Mount Kinabalu Climb Booking & Information Center
LOW'S PEAK 4095.2 M | 6.075° N, 116.558° E
Mount Kinabalu’s specialty lies in its location at a renowned World Heritage Site—Kinabalu Park. Nature lovers will be delighted to be able to witness the many variations of flora and fauna that are to be found on the mountain at different altitudes.
Mount Kinabalu, along with other upland areas of the Crocker Range is well-known worldwide for its tremendous botanical and biological species biodiversity with plants of Himalayan, Australasian, and Indo-Malayan origin.
A recent botanical survey of the mountain estimated a staggering 5,000 to 6,000 plant species (excluding mosses and liverworts but including ferns), which is more than all of Europe and North America (excluding tropical regions of Mexico) combined. It is therefore one of the world’s most important biological sites.
Standing majestically at 4,095m (13,435 feet above sea level), Mount Kinabalu is the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. Mount Kinabalu derives its name from the Kadazan word, ‘Aki Nabalu’, meaning ‘the revered place of the dead’. It is one of the safest and most conquerable peaks in the world—provided that you’re reasonably healthy and physically fit.
Mount Kinabalu (Gunung Kinabalu) is the most dramatic feature in Sabah and the tallest peak between the Himalayas & the New Guinea. Towering at 4,095 metres (13,435 feet), Mount Kinabalu exerts a magical quality that is both indescribable and unbelievable. The granite peaks are constantly veiled in wisps of clouds and at times during a clear day, the summit reveals a distinct glacier carved pinnacles, rising from the smooth granite dome. It is one of the safest and most conquerable peaks in the world—provided that you’re reasonably healthy and physically fit.
Mount Kinabalu, along with other upland areas of the Crocker Range, is well-known worldwide for its tremendous botanical and biological species biodiversity with plants of Himalayan, Australasian, and Indo-Malayan origin.
A recent botanical survey of the mountain estimated a staggering 5,000 to 6,000 plant species (excluding mosses and liverworts but including ferns), which is more than all of Europe and North America (excluding tropical regions of Mexico) combined. It is therefore one of the world’s most important biological sites. The mountain itself represents one of the world’s youngest batholiths: an old magna chamber that was forced through the earth’s crust.
The highest point of the mountain (Low's Peak) can be accessed relatively easily by any person with reasonable fitness, and required no technical climbing. It is a 8.8km trek to the top where the trail runs along the southern side of the mountain over the Tenompok ridge. Most climbers will take two days to climb up and down Mount Kinabalu with an overnight stay at the huts in Panalaban.
Before June 2015, climbers can choose from two available trails to climb Mount Kinabalu – the Summit trail (via Timpohon Gate) and the Mesilau trail (via Mesilau Gate). However since the 2015 earthquake, the Mesilau trail has since closed and two new trails have been constructed by Sabah Parks, mountain guides and local villagers to replace the old Summit trail. Part of the old Summit trail was destoryed during the earthquake and had remained inaccessible.
The new Ranau Trail (1.27 km) was opened to the public on 1st December 2015, followed by the more challenging Kota Belud Trail (1.1 km), which was opened a year later on 9th December 2016. Climbers are only allowed to climb up and down Mount Kinabalu via Timpohon Gate and ascend the peak using one of the two new trails; Ranau Tail, located east of the old trail and Kota Belud Trail, to the west. Both trails will meet at Sayat Sayat. This Ranau trail is now the standard "tourist-friendly" trail leading to the summit from Panalaban as it is relatively easier and safer because the path is less steep and mostly made of wooden staircases and manageable rock steps.
The route to the Mount Kinabalu Summit starts from the Timpohon Gate (1,866m; 6,122 ft) which is located near the Kinabalu Park Headquarters. Climbers will take the minibus to the Timpohon Gate and their ascent commence at about 9 a.m. in the morning. All climbers must be accompanied by mountain guides at all times.
Before reaching Panalaban (3,273m; 10,738 ft) where all the huts that provide rooms, food and hot beverages are located, climbers will encounter a series of trail shelters (pondok)— the first shelter, Pondok Kandis (1,981m; 6,499 ft), and the second shelter, Pondok Ubah (2,081m; 6,827 ft). The forest becomes thicker and mosses and ferns become abundant. After 30 minutes, the third shelter, Pondok Lowii (2,286m; 7,500 ft) is reached.
Soon after, the trail splits with one leading to telecom towers and the main trail to the summit continues on the right. After Pondok Mempening (2515m; 8251 ft), the fouth shelter, the trail soon leads to an open exposed area at Layang-Layang (2,702m; 8,865 ft) where there is a small mountain rescue hut located here. Climbers will notice an abundance of pitcher plants. After about 45 minutes, Pondok Villosa (2,690m; 8,825 ft), situtated atop an open rocky patch will be reached and a small track leads to a helipad at 3,050 m.
The forest has changed from stunted ultramafic vegetation to sub-alphine plants, taller trees and granite boulders after the helipad junction. Pondok Paka (3,080m; 10,105 ft) named after the nearby Paka Cave is reached within a few minutes. The Paka Cave is not a cave, but rather, a overhanging granite boulder which acted as a resting stop for earlier explorers.
