Travels in Malaysia and Indonesia

Matt Welsh

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Gunung Kinabalu

After leaving Sandakan, we took a bus to Mt. Kinabalu National Park, about halfway from Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu. Mt. Kinabalu is the tallest mountain in Southeast Asia. At 13451 feet (4101 meters), this is no Himalayan massif, but it's still quite a climb with beautiful views across Borneo. On good days it's said you can see the Philippines from the peak.

The climb is usually done in two days. The first day of the climb involves an unrelenting, strenuous 6 km walk straight uphill. At the halfway point there are several mountain huts with very basic kitchen and sleeping facilities, and a restaurant! From here the summit is made the next day -- to reach the summit by sunrise, most climbers start out at 3a.m., while it's still pitch dark and the temperatures are below freezing.

Here is a view of the misty jungle trail on the first day of the climb. Note the steps cut into the rock: that's what it looks like all the way up.

Photograph Copyright (c)2000 by Matt Welsh. All rights reserved.