Kinabalu National Park
Mount Kinabalu (elevation : 4095m) is the highest mountain in Malaysia (both by prominence as well as sheer elevation), and is also the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea. Based on topographic prominence, Mount Kinabalu also happens to be the 20th highest mountain in the world, but only the third highest mountain in Southeast Asia behind Hkakabo Razi (elevation : 5881m) in Myanmar, and Puncak Jaya (elevation : 4884m), also known as Carstensz Pyramid, in Indonesia. Mount Kinabalu is basically a massive granite intrusion (or a to be precise) that was formed when magma solidified underground before being thrust upwards through the Earth's crust by tectonic movements millions of years ago.Mount Kinabalu was completely covered by glaciers approximately 100,000 years ago. As the glaciers flowed down the mountain's sides, they scoured the granite surface below and left smooth slopes that were surrounded by craggy spires in their wake. The glaciers also created the 1800m-deep Low's Gully, which is considered one of the least explored and most inhospitable places on earth. The gully begins with a sheer drop down the northern slopes of Low's Peak (elevation : 4095m), supposedly the highest point of Mount Kinabalu.
There used to be two one-day climbing options, one of which was a one-day hike but since the end of 2015 the permit has been suspended due to safety issues. The other option is the Kinabalu Climbathon (which I participated in back in 2011), which has now become a biennial event and will next be held in 2019. The normal hike however, begins from Timpohon Gate (elevation : 1866m) and usually takes two days. You start off, after staying the night at Kinabalu Park, by ascending to Laban Rata (elevation : 3272m) from Timpohon on the first day, and to the summit from Laban Rata around 02:30 on the second day. From the summit, you then descend all the way back to Timpohon Gate on the same day.If you are a slow hiker, please be aware that there is a cut-off time of 05:00 at Sayat-Sayat Hut (elevation : 3668m), and if you do not reach there by that time and are only staying one night in Laban Rata, they will tell you to turn back. The reason for the cut-off is to ensure that you are able to reach the summit and make it back to Laban Rata for breakfast before the check-out time, which is at 10:30. There is a MYR100 fine for every room for each hour after the check-out time. There is also an overtime charge for the mountain guides for groups that fail to make it back to Timpohon Gate before 16:30. Fortunately, there is an option where you can stay two nights in Laban Rata instead. This will give you the option of leaving later for the summit push if you wish to get some decent rest, as the 05:00 cut-off at Sayat-Sayat Hut does not apply to those who are staying two nights in Laban Rata. This is because they will only begin the hike back down to Timpohon Gate the next day after the summit push.The most important thing that you need to both understand and remember is that this hike takes place at high altitudes. Ascending from near sea level to more than 3000 metres raises the risk of altitude sickness to moderate levels. Please ensure that you ascend slowly to allow yourself enough time to acclimatise, and consider taking Acetazolamide as a prophylactic since studies show that the medication is approximately 75% effective in preventing AMS in those who rapidly ascend to altitudes of 3000 to 4500 metres (Wilderness Medicine, 6th Edition - Paul S. Auerbach). Also be sure to remember the mountaineering maxim, "climb high, sleep low", and the rule of not exceeding an elevation gain of 500 metres a day when above 3000 metres. Rushing things could very well ruin your trip.The price for the Mount Kinabalu summit hike is unfortunately quite exorbitant. The permits, which cost MYR50 per person for Malaysians and MYR200 per person for foreigners (MYR30/80 for those under 18 years of age), are only granted to hikers who will be staying at the mountain huts at Laban Rata (elevation : 3272m). As such, one's total expenditure will skyrocket once the accommodation and food costs are included. There are also a limited number of places at the mountain huts, so bookings need to be made very early on in order to secure one of the 130 daily slots. Local mountain guides are also made mandatory for all the hikes to the summit. The rates are now MYR230 for each guide, with each guide being limited to five climbers who are sixteen years and above, or two climbers who are below sixteen years old.With that being said, here is a quick disclaimer: Before we go on, please jot down the numbers that are listed below. If you do see any suspicious behaviour when out hiking, encounter things like traps and snares, or even see protected animals or their parts that are sold as either collectibles, pets, or for (so-called) medicine, then please do not hesitate to contact the wildlife crime hotline. Be sure to try and document it as best you can with photos or video without putting yourself in danger, and take note of the details: descriptions of those who are involved, as well as when and where it took place.
"The Wildlife Crime Hotline, managed by the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT), provides YOU an avenue to report offences involving endangered wildlife in Malaysia. We protect the identity of all informants, only key info of the reports are forwarded to the authorities."