Mountain Kinabalu via Mesilau Trail
Having made to the summit was always my ultimate aim. Gunung Kinabalu (Mount Kinabalu) summit was marked my success of conquered the highest mountain in Malaysia this time.
Gunung KINABALU (Mount KINABALU) via MESILAU
24 Jun 2012 | Mountain Kinabalu via Mesilau Trail
Back to the failed attempt to the summit in Sept 2009, triggered me to try again whenever there’s chance. Time has passed yearly until June 2012, I was able to grab a chance to attempt to the Gunung Kinabalu‘s summit via Mesilau Trail.
In fact, I jump into easy decision-making to climb this mountain again.
Of course, one month notice wasn’t good enough for us on physical preparation but I confident enough maybe because all these while, all my mountain climbing was involve much trodden, longer and tougher trek. Forget about the altitude and temperature preparation. Not much we can do for this. Swimming more frequent, perhaps may help for under pressure breathing?
Although this was a second time we attempted Mount Kinabalu, our challenge was compounded with the climb happened on 3rd & 4th day of our 4D3N itinerary. Means, we descended on the same day of our departure day to KL. Less advantage for us to take rest after the climb, straight to the airport. Suffer huh? However, we took advantage to visit interesting places before our hike. This was a reward we gained. Haha.
Our Gunung Kinabalu via Mesilau expedition started when we landed our foot at KKIA (Kota Kinabalu International Airport) Terminal 2 by AirAsia flight before noon. Merely 2.5 hours flight from KL. We greeted by Madam Wong, a coordinator cum companion from WW Adventure Tour & Travel who with us for the rest of our trip. She taken care our itinerary from food to accommodation and transportation.
Kota Kinabalu International Airport Terminal 2 (KKIA)
She stayed in the same hotel with us on first 2 days before our climb. She brought us to famous food and shares with us her life experience, which indeed a true from heart. A truly different character from all kind of tour organizer that I met before.
Day 1 … 11.00am – Free N Easy at Kota Kinabalu
A free and easy tour on Day 1 after we check-in Hotel Traveller, a truly budget hotel but clean and comfortable. Although it was a free and easy day, Mdm Wong brought us for lunch, walk around town and night market.
Our experience on Day 1 was pretty much like relax at the city of Kota Kinabalu.
Checking-in Hotel Traveller … a truly budget accommodation
Room corridor … painted in orange
Our budget room … basic accommodation
View from our room … a short walk to any eatery & night market
5.30pm … Walk to the KK Waterfront & surrounding
Night market can be anywhere in KK city. One thing I observed was food, wet market & souvenir are separated. You won’t able to find drink stall at souvenir market and vice-versa. Not mix up with everything like night market in KL or PJ.
Watching sunset @ KK Waterfront
Wet Market … all sort of vege, seafood & dry food
Souvenir (Pasar Kraftangan) Market … next to Food Bazaar
Quiet night market on Friday night … all souvenir stalls
At 9.00pm, we went back our hotel for early rest. Good night.
Day 2 … 8.30am … Kota Kinabalu attractions
Early in the morning, we went to nearby famous eatery shop for breakfast. We met Mdm Wong at the lobby where she brought us for few places of food. We settled at two places for breakfast.
Old Kopitiam … famous with Sheng Rou Mian
Sheng Rou Mian … pork slices mee
Thin slices of fresh pork are lightly boiled in hot broth, served with dark soy sauce and pork lard noodles. This is for noodles lovers. This is another local dish that you must try if you’re at Kota Kinabalu.
Seng Hing Coffee Shop … another round of breakfast
Seafood Mee Soup … cost RM8.00
Tuaran Mee … must try, cost RM6.00
11.30am … Check-out from Hotel Traveller
Transportation arranged to fetch us all the way from KK city to Kinabalu Park. While travelling, we’ve stopped by for grocery purchase, lunch, Signal Hill Observatory Tower & Upside Down House.
Signal Hill Observatory Tower of Kota Kinabalu
Signal Hill … the highest point in the city
Next stop was Upside Down House (Rumah Terbalik) at Tamparuli, district of Tuaran.
This unique house will turn your world upside down. Everything inside the house are above your head, we’re standing on the ceiling. There is a Kancil parked upside down also. No in-house photo is allowed, only outside is allowed. Penalty on RM100 per photo will be imposed or photo will get deleted on the spot, according to the tour guide.
An entrance fees inside the House is RM10 with guided tour. Visiting just outside the house is FREE.
