Preparing to Climb Kinabalu


4 months before I signed up, I was told his friends had said “it was easy – you don’t need to train for it” to “I only brought a towel. And wear shorts for the climb”.

The reason I blog is out of gratitude to bloggers before me who post much helpful advice for my trips. This climb is no exception.

You must train for this climb if you have been sedentary. Your muscle and will must be conditioned to endure 8hrs of walking.

But you don’t need technique or cardio. I think that’s what they mean by “even children can do it”. Children who cannot stand the idea of walking 1hr, this is not the holiday for them.

Sure, you’ll see the mountain guides do this effortlessly in one day so it depends on body type.

On our descent we saw a mountain porter piggy-back a young, tired Asian climber down the slope. I lost my senses and mistook this amazing husband demonstrating his love. On closer look – it was a mountain guide. It costs $350RM per km said my guide. We just passed the 1km descent and 5km more to go. I wished for both of them, it will not rain as none of us could afford to slip on the steep and uneven rocky steps.


On the walls of the dormitory, I saw someone strapped on a stretcher and carried by 4 porters. Our guide explained that only when the climber was injured will you use a stretcher.

What to bring for the climb (compiled from other bloggers and my experience):
– 2 litres of water in a water camel (no more free refills)
– Raincoat or waterproof jacket
– A small / lightweight towel
– Comfortable covered hiking shoes
– Energy snacks e.g. chocolate, nuts, biscuits, sweets, energy bars
– Sun protection – Sunglass, sun screen lotion, SPF lip balm (beware of the strong UV rays)
– Hiking sticks
– A small backpack to hold your things
– A rain cover for your backpack
– Shower cap for my long hair
– pills for headache (didn’t need it)

Gave to porter:
– Personal toiletries
– Head torch
– Warm clothing like fleece jacket, hiking pants
– Change of socks, clothes and underwear
– Cap / beanie / head scarf (helps prevent heat loss, especially at night and in the early morning)
– Gloves
– Slippers for bathroom

Cut your nails – you’ll feel it at the descent when your toes push against the shoes.

Altitude sickness
No mountain sickness for our whole group; we took altitude sickness pill starting one day before the climb. Half tablet in morning and half in evening, 2.5 tablets in total.

In Singapore, you need a doctor’s prescription to buy the pills. You can try Guardian pharmacy (Vivocity) if your doctor doesn’t stock.

I scared everyone in my group to taking the medication because of the blogs I read. None of us had headache. But our team think its their bod and not the drug. I’m not about to prove anything. In Tibet, I saw a young lady suffer from altitude sickness so bad.

2 friends took sleeping pills to get some sleep before the descent. I did not. Pills are light, bring them just in case.

A young JB marathon runner who climbed up and down effortlessly told me he had a bad headache. It didn’t seem to affect his performance. But at the descent he seemed to age by 10 years.


How to exercise before the climb
(Thanks to DB who advised me – don’t rush)
Endurance training of 4hrs
Climb stairs up and down at least 25 storeys
Shoulder muscles

Why train for downhill?
Running downhill requires the muscles to lengthen, or make eccentric muscle contractions, which can cause microscopic tears in the muscle fibers and generate more force than when you’re running uphill or on flat ground. To make matters worse: It’s easy to hit top speed on a steep descent—and the faster you move, the harder each foot strikes the ground, and the more pounding the muscles endure.

My favourite blogs on Mt Kinabalu
(He has climbed this so many times, he gives a snap shot of the terrain)

Good post on climbing Low’s peak:

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