The Day Before I Climb Mt Kinabalu

Six weeks before I am about to run on Malaysia’s longest bridge in a 42km race, I am setting myself a physical challenge by attempting to climb Malaysia’s tallest mountain.

I am now in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
In a short while, I’ll be meeting up with my travel buddy and head down to Kinabalu Park together, where we’ll catch some sleep before waking up at 6:30am the next day to prepare for our climb.

Technically speaking, this will be my second time climbing a mountain. My first attempt was 2,200m Mt Sinai in Egypt, where my legs eventually gave way and I cheated by hiring a camel to take me 3/4 way up to the top.
I was desperately underprepared back then (all I wore was a piece of sweater and jeans), so hopefully I could redeem myself this time round by going all the way without the assistance of some four-legged desert beast.

I certainly won’t be underprepared this time round.
My packing list includes:
– Sports shorts and shirts

– Long johns or thermal underwear: Looks damn ugly but supposed to keep you warm
– Sweater and trackpants
– Windbreaker with waterproof hood

– My adidas Cardrona outdoor shoes: Heel and ankle support is so important when you’re about to climb a total 18km up and down the mountain. Good traction on the soles when climbing up the smooth rock wall could mean a difference between life and death. My collection of running shoes just wouldn’t cut it.

– Carbohydrate-rich energy bars and electrolyte powder. I use Powerbar.

– Water purification tablets: There’s only rainwater on the trail to Mt Kinabalu, and I ain’t keen on drinking rainwater. Not in Malaysia anyway.

– Panadol: For altitude sickness.
– Tiger Balm: my trusty all-purpose Chinese medication.
– Flanal analgesic cream

– Gloves and beanie

– A RM42 metal-alloy walking stick. This one got suspension spring somemore dun pray pray.

– Headlamp: ‘cos on Saturday I gotta wake up at 1am to climb. You’re supposed to wear the straps over your head, but I thought it kinda look like a G-string. Makes me wonder if there are actually people wearing it like a G-string, and more importantly, for what purpose.
– Raincoat or poncho: I seriously hope I don’t have to use this.
The weather forecast for Friday 11th May is “scattered thunderstorms”. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain.

This post is backdated to 10th May. Only posted this up now ‘cos I didn’t have an internet connection then.
More about the climb later.

118 Replies to “The Day Before I Climb Mt Kinabalu”

  1. good luck kenny
    btw, y the headlamp looks like an electronic g-string wan? only looks sexy for robots

  2. I’ve heard that people recommend that you wear open-toe shoes for the highest part of the climb, cause when wearing shoes, your toes rub against the front of the shoe which can cause blisters =P Well, Have fun down in the “Land Below the Wind” or as I call it, home…

  3. Lol you really dont need all those gear, especially the walking stick, thats a dead give away to the locals that your not from here, and when u just start climbing from the bottom, just put on a singlet cause its damn hot, only as you reach the top its cold, the water along the way is safe i drank it few times and im not dead πŸ™‚
    Anyway good luck reaching the top,i didnt πŸ™

  4. hm.. surprised no 1 has yet to mention about pantang larang, ask any1 who has climbed before and they will probably know, whether you believe or not take it with a pinch of saltlah…
    few of ’em are:
    1) never mention your friends or your own name, always use an alias (they say scared get taken by spirits)
    2) never stray of the course, not even a step
    3) Be respectfull (As in dont pee or shit anywhere on the ground, wait till reach toilet, and dont be Loud or Rude)
    these are few of themlah… dunno the rest, but if you wanna hear more ask the locals around there, when i went there my teacher kept giving us all sorts of warnings then i forgot where got few tombstones of the ppl who got lost and never returned

  5. the water purification tablets packing looks like condom packing wan! just that its not that attracting and colorful like the one you see at 7eleven! teehee…

  6. you don’t need that much crap to climb a small hill, the walking stick the long johns are not necessary. Plus water purification tablets, you must really sux at this man πŸ™‚ πŸ˜›

  7. never really went for mount climbing before.. but it seems awesome… wish i can try it during my holidays….. Hope you enjoy your mount climbing… hehehe….

