I climbed Mount Kinabalu for the 11th time last March. This is the short video on the expedition. It was raining, wet and foggy. No majestic views from the top, but it really worth every step.
I actually took these photos in 2009, when Kiram’s Village was in its infancy. My family and I stayed in one of the chalet for a night, and we had a barbecue dinner. As usual, the weather was cold and wet. When I woke up the next morning, I was amazed by the numbers of the moths that swarmed the unit. Well, literally. More than 30 species spotted, and I bet that the owner of the chalet did not know about it. Kiram Village is known for its flowers before, and maybe with this post, it can be known for its moths!
I received an email from one of our readers who was here in Sabah, Borneo during WWII. Mr Tony Catherall shared with us his experience and photos from the past on Tamparuli here. He now shared his friend’s poem for us.
Good afternoon from England
I hope you are all well in Sabah.
I have a good friend John Roberts who was in the Army with me. He like me, was at Kota Belud in the early sixties and fell in love with your lovely country. As a hobby he writes poetry. His latest work is a poem about Mount Kinabalu, and I have attached it for you to keep.
As you both have very close associations with the mountain both living there, I hope you like it.
I intend to visit Sabah again and hope to see you both when I’m there.
Take care in all you do.
My warmest wishes always
I walk the cool high peaceful trail
As night surrenders to emerging day
Highlighting distant peak and chasm
In lines of stark contrasting mood
Embryonic shadow slow unveiling
Deep ravine and craggy spire
Revealing mysterious misty valley
That conceals the cruelty of night
Life and death on display
Bones beside the clouded leopard
Serpent coils and sinews tightened
Orang Utan mothers cry
Faint aroma from distant fire
Humans welcome a dawning day
Far below in dappled vale
Beauty hides a tragic resonance
Wispy smoke and clangs emitting
Scenes and sounds of life abound
Confidence again restored
As sunbeams play with children
I have been blessed to witness
Nature’s cycle direct and true
Such a wondrous revelation
On the slopes of Kinabalu
John Roberts 2015
I went up the mountain last month with a group of friends. We reached King George’s Peak on the Eastern Plateau of Kinabalu. The trail up there was the same as Summit Trail up until Panar Laban Rockface, where we then diverted to the right side of the trail into the woods. From there on, the climb took another 5 hours to the peak.
These are 10 less exposed photos of the mountain, seen from the other side of the plateau. You won’t see this photos when you climb up to Low’s Peak.
Western Plateau of Mount Kinabalu seen from King George’s Peak, Eastern Plateau. From left, Phallus Peak, King Edward’s Peak, Eastern Ridge, Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Peak, Donkeys Ear’s Peak, Low’s Peak and Victoria Peak.
King George’s Peak. From the point I took this photo, it took me another hour to reach the peak. I was walking on the plateau almost two hours to reach the peak. Try spotting a climber on the photo.
Phallus Peak (left) and King Edward’s Peak. King Edward’s Peak is a technical climb. You need to don safety gears and skills of rock climbing to reach it. Very few people have reached the peak.
Western Plateau of Mount Kinabalu and Low’s Gully seen from King George’s Peak. The gully separates Kinabalu into two ridges – east and west. Because of the danger, not many people were allowed to go into the gully. Until now, it remains a mystery.
We are on King George’s Peak, with Western Plateau on the background. The left cairn marks the highest point of the peak. It was documented as 4062m asl, but my GPS watch showed 4072m asl.
View from King George’s Peak, facing south east. From left, Red Rocks, Mesilau Pinnacle, Phallus Peak and King Edward’s Peak. There are few plans to build a hut similar like Gurkha Hut near Red Rocks, for those who would love to explore this side of the mountain. Of course, the guide and permit will be totally different from the Summit Trail.
At the ledge of Eastern Plateau with Mesilau Gorge at the back. From this point, you can see clearly Kundasang & Ranau far behind us. And yes, we are above the clouds.
At the ledge of Eastern Plateau, with Kinabalu South Peak at the far right. In clear morning, you can see climbers coming down the Summit Trail below Kinabalu South Peak.
Vertical climb of 90 degrees using rope and ladder. Safety harness is a must when you follow the trail to the Eastern Plateau of Mount Kinabalu. There are 4 stretches of vertical aluminium ladder that were fixed by the Sabah Parks for climbers to the plateau, at the early part of the climb. We need to wear harness for safety purposes, as it was a vertical drop of nearly 1000 meters to Mesilau Gorge. These rope, ladder and a ‘chimney’ makes Via Ferrata of Kinabalu really pale.
