Mt. Kinabalu Travelogue by Brodie, John

I received an email with a very long travelogue and 53 pieces of photos from Mr. John Brodie yesterday. Let us read together his story…


Well I am back at work now offshore and I am still on a high… It was an unforgettable experience. I arrived on the 24th June 2008 and jumped in the taxi to the Liwagu Suite, after about two or three miles I noticed a lot of traffic jams outside the petrol stations, then the taxi driver informed me that he didn’t have enough petrol to get me there and him back ?? The petrol stations where supposed to be closing down that night and he feared he would be stranded. So it was back to the airport where I got the services of one of his colleagues, a very friendly Chinese guy who took me there and even arranged to pick me up on my return.. Result..

Arrived at Mount Kinabalu HQ at around 18.30 and got checked in, then took some food. Food at the cafe was basic but just ok, it had been cooked for a while and some of it was dried out a bit..Took some food and headed off to my room at the Liwagu suite. Got a few basic supplies at the shop there and off to bed for an early night ready for a 07.30 pick up the next day…

I got picked up promptly at 07.30 and it was off to HQ to do all the usual things, check out of room, check in my bag for storage, register for the climb etc. Check and double check my equipment. Last and most importantly I had a good breakfast before I left. I got picked up by the driver and the guide and was taken to the HQ at the Mesilau Trail. We traveled through Kundasang village and up and up and up, it was quite amazing to travel so far up and then find one of the most beautiful golf courses I have ever seen just appear.. Quite literally breathtaking, it just appeared out of nowhere and not something I expected to see at such a high level.

Got checked in at Mesilau Trail and then I started the trek, my guide for the climb was Maurice, a very friendly and informative guy, our group started off up the Mesilau Trail and he explained that the slowest person would dictate the pace and he would remain with them. The trail was one path with no hope of getting lost so I was able to forge ahead at my own pace, deliberately holding back and taking it easy as I did not know what was in store for me later that day. Maurice had told us we would reach Laban Rata around 17.30 hrs that day..

About 8 hours after we started the climb… wow that is a long day… everything went well, I reached the Pondok, rest huts and waited for the guide and carried on like this until I reached the intersection from Timpohon gate. It was then that the weather took a turn for the worse and it started raining heavily… I covered my bag with my waterproof jacket in an attempt to keep my clothes dry inside and pressed onwards and upwards. The temperature had dropped noticeably and I was now very wet.

I had about 4 km left to cover and these proved to be the hardest part of the two days for me. I was feeling the effects of the altitude slightly and this was slowing me up.. I was now resting around every 50 metres or so, but I kept going.. The rain had made the path treacherous in some places so I had to be very careful with my footing… It was then I heard somebody running ?? I looked up to see one of the guys from the Park running down the mountain ??? With and empty gas bottle strapped to his back… What ? I just couldn’t believe my eyes…

Here was me struggling every 50 metres with a small back pack and there was a guy with a gas bottle on his back ….. running full tilt down the same track…… I pushed on up and reached the Laban Rata at 17.00 hrs, the rest of my group arrived at 18.20 hrs.. I rewarded my first day with a can of beer and a big plate of food… Then it was a nice hot shower and straight to bed.. I was in bed at around 20.00 hrs and asleep by 20.01 I think… Alarm was set for 02.00 hrs.

Alarm woke me at 02.00 hrs from a very deep sleep, the way I felt I could have quite easily turned the alarm off and went back to sleep… Apparently and according to my guide, quite a few people did just that. But I had got this far and in another 3 hours or so I would be at Low’s Peak… So I forced myself out of bed, packed my essentials, had some hot sweet, Sabah tea and I was ready to go.. Everybody virtually started the climb together in the pitch darkness. It was a wonderful sight to see all the torches and head torches ahead and behind me snaking their way up the mountain…

The quicker people moved through the field the slower people taking more rests… I just followed the group again separated from my guide. Head torch on lighting my way just a few feet in front of me. The start was mainly stairs, these where very wet and very slippery in places so pace was slow and sure. It wasn’t too long before I came to the rock and this was marked out by rope to help you find the way and in some cases to help you up the rock. I got past the check point where I was asked to show my registration card and the number noted then again it was onwards and upwards slowly but surely. I was now feeling the effects of the altitude and was quite literally walking about 50 metres then resting, same as the previous day..

As it started to get lighter as day broke I was beginning to see the mountain and surrounding areas in all their magnificent glory…. On arriving at the edge of Lows Peak there was many people at the summit. I waited until they had all gone so I could have my photo taken at the peak on my own. I spent about half an hour at the peak just basking in the splendour of it all. Then it was the long decent back down to Laban Rata.

Coming down in the daylight gave you a view of what I had climbed in the dark… It was quite hairy…..although it was much quicker getting from the peak to Laban Rata than the other way round.. I made good time down the first stage, took some breakfast, checked out and prepared for the long decent by filling up water bottles..

On the way down seen all the people on their way up, the camaraderie was amazing, encouragement being offered, questions being asked and answered. But one thing that came out every time from me was keep going, yes it is hard work, but it is all worth it for the end result. Seeing the local men and women climbing this mountain with three or four rucksacks, seeing them climb with all the provisions for the Laban Rat was just amazing, the fitness levels of these guys is truly amazing. But what absolutely took my breath away was seeing these guys carrying up massive panels to erect a building, two panels strung together with a pole up the middle being carried by two men or in some cases one man carrying a full panel on his own… I just couldn’t believe it..

Made very good time coming down according to our guide and reached the bottom at around 13.30.. I transferred on to the coach and headed back to the HQ where I picked up my certificate gave my guide his very well earned tip and then went for that hard earned breakfast.

Taxi took me to my hotel in Kota Kinabalu where I had a lovely long soak in a hot bath..

Photos attached (check out his photoset in my flickr)

All in all this was an experience of a life time and something that will remain in my memory for the rest of my life.. what more can I say.. It is not easy but the end product arriving at Lows Peak makes all the effort worthwhile. Putting this into perspective for me, was the comparisons between Mount Kinabalu and the highest mountain in UK, Ben Nevis, Kinabalu is well over three times higher than that..

All in all, two memorable days.



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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)

4 thoughts on “Mt. Kinabalu Travelogue by Brodie, John

  1. Jason

    Wow…. this is great achievement… As i understand.. Mt Kinabalu is not an easy mountain.
    rather challenging and fantastic sunrise?

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