  8. err, i just bring a dirty sweatshirt and completed the course.. ha ha, it’s not as hard as u look. just remember… better safe than sorry… good stuff… i can’t afford all that

  9. Not as tough as u think. The climb (more appropriately walk) up to 4000+m (Laban Rata resthouse) is a nice & easy walk up of endless natural-made & man-made stairs where u can enjoy breathtaking views. For last part of climb a pair of RM10+ “Addidas Kampong” is much much better than any hiking shoes in the world.

  10. hey Kenny!! I’m from Kota Kinabalu Sabah, I’v climbed up that mountain 3 times already..and u really do not need a lot of that stuff!! i managed with 3 -4 layers of clothes n a $3 raincoat in case it need water purification tablets lah!thermal clothes not necessary!!
    anyways all the best with the climb!! Hope u make it up there to catch the most awesome sunrise in the world!! I know i’v enjoyed it all the 3 times i went up there=)

  11. All the best!!!
    anyway thermals and gloves (ok maybe the gloves’ impt) are not really needed at this time of the yr when rainfall’s not that often?
    Cos went afew yrs ago in Dec (moonsoon season) and it freaking rain, and darns it’s freaking cold like hell.
    And oh, wool thermals are such a curse if it rains. Get the polylester 1s, they’re more compact and lighter. =)
    Polar fleeces are better impt too, but not sure abt this time of the yr.
    Gotta check with nadia wor, since she went before as well.

  12. eh oh, if it rains…ponchos isn’t very useful except that it keeps u more dry than ur windbreaker.
    (cos if rain, den u’ll be like a kite with that poncho on.)

  13. That is what i experience Kenny, I hope that will be an advise for you. Before you walk out a jungle, try to pluck a bunches of leafs or some grass and throw on the floor. According to the traditional local legend, there will some spirit follow after you when you are in the mountain or jungle. Before you walk out, you pluck the leafs and do so, they will stop and calculate the things. Thus they won’t follow you back.
    Another advise is do not simply talking or simply peeling inside the jungle. This will bring you some other trouble.

  14. Wah lau…just to climb Mount Kinabalu and you are packing like a SWAT team..Haha..No need water purification tablet..It’s safe to drink the water..And the water is refreshing..

  15. Hello Kenny Hishashiburi. πŸ™‚ Great to see you taking upon yourself to embark on such endeavours. Haven’t climbed any mountain before, but you certainly looked well prepared! The headlamp you got is similar to the one that’s been sold over here in Germany, but only we use LEDS here :P-I use it for night cycling:) But anyway, All the best and do come back to regal us of your trip:) Cheers!

  16. Just a tip – don’t carry 2 many things & if u do, hire a porter. When ur up there climbing, even 100g can seem like a ton! Don’t believe me, carry ur own knapsack & u’ll b cursing all d way up.
    And the worst is when ur coming down – with wobbly knees!
    All d best! πŸ˜€

  17. the time when i climbed KK, i had only 1 pair of black Bata school shoes, cheap cotton gloves, disposable raincoat, and 1 500ml plastic water container. and yea, i survived on PowerBar, some Ubi and untreated water along the way… the untreated water tasted quite refreshing to me anyway. πŸ™‚

  18. Good choice on getting a headlamp instead of a hand torch so that your hands are free but I hope you’re carrying spare batteries because the AA batteries don’t last long (though with LED bulbs, the batteries will last much longer than halogen or Xenon bulbs). In the cold the batteries will die out much faster and climbing the mountain in the dark climbing is sure not fun. It’s best to get something decent like Petzl or Princeton Tec (using Halogen or Xenon) because the cheap ones are pretty dim.

  19. Good luck climbing this giant mountain I call my home. Though i’ve never conquered it yet myself. My dad went all the way up but ended shortly when there was a huge storm. Neways God Bless it aint gonna be a smooth trip depending on which course your taking Laban Rata or the other one I cant remember the name.. So good Luck check out the local sites there too!!! Aramaiti!!(Im not a very good Sabahan)

  20. actually u dont need to bring tat much things.
    give u a tips, run as fast as u can to get urself onto the top, then get a rest. after that continue at midnite, to catch up the sunrise scene ^^

  21. Hey Kenny,
    Looks like you are well prepared for the climb. I made the mistake of drinking the “mountain water” on the way down and I paid for it the next few days. Urgh….still gives me shiver when I think about it. No matter how hard you train for it you will feel the pain in the coming days after the climb. May be you will recover in time for the marathon. Awesome view from the top. Good luck.

