In response to a recent blog question about climbing Mt Kinabalu in Borneo, we asked Intrepid’s Karen Porter for advice. Not just because she’s got the right name, but she’s been there, done that and loved every challenging step!
“Further to your comparison regarding Nepal’s Annapurna trek and Mt Kinabalu, it would be my personal opinion that if you can trek the Himalayas, you should have no problems with Mt Kinabalu. I have trekked the Annapurna Circuit, Mt Kinabalu and Mt Kilimanjaro and while all 3 treks require a certain level of fitness, with some physical preparation there’s every chance your mountain dreams will be realised.
Mt Kinabalu is still a difficult 2 day trek. I would compare it to some of the harder days of the Annapurna circuit (for example similar to the day hikes leading up to and including Poon Hill or perhaps if you took the high route when you reach Pisang. Upper Pisang and Ghyaru, before Manang.) The main difference with Mt Kinabalu is that the weather can be quite HOT making the climb a little more arduous and the climb is continuous.. Up up up… and very steep in parts.
There are plenty of rest spots on the way but no tea houses or lodges to stop and refuel. But the good news is you have the full day to climb and you can rest that night at the lodge before summiting the next morning….so take your time and should have no problems…. and after the 2 days the hard work is all over! The good news is the effects of altitude should be less too (as you are just reaching above 4000m, compared to over 5000m on the Thorung La Pass).
At the very least I would attempt the hike and if fit and healthy try to summit the following day. At the very worst you can turn around and come back down if you are feeling unwell or the climb becomes too difficult. But in my honest opinion, if you have trekked the Annapurna’s you will have a great chance of summiting Mt. Kinabalu and witnessing an amazing sunrise (and sunset the night prior).
Keep up your aerobic fitness, dress prepared, carry enough water and you will have an amazing experience on Mt Kinabalu.”
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* photo by Astrid Ross – Intrepid Photography Competition