Here are my humble opinions and advices from myself to help you to enjoy a better climb.
There are two routes up to Mount Kinabalu: Timpohon or Mersilau. I believed that when you register your climb with Sutera Harbour Resort they would have asked you which route would you use for your climb.
Note: The difference between the two is the length and the scenery. Timpohon is 2km shorter than Mersilau, but Mersilau route has much nicer scenery. Nothing to see on the Timpohon route, yet 2km difference is considered a big difference for a hike. Mersilau is much longer, while Timpohon is shorter but I think the steps are more steep and more stairs. For beginners, it's better to use Timpohon. Thats what everyone says.
Advice on things to bring:
- Four most important essentials, MUST:
1. Adidas Kampung (It's a must! I failed my climb because I didn't get it, you can get it at the mount kk headquarters) or good hiking shoes with great grips (you need it at the climb to the peak)
2. Walking stick.
4. Waterproof jacket which can keep you warm, it's 5 degrees Celcius at half peak!
- Hike as light as you can. Only bring very, very essential items. They have porters to help you carry your bags at minimum charges. Only hike with your bag if you are very fit to climb. (I gave my bag to the guide after just 500m of hiking) You can store your luggages at the resort at the base before your climb if you do not want to carry your stuff up on the climb.
- Essentials: Bring a waist pouch for these - oats bars/cookies (slow energy releasing food is better than chocolates or bananas), headlamp, electrolytes tablets (can buy from GNC) - it's like isotonic drinks you just mix one tablet with 450ml water, 1x500ml water bottle (before u climb we were given one bottle of water and one sandwich and one hardboiled egg at the coffee house where we had breakfast) therefore max 2 bottles is enough, some money, compact camera or if you already have a camera phone (DSLR is not recommended).
- If you manage to find a brand called "Sports Oil" then buy it. If not, muscle rubs. Rub at your thighs, ankles, behind your calves and around your knee. Start putting the night before your climb. Before you sleep. Then before you climb, and the night at Laban Rata as well. Must rub!
(Pic taken from: joomshopping.blogspot.com)
- You dont need towels/shampoos/body shower etc. Waste of weight. Bring 3 pairs of socks and wear one. Total 4 pairs. But the guide told us its better not to wear socks with the adidas kampung shoe. Perhaps you don't need it. Short sleeves and short pants will do from base to Laban Rata, and from Laban Rata to peak you need warm and waterproof jacket and long pants.
- Gloves: You need a pair of waterproof gloves because near the peak you need to hold on to ropes. Please don't bring your walking stick from Laban Rata to the peak. Useless. And at the rope area you need to discard your stick because it is not allowed.
These porters are fantabulously geng! They can carry like 30-40kgs of stuff and still walk faster than you and still can joke with you along the way >.<"
1. Start training months before your climb. Train on your thighs stamina. Jogging or running doesn't help much. Walk a lot of stairs, do squats.
2. Eat bananas a week before you climb. Around 3 bananas a day.
3. Get some supplements: multivitamins, b complex.
4. Food is pretty decent at base and at Laban Rata. But don't stuff yourself too full. Eat moderately. Eat before you climb, and bring some light snacks up to the peak because you will be hungry by then.
5. If you can, do a 3d2n hike, not so rush and more relaxed. You have to pay more of course. Ours was a 2d1n hike, we climb up in the morning to Laban Rata, wake up at 2am to the peak, then rush down to the base on the same day so it was quite rushing. And at Laban Rata we did not have heater, so I didn't bath at all. It was too freaking cold to bath. Plan your hike earlier and see if you can get a place with water heater to bath.
6. Hike on step by step. Even if you are tired, don't stop to rest for too long. Because you will become lazy. Keep walking while your body is still warm. Don't let it cool down. The longer you rest, the longer you want to rest the next stop. Just keep on walking.
7. We took panadols before the climb and before we sleep. I don't know if it helps but we didn't have any headache problems or so.
The rain will make your climb very much tougher. It started raining at km5 of the Mersilau Route and it was so cold. We had to put on our jacket and poncho. The road from Layang-Layang to Laban Rata is basically rock steps, it rained heavily so it became like a waterfall. Tough, really tough for me. Out of breath and soar. I really walked step by step. Very very small steps. Almost wanting to give up and just sit down there. But we still had to move on. I took 8 hours from base to Laban Rata. If you use the Timpohon route, by noon you would have reached already.
I hiked with my bag for first 500meters and i was feeling drowsy. My friend asked me to pass my bag to the guide. He helped me but have to pay money of course. I carried 3 bottles of water with me, not wanting to drink mountain waters. But 2 bottles will be sufficient.
From Laban Rata up to the peak is 2.7km, mainly rocky steps and wooden stairs, until 0.7km, there will be the rope route. The guide asked to see my shoes (I was wearing NB running shoes) and he adviced me not to go on because there's no grip in my shoes. I tried and I did slipped. So I turned back. My 2 friends who made it up to the peak said that it's tough, the rope part, but worth it. And the Adidas Kampung shoes really really help a lot! It basically sticks to the rocks. The guide did mention that if you feel dizzy or have headaches towards the peak and feel like vomiting, discontinue the climb. Don't risk your life just for this. There's always next time.
All the best to all Mt Kinabalu soon-to-be hikers out there! Just do it! =D