  22. Dude . . .I think you can chill on the preparations and gadgets . . Mt. Kinabalu might be the tallest, but also one of the easiest mountains to climb in Malaysia . . . all that gear might be necessary if you decide to take Mt. Tahan . . . Kinabalu is a run all the way up . . not much climbing if you know what i mean . ..

  23. i climbed mt kinabalu when i was 17. dude, you dont need the walking stick. you basically just walk up a trail. then you only use the ropes when it’s too dark to see your surroundings, so it wont be that scary.

  24. I guess you’ll feel like an idiot with all these things, the auntie who’s just wearing shorts and long sleeve t-shirt with a rattan (or what ever they use to make those bag-buckets) filled with cartons of soft drinks, or 14kg gas tanks running past you , and just when you reach half way to gunting lagandan,out of death and sweating like a pig, she’s on the way down already.
    I know I did.
    that’s why, on my next climb, I’ll keep it to simple.

  25. my comment should be in the past tense…didn’t read the short talk…my bad…
    and also meant Laban Rata when I wrote gunting lagadan. GL is one of the hostel built up there.

  26. haha why is everybody saying goodluck to him when he already climbed the mountain?
    Like he said this post is backdated to 10th May.
    And yeah like what other readers had said. Mount Kinabalu is not that hard coz the routes and all are all prepared. Try Mount Tahan. I’m going next year hopefully. =D

  27. I always wanted to climb that damn mountain but I have no time for it since I am now busy for my studies. Maybe during my summer break I will go for it. Haha. By the way my friend just came back from there. She climbed the mountain with her sport shoes and I am impress that she is still alive.*evil*
    Anyway, good luck Kenny!

  28. eh kenny if you want training, go kinabalu waste money only.
    there scene nice nice only. if you want to go for grueling stuffs, go for mount ophir, gunung ledang.
    there cheaper, not as cold, and also the conditions are better for legs and hands training.

  29. I can see you’re fully prepared.. I bring raisins and tofi-luk as my energy source. Beat that.
    Due to lack of inexperience, I wore jeans to climb Mt. Kinabalu. It tore off after 5 mins departure from Laban-Rata. Half my kuku jiao exposed to the chilly air. But it’s okay since it’s made of steel =D Despite the difficulties, I still made it through.
    I can do it, sure can you. Plus, I never attempt any training before climbing, I believe you can easily conquer that mountain, no problem lah.
    Show us the picture standing behind the metal plate – it’s sign of victory. Cheers.

  30. Hey hope your climb went well. I also want to climb Mt. K. someday. Climbed Mt. Tahan last year and it took 7 days (100km). There is rock climbing, muddy tracks, river crossings etc. I think it’ll be a totally different experience altogether (and an interesting one to blog about). Can share with you my experience if you wanna know more =)

  31. haha hey kenny this is the first time i commented..
    anyway i hope u enjoyed yrself on yr climb cause i nearly died tryin to climb it. (wasn’t very fit la..) climbed in the rain, reached the peak n saw only clouds, n puked n diahrreoa like nobody business then muscles ached for like more than 2 weeks after that.. i was that lousy but i want to climb again! hope yr experience wasn’t as bad as me.. hehe

  32. Climb up using Mesilau Trail la…Damn beautiful compared to normal Timpohon Gate. Longer by 2km and much more tougher but the views are worth it. You’ll be crossing few ridges which connects the trail back to the main one at Layang-Layang. No need the Thermal underwears or walking stick or water purification tablets. The mountain water is damn cool and damn nice expecially if you’re out of water, and tired. Try out the other trails around Kinabalu park HQ especially the longest trail (3 hours), Ligawu trail i think..can’t remember the name. Supposedly can see lots of wild life. I din do it cos no time. Only went on a 1 hour trail.Also check out the other places around Kinablu park e.g. Kundasang, Poring Hot Springs & Ranau. If lucky can see Rafflesia which i think is damn cun. Damn useful is the Anti-cramp spray forthose whose legs will cramp and wear shorts up to Laban Rata. LAst thing u want is to unzip your pants and put your spray in your trousers and spray your legs. haha.
    Oh, to those who wants to climb, get all your stuff in KK before going up. If you buy at the park HQ, you’ll kena potong.
    Good luck man. i know i love the place to bits and will go back for 4th climb next year.

