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Published: December 20th 2006
Trace 500 down from the summit
This shot is looking back down where we had come up.
Mat: Mount Kinabalu is Sabah's biggest draw card. Its tall, its climbable, there are fantastic views, lots of people give it a crack. We did.
Standing at 4095m it is a good head taller than Mt Cook in NZ (3764m). Being in the tropics however means that any punter with an urge to walk straight up and straight down in two days can have a go. I don't really know what proportion of people actually get to the top, but someone mentioned it was only 50/50.
You have to hire a guide in case it turns nasty, but compared with something like Mt Cook, Mt Kinabalu is just a big goofy labrador. At the summit the coldest it normally gets is 0 degrees.
Sooo, we stayed at park headquarters on the night of the 3rd of December (1500m), and were on the trail up the mountain by 8am. We took it nice and easy because we had all day to get to the the "Gunting Lagadan" hut at 3300m. Including all the rest stops it took us about 6 hours to get there. I really enjoyed the walk, with the type of plants and trees changing as we
Once at the hut we had a cuppa above the clouds, and put our feet up. Somehow we managed to both go to sleep in a single bunk bed at 6.30pm as the next day we had to be up at 2am to start climbing at 2.45am.
The climb to the top in the dark was not as bad as we had been told it was. It was quite surreal to be climbing at that altitude, pre-dawn, in the light of the full-moon. Beautiful.
The exposed granite rock was something special as in one area it had been ground into a massive sloping field by past glaciers. At 5am it was very much like walking on a Martian surface (but with more gravity etc...).
When we got to the top there were four other people there. We watched the sun rise as the full moon set. I have seen similar views from planes, but this of course was a view we had earned, and you could look out in any direction over the other lower peaks and surrounding clouds. Standing on the summit I was the highest person in South East Asia.
One of the porters
These guys lug all the gear that goes up to the huts higher on the mountain. If only I had calves like these guys...
people Trace suffered some mild altitude sickness around the summit and felt a little wobbly and nauseous. So we slowly wandered back down.
Back at Laban Rata we had a little kip, then headed towards the bottom. That was the hard part for me. Summit had been reached, mission accomplished, just had to walk back down at trail we had just seen the day before. So the last couple of hours were pretty wobbly-legged hard work. I think it was the 5 hours of downhill that pulled most of our leg muscles. Both of us were very sore for 3 days. I actually laughed at a girl a couple of days later who must have also climbed the mountain that was walking just like us (every time Trace and I needed to step off a curb, we would look at each other and grimace in anticipation of the pain).
If you have a chance to head up Mt Kinabalu, do it.
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