Dusk the night before the ascent at the Kinabalu Pine Resort.
The Timpohon Gate track is the most direct way route up Kinabalu at 17.5 km return (see Track Notes below). The track is wide and well maintained with at least 200 people (tourists, guides and porters) ascending and descending each day
Jim, Caleb & Rob at Laban Rata guesthouse (3272 metres) with a glimpse of the expansive summit area that waits the next day. Laban Rata is the overnight accommodation used by most hikers prior to the summit ascent the following day
Typical dormitory style bunk bed in Laban Rata. Rooms are often shared with other hikers and and vary in size from 4 to 12 beds. Accommodation is simple but comfortable
On the first level of Laban Rata is the restaurant, dining room and check-in desk.
Laban Rata is a home in the clouds perched on the side of a BIG mountain.
A snapshot of the hundreds of hectares of granite that await the next morning. The summit is 2.7 km from Laban Rata and takes the average hiker about 3 hours.
5:45am Sunrise on Low's Peak 4,095 metres
From Low's Peak looking toward Donkey Ears and the return route to Laban Rata
Cousin Gerald from Kuala Lumpur not far from the finish line of the Timpohon Gate.
At 4095 metres (13,432 feet) Mt Kinabalu has been described as the easiest high mountain to summit. It is one of the three tallest mountains between Australia and the Himalaya, outside of Mount Wilhelm in Paupa New Guinea (4,509 m/14,790 ft) and the challenging Mount Carstensz in West Papua (formerly Irain Jaya) 4,884 metres / 16,023ft.
Any adult with reasonable fitness, agility and stamina is able to successfully hike up Mt Kinabalu as no technical skills are required. Activities within the World Heritage listed Kinabalu National Park are highly regulated by the Malaysian government and the private management consortium (Sutera Sanctuary Lodges: link under Track Notes) which operate the guest accommodation buildings. Hikers must be accompanied by a guide at all times on the mountain and there is a natural expectation to stay overnight in the accommodation facilities provided at approximately 3,300 metres (the end of the first stage of the 6 km hike). Laban Rata is the largest of these plywood buildings which containers a restaurant (first floor) and dormitory style accommodation (second floor).
The Mount Kinabalu summit walk is very popular and limited to approximately 60 tourists per day. Bookings must be made months in advance to ensure you get the days you require. The popular months are from May - September as the rainy season commences from October greatly reducing the possibility of summiting. The rainy season sets in during December, January, February and booking the summit walk during these months is a gamble as the mountain is often closed.
Booking agents offer the mountain hike as package deals which includes as standard a climbing permit, insurance, guide (compulsory), accommodation, buffet dinner and breakfast at the restaurant in Laban Rata. In April 2008 the approximate cost for this package was $385 Malaysian Ringgit ($140 Australian) per person. Other expenses should be allowed for return transportation to the mountain (can be arranged through hotels in the Kinabalu National Park area), porter fees (usually your guide will act as the porter carrying up to 10 kg) and transportation to Timpohon Gate which is the official start of the walk.
Excellent information on the Mt Kinabalu hike and general information can be accessed from these links:
There are two guided routes on Mt Kinabalu. The 17.5km Tourist Route (as detailed briefly below) and the more challenging Mesilau Route which is approximately 4 km longer and commences from the Mesilau Nature Resort in the Upper Kundasang Valley and 100 km from Kota Kinabalu. Mesilau Resort, Kinabalu Park and Laban Rata are all managed by the Sutera Sanctury Lodges consortium. Their website provides valuable information about accommodation options in the mountains and on the coast http://www.suterasanctuarylodges.com.my/v2/labanrata.html. NOTE: Mini-Bus transfer fees quoted by this site are cheaper than those in the Day 1 Itinerary below as you have to wait for others staying in their accommodation venues to fill the bus before going anywhere which can waste quite a bit of time.
In our experience the local Malay staff are very friendly and have a service orientated nature. The guides are paid about $RM70 ($25 Australian) by the government for 2 days of following tourists on the mountain and will usually have a wife and 2-4 kids to feed back home in the village. Consider tipping your guide and driver generously.