When we came down from King George’s Peak, it was noon. The clouds started to come and covered the plateau and the trail. As there were no ropes on the plateau, we need to stay close together and follow our guides and cairns. Oh, the clouds brought rains. That makes the route even more dangerous and slippery.
I have helped thousands of climbers of Mount Kinabalu to book their climbing spot since 2006. If you want me to help you, just fill in the form below and send it to me. Thank you very much!
We went up the Eastern Plateau of Kinabalu last weekend. Managed to shoot a lot of photos and some short videos.
For your information, I used Openshot video editor, an open source application in my Dell Ubuntu 14.04 laptop. Photos and videos was shot using a China made video cam, Action Cam RD990.
I hope you enjoy the video!
I received an email from a 71 years old climbers who were ill informed about the severity of the mountain, especially for those who were unprepared. Dour, wrote this to me:
I traversed the Mesilau trail in September this year.
We were ill prepared. And did not have enough food for the trip.
I am an experienced tramper and easily cover 11km in 4-5 hours. We were not advised about extra food. I took plenty of water 2 litre bladder as well as two 650mls bottles.
We all suffered from lack of fuel because we were not advised of the severity of the landscape.
I am 71 years old and have been outdoors most of my adult life in all sorts of weather including snow and ice.
Having said that I have good memories of the trip.
I took wet weather gear, boots, not sneakers and a hiking pole as well as my normal hiking clothing. Wearing shorts and snow putties as well also helped.
I wish I had seen this site before we left.
So, moral of the story: Please pack extra food and fuel for the climb. I personally suggest that you bring some instant noodles, bread loaf and tuna/sardines, chocolates, nuts and raisins. You can also buy some hi-tech energy bars and gels in which a bit more expensive but surely can give you the extra fuel if needed. I had personally consume few brands of energy fuels – PowerBar, GU, NUN, Hammer and Hi5. Honestly, I am not a person who can consume those type of fuel (bars and gels) for a long time. It’s just taste very artificial. Take it with some proper food. You will like it.
There is a restaurant at Laban Rata Resthouse. However, the food and drink prices there are ridiculous. Don’t waste your money there, unless necessary.
I heard that the cost of Mount Kinabalu climbing package for the year of 2015 is going to be increase. I heard it from a very reliable source, as Malaysian government is going to implement 6% Goods & Service Tax starting from 1st April 2015, it’s expected that the price will only go up. With that move, most of travel and tour operators all around Malaysia, who handle packages and climbers to Mount Kinabalu are expected to increase the prices between 5-10% from the previous year.
So, for those of you who has been saving for the past months for your next year’s climbing plan, please increase your daily/monthly savings, so that you can cover the excess cost for 2015’s climbing package.
If you still do not have done any booking yet, don’t worry. I have made some adjustment on our Mount Kinabalu climbing package booking page for easy communication. Please feel free to contact me through our booking page. I will try my best o help you on your next Mount Kinabalu climbing expedition.
By the way, I also help SCUBA divers and Maliau Basin’s trekkers. Shoot me an email if you are also interested on any of the mentioned package.
I did it again. This is my second climbathon that I joined. I joined last year’s edition of climbathon, in which I did in 6 hours 26 minutes. Not even within the cut off time. My time was even worse this time. I did in 6 hours 46 minutes. 20 minutes over my last year’s timing. The Summit Trail and The Mesilau Trail experience was exactly the same as last year.
The number of runner this year was the highest, as it was rumored that this climbathon edition will be the last. There will be no more climbathon next year. Almost 800 participant from all over the world came to torture themselves. However, a day before the event, the organizer made a press statement saying that the climbathon event this year will be the last one that is organized by Sabah Tourism Board. From next year onward, there will be a new organizer for this international event.
Maybe Sabah Tourim Board (a government body) might not have enough financial support and had difficulties to find sponsors for this event. I personally thinks that when International Skyrunning Federation dropped climbathon from their circuit, the event was not that appealing anymore for international skyrunners to come here.
