Description: Mount Kinabalu is an icon for Sabah as well as for
Malaysia tourism. Climbing Mount Kinabalu is one of the most popular
adventure vacation activities for tourists to Sabah. Although
the traditional route up Mount Kinabalu is via the Kinabalu Summit
Trail at Kinabalu National Park, there is an alternative route on
the other side of Mount Kinabalu called the Mesilau Summit Trail, a
newer and more challenging route. This trail is definitely one for
those who are more adventurous to consider seriously. This article
aims to provide a concise but descriptive guide to climbing Mount
Kinabalu via the Mesilau Summit Trail as well as introduce the natural
paradise of the Mesilau Nature Park.
mystical Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in South East Asia, is
strategically located at the Kinabalu National Park, a designated
World Heritage Site. Kinabalu National Park is just about 2 hours
drive from the city of Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah,
Mount Kinabalu, which stood at around 4,095m above sea level, is an
icon for Sabah as well as for Malaysia tourism. Therefore, it is of
no surprise that every year, thousands flocked to climb or rather,
trek up the mountain. Although the traditional route up Mount
Kinabalu is via the Kinabalu Summit Trail at Kinabalu National Park,
there is an alternative route on the other side of Mount Kinabalu
called the Mesilau Summit Trail, a newer and more challenging route.
This trail is definitely one for those who are more adventurous to
The Mesilau Summit Trail at the Mesilau Nature Park on the Mesilau
plateau is about 30 minutes by road away from Kinabalu National Park
(about 108km from Kota Kinabalu).
It is advisable to stay a night at Mesilau before starting your
ascent up Mount Kinabalu as the journey from Kota Kinabalu will
likely to leave you rather exhausted. Take a rest and acclimatize
with the higher altitude at the eco-friendly Mesilau Nature Resort,
which is nestled amongst the trees at the foot of the mountain at
about 2,000 metres above sea level within the Park. The resort has a
total of 22 lodges and 96 resthouse beds.
As for the climb up to Mount Kinabalu, the Mesilau Summit Trail is
definitely more rugged, about 1.5km further than the trail from
Timpohon Gate at Kinabalu National Park. But it offers more
opportunities for viewing flora and fauna. The Mesilau route is
still relatively new, but some shelters and toilets have been built
along the trail for the convenience of trekkers. The route is also
less crowded than the old summit trail. You won't bank into many
mountain climbers on the way up.
The first ascent of the Mesilau Trail does involve a climb up, then
a drop into the Mesilau valley, and then another ascent to regain
the lost height. You will get to see both the Kinabalu and Mesilau
routes at higher ground. The trail is also more "jungle" than the
traditional Kinabalu Summit Trail. When trekking uphill, it is
fortunate that the trail is well laid with steps cut into the earth
and thus, making walking easy.
Layang-layang (Place of Swallows) is where the Mesilau Trail meets
the Kinabalu Summit Trail at 2,740m. From there onwards, you will
notice that the vegetation zone is like a forest of bent and twisted
silvery-grey trunks with peeling bark.
A short hike after the sixth shelter, you will reach the mid-summit
(i.e., Laban Rata). Conservatively, it should take a normal fit
person an average 6-7 hours to reach Laban Rata, where you will be
required to stay a night at Laban Rata Resthouse or at other nearby
accommodations (i.e., Mountain Huts and VIP Lodge). From there, the
second and more gruelling ascent will follow the traditional route
all the way to the summit (i.e., Low's Peak), which will start early
morning the next day at around 2 am to 3 am
The ascent should normally take a few hours but it is much more
challenging than the initial ascent as the trail gets more tiring
with each step up the slope as the air gets thinner and thinner. On
top of this, you have to battle the freezing cold temperature
(sometimes below zero degrees Celsius). If its rains and windy, it
will be doubly challenging.
But once you get to the summit and catch the truly magnificent
glimpse of the sunrise, you would have forgotten the tough climb.
You will feel on top of the world looking down at the tiny villages
and small islands off the coast of Kota Kinabalu.
For those who had climbed Mount Kinabalu before via the Kinabalu
Summit Trail or for those who are searching for a more challenging
trek, the Mesilau Summit Trail definitely offers a fuller Mount
Kinabalu climbing experience. To quote an avid climber: "You have
not truly conquered Mount Kinabalu if you have not conquered it from
both sides of the mountain".
About the Author:
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