinabalu to Eastern Plateau
(now know as “Bowen Route”)
Survey expedition makes first recorded ascent of Gunung
Trusmadi, 2,642 metre, the second highest mountain
in Sabah and in Malaysia

1957 ~ Myles Bowen and W.R.M. Urquhart makes first ascent of King
Edward Peak, 4,086 metre, on the Eastern
Plateau of Kinabalu using Bowen’s Route

1963 ~ Kotal bin Bondial discovers a route to the Eastern Plateauof
Kinabalu, via Ulu Mentaki and the Mekado
Velley (now known as “Kotal Route”)

1964 ~ First scientific expedition to the Eastern Plateau of
– the Royal Society Expedition, led by Corner

1977-1978 ~ Royal Geographical Society/ Sarawak Government
Expedition to Mulu Park.
The world’s largest caves discovered in limestone Gunung

1978 ~ First ascent of Gunung Api, 1,710 metre, in Mulu Park. The
summit is firstreaches by Tama Kulan and Tama
Bulan (grandson of Tama Nilong who first climbed Mulu with
Shackleton in 1932)

1986 ~ First ascent of upper peak of Batu Lawi by rock climbing
Team from 14th/20th King’s Hussars, led by Johny Beardsall

Further Reading: Mountains of Malaysia: a practical guide and manual

This entry was posted in Books on by .

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)

1 thought on “Chronology of Malaysian Mountain Exploration (1851 – 1986)

  1. Poon Poi Ming

    Hi, you mentioned: “1851 ~ Hugh Low reaches summit region of Kinabalu. he is the first man to look down the 900-metre depth of Low Gully.”

    What I understand is this:
    1. Hugh Low made the first recorded ascent of Mount Kinabalu’s summit plateau on March 1851. March. However, he did not reach the summit, considering it “inaccessible to any but winged animals”.
    2. Low’s Gully is 1,800-metre, i.e. double of what you mentioned.

    One of us must get it wrong. Since I am not into mountain-climbing, maybe you would want to check the facts. Should you find that I am the one who is mistaken, can you kindly inform me?

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