Climbing Mount Kinabalu in ONE DAY???

YES, you can climb Mount Kinabalu in ONE day, climb up in the morning, and climb down in the afternoon. I called Sabah Parks Ranger office just now, inquiring about the possibility of 3 US citizen summit Kinabalu in ONE day. They said it is possible, but there are few things that you have to do.

1. You have to present yourself (and your two other friends) in Kinabalu Park at least a day before your intention to climb. Look for the Manager of the Park, Mr. Haji Abdul Wahab and ask to get the permission & permit to climb in one day. If he is not around, look for the Kinabalu Park Ranger On-Call, and mention the same thing. If everything is satisfactory, You will then can check in to where you have book for your night stay.

2. For ONE day climb, you will then be allowed to climb next morning after confirmation from the Rangers. Guide, insurance and permit is compulsory, i.e. guide will be around RM100-150 for the group, insurance will be around RM10 and permit will be RM100 per person. Certificate of achievement is optional (RM10). All fees to be paid next morning before the climb.

3. You need to start climbing very early next morning, usually before 7am. Better to wake up at 6, and head to the Park office and you will be allocated the guide for you. You will start the climb earlier than other regular climber.

4. You will not allowed to continue your climb to the peak, if you are not able to reach Laban Rata before noon (12pm) or if the weather is not permitting.

Remember, you need to be really FIT, maybe as fit as a climbathon runner… or maybe at least 50%of their ability…

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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)

21 thoughts on “Climbing Mount Kinabalu in ONE DAY???

  1. Alex

    Thanks to Dr. Ruhaizad’s reply about the possibility to have a day climb to the Mt. Kinabalu, I actually made it last week. But my experience is a little bit different from the article.
    To avoid a 2-hour one-way travelling to the HQ from my hotel before the climb, I gave a phone call to the HQ manager about my intention. After a brief hesitation, he said there was not much problem about this and asked me to show up next morning to contact an officer in the HQ before the climb.
    I met the officer next morning in the office around the HQ. Initially he refused my request for the sake of my safety. After some discussion and negotiation, he finally approved my day climb but set a time limit of 4 hours within which I needed to get to the summit, otherwise I had to return. When the weather turned worse, I had to return too. After some bargaining, he agreed to extend the time limit to 5.5 hours.
    Anyway, it was a great tour as I like the mountain which is very beautiful. With the help of the guide, Andrew, who kindly carried my bag for me, we got to the summit in about 4.5 hours. It was a good and memorable trip in Sabah.

    alex ng

  2. Fariha

    Hi, very valuable information!.. Thank you! My colleague and I are very keen on climbing Mt Kinabalu during an official 2.5 day trip to K.K. Surely we won’t have the time for an overnight stay hence wish to do it in 1 day. I have been trying to get the number for the Head quarters but have been unsuccessful in attaining it. Would greatly appreciate if either one of you could please send me the contact details for the appropriate person to get in touch with for making my trip possible. Once again thank you and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Kind Regards,

    Fariha Q.

  3. Bill

    Some updated info as of March 2010. I just talked to the park HQ about climbing the mountain in a day. The Park # is 6088 889-095. They said I need to show up by 7 am the morning of the climb. Based on weather they will determine if I can go. If I can, I then need to be back by 4:30 pm when the park HQ closes for the day.

    Hope this is helpful.

  4. josh

    Just did the one day climb so hopefully this will help! The only way to do the one day climb is to talk to the park ranger, the park ranger then goes down to the office with you and he’ll let you do it. You pay and then go on a different day (the day after or two days after). For two people, it’s 299 rm, which includes a guide. You still need to pay for transportation there, the park fee, and any food that you want to bring.

  5. David

    Hey! Congratulations, one-day climbers. Me and my wife are intending to do so in june, so every info will be welcomed. How hard was it? How much time from the gate to the summit? Are you professional athletes or are you training regularly?

    thanks, David&Eva

  6. Farah

    I intend to do a 1 day climb but it’s stated that you have to be really fit to do it. So as a normal person who doesn’t exercise regularly, will that be a big hindrance?

  7. josh

    You don’t need to be that fit. It defintely wasn’t the hardest physical activity I’ve done… that being said, you need to make it to Laban Rata by 1 pm at the very latest.

  8. jaslyn

    My friends are on our way to a 3D/2N climb to Mt K in April. We are departing on a 8pm flight back to to KL on the same day of our descend. However, a friend strongly advised that we should not take a flight on the same day for it may have adverse effect on our health. Is this true?
    Thank you.

  9. Alasdair Brown

    I managed the climb in one day last week, its tough but definately achievable! Need to check in early (7 am) and get going ASAP. Managed to get up to Laban Rata in 2:15 hrs and summit about 4:35. Last stage of mountain is tough really steep and altitude kicks in so every exertion is multiplied X10 ( prob didn’t help i didn’t have any breakfast, helps to be prepared the day be4!) The view from the summit was very poor, the clouds were heavy. Met other climbers who did the overnight package and had been up for sunrise and said it was spectacular.Comin down was almost the hardest, had crap shoes so kept slipping and my energy levels were really low so was hard to focus on my footing. Grabbed some food in Laban Rata anyway and that made a big difference, the rest of the trip down was really enjoyable and included stops to see pitcher plants and the waterfall. Got back to park headquarters around 5, and got a taxi straight back to KK.

    All in all a great experience. If you have the time (and money) i would say do the overnight experience on Laban Rata as you can saviour it a bit more. I just didn’t want to pay for the Monopoly that is SSL and their accomodation, but no alternative if you want to be able to get up for sunrise view from summit! In relation to flying that day i would say
    its fine especially if your doing the 2 day package as you’ll be back down in park HQ by lunchtime so will have time to rest.