Famous Rumah Terbalik @ Tamparuli
The entrance of the House … guided tour
Amazing house … upside down
Even car is upside down … Kancil type
Officially opened on 9 March 2012 … barely less than 4 months back
5.00pm … Check-in Mountain Resthouse @ Kinabalu Park HQ
The mentality test was finally here. Are we really prepared for the endurance test in about 14 hours from now?
Mountain Resthouse is suitable for the budget conscious backpackers. It has the cheapest bed for rental.
- Room One RM 70
- Family Room RM 70
- Dormitory bed RM 20
The kitchen would come in handy for anyone who wants to do some simple cooking themselves. We brought some raw food, fruits and vege for this purpose. Facilities here are very limited, a gas stove, some fried pans, and pots are the only cooking tools provided.
We stayed in Family Room, consists of 1 twin bed & 1 single bed (Room 4). Temperature here ranges from 19°C to 17°C at night. Our unit comes with water heater. Lucky though.
Check-in Mountain Resthouse … just 300m from Park HQ
Off your shoes please … if too cold, wear socks will do
Walkway to living area and kitchen … more rooms behind this building
Spacious room … with shower heater
Spaces for group chat & briefing … with Astro channel
Kitchen & utensil available … for own cook and drinks
5.30pm … Walk to Kinabalu Park HQ for leisure visit
After settled our luggage and order our dinner menu, we proceed to have a short walk to the Park HQ for leisure visit. The park entrance fees cost RM3 per pax.
Welcome to Kinabalu Park … world heritage site
Road leading to the Park HQ … huge bus parking area & eatery place
Entrance fees chart … all the way I thought was free until we registered
Our guide cum coordinator … Mdm Wong.
Atmospheric phenomena … the disappearance of the sun
Mdm Wong seems excited … went back to take the digicam for sunset scene
Our home cooks dinner … by Mountain Resthouse
A big mission was awaiting us tomorrow.
We were confident enough because we’d done quite a number of mountains. We trained successfully under mountains such as Gunung Rajah, Gunung Senyum & Gunung Nuang.
In addition, we have done a few tough hill-hiking previously such as Pinnacles of Mulu, 7 trails of Fraser Hill, Cross-station of Apeh Hill and some waterfalls trekking.
Therefore, we took our nap as early as 10pm to allow our body to take advantage with full boost.
Day 3 … 6.45am … Mesilau Trail to Laban Rata (8.2km route)
The traditional route up is via Timpohon trail. However, attempting Mount KK via Mesilau called the Mesilau Summit Trail required longer hour and challenging route.
Mesilau trail is much more mystic and scenic with trek of montane forest, past few shiny streams and on ridges. This trail is for those who are looking more adventurous trail.
Due to this, we woke up much earlier at 6.00am, had our breakfast from 6.15am onwards. Getting ready to register by 7.00am when Park HQ open.
Morning weather and skies at 6.15am … unbelievable bright
Colorful bird is around … wake you up with chirping sound
Bugs will bug you … can be easily found everywhere in this resthouse
Moths also can be seen everywhere … even on the floor if you’re not caution
Good morning Mountain Kinabalu … I’m coming!
7.30am … Transferred to Mesilau Trail Operation Office
From the Park HQ, we transferred by car (since only 2 of us plus our mountain guide) to Mesilau Trail Operation Office about 7.20am and reached before 8.00am.
Before that we’d taken our lunch pack, name tag and hiking stick. I never used porter to carry my bag which weight total of 10kg (unexpected lunch pack which contributed about 2kg).
All my hiking life, this was the heaviest I ever carry. Not even I’ve been trained for this weight. I fear but I trust my leg and shoulder to withstand this. Part of the reason was the bag designs which easy to carry, so no problem.
Our first step into the trail has marked our journey. We can have our sweet time walking past entire trail from KM1 – KM3 while having an endurance test from KM3 – KM7. After we met up with other fellow climbers at KM5 inter-junction of Timpohon & Mesilau Trail, our count has started from KM5 again.
The series of photograph captured below. Enjoy.
Moving our steps into Mesilau Trail … through a small entrance
Trail is wide with rocks … similar to Gunung Datuk if you still remember
All the way up … hardly have flat terrain since started
Hope for view … the view finally show in front of me
First KM done in 40 minutes … not acceptable to keep this pace
Met the first shelter … called Schima
Still early for a rest … continue until saw KM 1.5
Met second shelter … called Bambu
Start of descending trail … all the way down for 1km distance
Enjoy & catch up my lost time … since Mesilau a bit longer to complete
Met a small waterfall nearby … continue to look for a shelter
Third shelter … called Nepenthes
Buck-up … completed 50% of the Mesilau trail
Reached the hanging bridge … called Kipuyut
Many prefer to hang on for photo shoot … it’s a check-point anyway
Beginning of stair cases trilogy … real hiking started
2.5 hours passed … did 3.5km trail hiking in Mesilau, sounds good?
