Climbing Mt Kinabalu - Day 1

Questions from Prospective Climbers

This is a selection of questions that I've received from people who have visited this site, and I've answered all their questions to the best of my ability.

If you've got a question that isn't covered among these answers, feel free to send it through to me!

Hi Mike,

My friends and I shall be climbing Mt. Kinabalu for the first time the coming June. We've planned for this trip since last year and we've been scouring the web and testimonials for info about climbing Mt. Kinabalu to better prepare for it. But all the info we got (both web and testimonials) is just too scattered and undetailed.

Until I stumbled across your site! We just would really thank you heartily for putting up It's a life-saver. It contains the answers to all the questions that we had been asking and more. We applaude your effort in putting up all these important and useful info and advices.

Our only regret it we did not come across your site in the first place, to save us all the unnecessary anxiety and uncertainty! Haha. :-) Thank you once more!

Mike: Thanks very much for the kind feedback. It sounds like you had exactly the same sort of experience that I did when it came to tracking down information on the web - lots of unrelated anecdotes, but nowhere that tied it all together.

That was my main motivation for writing the site in the way that I did, so I'm really glad that you found it useful. I hope you and you friends have as wonderful an experience on Mt Kinabalu as my wife and I did!

All the best, and please pass on the site to anyone else you know who might find it useful!

A friend of mine is interested to climb Mt. Kinabalu. He is wondering whether it can be done in a day?

Do you also have a tour guide who can help him achieve this? He was thinking about climbing early in the morning and climb down late afternoon.

Mike: The climb could be done in a day, but the problem will be getting a guide who will accompany you for the trip. Almost all the climbs are done in two days. It's physically possible to do it in one, but your friend would need to be very fit and very accustomed to high-altitude conditions.

I must stress, it is quite a taxing climb and unless your friend is an exceptional athlete, he will find it very, very difficult. The other problem is time. The return journey to the summit would most likely take the best part of eight hours, including rests and the like and the weather tends to close in at about 4pm on the mountain.

If your friend is still interested in doing the climb in one day, his best bet would be to call the park offices to see if a guide is available to do the climb in one day. I do not think any travel agents or travel companies would endorse someone attempting the climb in one day.

Hi, what is the minimum number in a group to climb Mt.Kinabalu?

Mike: I don't think there is a minimum number for a group to climb the mountain. My wife and I climbed the mountain and there were just two of us on the trip, and we had our own guide. The main benefit of having a slightly larger group is that you can share the cost of hiring a guide.

It also depends on how you book the trip. If you go through a travel agent, it's likely there might be up to 10 or 12 people in your group, with two guides. But, if you just want a small group, or to climb solo, you could speak directly to the park offices and I am sure you could organise your own guide.

Hi there! Just looking at your fabulous website on Mt Kinabalu.

Had a question for you - what time of year is the best time of year to climb - in terms of views and also in terms of tourist numbers? (we were thinking of going in April.)

Mike: Glad you liked the site! In terms of the time of year, my wife and I climbed in mid-June, and the tourist numbers weren't too bad. I think it's always going to be busy, regardless of when you go.

You will want to avoid climbing in the wet season. Sections of the climb were tough enough when they were dry; I'd hate to think what they'd be like in the wet. February to April is the driest time of year, so you should be OK in April.

I would like to ask if you can recommend a place to stay at Laban Rata for RM 50 and any other information on climbing Mt. Kinabalu.

We are planning to do the climb in Jan 2009.

Mike: All the accommodation at Laban Rata is organised by Sutera Sanctuary Lodges, which runs all the accommodation in the park. There are different types of rooms available at Laban Rata - some are in the main building and some are further up the hill. Most of the rooms are in the main building, but there are two or three other buildings a short walk from the main building.

I would recommend staying in a room in the main building, so you don't have to walk up the hill after dinner, in the dark. But if you are trying to save money, a room in the dormitories up the hill would be a little cheaper.

Keep in mind that you need to have accommodation at Laban Rata booked before starting the trek. All accommodation is generally booked out weeks in advance!

I am not sure on the exact cost of accommodation at Laban Rata. It is generally included in the overall cost of tours, and that is how my wife and I booked our climb.

The cheapest accommodation at Laban Rata would be to share one of the six-bed rooms with other climbers. That would keep your costs down as much as possible.

Hi, I came across your website which gives us a lot of information on climbing Mt Kinabalu, I appreciate it.

I would like to ask which lodge would you recommend to stay in at Kinabalu Park? For your information, I stayed in Peak Lodge before and it was nice. This time my family and I are planning to go for the second climbing sometime in April. Unfortunately, we do not know where to start from as the last trip was organized by the school.

I'd like to know how to book for the climbing of Mt Kinabalu as well as the accomodation in Laban Rata. Is there any package which will include all of them?

Hope you can help on that. Thank you very much!!

Mike: I'm glad you enjoyed the website! My wife and I did not stay in the lodges in the park - we stayed in a lodge run by one of the tour groups just outside the park. To that end, I can't recommend any particular lodge, but I presume they are all OK - it might just depend on how much you want to pay per night as to which one you choose.

As far as booking the trip goes, most travel agents who sell packages to Mt Kinabalu will be able to provide a package that includes accommodation on Laban Rata, as well as all the fees for climbing and guides, etc. That is how my wife and I booked our trip - just through our local travel agent and it was excellent.

