Tag Archives: Mount Kinabalu

One climber slot on 19th March 2009

I received an email from Stacy. She is looking for a climber to join her group on 19th March 2009 as she overbooked the beds. You may contact her if you are interested.

There are 5 of us however, we booked accommodation for 6 at Laban rata room on 19 March 2009.
If there is anyone (unfortunately it’s only for one) who may interested in bunking in with us, we can accommodate. The price is MYR 347.
Please email me details if there is anyone who’s interested.


Join “Mount Kinabalu – belongs to NO ONE else” cause in Facebook

A lot of complaints.

A lot of rants.

A lot of rage.

The issue: Sutera Sanctuary Lodges monopolize Mount Kinabalu for their own profits.

They never wants to listen to our grouses on how expensive their climbing packages are, as long as they are the only available solution for Kinabalu climbers.

It started early this year, January 2008, when they packaged their climbing trip. They also pre-sold all the beds to big travel & tourism company increasing the price, to reap all the profits. That moves had also make us difficult to book a bed in Laban Rata.

Try calling them and ask for a bed 6 months in advance. They will say that their booking is not open yet.

Try calling them again next 2 days – 5 months 29 days. And they will said that the beds are full in Laban Rata. Who do you think have the power and money to book all 140 beds in Laban Rata in that very short time?

Try call them at this number: +6088-243629. Considered yourself lucky if you can get through.

Considered yourself double lucky if there is still bed for you in Laban Rata. They won’t tell you whether you get a heated or non-heated one.

Considered yourself triple lucky if you got the Laban Rata Resthouse – where the restaurant and heated rooms are.

Gone are the days when you can D-I-Y your trip up to Low’s Peak, where you could pay merely over RM150 for all the expenses – provided we bring our food ourselves.

The package that they created is compulsory. You cannot omit even a single item in the package – that includes the food. And that move have skyrocketed the prices, even worse during this uncertainty of fuel prices and inflation.


I pity those solo climbers, backpackers and budget travelers. Even more for our own Malaysian citizen & students. The revised pricing structure really did not help us all.

It also hurts Mount Kinabalu’s image. Somebody wrote a bad review on climbing Kinabalu in Lonely Planet Borneo, it’s latest edition. It seems that climbing the mountain is actually the easy part. The hard part is getting the accommodation booking.

Buy the Lonely Planet Borneo if you have money and see it for yourself. I don’t think I would waste another RM79.90 just to get to see the bad reviews on Kinabalu.

It also hurts my last climb up the mountain with Special Olympics athletes. They have to revise their expenses to divert the money to Sutera Sanctuary Lodges. A big chunk of it. A lot of volunteers also complaints, not about the organizer, but about the accommodation provider.

You will be surprised, despite the price increase, that Laban Rata Resthouse is still in a pity mode.

Frequent heated water disruptions.

Leaks – not the roof leak, but plumbing leaks, which leads to flooding of the restaurant by the water from somebody bathing & maybe peeing upstairs.

The food taste really horrible.

The price of their a la carte menu & are ridiculous.

Well, this post really sound seditious. I could get caught and put behind bars because of my writings. But did I tell lies?

No I don’t.

Yesterday I spoke to one of my patient. A senior expatriate who have live here in KK for the past 30 over years. He also aired out his concern on what Sutera did, and how they really hurt the industry. He said he is going to speak directly to Sutera manager and get things straight.

I hope he could at least help us all.

At this moment, what we could do is to get together and voice out our concern. I could not do this by myself through this small blog. Sutera never cares. They know that my writings won’t even dent their cashflow.

Join me in the facebook. (Get one for yourself. It’s free.)

Poke me inside. Add me as your friend.

And the best thing to do is join the cause by KaKiAyAm; Mount Kinabalu – belongs to NO ONE else.

We need a big number to get the ball rolling.

Writing to the government is a waste of time.

They don’t read your letter. They don’t care about your email, and most probably your email will end up in their spam box.

The Sabah state government knew. Maybe they also have vested interest with Sutera? Who knows? They just don’t care.

If they really care, they should regulate the pricing structure.

If they really care, they would not have agree on the price increase.

Try asking for quotation for 2009 climbing package from Sutera. Get ready to get shock.

Stay tune to this blog.

You may want to climb other mountain first – Tambuyukon or Trusmadi, here in Sabah. They don’t have this much issue, but the climb are harder. Good thing is, Sutera is not involve with these 2 beautiful mountains.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri (I know it’s late)… Maaf Zahir & Batin.