However, this year’s edition of climbathon was slightly different in terms of the environment and the camaraderie. I will not share with you the flow of the event, as you can read it from my previous year report here. I will share with you the things that I missed when I did my maiden climbathon last year.
I finished this year’s climbathon WITHOUT any injury
This is the most important difference that I have to highlight, as compared to last year’s edition. I injured my left knee while reaching Layang-Layang and have to scramble down Mesilau Trail and end up walking very slowly to the finish line. I sustained Ilio-tibial band syndrome – a common injury for runners – in which I had to rest for almost 3 months after last year’s event!
This time however, I did not have any injury, only ‘normal’ thigh cramps on the way down Mesilau Trail and managed to still run to the finish line. What I did differently was only by close monitoring my heart rate below 160 bpm. Last year, I didn’t know how to use my heart rate monitor properly. So what I did was only run with all my heart out and most of the time, it reaches more than 90% of my maximum heart rate. This time around, I maintained my heart rate below 90% and with that approach, the result showed. I still have cramps of my both thigh, but the intensity and frequency was way less than last year.
And the bad time. I have to admit that I didn’t train much as compared to last year. The last run that I did before this climbathon was only 10km Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon, just a week earlier. I only did “mental training”. Haha. The result showed that I need more training, especially hill training for this kind of event.
I ran this climbathon with my cousin and a lot of just found friends
Last year when I did my climbathon, I was alone, in the sense of relationship with other runners. Maybe because I was just started running that time, and my circle of running friends was quite small then. As time goes by, I got to know a lot of them in the running community here in Sabah from the Facebook. It seems now that whenever I run, I surely will bump with them, and that makes the event more fun. It’s really fun to run with some of the friends that you know from the Facebook in which you never met with them personally before. We will usually give encouragement with each other, as not all of us are as fit as others.
I also ran with my cousin from Kuala Lumpur this time. He is the one who ran with a GoPro stick and camera, and happily shooting all the way through the event as he ran. We had a good time together, staying overnight at Kiram’s Village, meeting our new friends from all over the nation and shopping some local delicacies in Kundasang. It makes the climbathon more eventful.
I ran this climbathon fully prepared with hydration pack and electrolytes
Last year I was really not prepared for my hydration and electrolytes. I underestimated the event, bringing no hydration pack and rely on the event organizer’s water station. I did not bring any PowerGel or even electrolytes. That move had caused my muscle to cramps all the way from Layang-Layang to Kundasang – almost 15km of pure agony. In addition with the cramps, I sustained Ilio-tibial band syndrome. That really slowed down my pace.
This time around, I brought along my AK race vest by Ultimate Direction. I have used the gear during my Hasuu Tasuu Trail Run (23km) last August and it performs really well. 2 bottles of 500ml, a lot of electrolytes powder, PowerGel, some chocolate and peanuts. It really makes a difference in the “quality” of the race as compared to last year. I don’t rely too much on the water station, and this time around, I intentionally missed the illegal water station, in which they served cakes! With my hydration that was monitored closely, my mind can focus on the target of improving my last year’s timing.
I ran this climbathon with my Suunto Ambit2 R watch
As compared to last year’s event in which I used Garmin Forerunner 210, the GPS tracking for both watches was excellent. No mobile phone apps can match their capabilities of tracking your run deep inside the jungle canopy of Kinabalu Park. With the watch, I knew I did really good last year from Kinabalu Park to Layang-Layang (1 hour 15 minutes) but really bad this year (2 hours and 30 minutes). Because of the injury last year, my second part was worst than this year. So, actually I DID better this year in terms of overall stats, but because I did not have enough training, I failed to improve my time this year.
Anyway, the pain was better than last year’s edition, and I have to admit that I am addicted to this kind of event. I will surely signed up for next year’s event – if they continue to have it. I have actually signed up for next year’s TMBT 50km Ultra Trail Run.
See you next year.
I am on Strava!
King Kilian Jornet did in in 2 hours 11 minutes last year 2012. And he said it was too easy for him. I did it in 6 hours and 25 minutes. So, nothing to brag about my performance. Yes, it was really slow for Men’s Open category. The cut off time was 5 hours. But it was really, really tough for me indeed.
Although I have climbed Mount Kinabalu 5 times, this was my first climbathon race. My preparation was very minimal. Apart from mentally ready, I only did around 5km per week of street running. I NEVER EVER had a session on trail, even more on a mountain trail. With all those excuses, no wonder I did poorly in this maiden race. This is my story.
