lavish travel

Mount Kinabalu Climb and Walk the Torq Via Ferrata

After 2 years of MCO, I finally had my first flight although it is within Malaysia. However, it is my first time visiting East Malaysia and it is to climb Mount Kinabalu. If you bring your passport, you can skip filling up a form and you get a stamp of Sabah in your passport 🙂

3 person at airport
Ready to climb Mount Kinabalu

We purchased our 3D2N Mount Kinabalu package with Ohana Adventure Sport as they offer the cheapest package. The first day is free and easy so we just rest ourselves. However, it was raining very heavily the first night and we were all praying hard that it rain it all out that night so that we get good weather for the next 2 days.

Day 1 – Start of Mount Kinabalu Climb

Our prayers were heard and the next day it was a good weather. After taking our breakfast, the van pick us off from our accommodation to the Kinabalu Park. Here you can rent hiking sticks for RM10 and you can hire a porter for RM13 per kg to and fro Panalaban. I would suggest to rent a stick if you do not have one and also hiring a porter helps a lot in your climb. You will also get your tag to climb Mount Kinabalu which you have to wear it at all times.

Kinabalu Park tag for Mount Kinabalu

There is also a platform for you to take a photo at the park with the gorgeous mountain:

Kinabalu Park attraction

Once you are ready, you will take a van to the entrance of Mount Kinabalu to start your hiking journey.

Start of Mount Kinabalu hike

The first pondok that you will reach after the entrance is Pondok Timpohon.

Pondok Timpohon

After Pondok Timpohon, there are 7 more pondok before you reach Panalaban which is the checkpoint for Day 1. Here are some pondok photos that I took:

Pondok Kandis Pondok Ubah Pondok Mempening Pondok Layang-Layang

When you reach Layang Layang, it means you have climbed 4km and left with 2km more to Panalaban. However, the last 2km of Day 1 is steeper which is more challenging. Therefore, a lot of climbers will stop here for a break and to have lunch before continuing their journey.

Just before Pondok Villosa (near to 5km), if the weather is nice, you can get a nice view of Mount Kinabalu.

Guy with Mount Kinabalu at the back

Before 5km, you will see distance markers every 500m. However, when you reach 5.3km, you will see a marker every 100m. This is because the last km is one of the hardest for Day 1 so every 100m is a milestone.

Checkpoint of Day 1 – Panalaban

We started the climb of Mount Kinabalu at 9am and reached Panalaban around 2.35pm which is a 5 hours 35 minutes climb.

Panalaban of Mount Kinabalu

Guy with Panalaban sign

The clouds are really nice at Panalaban thanks to the good weather.

As we opted for Low’s Peak Circuit via ferrata, we have a safety briefing at Pendant Hut at 3.30pm. The latest cut-off time for the briefing is 4pm. After that, we went for our buffet dinner and taking lots of photos before resting ourselves at 8pm.

1 guy 2 girls with clear sky behind with Ohana Adventure Sports hikers

Day 2 – Mount Kinabalu Summit Attack

Day 2 climb starts at 2.30am once the gate is opened. To receive your certification with colors, you will have to reach the Sayat Sayat Check Point by 5.30am. Do remember to show your tag to ‘check in’ with the officer here before continuing to the top.

Sayat Sayak checkpoint

The sun rises around 5.15am and we arrived at the peak around 5.30am for some nice photos below:

guy at top of Mount Kinabalu sunrise St John's peak and South Peak

As the cut-off time for Low’s Peak Circuit via ferrata is 6.30am, we didn’t wait for the sun to rise more for better shots as we need to rush back down to the gathering point. When we reached the 7.5km sign, it was 6.32am and we saw no one at the gathering point so we thought we were early. At 6.37am, 2 guides appear from the side of the mountain and told us they have closed the route. Me and my friend tried different approaches and reasons to plead the guide to let us do the Low’s Peak Circuit via ferrata but to no avail. However, he said that we still can rush for Walk the Torq via ferrata as the cut-off time is 7.15am. So with a heavy heart, we went to the gathering point of Walk the Torq at the Sayat Sayat checkpoint.

However, me and my friend had a great time doing the Walk the Torq under the care of the same guide that denied us entry to Low’s Peak Circuit. The guide is really nice and friendly, however, rules are rules and there is no exception, especially at this sacred Mount Kinabalu.

Walk the Torq via ferrata, Mount Kinabalu Cable Monkey Bridge - Walk the Torq via ferrata

Walk the Torq no hands photo
Must have ‘look ma, no hands!’ photo

Once you reached back to the Kinabalu Park, you can obtain your certs with your agency or guide.

Mount Kinabalu certification Walk the Torq via ferrata certification

Learnings from Mount Kinabalu

  1. as long as you exercise regularly, climbing Mount Kinabalu shouldn’t be too hard
  2. you will need a good hiking boots or running shoe with good grip (I purchased mine from Decathlon)
  3. kampung Adidas is not allowed for via ferrata
  4. walking/ hiking sticks help in going up and down of Mount Kinabalu
  5. don’t save on porter if you want to enjoy the journey without much stress
  6. I had altitude sickness pills 3 days before my climb so I didn’t experience any acute mountain sickness (AMS) symptoms
  7. bring extra shoe, thin ropes, duct tapes, or lots of rubber bands in case the shoe sole falls off (my friend experienced this)
  8. bring extra head lamp and batteries for day 2 climb, just in case
  9. be earlier, not on time for via ferrata activities as the cut-off time is very strict

As we missed the Low’s Peak Circuit via ferrata, we will be back for the 2nd Mount Kinabalu hike. Next time we shall wait at the gathering point at 6am 😀

Have you climbed Mount Kinabalu? Did you do any of the via ferrata activities? Please feel free to share your experience in the comment section below.

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