Every one of us knows that Mount Kinabalu is the highest peak in Malaysia and it is located in Sabah. We also know that Mount Kinabalu rewards every mountain climber with spectacular views at the peak. But, there are many other things about Mount Kinabalu that many of us do not know about. Here are the 10 things many people don’t know about Mount Kinabalu:
1. A ‘UNESCO’ World Heritage Site
In December 2000, Kinabalu National Park was inscribed in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site and it is the first site that received the title in Malaysia. For this reason, the exceptional value of the natural and cultural site are protected and preserved for the benefits of all humanity. The highlight of Kinabalu Park is indeed the majestic Mount Kinabalu that is a focal feature of the national park. Thus, the park is the biggest tourist destination in Sabah.
2. Mt. Kinabalu is not the highest peak in Southeast Asia
By rewarding the climbers with spectacular views, Mount Kinabalu is highest in Malaysia and 3rd highest in Southeast Asia. Standing tall with an elevation of 4,092.5 metres after Mount Hkakabo Razi in Myanmar (5,881 metres) and Puncak Jaya in Indonesia (4,884 metres). Over 40,000 people climb the mountain every year for the mesmerizing views it offers. Having said that, you might want to book your slot as early as possible!
3. It is more than 10 Million Years old!
Mount Kinabalu is not the youngest mountain in the world. It is a dramatic and beautiful mountain overlooking the magnificent views of the valleys surrounding it. The mountain is composed of igneous rocks and comprises an oval-shaped granite dome formed when magma broke to the surface of the Earth’s crust millions of years ago. During the last ice age, Mt. Kinabalu was enveloped by ice and glaciers (watch ‘The Ice Age’, you’ll have the idea of how it looks like) which flowed down the slopes when the weather got hotter.
4. It’s not just climbing rocks
You’ll embark through different vegetation zones. First, Lowland Dipterocarp Forest where you’ll go through at the start of your climb, covering about 35% of the park. It is dark and dim and there is little ground cover. Moving to the Lower Montane Oak-Chestnut Forest where it’s approximately above about 1,200 meters, the lowland trees peter out as conifers and oaks become more dominant. Above about 2,200 meters, where swirling mist blanket the forest for most of the day, lies the cloud forest. Here the trees are thickly covered with mosses. As you go up by about 3,300 meters, a subalpine zones has developed. The trees are gnarled and stunted, forming a shrub community beautiful plants.
5. The temperature can drop sharply
The temperature at Kinabalu Park HQ, 1,563m (5,128 feet), ranges from 15°C-24°C (60°F-78°F) where it can be quite hot during the day but a lot cooler during night. At Laban Rata, 3,270m (10,728 feet) on the summit trail, the temperature varies from 6°C-14°C (41°F-58°F), but can reach almost freezing at night sometimes. The best months to climb Mount Kinabalu are February, March and April where rainfall is much lesser than other months.
6. There are 7 shelters on the trail
Climbers can take a rest before continuing their climb at Pondok Kandis (1,981m), Pondok Ubah (2,081m), Pondok Lowii (2,286m), Pondok Mempening (2,515m), Layang-Layang (2,702m), Pondok Villosa (2,961m) and Pondok Paka (3,080m) before reaching Panalaban, where Laban Rata rest house is located, 500 metres further from the last shelter.
7. It’s not a one-day climb
A Mount Kinabalu summit climb takes two days and one night. Beginner climbers will usually take 6 hours to reach Laban Rata rest house and continue their climb in the next morning that takes between 2-3 hours to the summit.
8. 2AM: The summit calls
Set your alarm at 2:00 o’clock in the morning! It is time to challenge the summit and be rewarded with a spectacular sunrise you never seen before. As you climb up the trail, you will experience the coldness and darkness along with the cold winds chilling your face.
9. It has the World’s Highest Via Ferrata (Mountain Torq)
Starting at 3,200 metres and ends at 3,776 metres above sea level at Mount Kinabalu, Mount Torq offers two Via Ferrata routes; Walk the Torq and Low’s Peak Circuit. Both routes allow beginner and intermediate climbers to dare their fear without needing prior professional mountaineering experience.
10. 5,000 species of Flora & Fauna live here
There are over 5,000 species of flora and fauna which live and grow around and on the mountain. You will find a bigger variety of species on the lower slopes of the mountain whereas more indigenous species to the area are found at the higher sections.