  33. Go for it kenny take the Mt. Kinabalu for’s fans. Next I recommend u to climb Mt. Murud the tallest Mt. in Sarawak. It’s sure more challenging. Your friend Rining Mutang of Borneo Jungle Safari in Miri will be sure pleased to take you there.

  34. Wah Kenny, I think you are over prepared lar…….Esspecially the walking stick WTFish??
    YOu ae only climbing up Mount Kinabalu its not that tall, not like you are going up K2 or something………
    Besides now its Hot as ever bringing too much stuff would really be a drag, you would want to be a s light weighted as possible……..the outfit and shoes are ok, but the other gadgets just has to go it doesn;t serve any purpose there, at least not for me the last time i went……Just bring along a rain coat in case it rains can already…….cuz 3/4 of the way you will be walking steps not really doing any rock climb…..
    The last part will be the most challenging, at this point all that is importatn is bring yourself and your camera, hhehehe dun wanna miss out on the views……

  35. Hi, Kenny..its good that you finally took the up the challenge to climb mount kinabalu. I went there last month and it was my 6th time climbing it. I managed to climbed to the peak but hopefully you can too. First timers will always experience fatigue and dizziness because the air is thinner up there but as long as you don’t have other serious complications such as asthma or heart problem you should be doing ok. Anyway, enjoy the scenery ok. I will plan for the next climbing by august this year again hopefully. See how the crowds goes. Cheers.

  36. Hey Kenny, Mt. KK is not very challenging one, try G. Nuang in Selangor……. Just came down from there 13 hours ago….. at 10:45pm! Yeah, it sucks big time cause we were caught up in torrential rain when we were at the top for hours and then one of my friends got ‘kejang otot’ all over his legs. We had to use light from our handphone to guide us for more than 3 hours in the dark!
    First time in my life to trek for more than 14 hours yesterday…….
    For all of you out there (especially first timer), make sure you stop when you think you have reached your limit (cause you need about equal amount of time to go back and going down hill can be a very painful experience!) and don’t push yourself to the limit when you climb a mountain.
    I hope my friend have learnt his lesson…… (almost have to call an ambulance to bring him down, sigh!)

  37. Hope u get intercept and kidnapped by a honey bear when you are in your headlamp beaming session, so I don’t have to read your blog anymore. LOL

  38. Hi Kenny, I climbed Mt KK about 2 years ago, and to tell the truth, the walking stick and the head lamp helps me a lot. And there’s something else i find very useful, which is hiring a portal. Even though the amount of things i carry are very minimal, but considering you have to concur the tallest mount in SEA, it’s advisable to hire a portal. In my case, we share out the cost of hiring the portal among the few of us, and it basically helps when you don’t have to carry everything all the way to sayap sayap. Anyway, if you have stamina, you can forget about that. And bring Yokoyoko!

  39. at mt kk, you don’t get the 4 legged animals to carry u in the case u crammed, usually they have these people u call porter to carry u on their back.

  40. Some advice for u from an experience hiker. i went up to Mulu National Park Pinnacles. Four times tougher than Mt. KK.
    1. is that a raincoat next to your powerbar? get a raincoat. waterproof windbreaker wont do any good than RM8 raincoat.
    2. can’t really see what brand of headlamp you are using. but looks to me is some china brand. get a better one with more illuminate power. Petzl and Black Diamond are far better.
    3. get waterproof gloves. up there is cold and if your gloves get wet, it won’t protect your hands from cold but make them colder.
    4. Water purification tablets? is that helpful? just bring more mineral/boiled water.
    5. a simple first aid kit comes in handy.
    6. remember to bring your camera and take a lot pictures and show us πŸ˜‰
    good luck n have a nice trip.

  41. dude, when you get back, mind doing a review on food at The Banquet?
    Real curious and I don’t wanna be a guinea pig. I heard the price kills

  42. Water purification tablets!! Ha Ha Ha….
    Real men drink whatever they can, then let rip all the puking and bowel running IF it happens, and THEN live to tell the tale to their buddies over beer….

