Mt Kinabalu trail has reopened
The next morning we awoke at the unfriendly hour of 2am for breakfast after being told that we should be leaving for the summit at 2:30am. However, this was not the case as 2:30am is the time that the slower individuals should leave. The both of us, along with a German guy called Matthius were the last to depart the facility at 3:45am, and along with our guide we began the windy stretch to the peak. Head torches were needed as it was pitch black and the terrain was difficult to navigate, but this was one of the highlights of our walk as it felt rather adventurous clambering over rocks in the darkness with the wind howling past! At parts a rope was needed to haul ourselves up the steeper sections which was actually a welcomed break from all the stairs! We reached the summit (4095) in 2 hours, overtaking many people on their hands and knees crawling up the rocks! The view from the peak was incredible but we couldn’t stay long as it was freezing up there, we were so glad we’d brought gloves with us! It was pretty amazing slowly seeing where we were as the sun started to rise – up until then we had no clue as to what our surroundings looked like!
Mt Kinabalu was closed for nearly six months after the tragic Earthquake last June. It re-opened on December 1st with the first group of climbers, mountain guides and journalists reaching the summit the following morning.
The main change is the new route along the summit trail. Major parts of the summit trail above Laban Rata were damaged during the earthquake with much of the trail covered with rocks and rubble. After surveying the section it was decided that it wasn’t feasible to repair that section because the rocks were unstable and still shifting. The park authorities decided to to construct two new trails skirting around the old trail, one to the west and another to the east. The two trails will leave from Laban Rata and meet at the Sayat-Sayat checkpoint.
The first of the new trails, Ranau Trail, is now open. It’s more scenic (yay!), more challenging (um…) and several hundred metres longer (boo!) than the previous trail. Amazing Borneo has posted the video below onto YouTube:
As you can see, the major changes are the construction of steps up the rock face and the boulder-strewn trail. The last part is the main concern. That’s not going to be easy at night. I reckon that head lamps have been promoted from “highly recommended” to “absolutely essential”. You can also see some of the aftermath of the earthquake: loose rocks on the plateau, broken signs and so on.
The other trail, Kota Belud Trail, is still under construction but the completion date hasn’t been announced yet.