Sutera Sanctuary Lodges – the biggest rip-off merchants in Asia

No. I did not write those words. I quoted from a travelogue entry by staffyandlyddy in Travelpod.com.

They also gave a breakdown of what they had to pay those ripp-off merchants to climb the mountain (for non-Malaysian):

Dorm Room at Park Headquarters – 85RM each
Permit to Climb Mt Kinabalu – 100RM each
Insurance (even though we have our own) – 7RM each
Guide – 85RM short trek / 100RM Long Trek – shared
Taxi from Park HQ to Start Point – 85RM – shared
Room on Laban Rata (halfway point) – 208RM each (including really poor meals)
Total cost (if climbing individually on short trek) – 555RM (111 Euro) for the 2 nights.

You can read their entry here.

New rates of fee charges for visitors to Sabah Parks

Effective from 1st of September 2008, Sabah Parks will impose new rates of fee charges for visitors like you and me. You may want to check it out if you decided to have some good time in one of Sabah Parks destinations:

  1. Kinabalu Parks (where Mt. Kinabalu is)
  2. Turtle Islands Park (east coast of Sabah, 40km north of Sandakan)
  3. Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Park (just 15 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu, a group of 5 beautiful islands)
  4. Pulau Tiga Park (where Survivors television series took place in 2001)
  5. Tawau Hill Parks (24km north west of Tawau)
  6. Crocker Range Park (where you could find Rafflesia blooming)

Few of the changes that I noticed:

  • Mt. Kinabalu mountain guides now can only take maximum 6 climbers at each climb.
  • They have also state clearly the fees for those who wants to go to other peaks of Kinabalu.
  • Expedition fee means that any climb that is done in Kinabalu Park other that the usual trail, Summit Trail and Mesilau Trail.
  • The porter fee has also change. I am not sure whether each porter can only bring 10kg per trip, as I usually see them bring up to 40kg before.
  • Conservation fee for most places still RM3 for Malaysian.

Check it out here:

22nd Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon 2008

It’s here again. Happening on 23-24 August, 2008 at Mount Kinabalu.

Deemed as “the World’s Toughest Mountain Race”, the Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon is the ultimate challenge to take for those game enough to test their endurance by running up and down Mount Kinabalu for a total distance of 21 kilometers.

I don’t think I will be able to join. I would love to, but I am afraid that the organizer asked me to climb down as soon as I reached the first pondok…

Mount Kinabalu CLimbathon

Want to see adidas kampung in action? Come and join us!

By the way, Federation for Sports Altitude highly recommended Adidas Supernova Trail 5 running shoes for climbathon runners. This shoes are not for regular climbers of Kinabalu.

adidas Men’s Supernova Tr 5 Running Shoe

Climbing gloves for Mount Kinabalu climbers

I thought it was a small matter to most of us. But the truth is, it’s not. I received an email from Miss M (not her real name) asking me on what type of gloves that she could use to climb Mount Kinabalu.

  • Can an ordinary gardening gloves would do?
  • Do I need a water proof gloves, in case the climbing gets too wet and I don’t want my hands to be freezing?
  • When will I use the gloves?
  • Do I need to wear the gloves all the way from Timpohon Gate to the summit?
  • What would you suggest the type of gloves that I should buy?
  • Can I get the gloves in Kota Kinabalu / Kundasang / Kinabalu Park?

The above questions are all not from her only, but from various resources for the past few years of my writing on Kinabalu. I will try to answer the questions in a collective way, so that every new climbers will benefit from it.

Honestly speaking, I did not use high tech, waterproof gloves in my past climbings. I only use the ordinary Made-In-China nylon gloves that is usually used for gardening and small house contractor that cost me around RM2 per pair. I bought 2 pairs and wear both pairs during my past climb up the mountain.

Mine is in white colour…

There are two major reasons why you should have a pair of gloves while climbing up Kinabalu;

  1. To protect your hands from rope burn during the second phase of the climb and protect from the rough rock surfaces when you need to scramble once in a while on the barren rock face.
  2. To protect your hands from freezing while climbing up the summit at night in the dark, moreover if you are climbing during wet season.

