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Health Preparations for Mount Kinabalu Climbers


It is recommended that all climbers should have themselves medically checked before attempting any mountain climb. If you have a history of suffering from the following ailments, it is highly recommend that you should refrain from climbing: Hypertension, Diabetes, Palpitation, Arthritis, Heart disease, severe anemia, Peptic ulcers, Epileptic fits, Obesity (overweight), Chronic asthma, Muscular cramps, Hepatitis (jaundice); or any other disease which may hamper the climber.

Should I take malaria prevention medication before going to Mount Kinabalu?

Climbing Mount Kinabalu is usually a "once in a lifetime" experience for most people, so is vital that proper preparations are made beforehand. With superior information and sufficient time to prepare, you stand an extremely good chance of reaching the summit. You have prepared all the necessary climbing preparation earlier, but what about your health and fitness? Are you fit enough to climb the highest mountain in South East Asia?

The above note is given by the Sabah Park Authorities. It is advisable to follow their guidelines as to minimize the risk of you getting ill on top of the mountain.


Although the majority of routes leading to the summit of Kinabalu require no technical climbing skills, some kind of training beforehand is important. It is important to remember that you will be hiking on surfaces with varying angles which may put lots of stress on your ankles and knees. It is also worth remembering that most of the injuries which occur on Mount Kinabalu happen on the way down.When climbing Mount Kinabalu, take a slow pace to allow your body to acclimatize to the altitude, as at 3000 meters, you only have 70% of the oxygen you would normally have at sea-level.

To climb Mount Kinabalu:

Consult your personal physician if:

If you plan to take any medication during your climb, you must consult your doctor prior to departure. The effects of medications may vary with altitude and stress. All climbers should consult their doctor or a specialized travel clinic well in advance of their trip.


Although Mount Kinabalu is not a technical mountain climb, it is a major challenge and the rigors of altitude should not be underestimated. The ascent is not difficult in climbing terms, but it is very strenuous, especially for those who are not very fit. The pace of your ascent coupled with good acclimatization will help you on the climb but it is essential to be mentally and physically prepared before you start. Regular hikes are one of the best ways to prepare, increasing frequency and length as you get closer to the trek. All aerobic exercises such as; cycling, running, swimming and funnily enough aerobics are good for strengthening the cardiovascular system. Generally, any exercise that increases the heart rate for 20 minutes a day is helpful but don't over do it just before the climb.

The following steps are a guide to achieving acclimatization:

Many people suffer from headaches, nausea or disorientation due to mild altitude sickness at the overnight hostel at Laban Rata (3,262 meters/10,703 feet). Headache tablets and anti-nausea medications may help, but if symptoms are severe do not continue the climb. Never underestimate the mountain.

On the climb, guides carry all basic medications but it is recommend that all climbers should take a small, personal first aid kit. All the park staff are trained in basic mountain rescue and first aid. In a major medical emergency, the nearest district hospital is in Ranau; the staff there will transfer serious cases to the government hospital in Kota Kinabalu, usually by road. There are private medical clinics in Ranau and as well and well-equipped private hospital, the Sabah Medical Center (SMC).

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