Haven't seen much hype about Borneo on tpunk but climbing this puppy is a hot topic on some other forums...I just posted this elsewhere and figured I might as well put it up here just in case someone comes looking for it some day.
Mt. Kinabalu in Sabah, Borneo, 4095 m of granite. Tallest mt in SEA. Two trails, Timpohon and Melisau, the former being the usual trail that most people take and Melisau being about two clicks longer if I'm not mistaken. You can ascend via one and descend by the other if you want. Most people start the climb in the morning (I started at around 10 a.m.) and get to Laban Rata in the afternoon. After dindins and an early sleep we wake up around 2 a.m. and start the second leg by 2.45 to make it to the peak for sunrise. After that it all goes downhill from there. :P
Getting to the park:
Bus from KK - Kinabalu Park: RM 15 one way (1 1/2 hour trip)
Bus from Sandakan - Kinabalu Park - not sure, but probably around RM 25-30
Entrance fee to Kinabalu park:
Malaysian adult - RM 3, Below 18 - RM 1
Non-Malaysian adult - RM 15, Below 18 - RM 10
Malaysian adult - RM 30, below 18 - RM 12
Non-Malaysian adult - RM 100, below 18 - RM 40
Insurance: RM 7
Shuttle to Timpohon gate:
Less than 5 ppl: RM 30/van (return trip)
More than 5: RM 8/person
Timpohon-Peak-Timpohon: 1-3 pax [RM 70] 4-6 pax [RM 74] 7-8 pax [RM 80]
Timpohon-Peak-Melisau: 1-3 pax RM 80, 4-6 pax RM 86, 7-8 pax RM 92
Melisau-Peak-Melisau: 1-3 pax RM 84, 4-6 pax RM 90, 7-8 pax RM 100
Porter (optional) for 10 kg max:
Timpohon-Timpohon: RM 66 to Laban Rata, RM 80 to Sayat-Sayat, RM 88 to Summit
Timpohon-Melisau: RM 76 to Laban Rata, RM 88 to Sayat-Sayat, RM 100 to Summit
Melisau-Melisau: RM 88 to Laban Rata, RM 100 to Sayat-Sayat, RM 110 to Summit
Certificate (optional): RM 10
Accommodation at Laban Rata:
All monopololized by Sutera Sanctuary: www.suterasanctuarylodges.com
Unheated huts/dorm: RM 30/night
Heated: RM 46
Laban Rata ranges from RM 13/plate of fried noodles - RM 30 or 35? not sure for dinner buffet.
Fitness (from info sheet):
"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 recommended that you should refrain from climbing: Hypertension, Diabetes, Palpitations, Arthritis, Heart Disease, Severe Anemia, Peptic Ulcers, Epileptic Fits, Obesity, Chronic Asthma, Muscular Cramps, Hepatitis, etc."
It's said that anyone can climb Kinabalu, but I'd recommend that you be at least somewhat fit or it'll probably be a little strenuous. :P It *is* hauling your butt up 13500 feet. I did it without any form of training.
Climbathon people do base-summit-base in just under three hours. Don't expect to do anything near that. If you're crazy like a Canadian dude I once knew, he ran down from Laban Rata in two hours which is impressive enough. Don't feel too ashamed as porters jog by you with baskets of rice and gas tanks on their backs!
For an averagely unfit bum like me I took 5 hours to Laban Rata, 3 hours from Laban Rata to the peak, 1 and a half hours from the Peak to Laban Rata, and 4 and a half hours from Laban Rata to the bottom. Coming down was harder than going up. If you have knee problems, watchout. If you're like me and started out without knee problems, I definitely had problems halfway down. :P I hobbled around for a few days after and had a vendetta against stairs of any sort and really did not like the four flights of stairs up to my hostel room.
Things to bring:
-walking shoes, warm clothes, windbreaker, change of clothes, raincoat
-water (there are tanks of untreated mountain water (no problems with the water), rest huts and toilets along the way up to Laban Rata. No refills from Laban Rata to summit)
-high energy food/chocolate, etc
-headache tablets, sunblock, lip gloss, deep heat lotion (for cramps), band aids, repellent
-regular stuff. toiletries, towel, camera, etc.
Good shoes are important. Hiking sandals for the way down unless you want to kill your toenails like me from slamming into the front of your hiking shoes - I was most definitely in pain from that on the way down and right now I have a black toenail as a souvenier. Bring something to keep you warm at the peak unless you're crazy and feel at home in near-freezing temps. It was about 8 degrees Celcius at Laban Rata when we left in the early a.m. and colder at the peak.
Chocolate tasted amazing at the peak. I was glad I'd brought it. Haha. Pack light though, I was definitely feeling the 5 kg on my back. And bring a raincoat! It rained while I was going up and coming down (poured, I was miserable).
Watch out for altitude sickness, I got away with being very out of breath (pacing yourself is key) and a mild headache. I popped an aspirin before starting the second leg so I was fine, but one of my cabin mates puked up on the floor at some point in the night, and some friends of mine failed to make it to the summit because of dizziness.
Often the hardest part of climbing independently is getting a room at Laban Rata. You MUST have accommodation at Laban Rata to get a climbing permit. I booked (and paid for) my room about three months in advance BUT even then the first two times I called they had no vacancies. Most of the time tour operators book up the rooms so that you have to go through them, but being a budget traveller I wasn't going to pay a jacked up price. I guess perseverance paid off in this case.
Check with the HQ in KK for vacancies when you get in, and prepare to be flexible. The couple I climbed with was staying at the Park, on a wait-list and got room last minute (they shared a bed though), so that's an option too - so just keep trying and hope to get lucky!
I waited around at the Park HQ for about 20 minutes and bumped into the couple that I split the cost of a guide with, so if you're traveling solo and want to share a guide get there early enough so that you have time to spare waiting around while still managing to start the climb with good time to get to Laban Rata.