Night Climb on The Summit Trail of Kinabalu
You will arrive in Laban Rata (on the Summit Trail of Mount Kinabalu) at about 2.00pm the most. You can have some meals to regain back your energy in the resthouse's restaurant. Bear in mind that the prices of the food there is quite expensive. It is because the raw material are brought up there everyday - by foot. For example, the ordinary 'mee goreng' (fried mee) is about RM8.00 to RM10.00 per plate (normally it would cost about RM3.50 everywhere else). Be prepared with some extra money, so that you can have your meals properly - at about 10,000 feet above sea level! The restaurant serve local and some western dishes.
Most of the Mount Kinabalu climbers will sleep early, the latest is at 9.00pm after having dinner. It is because you have to wake up early - at about 2.00am, to continue for the second phase of the climb. If you are susceptible to mountain sickness, you may feel some headache, nausea, muscle ache and giddiness just before dinner time. You can take some medication to relieve the symptoms before you go to sleep. If you want to know more, check through medical advice page.
The next phase of climb will begins at about 3.00am, when you are woken for an early breakfast (at least a hot drink is advisable). You do not have to bring your alarm clock, as the noise of other climbers and guides will definitely wake you up. The restaurant is open at that time, but you can have you own hot drinks at your own hostel. As there will be only one stop at Sayat-Sayat Hut for another registration, given a whistle for safety precaution and refilling your water, it is advisable for you to bring your own small water bottle. You will now head up to the Summit of Borneo - the Low's Peak.
Above Laban Rata, the trail continues as a series of wooden ladders, fashioned out tree roots and branches. This is where a good torchlight is essential. As most of the time you have to hold something for stability, it is best if you have a headlight. This gives way to flatter, more easy walking just below Sayat-Sayat, when the true edge of the tree-line is reached. It would take about 45 minutes to Sayat-Sayat. This is the highest mountain hut at 3810 meters (12,500 feet). The dwarfed vegetation at this altitude contrast sharply with enormous silver black dome of the summit.
Ropes are fixed at difficult places, but these are more to inspire confidence than from necessity. Please be close to the rope. You would not get lost if you stay close by. There are some places where the trail is very steep, almost 70° angle. Be very careful.
Tough grasses and other plants cling to rock cervices, flowering and fruiting only a few centimeters tall. You will pass the 8km mark with the South Peak and St. John's Peak on your left. From here the bare granite slabs stretch endlessly ahead to the pile of jumbled rocks that is Low's Peak - reached at last in time to catch the sunrise.
The view of the surrounding peaks is magnificent. By 6.00am, you will be able to see most of the peak very clearly. This is usually the best time to take pictures of the sunrise and the peak. By 7.00am, most of the climbers will start to climb down the summit, back to Laban Rata.
On the way down, try to ask your guide to show you what they call it as 'sacrifice pool'. It is actually a pond where the early explorers reported that their Kadazandusun guides performed religious ceremonies to appease the spirit of the mountain as well as the ancestral spirits who lived there. If you are lucky and the the weather is cold enough, you can see a layer of ice formed on the surface of the pond.
Further down on your right will be the South Peak. If the weather is clear, you will also be able to see Kundasang and Ranau town from here. Along the summit plateau, you will walk down with your Ugly Sister's Peak and Donkeys Ears on your left. Soon, you will arrive at Sayat-Sayat Hut and you can refill your water bottle with the mountain water. (Some climbers keep the water from Sayat-Sayat as a souvenir - it's the water from 13,000 feet above sea level). 45 minutes later, you will arrive in Laban Rata.
Most of the climbers will arrive at Laban Rata at about 9.00am. You can now prepare yourself and your backpack for the descent. If you arrive early, try not to sleep. It will actually worsen your body, especially if you are prone to have acute mountain sickness. Pack quickly, have some breakfast, check out from Laban Rata and climb down with your guide - slowly. If you do not have enough training before the climb, this would be the most difficult part for you. When climbing down, you are exhausted and most of you weight will fall on both of your thighs, knees and the ball of your foot. Be very careful. Most of the accidents happens during the decent.
If you start climbing down at 10.00am, you will arrive at Timpohon Gate at about 1.00pm. There will be a bus waiting for you there to pick you up and send you to the Kinabalu Park HQ office where you will be given certificate. If you reached the summit, you will be given nice colourful certificate, but if you only arrive at Sayat-Sayat or only Laban Rata (that should n be if you prepare for the climb), you will only be given black and white certificate - signed by your guide.
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