I picked up my race kit on Friday afternoon, 18th October. I also bought a SPIBELT – a type of belt that runners always use to put their small items, (like smartphone and some energy bars) from one of their sponsoring booth. It happened to be one of my best running accessory. It function almost flawlessly during the race.
I went back to Kinabalu Park HQ on Saturday 19th October, around 6 pm for the race briefing. Its was really short and sweet. After sharing with the runners about the Adventure Race route and the timing chip, the organizing chairman wrapped it up in less than 15 minutes.
Adventure Race route is only 23 kilometers. 13 kilometers on tarmac section and 10 kilometers on mountain trail. Runners will start from Kinabalu Park HQ, goes up to Layang-Layang and then down to Mesilau route. The race will end in Kundasang town. So, it will be like this:
- 4km on tarmac up, from Kinabalu Park HQ to Timpohon Gate
- 4km on mountain trail up, from Timpohon Gate to Layang-Layang
- 6km on mountain trail, mostly down, from Layang-Layang to Mesilau Nature Resort
- 9km on tarmac down, from Mesilau to Kundasang
My family and I stayed in one of the lesser know chalet in Kundasang town. Luckily the chalet was in a perfect location – we could see runners climbed down the tarmac section, just around 3 kilometers before the finishing line. I should have “carbo-load” myself by Saturday, but I didn’t. I just had some steambot for dinner and slept at around 10 pm.
I woke up early on the race day, Sunday 17th October at 5 am. It was not a good sleep at all. With the anxiety of first time racer and my little girl who cannot sleep well that night, I managed to get things ready before 5.30am. I arrived at Kinabalu Park around 6 am. It was cold but clear morning. The mountain was there, staring at us and ready to torture those who were not ready for the race (Yup. In my face!). For my Open Men category, there were around 400 participant. I slowly munched my Toblerone chocolate (which stated that I could get around 2000 calories from it) for my breakfast.
At sharp 7 am, the race start. The first 4 kilometers was on tarmac section from Kinabalu Park to Timpohon. This section was quite okay for me, as I was quite comfortable with tarmac, although there was an elevation gain. But when I entered Timpohon Gate, the race changed a lot for me. I never had any training on trail, and climbing those unending stairs to hell (well, literally) really had a toll on both of my legs and knees.
The trail took 4 kilometers up from Timpohon Gate to Layang-Layang, and I really, really felt the pain. Just before I reached Layang-Layang, my left knee started to get injured. I think it was my knee’s lateral ligament screaming. I cannot bend my knee without feeling any pain. That was not good at all.
The next 6 kilometers from Layang-layang to Mesilau killed my left knee completely. My right knee that had an existing ACL injury felt fine. I was lucky on that. I can’t even go down the stairs facing forward. I had to go down the stairs with my butt first. This had slowed me down so much, that even a 55 years old female veteran runners run passed me. We also had a chat and she said that she has a son who is my age!
I had bouts of cramping on both of my calf and thigh muscle. I had to stop almost all the time when the cramp starts. I was hungry, even after I finished a bar of PICNIC chocolate at Layang-Lyang. Luckily there were a lot of paramedics on the trail who are happily spraying my legs with “painkillers”. I think it works temporarily.
After about 4 and half hours of running, stopping, walking, scrambling, sliding and falling down, I arrived at Mesilau Nature Resort in one piece. Long before I arrived at this checkpoint, I knew that I could not make it in 5 hours of the official cut off race time. My left knee gets more and more painful as I ran down those 6 kilometers of wet, slippery and muddy Mesilau Trail.
From Mesilau Nature Resort, there was another 9 kilometers to go. I could stop the race and had a DNF (do not finish) at this point by following my family vehicle (as they had waited for me there for sometime) back to the chalet, but I think – what the heck. Endure the pain and just finished what you have started! That remaining 9 kilometers of tarmac section was the ultimate test. It’s getting hot. Less checkpoint. No more painkiller spray, as they all have ran out of it.
The best part during this time was only at Maple Brook villa. There were few third party volunteer (I think?) whom offered me some bread and 100plus. I think that was the most delicious (and the only) food that I had during the race. It was relieving and uplifting as I was really hungry at that time. I did not know you guys, but I want to thank you guys very much for your effort. Please reply this blog post if you read this!