Fourth shelter … called Tikalod
Visible trek … wonderful flora
KM 4 … spent 3 hours already
KM 4.5 … 3.5 hours passed
Torturing steps … must go on
Fifth shelter … called Lompoyou
Scenic trek start to be seen … after Pondok Lompoyou
At KM 5.5 … almost 5 hours used up to here
Speechless … but better than Timpohon stair cases
Windy & cold air at this altitude … feel relax for a while
Lompoyou Shelter can be seen from here … interesting to know
Met the inter-junction of Timpohon & Mesilau trail … East meet West
Even though 2km more … legs refused to move faster
Restarting my count from 6.2km to 4.5km … what a demotivating figure
At KM 5 … completed 1km in 1 hr plus? Oh, I’m getting slower.
Vegetation at this altitude change gradually … no more taller tree, all bonsai look
At Paka Shelter … I know it’s near, but body refuse to go faster
Passed 3pm at KM 5.5 … hope to make KM6 it before 4pm
Voila … happy to see Waras Hut
Found out … Laban Rata was another 10 minutes distance
Wow … I reached by 4pm at Laban Rata cafe to check-in
Dinner yet to start … I moved my bags to room first
Our room (No.1) located at the very first … the end of this walkway
Many do not take bath because of water heater not available until further notice by Laban Rata management. They’d a notice to inform that electricity volume not enough to be use by the heater hence had been turned off.
The normal water from the washroom & bathroom was true ICY and you can easily get numb for whole body. I was tried once before, so without any doubt, I bathed with this ICY CUBE water with jumping up and down.
I hold myself to withstand this torture as long as I don’t catch cold at the end.
Double decker bed … shared with another foreign couple
Look out from small windows … better close to keep the air warm
Foods were getting tastier. Since everyone of us paid so much for the accommodation plus meal, the chef did a good job for the food.
Maybe we were too tired and hungry, everything lands on our plate will be completely finished!
My full loaded DINNER plate … terribly hungry for energy
After dinner … we decided to go for a walk outside
Till this point … KM 6 will be our starting point tomorrow midnight
The highest peak can be easily reached by fit trekkers without much equipment. But this Via-Ferrata is needed much more technical skills and gears plus some rock climbing experience. For those who seek more challenging Mount Kinabalu can choose this descend route from Low’s Peak. An additional cost need to top-up for this route, Mount Kinabalu via Ferrata.
Saw a hut … called Pendant Hut, for Ferrata hikers
I’m ready for tomorrow ascent to Summit … tries to overcome coldness first
Group picture … as first timer for them, they exceeded the expectation
Came back into the cafe to have a sip of hot coffee … before get back to prepare for tomorrow
We slept very early, around 8pm. By then, we have at least 5 hours of nap to let our body to re-energize. Challenges during at night where coldness sip into our body. I wore Long John and all necessary clothing for tomorrow hiking, plus socks and gloves.
This is important to keep my body warm and migraine from attacking me. To add-up, I’d acti-Fast panadol and pain killer. Temporary medicine can keep my mental energy from being affected. At this altitude, anything can strike your body to weaken.
Day 4 … 1.50am … Final ascends to the top of Mount Kinabalu
I was able to sleep, few hours I think. Woke up at 9pm & 11pm before my phone alarm rang at 1.30am.
Mentally strong is important at this point. Some of the people would rather stop at this point due to heavy migraine. Tiredness and sore muscle weren’t a problem as long as no pain or injured felt.
Supper (not breakfast) started at 2am. So we quickly ate our light breakfast, but not too full. Meet up our guide to start early at 2.15am. However, the gate to the Summit will only be opened at 2.30am, leaving a group of energetic hikers wait at the gate.