The above reasons basically answers the questions on what type of gloves that you should choose, but seeing from my personal experiences, the ordinary nylon gardening gloves that I used does not gives you full protection for both conditions. The gloves (at least) could only prevent your hands from rope burn, but not from the cold night climb.
Get your gloves from EMS

However, if you check out any outdoor stores, getting a specialize gloves for this kind of climb can surprise you. The price may be way out of your budget. However, getting a good and proper gloves for your climb may differentiate your climb from “good” and “bad” if weather is not on your side.

Waterproof gloves is quite expensive, but you should consider it among your choices. Belay gloves and rappel gloves is not necessary, but I would recommend it if you are planning to go on via ferrata route. Your hands will thank you if you decided to invest on those kind of glove, as you are going to hold ropes, rocks and metal all the way on the via ferata trail.

You are not going to use the gloves all the way from Timpohon Gate, but only during the second phase of the climb from Laban Rata. It’s a night climb, and the temperature can go down to 5 degree Celcius. Cold weather will makes your fingers numb and cramp, so a good and suitable gloves is almost necessary.

Oh, you could get the ordinary gloves that I used while you are here in Sabah, but bare in mind that the gloves that I used are really not suitable. You should get the proper one, moreover if this is the only time that you could manage to climb Kinabalu!

Verglas Plus Gloves – Women’s by Black Diamond

Legend Glove – Men’s by Black Diamond

Petzl Cordex Light-Weight Belay & Rappel Gloves (Black or Tan)

Metolius Belay Climbing Gloves

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.



Reader’s Mailbag: Climbing Kinabalu with children

I received another email this morning. Patrick asked me about climbing Mount Kinabalu with his children. If you have climbed Kinabalu with your children before, please share with us your opinion. Here is his email:

Hi Ruhaizad

Thanks for the Kinabalu newsletter that I have just received, it was very helpful. I am climbing Mount Kinabalu at the end of July with 3 children aged 10 and 11, I wonder if you could help me avoid any serious mistakes and help me improve our chances of reaching the summit, please? A little about ourselves…

I’m 52, British, married to a Malaysian from Sarawak. The children are my son, 11, daughter, 10, and a niece, 11, from the interior. I attach a photo to help you see (I’m standing with my wife and son, and my daughter has black hair).

All 3 children are fit (though not particularly trained in endurance), especially my daughter and the niece. I have been training since November and now consider myself quite fit, by UK standards anyway. None of us have any medical issues, except my son is quite prone to nosebleeds… I would appreciate your comment as to whether you think this could be a serious issue at higher altitudes.
It is good for you to exclude other medical problems that related to your child’s nosebleed with you family doctor. Some illnesses that are related to easily bleeding (such as platelet problems and haemophilia) may become worsen in high altitude due to increasing external stressor. If all other things excluded and your child nosebleed is nothing more than Little’s area capillary fragility, then it would be safe to climb with some precaution of recurrence and the simple treatment during the climb.

We have been to the base of Kinabalu before and stayed for a few days, we understand the need to acclimatise, so plan to stay at Kundasang for 2 1/2 days before starting the climb.
Generally, climbers of Kinabalu do not have to acclimatise at Kundasang, as the altitude is not that high for training. Acclimatisation will usually occurs along the way up the mountain, with most climbers will feel some changes at the level of Pondok Mempening. You just have to climb slowly, and most climbers have sufficient time acclimatising at Laban Rata.

The week before last we climbed 3000′ up one of the UK’s highest mountains, and managed that OK – 2 weeks before we come we will repeat that.

That’s the positives! The negatives include the fact we havent booked accommodation yet, either on Kinabalu or Kundesang, nor booked a guide. Wonder if you could advise on these, please? We stayed at Pine Lodge in Kundasang before, which was fine, though there were roadworks there then and the walk from the market to Pine Lodge was rather difficult especially at night. My wife is not joining us for the climb, she will wait for us in Kundasang. I have read the Sutera site – is that the best (or only?) place to book?
Yes, unfortunately, Sutera Sanctuary Lodges is the only accommodation provider for Mount Kinabalu climbers – at least for the ordinary climbers. However, if you are adventurous enough, Mountaintorq is another option, in which you have to take their via ferrata package to get up the summit.

Although we are from UK, we come to Malaysia in order to see relatives (rather than as tourists) and need to work on a fairly small budget. Though obviously without compromising safety, and without making it so difficult that we noticeably reduce our chances of reaching the summit.

