It was a on holiday prior to this one that triggered the intention - a majestic view of the Kinabalu right in our path as we drove home from the Poring Hot Springs. Muni went "nak panjat, nak panjat".
But without a doubt it was my late brother-in-law who had inspired us with 3 successful climbs to his credit.
Taken in 2004
Last November, our son Amin who is based in Kota Kinabalu caught us by surprise by telephoning us from the summit.
Suitably incited, hubby promptly instructed him to make bookings for 5 people, including me (gulp), for March or April.
Fact is (from Amin's e-mail):
"sekarang compulsory for climbers to spend 3 days 2 nights for the climb (previously boleh buat 2d1n to cut costs).
day 1 - registration. payment. check in. dinner at Kinabalu Park HQ. stay overnight
day 2 - start climbing to Laban Rata checkpoint (the base-camp I referred to)
day 3 - 3am start ascending to the summit. after sunrise start descending
day 1 - dinner (buffet)
day 2 - breakfast (buffet), tapau for the climb (tuna and cheese sandwich, 2 boiled eggs, fried chicken,
day 3 - supper (before the summit climb), breakfast (before 10 am, after reaching summit) - both at laban rata, lunch at Park HQ
Effective sep 2008, only Sutera Harbour Resorts has the 'privilege' to run the accomodation for Kinabalu climbers"
For all the above, the total charge was RM500++ per person payable upon booking.
As the day of the trip approached and became more likely, we bought our air-tickets and made bookings for hotel-rooms for the final night in Kota Kinabalu. Because of work commitments (of those who still have to work), this trip cannot be an extended holiday.
Return tickets cost RM430.50 per person (including checked-in baggage)
Hotel rooms were RM82.50 per person (twin-sharing at the Shangri-La)
(Let's see... so far that comes to about RM1,013 per person.)
We also started training our legs on hilly terrain like Broga, Tabur, and the Kiara.
I got lazy in icy Kazakhstan but the steep staircases in the villa helped maintain what little muscles I had developed.
On the day itself we drove to the airport and parked the car there for the duration of the trip. The parking fees eventually came to RM130.00 from Friday morning through Monday afternoon.
Amin had to cancel his climb as he was on compulsory tagging protocol (i.e side-kicking a senior medical officer at the OB/GYN). So we made our own way to the Kinabalu Park HQ in Kundasang.
We had to take a taxi from the airport to Inanam - this is where the terminal for long-distance buses and taxis is located. Only from there can we get transportation to the Park.
However if we had used a travel agent for this trip, then all the ground arrangements would have been included I suppose. But going on our own is all part of the adventure and we decided to take a taxi to Kundasang.
Where we had lunch at Inanam
Restoran Wan Malaysia, hehe
as per the signboard
Taxi-fare to Inanam - RM10.00 per person
Taxi-fare to Kundasang - RM50.00 per person
Melaram in a cramped Wira
on the 90 minute journey to the Kinabalu Park
Arriving at the Kinabalu Park there are other payments to be made:
RM3.00 per person for entry at the gate (Foreigners get charged RM10.00)
RM100.00 for a guide (RM85.00 for up to 3 persons and RM100.00 for up to 6) which works out to RM25.00 per person
Rm5.00 per person for the transportation to and from Timpohon Gate - the trail start
We took Amin's advice and bought studded RM6.90 "kasut getah" similar to the ones normally worn by porters who daily trek up and down the mountain fully laden with supplies.
They are indeed very good - comfortable and non-slip on stone slabs and even pebbles. Also bought cheap rain-coats, caps, waist-pouches, head-lamps, batteries which all came to about RM50.00 per person.
In total, the amount forked out prior to the climb was about RM1156.00 per person.
There have been complaints about the cost to climb Mount Kinabalu being now out of reach of school or college students without sponsorship - at RM1,000 this looks to be true. Syirah should count herself lucky.
The Rock Hostel where we spent the night
To limber up for the next day's climb, we followed the Pandanus jungle trail up about 600metres to a look-out point.
The next morning, at the start of the real trail
The trail at the lower elevations are
mainly steps cut into the dirt track
changing to stone slabs at about 4 km
where it also begins to get really steep
and then just granite from Laban Rata at 6km
to the summit
The trek down was easier for me who was properly rested, but hard on hubby whose hamstrings decided not to co-operate. Even Muni had to have a couple of Ponstans for pain in her thighs. The tongkats we bought at RM10.00 each before the descent turned out to be really helpful. One guy had to use two because of pain in both of his ankles.
A magnificent buffet lunch awaited us back at HQ.
As it happened to be Amin's off-day, he fetched us from the Park and drove us to our hotel in Kota Kinabalu, thus relieving us of possibly RM60.00 each for taxi-fares.
I find that Kinabalu is much easier to do than Bukit Tabur whose sheer perpendicularity gave us the fear factor to contend with when we tackled it last year. For Kinabalu though you need to be reasonably fit to make it to Laban Rata at least, otherwise you might decide to turn back even before the first kilometre as has been known to happen, according to our guide, John.
Along the way, in view of our ages we were given encouragement by fellow climbers young and old, advised to take it slow by those who were descending, and were even given the thumbs-up by one of the guides who had to wait for a youngish group of very frequent resters.
All in all, for me this little adventure is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, somewhere along the trek upwards came the realisation that The Almighty has indeed designed us for a certain level of physical endurance and mental strength - only that oftentimes we tend not to believe we have it in ourselves. That said, I might add a disclaimer that this is not to be misconstrued as a request for any trials and tribulations from the Tester (pandai takut).
So tallying up the final costs including the tongkats and pro-rating the parking fees at the Low-Cost terminal in KLIA, if my calculation is right, the total costs came to RM1205.00 per person, and this is the budget package :)
Many climbers have written accounts of their climbs, here (a series of 3) and here are the more interesting and funny ones.