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Published: September 18th 2007
1.5 hours from Kota Kinabalu, Mount Kinabalu reaches half the height of Everest into the sky, yet its peak is achievable by anyone with some fitness and no climbing ability. Kundasang is the closest town to the National Park in which Mount Kinabalu sits, and a bus journey got us there first thing in the morning. The top of the mountain was completely covered in cloud and over the 2 days we were in the area we experienced the micro-climate that it creates, with sun and clear skies giving way to mist and rain, and vice versa, alarmingly quickly.
Decent accommodation was all booked for our first night, and we ended up in a miserable roach motel where my right flip flop had reached double figures in kills in the evening before we turned off the lights in the hope we could pretend they weren't there. Our second night, for marginally more ringgit, was spent in an infinitely better non-infested place nearby.
Most people come to Mount Kinabalu to climb it but various factors led to us giving it a miss. One was the weather - it rained for literally 6 hours on our first evening, and neither of
us fancied the prospect of a climb on slippery trails.
Another was the accommodation situation on the mountain (as most people overnight on it before doing a summit push before sunrise then the descent). You have to have a booking and, with it being high season, all available beds were booked for days ahead. Unfortunately the booking system requires no deposit so many people don't bother notifying the park staff if they have to cancel. You can go along to the park at 9:30AM, when unclaimed beds are doled out to waitlisted climbers, but that's a couple of hours later than the optimal time for beginning the climb. Of course, we hadn't booked anything.
And finally, after nearly 7 months of continuous travel, we questioned whether Mount Kinabalu was going to be worth the effort when more exciting mountains, volcanos even, awaited us in Indonesia. We eventually decided against it (and subsequently met a guy who did it on the day we would have, and the weather was such that the sunrise was a damp squib).
At least we were in good company - M Palin didn't climb it either.
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