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29 April 2009

Conquering the Mountain

By Katherine

In my blog profile I mentioned there were a few things on my list of ‘things to do’,one being the Macau bungee jump and the other being Mount Kinabalu. Well, I’m pleased, no extremely proud, to say that the latter is now completed!
February 4 saw me, and 22 other AirAsia staff, from Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur set off to climb and conquer Mount Kinabalu.

After an early night, on Day 1 we started the climb at around 9am. It was a chilly morning but it felt great to be in the fresh outdoors and we were all excited about the day ahead…(if not a little apprehensive!)
What a day!? I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel the strain in my legs, but every step was well worth it for the spectacular views on the way up (and up, and up!) What I found very interesting was how the terrain changed as the altitude increased. Speaking of altitude, I luckily didn’t seem to suffer from any sickness which I was relieved about!

Just before 1pm myself and a fellow colleague reached Laban Rata where we would be staying overnight to rest up before the sunrise climb.

Although the walk up was great – so was the knowledge that we could sit in the warmth and relax! While you are welcome to help yourselves to the free tea and coffee its also a great chance to meet the other people who were there – you’ve all been through the same experience.

After lots of makan to re-fuel its early to bed to prepare for the 2am start the next day.
We were unfortunate – we woke up to the sounds of rain pouring down…not ideal!
But our group was high in spirits and keen to do what we had set out to do – conquer Kinabalu!

With rain jackets on and only our head torches lighting the way we began the upward climb towards Low’s Peak. Soon all the aches and pains from the climb the day before became apparent but all you can do is push forward – that we did.

Even through the rain and wind we carried on, with 13 of our group reaching the peak. What a moment! To stand at over 4000m above sea level is something most people never achieve. It is not only the breath taking views, but the pure sense of accomplishment that is quite overwhelming. To see the sun rise (although it was slightly cloudy) was truly an incredible experience – one that is not given justice in even the most exquisite words or pictures.

Friends had warned me that the downward climb would be tougher than the climb up so I expected the worst, but I thank fully found it to be bearable. With a few breaks on the way down, it is a great chance to soak in the views before a quick stop again at Laban Rata. Here again you have time to chat about your experience with fellow climbers. But it’s not over quite yet…you still have the next 6km down hill before you can say ‘I did it!’.
And believe me, the last kilometer really takes it out of you but then you finally reach the entry point. Altogher it took me 10hours of climbing up/down. At the bottom is a list of the record times for the climbathon; the record time is 2hrs 39min! In honesty I don’t care – I had done it and I felt great!

After my fantastic experience I would definitely consider going again – and I’m hoping to do so later in the year via the Mesilau Trail (2km longer than Timpohon).
I would recommend the Mount Kinabalu experience to anyone – but do not underestimate the physical challenges you will face – not only during the climb itself but the after effects on your muscles – you should have seen me walking downstairs the day after!

But as we say at AirAsia; ‘Believe the unbelievable, dream the impossible’

  • Yee

    Interesting.. 10 out of 10 people went to mount kinabalu will found it great and promise to challenge again… seems that i need to make my first trip there as well…

    any special training required before challenging the real mount?

  • Ai Bao

    Yes, I’ve just climbed to the summit on 24 April. It was a perfect weather!
    Go AirAsia!

  • Yap

    Nothing beats the feeling of ‘I’ve done it’

    It’s said those who have climbed Mt Kinabalu are of a different class.
    Only those who have been there know the feeling of this great accomplishment.

    Many world class climbers come there and you get to meet people from all over the world.

    Climb Mt Kinabalu in Dec 2004. My first flight on Air Asia. It is still my most cherished experience amongst all my travel destinations.

    Yee, 3 months training up and down stairs is the best. But if young and fit should be have no problem.

  • Devi Da Lil Devil

    great n congrats…if just i could get hold of my frens n book the accomodation at laban rata..one of my mission might be accomplished then…finger crossed.


  • Chu

    Hey Katherine…congratulation that you made it to the top!

    Just fyi, I am going to conquer this coming June 11. I am excited about this trip as I love the spectacular view a lot. Thanks for sharing your experience and fond memory. I can feel that you cherished the moment very much.

    I had prepared all my hiking paraphernalia. I am waiting for the day to arrive. Wow…really looking forward to that trip. Well, I am prepared mentally & physically. Through my weekly jogging, I just wish my muscle won’t ache severely after the hike. Go go go….have a nice day.

  • Soon Kok

    Katherine, reading your blog really made me recall back all my climbing experiences ya! Raining on the peak of the mountain? Oh gosh.. must be hard for you to go up! Luckily the trip was not cancelled. (They usually do that if raining in the morning!)

    Oh ya! i bet that you MUST try the Mesilau Trail next time.. although is longer than Timpohon Trail, BUT you can have the chance to observe the biggest picther plant (Nepenthes rajah) and better view!

    Only 4 to 5 hours are spent from Timpohon Gate BUT it can takes as long as 8 hours! I even have an experience where i reached Laban Rata at 7pm! Phew.. walking in the dark..!

    Superb nice experience to go climbing at Mt. Kinabalu. The only thing which is not-so-satisfy is the PRICE of accommodation! Imagine 6 years ago you only need to pay RM32 a night for Laban Rata and the price doubled up from years to years since 2005 and now is RM330 per night! (Ya..ya..taking the food as package and excuse..)

    Not everyone can climb…! T_T

    Yeah.. i am going up again in about 2 weeks time , is my 5th time! Gooooo….!

  • Katherine


    You should definately make a trip there – very worth while…especially for me as a foreigner – you have to experience these sorts of things when you can!

    I didn’t do any specific type of training as I’m generally very active with running, swimming, squash, tennis, and even the occasional bit of touch rugby! Even saying that I was quite stiff afterwards! But it only takes a couple days to recover and it is well worth it…so nothing stopping you now!

  • Katherine


    Thanks for your comment…get your friends organised and book the accommodation – you won’t regret it…and you can even arrange a couple days in KK to chill out afterwards on some of the amazing islands around there – that should tempt them!

  • Katherine

    Ooi Soon Kok,

    Sounds like your hooked on Kinabalu…5th time?! Wow – that’s an achievement – maybe you should consider the climbathon?! I must say I think those people are a bit mad!

    Happy climbing and I’ll write another blog if and when I go on the Mesilau Trail (hopefully reaching there before 7pm!)