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.

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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)

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