FAQ for Mount Kinabalu

1. When is the best time to climb Mount Kinabalu?
Mount Kinabalu is open to climbers all year round. The best time to climb Mount Kinabalu is during the non-monsoon season from March to September. Incidence of rain is much higher during the monsoon season from October to February. However, due to its location within a tropical rainforest, passing showers and heavy rain are expected at any time of the year.

2. What are the different Kinabalu trekking packages offered by iwannatravel?
We offer two types of climbing package:

1) Classic (or non-ferrata) climb package that comes with the normal climb permit.
2) Ferrata climb package that comes with the ferrata climb permit.

All climbers under either climb package will take the same route up the summit. However during the descend from summit to Laban Rata, climbers under the non-ferrata climb package will descend via the same route where they came up while climbers under the ferrta climb package will descend via a separate route – via ferrata.

3. What exactly is via ferrata?

A via ferrata (“iron road” in Italian) is a mountain path consisting of a series of rungs, rails and cables embracing the rock face. The crux of via ferrata is a steel cable which runs along the route and anchored at regular intervals (every 3-10 metres) to the rock. Using a ferrata kit (harness and carabineer), climbers can secure themselves to the cable limiting any fall. Thus via ferrata allows inexperienced climbers a safety means to transverse precarious cliffs and enjoying the dramatic views and thrills of mountaineering. There are more than a few hundred via ferrata routes around the world but most of them are situated in the Alps. The via ferrata in Mount Kinabalau is the first via ferrata in Asia and also the highest via ferrata in the world. There are two different routes which correspond to two different level of difficulty; the beginner level route – “Walk the Torq” and the intermediate level route – “Low’s Peak Circuit”.

4. What is the difference between “Walk the Torq” and  “Low’s Peak Circuit”?

Walk the Torq which starts at 3520m and ends at 3411m is an introductory route designed for the beginners. The total length of the route is 430m with a vertical height traverse of 109m. It is a leisurely 2-3 hours descends down the side of a granite cliff face. Highlights of Walk the Torq include the 2-cable Monkey Bridge, the Tyrolean Traverse and the Balancing Beam. Low’s Peak Circuit which starts at 3776m and ends at 3411m is an intermediate route designed for the ultimate thrill seekers with above average fitness level. The total length of the route is 1.2km with a vertical height traverse of 365m and takes about 4-6 hours to complete the whole route. It is actually an extension of the Walk the Torque route but with steeper descends and additional “obstacles” like a suspension bridge at 3600m and 3-cables Nepalese bridge at 3580m.

5. Where else in Singapore can i get a feel of via ferrata?

You can get a feel of via ferrata through below high rope courses operators in Singapore:

http://www.safra.sg/enjoy/safra-adventure-sports-centre
http://www.megazip.com.sg/attractions/climbmax/
https://forestadventure.com.sg/

Though not exactly via ferrata in nature, you can get a close feel of how it is like to walk along exposed narrow pathway high up above the ground with safety harness and carabiners anchored over steel ropes.

Alternatively, you can consider our 2D1N Mount Bintan & Resort Stay itinerary which gives you a chance at trekking a beginner’s mountain and try out a short via ferrata trail at the same time.

6. When should I book the trip?
The national park only issues a limited number of climb slots (or climb permits) each day. As Mount Kinabula is a very popular climb destination, the climb slots are usually snatched up pretty fast. Therefore it is strongly recommended to book your trip 2-4 months in advance especially if your intended travelling dates are during the holiday seasons.

7. What is the meaning of climb slot?
Each Climb slot will guarantee you a bed space, so the total number of climb slots is actually equivalent to the total number of beds available in Laban Rata. This is to ensure that all climbers have a place to rest for the night before the summit climb on the next day.

8. What is a typical climbing program like?
On the first day, you will gather at the National Park HQ (1,800m) around 8am where a shuttle bus will transfer you (~10min drive) to the trailhead at Timpohon Gate (1,866m). You will trek for 6km (~6hrs.) from Timpohon Gate to your accommodation at Laban Rata (3,272m). On the second day, you will wake up early in the morning around 2am for the 2.7km sunrise summit hike (~4hrs.). After sunrise, you will trek back to the Laban Rata for breakfast after which you will descend back to Timpohon Gate where you will be transferred back to the National Park HQ via the shuttle bus.

9. What is the trail condition like?
It is a 6km moderately steep trek from Timpohon Gate to Laban Rata. The trail within this section is relatively wide trail and well defined with distance markers at every interval of 0.5km. There are some shelters, drinking points and toilets along the way. The trail from Laban Rata to the summit is 2.7km. The initial 700m is via rocky steep stairs and steps while the next 2km takes place over smooth granite surface. The trail is marked by guide ropes which can be used as climbing aid all the way to the summit.

10. How has the trail been changed after the Sabah quake in June 2015.
The Timpohon Trail that begins at Timpohon gate leading towards Laban Rata remains the same. However, damaged trails leading to the summit has been restored with an additional few hundred meters. This new trail is called ‘The Ranau Trail’. Trekking to the summit and Via Ferrata activities resumed from January 2016.

11. What is the difficulty level of the trek?
Climbing Mount Kinabalu is relatively tough; but anyone in reasonable shape should be able to manage. Normal trekking throughout except for some scrambling towards the summit. No rock climbing or technical climbing skills are needed.