My energy went up a bit, my spirit soars as I saw my wife and kids cheering for me when I passed by the chalet. I could not run anymore because of the tremendous pain of my knee, but I tried my best to walk really fast. It was like my left knee was pierced by a huge nail, every time I started to run.
At last, I arrived at 2 kilometers before the finish line. This was the ultimate test – the last stretch was uphill. I think I saw stars after walking few hundred meters or so – dragging both my feet up this stretch. I stopped few times, panting. Both of my legs and knees had refuses to move. Luckily I did not passed out. I dragged my legs up the remaining stretch, and just before the finishing line, the female veteran whom passed me on the trail cheered for me and even asked me to run with her to the finishing line. I think she did really, really well.
I clocked 6 hours and 26 minutes on my Garmin Forerunner 210, way beyond the cut off time for about an hour and a half. Anyway, they gave me finishers medal, the second medal after my 10k Borneo International Marathon few months back. My Garmin – the Forerunner 210 and Premium Soft HRM – were functioning flawlessly during the whole race. The watch battery remains another one bar when I stopped the timer. I was impressed. Even with some thick jungle canopy, it still can track my positioning quite accurately.
Today 21st October, I am back in my clinic typing this report away. I could not bend my left knee properly, so like, I was crawling up the stairs this morning. My movement was also deformed. But it really worth the pain.
Will I do it next year? You bet I will!
So, what have I learned from this climbathon event?
- More training
- More running on the mountain trail training
- Need to bring more energy and electrolyte source during the 6 hours race. I underestimated this section and end up hungry and cramping all the way down the trail.
During the run, all my race kit functions almost flawlessly. From head to toe, these were my equipment that I wear:
- Cap – a great cover for my head and sweat absorbent. It really covers my head during the 9 kilometers tarmac section in Kundasang.
- New Balance tshirt from the organizer. Luckily not sleeveless.
- Garson shorts – a cheap one will do.
- SPIBELT – a great addition to my running as it keeps my smartphones, PICNIC chocolate and Energy Go Stick in place.
- Garmin Forerunner 210 watch with premium Heart Rate Monitor – the best way to track and log my race.
- Galaxy Nexus Smartphone, with MapMyRun apps running – I think the app failed to track my run properly. I didn’t know why. Maybe because I ran trail in dense jungle. The GPS might not be able to track me accurately. It logged 30 kilometers of the track as compared to only 23 kilometers official distance.
- Cotton underwear – very comforting.
- Knee guard – for my existing injured right knee (ACL tear).
- 2XU PWX compression thigh – a great way to “tutup aurat” for muslim in a professional looking way, apart from protecting my legs from nature hazard, especially the slippery rock and mud on the trail.
- Anti-blister Nike socks – it works really great. I did not have any blister. I was really surprised!
- Skechers Go Run 2 shoes – the good thing about this shoes was, its comfortable and did not gave me blisters. The bad news was, this shoes was not meant for trail running. The sole was too soft for the soft and muddy ground, and slippery on rocks. It does not protect your feet properly, as there were no rock-stopper and the very soft upsole fabric for nature hazard. It hurts sometimes when my feet knocked some rocks and protruding tree roots. I think I will get a pair of Salomon for next year’s event.
*You can get almost all the items above from Amazon. Just click on the link and get something for yourself.
You can also check out my data logged with my Garmin Forerunner 210.
Last but not least, thank you for the organizer who has been very professional on organizing this international event for the 27th time! I hope to return to this event next year with better preparation. I will beat my time and my position, 2 hours and 24 minutes, 191th. And I am tough enough!
I have helped thousands of climbers of Mount Kinabalu to book their climbing spot since 2006. If you want me to help you, just fill in the form below and send it to me. Thank you very much!
I just received a message from one of my friend, who is also a good friend with the deceased. What I heard from his story was, the deceased was on expedition on Mount Kinabalu for more than one week. They planned to climb Eastern Plateau (Kotal Route) and Western Plateau (Gurkha Hut) during their expedition. However, the deceased succumbed to acute mountain sickness.
*The risk of death from acute mountain sickness is very minimal if you are climbing the ordinary tourist track of Summit Trail and Mesilau Trail. Anyway, please be careful. The mountain can be very dangerous.
Rest in peace, Khairuz Elfi Mansor.