  10. Connie

    A hiking buddy and I did a one day Climb in April this year. Wonderful achievement and experience! Certainly doable but gotta get there early. We spoke to the Parker officer Ranisun (tel: 014 856 6061) and had a “phone interview” about our fitness etc with him. Must get the permission from him for a one day climb as it is not hugely encouraged. It also took a bit of persuasion to get the permission from him. As long as you it cleared the day before the walk, you will save much time do this in the morning of your walk. Get to the office at 6:45am (it opens at 7am) to ensure you can start early enough for the walk. Remember to bring your walking stick as I found it extremely helpful on the slippery parts as well as coming down the big steps.

  11. Dr Gary Lock

    It sounds as though there are possibly quite a few rule changes going on with the park staff for the 1 day climb (originally 5hrs to Laban Rata – new time limit of 3hrs).

    I booked in and did the climb yesterday. I did all the paperwork and booked in the day before. I wasn’t allowed to book in at the office before 7am on the day, which means not able to get to the start gate before 8am (by time you have paid and got their arranged transport to the start from Park HQ).

    They set a time limit of before 11am at the Laban Rata and before 1pm at the top, which is 2hrs less that quoted in your article – quite a big difference!!!

    I set off at a pretty good pace and got to Laban Rata by 11:10am, so just over 3hrs. The guide would not allow me to continue any further.

    Beware these time limits are very tight, and unless you are a fell runner you will be racing the clock all the way, and will NOT have any time for a break nor lunch until you reach the peak.

    Given how tight the time limits now are, I’m not sure either they just don’t want anyone to do the 1 day pass (they are limited to only 4 a day), or whether it is an intentional scam where if you offer the guide an additional 150RM they’ll allow you to continue to the top??

    Anyway I headed down at a pretty good rate from Laban Rata in 2hr45 (the rocks were very slippery), so 3hr10 for the ascent must be pretty reasonable.

    I was back at the accommodation and had a hot shower and drinking a cold beer by 3pm, so it really as only allowed half a day on the mountain – bloody crazy!!!

    Just to be aware you will sweat in the region of 2 to 3 litres of water in the humidity on the ascent to Laban Rata, so take at least 1 spare base layer T-shirt with you to change. Also make sure you take enough water with you. At Laban Rata they were charging 10RM for 500ml, yep 20RM (=£4) for 1 litre. I was told no other options for drinking water were available.

    Before you book just be aware!!! Negotiate to set off at an earlier time, or try and negotiate more reasonable time limits!!!

    Also take water purification tablets with you … don’t pay £4 (GBP) per litre water.

  12. Craig Smith

    Yes. My partner and I completed the climb on the 03/04/12 in one day. We had to have a meeting with the head park ranger, who will ask you why you want to climb it in one day instead of two. He gave us the permission to climb the next day without any problems.
    We turned up early the next morning (7am when the permit office opens, WARNING, don’t pay for anything until the day of your climb, if they call the climbs off you will have a long process of getting your money back, months!) and started climbing at 7.30am (Every minute counts on this climb, so be early).

    Its 6km to Labuan Rita, (the last 1km is a killer) and we got there at 10.45am, 15 minutes late. You need a rest at this point what every time it is, unless you are a super athlete. There are free filling stations at every km and free water at Labuan Rita on the food counter in barrels if you look.

    We set off again at 10.45am (no rest for the wicked), only having till 13.00pm to reach as far as possible. We did reach the top but we were late. It was 13.45pm, we would have never made it down by 16.30pm which we had agreed (only because we had a great guide called Freddie who agreed to take us to the top, even if he was going to get into trouble) please note that coming down is just as challenging as going up and we had to work really hard, with no stops.
    Our finish time 18.30pm, someone had to wait for us at the bottom gate and we ached for days after. We consider ourselves as medium fitness level (at home we go to the gym twice a week, but we are travelling and have been for 3 month so maybe lacking a little) and are in our twenties.

    Prices for the one day climb 04/12

    Permits to climb – Non Malay – 100 rm (£20) per person
    Insurance – 7 rm (£1.20)
    Guide (Mandatory) 128 rm (£26) for the whole group (Warning, can share guides with others, just remember that if someone is flagging, the guide will wait for the slowest person and every minute does count)
    Bus to Start Point – 13 rm (£2.50) per person

    Thing you might need

    Only one water bottle (don’t carry too much, water stations at every km)
    Some high energy food (something you can eat quick, so expensive at Labuan Rita)
    Rain mac or poncho
    Good walking shoes or trainers, don’t need some expensive pair (those rocks hurt on the way down)
    Jumper (its warm for the first 4km)
    Gloves (helped when using the ropes near the top)
    Hat (the sweat gets cold at the top, gives you headache the next day)
    Camera (views usually cloudy at the top after 10am, so won’t get a full view unless very lucky, but still got some great pictures and memories)
    Good luck to anyone who is thinking about the 1 day climb, it is a challenge, but it makes it a lot more rewarding when you make it. Just be confident in your abilities and

  13. Dio

    Is there a limit to the number of permits issued for a one day climb? Some agents said its only 4 climbers will be allowed to do 1day hike per day.

  14. Robin

    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 Labuan 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.

  15. Mil

    We did it in one day. We started at 7:20 and were at the top just before 12. But it was so hard, we were exhausted and at the begining I wasn’t sure if I can make it.

  16. paul

    We did it in one day, left gate at 7:20am, arrived at Laban Data at 9:35am, 5 min rest, reached summit at 11:20am. 15 min at the top, and back at the gate at bottom by 3pm. Yes, very sore feet and legs. We are very fit amateur athletes, not rock climbers or fell runners by any stretch of the imagination.

    Did it with Amazing Borneo Tours. Sep 2012.

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