12. What is the temperature like in the mountains?
Night temperature inside your accommodation at Laban Rata is about 10-15 degree Celsius. Temperature during the summit trek will be below 10 degree Celsius and drops to freezing point at the summit.

13. What clothes should l wear for the trek?
On the first day of the trek, you will be trekking in daytime and under relatively low altitude (except towards Laban Rata). Therefore you need not need wear multi-layers for day 1 trek; a single layer of quick dry or water proof fabric will suffice. However do carry a windbreaker and poncho in your daypack in case the weather gets too windy or if it rains. On the second day of the trek, you will be trekking in the dark and under higher altitudes. Therefore you need to dress in at least 3 layers to protect yourself from the cold. A quick dry synthetic material shirt (can be either short or long sleeve) as the base layer, a good quality fleece jacket/woollen pull-over as the middle later and a thick wind proof jacket as the outer layer. A waterproof and windproof trekking pants is desirable and a pair of woollen gloves, beanie and scarf for additional cold protection.

14. hat types of footwear are recommended for the trek?
A pair of trekking shoes (that you have worn before) with good traction. Mid or high-cut shoes are preferred over low-cut ones for better ankle grips and to prevent loose soils from getting into the shoes.

15. Do I need a trekking stick for the hike?
A hiking stick is useful for providing extra stability and traction when going uphill and reducing strain on joints when going downhill. It is good to have but not absolutely necessary for the Kinabalu trek.

16. Do I need any specialized equipment for the trek?
This is a relatively straightforward trek along well defined path except towards the summit where some scrambling is required to gain your foothold over sandy ground. Except for some cold wear, a good pair trekking shoes and headlights, you do not need other specialized equipment for this trek. Upon booking confirmation, a detailed packing list will be provided to help you pack for your trip.

17. How much drinking water should I carry during the trek?
You should carry at least 1.5 – 2 litres of water for each leg of the trek; from Timpohon Gate to Laban Rata, from Laban Rata to summit and back to Laban Rata and from Laban Rata to Timpohon Gate. Drinking water is available for refill at the Laban Rata accommodation.  

18. Are there any portable water source along the trail?
There are water points for refilling along the trail from Timphon Gate to Laban Rata. However, the sources are untreated spring water which may not be suitable for weak stomachs. Therefore, it is best to bring your own drinking water for the trek or use water purification tablets to treat the water before consumption.

19. How much food should I carry during the trek?
All the major meals (packed lunch and buffet dinner day 01; breakfast and buffet lunch for day 02) will be included in our package. However you may bring some lightweight and easy to pack trail food (energy bar, biscuits, nuts etc.) to munch during the trek.

20. What is accommodation like at Laban Rata?
There are two main type accommodations at Laban Rata; Laban Rata Resthouse and Pendant Hut. Climbers who sign up for the non-ferrata climb will stay at Laban Rata Resthouse (non-heated dormitory with shared bathrooms) while climbers who sign up for the ferrata climb will stay at Pendant Hut (non-heated dormitory with shared bathrooms). Private rooms are also available at both Laban Rata and Pendant Hut but top up is required to upgrade to these rooms and is subjected to availability.

21. Is hot shower available at Laban Rata accommodations?
Water heaters for shower are only available for private rooms in Laban Rata Resthouse and the shared bathrooms in Pendant Hut. However, power failure is not uncommon in Laban Rata; therefore be prepared to shower in the cold.

22. Is high altitude sickness a problem for the climb?
Mount Kinabalu is high enough for altitude sickness which can can be life-threatening. Altitude at Laban Rata where you will be spending the night is considered high at 3,270m. So anybody with a history of altitude sickness or is unsure of how his/her body will respond to the altitude must take serious consideration. Common preventive measures include taking altitude sickness medicines and seeking a previous night stay at Mt Kinabalu Park Resort to aid in acclimation.  Speak to your doctor for further advice. You can also find more information on its symptoms, prevention and treatment at http://www.traveldoctor.co.uk/altitude.htm.

23. Do the guide and porters speaks English?
All the guides and porters are conversant in basic English.

24. Can porters will be hired for the trek?
Porter can be hired on the spot at the National Park HQ; prior booking is not required. The portage fee is RM10 per kg per one way trip between Timpohon Gate and Laban Rata. The minimum portage fee is RM100 per porter for 10kg or less of portage weight.

25. Where can I store my extra belongings/luggage which I do not wish to carry up the mountain?
There is a left luggage service at the Kinabalu Park HQ at RM 10 per luggage piece. Luggage claim tags will be issued which you need to keep for luggage claim after your climb.

26. How much tips is appropriate for the guide?
Tipping is highly encouraged especially for good services. A ballpark figure would be around 50 MYR to the guide for the whole group.

27. Is mobile phone signals presented in the mountains?
Mobile signal is available along most part of the trail even towards the summit.

28. Is travel insurance provided in the package?
Travel insurance is not included in the package. We strongly recommend you to procure your own travel insurance before embarking on the Mount Kinabalu trip. You may also procure travel insurance through us: http://iwannatravel.com.sg/aigtravelguard. For more information, please refer to the brochure (http://iwannatravel.com.sg/downloads/AIG_TravelGuard_Brochure.pdf) and policy wordings (http://iwannatravel.com.sg/downloads/AIG_TravelGuard_PolicyWording.pdf.

 

 

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