March 20, 2023

A climb to the summit of Borneo’s Mount Kinabalu is an unforgettable adventure

Avoid rain cancellations on your trip to the summit of Mount Kinabalu by going during the March-to-April dry season.
Seeing the sunrise from 13,435 feet at the summit of Mount Kinabalu, Asia’s fourth-tallest mountain, is an awe-inspiring experience. The trek will test your physical limits—and perhaps your fear of heights—but it is well worth it for the sheer adventure, and the view.

For the climb, you need to be in decent shape, but you don’t need expert climbing skills or altitude training. Expert mountaineering guides lead you along the steeper via ferrata (iron road, in Italian), which are steel cables fixed to rock along precarious climbing sections. A tool developed in the Alps, this is the only via ferrata in Asia.

Most travelers take two days for the trek, beginning at Timpohon Gate, inside Kinabalu National Park. From there, it’s a five-hour climb along stone steps to the modest Laban Rata rest house. You’ll get a sense for how popular this trek is, sharing dinner with hundreds of other climbers.

Then it’s early to bed and 2 am to rise, when set out to the summit, paradoxically named Low’s Peak, equipped with headlamps and harnesses during your slow ascent via iron cables. Your reward is the amazing view above the cloud line, with sun streaming through the mist and the mountainous land below dropping off into the sea.

But the adventure isn’t over: you’ll wear a harness for the steep descent along the via ferrata. The trip down includes a thrilling walk across a narrow suspended walkway, 11,811 feet above ground—not for the faint of heart.

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