Mt. Kinabalu : We Came, We Saw, We Conquered!

Me with Mount Kinabalu at the background.

It was January of 2011 when hubby and I found ourselves packing our bags and taking the flight to Kota Kinabalu to climb the majestically surreal Mt Kinabalu –  4,095 meters above sea level, the lure of  Guinness World Records’ world’s highest via ferrata, was so hard for us to resist that we HAD to try it for ourselves.


A via ferrata (Italian for “iron road”) is a mountain route which is equipped with fixed cables, stemples, ladders, and bridges. 

The use of these allows otherwise isolated routes to be joined to create longer routes which are accessible to people with a wide range of climbing abilities. 

Walkers and climbers can follow via ferratas without needing to use their own ropes and belays, and without the risks associated with unprotected scrambling and climbing. – Wikipedia

Just the perfect husband and wife adventure! 

The day of the climb, our guide picked us up from our hotel and eventually was introduced to two American Navy doctors  and a French Quality Manager of Petzl.  

Our guide was a silent, yet pleasantly friendly Malaysian guy named Francis – It was THE perfect team.
Hubby and I at the Timpohon Gate

The climb started with a refreshing view of Carson’s Waterfalls after Timpohon Gate, 1,866 meters above sea level.

As the elevation increased, lush forest unfolded, flora of all kinds, rock formations that served as our stairs welcomed us as we continued on our seemingly never-ending climb.

The big old trees were such breathtaking sights to behold with their large trunks and the greenest of greens served as our backdrop as we climbed our way towards our destination.

The four hour climb had us taking short recovery stops every once in a while as my heart rate was constantly at 160bpm (oh yes, I was using my HR monitor during the whole climb).

Interestingly, the distance was less than 10km but at 3,289m starting at Timpohon’s  1,866m and acclimating to thin air while climbing, we left the gate at 9:30am and arrived at the Laban Rata base camp at 1:30pm.

Coming from a tropical country, it was the first time for me to experience 10 degrees Celcius. I took a mental note of thanks for bringing along a pair of gloves, bonnet, thermal pants, 2 shirts, and a warm jacket.  Inside Pendant Hut where we were staying, I was freezing. 

By 3:30pm, our Mountain Torq trainer was already familiarizing the five of us on how to work with the steel rungs and cables embracing the mountain’s rock face and eventually, we had our early dinner since we needed to sleep early and wake up at 2am.

At 8:30pm, it was lights out. The room was comfortable and had double beds to accommodate us five climbers – I guess it was excitement plus the low temperature that gave me a hard time sleeping  that I found myself tossing and turning in my sleeping bag until it was 1:45am. 

After our light breakfast, at around 2:30 am it was time for our ascent to Low’s Peak. The highest accessible peak in South East Asia.

It was a freezingly cold non-stop uphill climb that tested our wits and strength. It was all mental, factoring in the steep incline, darkness, near zero temperature – The mind has to agree that you can do it – but it was totally all worth it. 

Our camera conked out on us and we have to ask for a stranger to take this photo for posterity.
Four months after,  he sent us the file via email and we were so happy even if it was a funny unexpected shot.

 Upon reaching Low’s Peak – the highest point – we have to have our picture taken at the peak’s signpost for posterity. But since our camera’s battery died out from the altitude, we have to ask for a stranger to take ours! 

The two American US Navy Doctors and us.

It feels surreal to be transported in a place were you just were looking at in the photographs as posted in the internet and then, actually feeling, being and enveloping yourself with the whole experience – an experience well worth the challenging spectacular climb. 

The sunrise was breathtaking – seeing how it slowly casts its rays to the majestic granite rock face of Low’s Peak makes it seem eerie yet beautiful that even a high end cam would not give justice in capturing how it really looks – there was a bluish green metallic glow on its granite as the sunrise started to show its way and make its presence felt. It was one of those moments that make you feel so thankful to be alive. 

After a few shots with our friend’s camera.  We have to go take on another  task – the via ferrata.

After the initial descent from Low’s Peak, we then met the our Via Ferrata trainer at Sayat Hut @ 3,600m for Walk the Torq – Asia’s first Via Ferrata.

It was such an exhilarating experience going down the mountain via ferrata and knowing that we came, we saw and we conquered.