Standing at 4095 metres above sea level, Mount Kinabalu is the tallest mountain in South-East Asia. It is considered one of the easier peaks in the world to conquer, with most climbers who are reasonably fit taking two days to ascend and descend the mountain. Despite the many stairs and the steep climb across very different terrains as we progressed up the mountain, the first day was actually the easier part of conquering Mount Kinabalu!
I didn’t find it easy, though. In fact, I found Mount Kinabalu more difficult than I would usually find a hike; but this is most likely due to having spent the months prior chained to a desk writing my thesis, studying for my exams, and finishing up my internship. I did attempt to do some preparation when I could, which consisted of limited stair work and a couple of hikes around my area (such as the Glasgow Track in Mount Dandenong). If I had more time, I would have found somewhere with a steep incline (30-40 degrees) to train on, done a lot more stair work and cardio, and included strengthening exercises for my ankles and knees into my preparation. As I found out, Mount Kinabalu can be very tough on the legs and lungs! In addition, I was at high risk of altitude sickness on Mount Kinabalu since I was affected so badly by it in Bolivia, so I drank a lot of water, took it slowly, and took preventative medications to maximise my chances of finishing the climb. Worked a charm!
The stay at Laban Rata Resthouse was pleasant enough. It is a hostel-style accommodation, with clean and comfortable facilities including bunk beds, heaters, cold showers, and flushing toilets. The food is pretty good, which is lucky because there are no other dining choices on the mountain. Each meal is served up as a buffet big enough for all climbers to sufficiently build their energy stores for the rest of the climb. There is also a small store full of expensive snacks, postcards, and other goodies; but to put things into perspective, all supplies and rubbish at the Resthouse are carried onto and off the mountain by local porters.