Do you have any advice for us? Hope to hear back from you soon, please use ‘reply-all’.
Most of the advice on climbing Kinabalu is here in this blog and my website. I hope you will find it helpful.


Anybody wants to give opinions?

Reader’s mailbag: An email from Deric on Kinabalu

I received an email this morning from one of our readers who would like to know more about the mountain guide fee for his climb. Deric sent his email with an attachment from SSL website’s information on the guide fees. My comments & answers will be in purple.

Hi, I’m Deric from Penang.
Actually I have tight budge.. so thinking of save as much as possible.
I would like to get some advice from u.

I plan to book Airasia ticket round trip which cost RM200 and Tune Hotels in Kota Kinabalu for 3 nights for RM90 in this September.
While staying in Tune Hotel in Kota Kinabalu may save you some cost for accommodation, the distance from Tune Hotel to the city center may cost you some money. For your information, Tune Hotel is about 12km away to the outskirt of Kota Kinabalu. So, you may have to take a bus (in which, they may provide) to get to the city center for your sightseeing. 1Borneo, a new & modern shopping complex which is adjacent to Tune Hotel is also not that cheap.

And for sure, I plan to have Kinabalu mountain climbing. But I would like to know about how much I have to pay 🙂

I visited http://www.suterasanctuarylodges.com/ and find out the price list.

As show below:
2. Mountain Guide Fees
Timpohon Gate / Peak / Timpohon Gate
1-3 Climbers – RM70.00 per trip
4-6 Climbers – RM74.00 per trip
7-8 Climbers – RM80.00 per trip
Timpohon / Peak / Mesilau Trail
* Starting and ending at different point
1-3 Climbers – RM80.00 per trip
4-6 Climbers – RM86.00 per trip
7-8 Climbers – RM92.00 per trip
Mesilau Trail / Peak / Mesilau Trail
1-3 Climbers – RM84.00 per trip
4-6 Climbers – RM90.00 per trip
7-8 Climbers – RM100.00 per trip

What are differences within these 3 packages?
As it stated there, you will start and end at different places, according to the packages. Most first time climbers will take the Timpohon / Peak / Timpohon, in which the shorter trail compared to Mesilau / Peak / Mesilau. The price for each package is also tailored to their respective distance; the shorter the distance, the cheaper it is.

Do I need to sum it up to make me reach the summit?
No. But it will be cheaper for you if you climb in a group. Bigger group will save some more.

I calculated other payment as listed in website and it costs RM50.
Is there any other hidden charge that I need to know?

All the charges will usually be stated in SSL website, and you have to contact them directly to get the information. However, the other additional costs would be the climbing permit, entrance fee, insurance, transport (from Kinabalu Park to Timpohon Gate), certificate and porter (optional).

Perhaps if u know what is usual cost to if want to reach the summit?
I used to pay less than RM250 couple of years back, but with SSL’s new systems, you need to pay more than RM500, I think…

Pls share with me…..

Thanks a lot!!!!

Anymore suggestion of answers?

I need your help… I am writing a book on Mount Kinabalu

Yes. I am writing a book about Mount Kinabalu. A true physical book, that you can own, read and write on it. Not just some online PDF copy of an ebook. I did published an ebook about climbing Kinabalu 2 years back which you could get it for only USD7 (donation), but think I it needs a revamp and updates.

I am planning to publish the best few selected post from this blog to be included in the book, mainly on the tips and guidelines which will benefit any climbers who planned to climb Mount Kinabalu.

I will also includes some of the important information on climbing Mount Kinabalu which are in the website. But I will not mention anything about how sucks it is with the booking process.

It will just be a writing of how-to guide to prepare the climb, without mentioning any issues, as I think by the time this book is widely available, the issues should be resolved.

If you don’t mind, I would really love to hear some feedback and suggestion from you regarding my intention.

  1. Are the articles on the climbing tips enough or do I need to write some more? (You may check the articles from the Articles page).
  2. If not, what are the areas that I should cover?
  3. What would be the suitable book title for it? Can “Kinabalu Blog” be a book title?
  4. Should I add Kota Kinabalu and my background Rungus extended family to be featured inside the book?
  5. Do you have your own personal opinion?

I am also looking for a local publisher to help me on this book project, as getting some online publisher to do the task seems costly. Do you have any suggestion on any good publisher here in KK?

The aim of the book is to be the most lightweight and handy travel guide book on climbing the majestic mountain of Borneo.