Ranau, Sabah, Malaysia
Into Thin AirIt takes two days to make the 8.5km climb to the top of Mt. Kinabalu - the tallest peak in Southeast Asia. Located in Borneo - it's a challenging climb – the first is spent going up, up, up from 5000 ft. to about 10,000 ft. where you hunker down in a lodge/hut.
The hut is basically an unheated wooden structure that pretty much resembled most of the hostels I have been staying in - Bunk beds and shared bathroom.
On day 2 you are to get up at 3AM and start on the summit route in the dark. You make it to the summit (13,435 ft.) by sunrise. The temperatures around the summit are normally right around freezing – 32 degrees – and the wind is brutal The climbing was a bit more technical, steep steps, big rocks to negotiate and steep granite rock that you needed a rope to get up the incline. This wouldn’t have been so bad, except that you were doing it in the dark.
There was a rope the whole way up the rock so that you could use it in the steeper parts and you could simply follow it as your trail marker at other times. In the dark – all I could see was that rope and the rock face. It felt as if you were on the side of a steep cliff and one wrong move and you would fall off the side of the mountain. Therefore not only was a battling the lack of oxygen, but also the fear of falling to my death! I would stop quite frequently to catch my breath.
A guide is required on Mt Kinabalu