  43. I personally dun like the taste of those water purification tablets. Besides we dun need to drink a lot of water when climbing Mount KK. Coz of the breeze and all.
    Try Mount Ledang or Mount Nuang. Should be a tougher experience for you. =)

  44. My friends & i climbed Mt Kinabalu in March, but we only managed to reach Sayat-sayat due to heavy downpour since the night before. Our mountain guide advised us not to proceed further as small waterfalls had formed overnight due to the rain, it would be pretty dangerous for us to climb up to the summit. We were so disappointed!
    Actually, we all drank the untreated water & it was quite clean. You don’t need to buy the walking stick as they sell those made from solid wood at Timpohon gate, just buy one at RM5 or so before you start the journey. And what Dave mentioned, the Adidas Kampong which only cost abt RM10 (can be found in the small shop inside the coffee house at Kinabalu Park) is much better than any branded sport shoes!

  45. just wanted to point something out. It’s Mount Kinabalu people. there’s no such thing as Mount KK.

  46. Aiyo kenny you anymore kiasi a! climb KK like climb Mt Averest like dat! you too rich no where to spend issit? i see many ppl wear shorts t-shirt aso go up come down la… u bring all that sure ppl laugh until stomach pain la XD

  47. OMG…. ppl would have thought ur trying to climb the base of Mt. Everest lah……. Mt. Kinabalu is sap sap sui for you who have ran a marathon before.. just slow slow walk u can reach already…. but if got mountain sickness then be careful coz most ppl cannot reach the peak becoz of this…. other than that its a stroll in the park…

  48. I think you are very kiasu…or rather kiasi, jus like those S’poreans…Mt Kinabalu isn’t tat difficult to conquer at all if u r fit. I ain’t the type that sports regurlay, but yet, i dun nid all those stuff….those r meant to be used for Everest! Kenny, even those disabled children around 10-13 yrs are able to climb Kniabalu. And they did it w/o those hi-tech equipments!

  49. HEY Kenny!! I climbed Mt Kinabalu once before also… Nearly killed me… Cos i went scuba diving the day after i returned from the climb. Legs were like jelly, having a mind of their own, wobbling n out of control.
    Hahaha i wore 6 layers of clothes at the summit plus thermal underwear but teeth were chattering. Luckily an ang moh saw me there frozen and lent me his cashmere sweater which i never returned πŸ˜›
    Oh yeah, and the water, i asked the guide so many freaking times if it’s safe to drink and he NEVER told me it was rain water!!! Now only i find out. Still alive πŸ™‚

  50. Actually the walking stick is a good idea as it helps maintain balance and gets you up and down difficult bits. But finding a dead branch along the trail instead of that platinum thing Kenny had should work just as well. That’s what I did anyway.
    Climbing Mt K is not as easy as many think. Most important is to climb up and down stairs in your office every day for a few weeks. I didn’t do any prep b4 climbing and as a result my knees felt like there was someone using knives to stab them.
    Also normal panadol didn’t really help my headache when I reached Laban Rata. Take Panadol Acti-Fast, maybe that would work better.
    You can carry your own water if you are afraid to drink the mountain water. If your bag is too heavy you can pay for a porter to carry your bag -RM60. By doing so you help employ the local people.

  51. I climbed Mt Kinabalu in 2001 and definitely an experience and dont mind doing it again….
    just try to get to the mid-way before noon, cuz usually that is when it starts to rain… The last time i climbed i managed to reach before noon and those who came later were drenched due to the heavy downpour… so the earlier the better!!
    Good luck and have fun…..dont forget to respect nature!

  52. kenny damn lame la…..use all the gadgets and stuff like mission impossible wakakaka or inspector gadget…or cliffhanger…you think you stallone need to jump cliffs meh!

  53. What’s a nice hotel to stay at KK post climb? Are there lockers at hut so u don’t have to lug everything up the peak?

  54. matthew: you can stay in Kinabalu park bothpre- & post-climb. lodgings range from RM10 a night dorm beds to cottages for hundreds of ringgit a night.
    lockers are available at the main lodge for a small fee, so it’s advisable to bring 2 backpacks: a large haversack to store everything for the entire trip, and a smaller one to lug up your neccessities for the climb.

  55. haha..dun pray pray..miss PCK..
    i have been reading your blog since this morning at ten starting from the post u made during my b’day, that’s when u got your stitches! must be lots of pain! T.T
    anyway, i enjoyed your posts a lot! but i have to stop for now cos my eyes really hurt now! almost eight hours of read! i will pick-up from here the nex time i read again! ^^
    Keep on blogging! ^^

  56. Hi Kenny, I m going to mount kk this 19 Feb! But i m still wondering where can i get my accessories such as G-String headlamp and walking stick? Can you advice me? Thx

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