Not far away, another 500 m, climbers will arrive at Panalaban, where Laban Rata Resthouse is located. Climbers will register and check in to their assigned rooms. Nearby huts include unheated Gunting Lagadan, Lemaing Hut, Pendant Hut (for Mountain Torq's via Ferrata climbers) and huts for Sabah Parks staffs. The climb from Timpohon Gate to Panalaban takes approximately 4 to 6 hours. Along the trail, be sure to keep your eyes open for the plenteous interesting sights to check out such as the Villosa pitcher plant as well as a view of the Carson miniature waterfall.
Upon arriving at Panalaban, climbers will have some time to rest and recharge their energy. The climb to the summit resumes before dawn, normally between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. the next morning. In the dark, the climb goes over some steep sections with wooden stairs in sub-alphine forest. The climb to reach the summit requires climbers to hold onto an affixed rope. Therefore, climbers are advised to wear thick woven gloves in order to ward off the cold as well as to prevent their palms from getting cuts. Climbing up the rock slopes on the side of the Panar Rock Face quickly leads to the Sayat Sayat huts (3,400m; 11,155 ft).
Here climbers are checked for security to account for the number of people ascending and descending the summit. Due to effects of the high altitude, climbers may find it difficult to breathe and move slowly as the air thins out. There is a white rope attached to the rock section on the summit plateau. It's function is to guide, orientate and assist climbers to the summit in the dark or dense fog.
Final part of the ascent requires climbers to scamble over loose rocks and large boulders for about 90 m before reaching Low's Peak. The climb from Panalaban to the summit normally takes about 3 to 4 hours for most people, just in time to catch the sunrise.
After the victorious moment of summiting Low's Peak, and snapping away photographs as momento, climbers make a quick descent back to their huts in Panalaban for a quick breakfast, before heading down to Timpohon Gate. The remaining descent takes about another 3 to 6 hours depending on the fitness and physical condition of the climbers.
The descent could be quite rapid for some but tough on the knees, and climbers must be mindful that the route can be slippery, because often the rain sets in during the late morning. Look out for the extremely rare and endemic Kinabalu Leech and its prey, the Kinablau Blue Worm, which will emerge from the soil when it pours.
Another exciting way to conquer Mount Kinabalu is through the Mountain Torq Via Ferrata trail. To visit other peaks at Mount Kinabalu, other than Low's Peak, climbers require rock climbing and professional equipment.
On the rainforest-clad island of Borneo lies Kinabalu Park, Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO in December 2000 for its 'outstanding universal values' and the role as one of the most important biological sites in the world. Kinabalu National Park was gazetted in 1964 to protect Mount Kinabalu and its plant and animal life. Mount Kinabalu, standing at 4,095.2 metres tall, is the highest mountain on the island of Borneo and the 20th most prominent peak in the world. Located on the west coast of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, Kinabalu National Park covers an area of 754 square kilometres (291 square miles) and incorporates two mountains, Mount Kinabalu (4095.2 m) and Mount Tambuyukon (2,579 m).
Kinabalu Park, with four climatic zones, boasts one of the richest collections of biodiversity in the world, housing and protecting more than 4,500 species of flora and fauna – including 326 bird species, an estimated of over 100 mammal species, over 110 land snail species, and its biggest attraction, Mount Kinabalu. It is also one of the most popular tourist attraction in Sabah and whole of Malaysia. A 2 hours scenic drive from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, visitors exploring Kinabalu Park will notice the cooling temperature, ranging from 15 - 24 °C (60 - 78 °F) in the Park. First time visitors to the Park are often pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by planted beds of birghtly coloured flowers.
The gateway to climb Mount Kinabalu is the Kinabalu Park Headquarters, situated 1,563 metres (5,128 feet) on its southern boundary. Kinabalu Park HQ is where climb registration takes place and registered climbers pay the entrance fee to the park. The Kinabalu Park HQ features a variety of accommodation, ranging from hostels with only basic facilities to more luxurious individual chalets with ensuite bathrooms, living rooms and a fireplace. There are two restaurants, Liwagu and Balsam, that serve both western and oriental food, buffet and ala carte style. Visitors can explore the Mountain Garden on their own or join the park’s naturalist on a guided walk along the many nature trails available. The nine walking nature trails in Kinabalu Park HQ will take visitors anything from 20 minutues to two or three hours, per trail depending on which route taken. Thousands of visitors come to Sabah annually to climb Mount Kinabalu and to experience the mystical beauty of its nature.
Kinabalu National Park was discovered by British colonial administrator and naturalist, Hugh Low in 1895, during a serendipitous expedition from Tuaran to Kundasang. Sir Hugh Low is also the first recorded man to reach the peak of Mount Kinabalu and thehighest peak of the mountain – Low’s Peak – is named in his honour.
Kinabalu Park, is a protected place and all visitors should play a part to conserve this world heritage site. There are notices with Park rules and clear guidelines displayed within the Park for everyone to observe.
It is an offence to remove plants, animals and to shoot, trap or collect animals. Do not encourage trade in living plants and animals, or items produced from threatened natural resources.
Dispose of rubbish appropriately and clean up if need be after those who don’t.
Pets are not allowed into the park as they may introduce diseases to isolated populations or may escape and go wild.
Use binoculars rather than trying to get too close. Be considerate of other visitors who many be engaged in activities like bird watching that require silence.
Take as little as possible on walks and return all rubbish to Park HQ and place in a rubbish bin.
Make sure fires are fully extinguished. Do not smoke if you can avoid it. Cigarettes can cause bush fires. Observe all safety rules.