Mount Kinabalu – A Climb for the Ages

What is the tallest non-Himalayan Mountain in Asia? The answer is Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia.

Mount Kinabalu reaches an elevation of 4,095m and is a two-day 18km hike. It was cool that I got an opportunity to scale such a grand peak as a twelve-year-old. I was the youngest climber among the climbers that day! My parents and I had prepared for this hike for 3 months before going on the trip. So, make no mistake, this would not be a walk in the park, but it would be worth it.

We stayed at J Residence the night before, and the following day, we got driven to the check-in point. We started our trek from Timpohon gate. Luckily, the first 250m of the trek were downhill, giving us an easy start. After that, we began climbing steps and rocky slopes. We reached the first shelter in half an hour. The shelters are positioned at regular intervals on the trail to provide seating and toilets. The second kilometre was a sharp climb, so we went very slowly. Around us were big trees and bushes that gave us shade and helped us climb without the sun in our eyes.


After much walking, we reached the Layang Layang Hut at the 4km point, where we ate our sumptuous lunch provided at the check-in. The last 2km post-lunch was harder. The difficulty was actually due to rocky slopes replacing regular steps. We slowly but surely scrambled around the rocks. I chose to get rid of my hiking stick and go in with both hands on the steep parts. After doggedly making our way through the stretch of rocks, we arrived at Laban Rata, where we would stay the night.

We ate dinner early as we were to wake up early to climb the summit. At about 2:45 am, we started the last 2.72km climb to the peak, and we had to reach there by 4:00 am – the final checkpoint. After this, there was a steep slope with a rope down the middle that you had to grab to pull yourself up. It was meant to be 300m of this, but it felt a lot more. You need some upper body strength to pull yourself up the rope.

340 ToSummit

This led us to the last part of the ascent, which was a gentle but continuous climb. I was a bit tired by now, and this was a true struggle because there was no flat section for respite; it was a constant climb. The very last section approaching the peak was a rocky area with uneven landings, needing all my energy and resolve.

After much effort, we reached the top with a feeling of victory. Sitting on top of the mountain, thoroughly tired and panting, I was full of joy and pride. I had climbed a truly grand mountain. We took a break to take in the view, clicked some pictures at the summit point and then set off back down.

347 KinabaluSummit

Climbing down was hard, especially on the stairs, as we had not practiced climbing down that much. We struggled a lot to get down and limp our way down the steps. It required a lot of determination, and I was ready to give up, but we made it by 6 pm. We returned to the base, receiving shining colourful certificates of completion. If you want details, tips, tricks, and more about the climb, read my blog here:

Last reviewed: February 20, 2023

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