Early supper … temperature believe to be lesser than 10 Celsius
Tasty meehoon, fried rice and eggs + bread … delicious no matter how
Wait at the Gate to the Summit … near Gunting Lagadan Hut
Sunrise … temporarily can be seen from this location
At Summit … since I missed sunrise, it’s more like sun ray to me now
Not going to miss this REAL PEAK photo … Low’s Peak
Not going to miss the chance to follow us … at Kinabalu’s peak
Barely 30 mins at Peak … start to descend by 6.45am
Pond that never ever dry, 365 days in a year … people throw coin and make wish to this pond
KM 8.5 spotted … real distance to the Peak is KM 8.7
Our ONE Ringgit back note image … check it out now
KM 8 checkpoints … 700m distance from the peak
Illusion created here … walk down to the edge
Think of sliding down easier … sun heat started to feel here
Very steep until feel like rolling down … must hold the rope while going down
That was how I went up in the dark midnight using rope … nice view of Kundasang town
Steep until walk horizontally … no more vertically
Final descend … no rope anymore, beginning of stair cases
At 9.00am, we reached Laban Rata. I strive to achieve as fast as possible because room check-out need to be done at 10.30am or else penalty of RM100 for every hour late check-out.
I managed to give myself ample of time packing and clean up ourselves before going for breakfast meal. Yes, our breakfast meal quite similar to our supper. Doesn’t matter anyway. I’m needing this to continue my remaining 6km down to Timpohon Gate.
Simple breakfast … energy supply for 6km trek down
Time was enough for us … at 10.20am ready for descend
Goodbye to Laban Rata … till we meet again one day
Going down was easy … promised no injured or pain involved
Voila … reached Timpohon Gate at 2.00pm (3.5 hours taken)
We received our certification of 2, one is Summit and another one is for Mesilau Trail on the spot when we reached the Gate. Mdm Wong was so coincidence happened to be there to settle something there, met us happily and congrats us.
The fate draws us to meet at the Gate.
We transferred back to Park HQ via private van. They dropped us and thus our guide/agent will settle our transport back to our accommodation or airport.
Since we’ve reached early, we can have our lunch without rush @ Balsam Restaurant. Food quality was average with not so fresh and tasty. Once I taste it, I don’t feel like refill my food anymore. One word can best describe the food, lack of freshness!
Lunch at Balsam Buffet Restaurant … nice setting but poor quality food
My plate of lunch … buffet style
Nice environment and setting … enjoy the breeze of air
Lunch was taken in short time only. We still have ample time to clean up ourselves at nearby hostel in Park HQ. Mdm Wong directed one of the van send us to Grace Hostel for clean-up at their public bathroom.
Once done, we walked back to the Park HQ to board our airport taxi. We waved goodbye to Mdm Wong for her good service as tour guide. We shall meet again, if not in Sabah, in Kuala Lumpur perhaps.
Our flight was 8.15pm, we reached airport at 6pm. We killed our time at KFC while waiting for boarding.
Boarding the flight on the same day of descending was a real test on our physically & mentally situation. We bid goodbye to Mount Kinabalu and Sabah by the flight went off from the ground.
For those who are interested on our cost and budget, the following itinerary and cost explained for all.
Day 1 – Pick up from airport and transfer to city, check in Hotel Traveller.
Day 2 – Pick up from Hotel Traveller. Transfer to Kinabalu Park. En-route visit Signal Hill, Rumah Terbalik and Pekan Nabalu for some handicraft. Continue journey to Kinabalu Park, register and check in Mountain Resthouse (300 meter from the Park). Briefing before sleep.
Day 3 – Own breakfast at Mountain Resthouse. Transfer to Mesilau Nature Resort. Meet the guide and commence climb to Laban Rata. Upon arrival, check in Laban Rata Resthouse. Dinner at Restaurant. Early sleep.
Day 4 – Supper at Restaurant. With guide, ascend to the summit of Mt Kinabalu. After witness the sunrise, descend to Laban Rata for breakfast. Must descend to Timpohon Gate by 10.00 am and arrive gate at 2pm. Transfer to Park for lunch. Transfer to Kota Kinabalu and onward to airport.
Quotation price = RM970 per pax
- [Ascend] Mesilau to Laban Rata (8.2km, 8 hr, Start: 8.00am – 4.00pm)
- [Ascend] Laban Rata to Summit (2.7km, 4 hr, Start: 2.15am – 6.15am)
- [Descend] Summit to Laban Rata (2.7km, 2.25 hr, Start: 6.45am – 9.00am)
- [Descend] Timpohon (6km, 3.5hrs, 10.30am – 1.50pm)
Total hiking distance = 19.6km
Total hiking time = ~18 hours
Again, this itinerary was made exactly one month before with WW Adventure Tour & Travel. By trying luck to check whether there’s 2 pax availability on my said date of travel. My flight was booked much earlier a year back during promotion (RM52 per pax for return flight). I was having split choice between Gunung Kinabalu or Gunung Trusmadi. The reason why it was delay until final decision has to be made. It proved to be correct choice.