Hi Mike! Firstly, I just want to say your website looks great, and thank you for doing such a good job on it! The pictures are gorgeous as well =D

This may sound like a stupid question, but I just wanted to clarify things. I plan to attempt Kinabalu during my backpacking trip through Borneo, so do I have to carry my entire backpack up the mountain on the first day? I do not want to pay for an extra day of lodging at the hotel just to leave my backpack there. How did you get around this problem? Thank you!

Mike: Thanks for the feedback! Glad you've enjoyed the website and I hope it's helped you.

My wife and I climbed Mt Kinabalu as part of a tour. As you've guessed, you don't need to carry your entire backpack up the mountain! We left our packs at the place we stayed as part of the tour, but I think you are able to leave your bags at the park headquarters for a nominal fee. You just need to take a small pack with your warm clothes, snacks, water, torch and camera, of course!

However, you would be best to confirm this with the park management or Sutera Sanctuary Lodges, who manage the park's accommodation. I am sure that any hotel you stay at would be happy to take care of your bags for a small fee.

Firstly many thanks for the website, it's excellent and very informative.

Myself and a few friends are looking to climb Kinabalu on the weekend of 25/26 April - unfortunately we can only take one day's holiday and the flight times from Singapore are not helpful.

Essentially, we will arrive into KK at 11am on Sat 25th April, then we would take a flight back on Monday morning. My question is, does this provide us with enough time? I was hoping we might be able to head straight to the mountain on the Saturday, stay over Sunday night, before making our ascent Sun morning - is that possible?

Alternatively is it possible to begin first thing in the morning (Sun) and come back down again in a single day? We are all fit (training for Oxfam Trailwalker) and made a similar assault of Fuji in a day last year so will be prepared for the altitude adjustment. Would greatly appreciate your thoughts.

Mike: Glad you like the site and I hope it's been of some use for you!

It is probably possible to arrive in KK on Saturday morning, head to the mountain, climb to Laban Rata and stay over Saturday night. You would then be able to climb to the peak on Sunday morning, before descending the mountain and returning to KK for an o'night stay on Sunday night. You'd be starting late and the last of the climb to Laban Rata would likely be in mist, cloud or rain, but it is possible.

The main complicating factor will be booking a guide who is willing to come up the mountain with you at that time. If you can do that - usually booked through the park headquarters - you will be fine. The weather tends to close in quite quickly about 3pm, but if you're fit, strong and used to mountain conditions with the appropriate gear, you won't have any trouble.

It sounds like you and your companions are fit enough to attempt an ascent and descent in a single day, but I would advise against it, simply because the view from the summit is brilliant early in the morning! I believe it deteriorates quite quickly from mid-morning and I really wouldn't want to be anywhere near the mountain's higher reaches in the early afternoon.

However, it is physically possible to do a single day trip, but I don't think you'll get the most out of the experience. That said, it would still be a great challenge and tremendous amounts of fun!

Again, the only complicating factor is finding a guide to accompany you on a single day trip. I honestly don't know if the park authorities allow it - they may well do so, but it's outside the normal procedure for climbing. Best to check with them.

I was hoping you could tell me how to book a trip to climb Kinabalu. I am planning a trip with my sister at the end of April. Please could you let me know some details?

Mike: Hi, there are a couple of ways you can do this.

The first, and most simple, is to contact your local travel agent, who will be able to offer you a selection of different packages to climb Mt Kinabalu. There are a number of tour groups that operate well-run tours of the mountain for two or three nights. This is how my wife and I organised our trip, and it was excellent.

Secondly, you could organise the climb yourself. This will be cheaper, but a bit more hassle. You will need to book a place at the guesthouses at Laban Rata, halfway up the mountain. This is done through Sutera Sanctuary Lodges (Google it, or check my website for the address). Once you have a booking at Laban Rata, you're basically organised.

You pay park entry fees and hire a guide at the park headquarters on the morning of your climb, and you can confirm the procedure with the park headquarters beforehand, if you like.

For transport to the mountain, take the bus from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan and get off halfway, at Kinabalu National Park. You can travel to the park on the morning of your climb, or arrange to travel the day before and stay either in the park (Sutera Sanctuary Lodges again), or at one of several guesthouses near the park's entry.

Hi Mike,

I went to your website on Mt Kinabalu. It's great! Thanks for all the info.

Can I find out from you, for beginner climber like me, is it wise to catch a flight back home on the day of descent itself? Is there any (possible) problem if I do that?

Mike: Glad you liked the website! You will definitely be able to catch a flight back home on the day of your descent, but just be aware that your legs will be very sore after walking down the mountain! My wife and I found it hard to walk down stairs the next day - we were laughing at what we must have looked like to other people!

If you have a long flight home (more than four hours), I think you would be more comfortable staying an extra night in KK and having a good night's sleep, instead of being cramped in an aircraft seat.

But if you need to head home on the same day, there is no problem. Just make sure it's in the evening and not in the afternoon, as it will take ~ 2 hours to get from the park to KK.

I would like to try to paraglide from Mt Kinabalu. Do you think it's authorized or is there any authorization to get from the Park? Do you know where I could get any information? Thanks in advance for your help!

PS: Your website is great!

Mike: Honestly, I have no idea whether it's possible! I imagine it would be a great spot to paraglide from, but I didn't see anyone doing it when I was there.

I guess your best bet is to search the internet for any information - are there any paragliding groups in Malaysia? - and failing that, contact the park headquarters to see what is possible.

I'm sorry I can't be of more assistance, but I'm glad you enjoyed my website. Hope you have a good trip to Mt Kinabalu!

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