Mount Kinabalu and other Borneo hikes

08 Jan 2019 19:29 #74475 by ghaznavid
Mount Kinabalu (4095m) is the highest point in Malaysia, highest point on the island of Borneo, 20th most prominent mountain on earth and the 19th most isolated.

On the weekend in the middle of December 2018, Matthew (who some of you may remember for climbing Rhino with an English military helmet on) and I climbed it.

It is a 2 day hike, 17km round trip. It is very steep, with roughly 2.7km in altitude gain and loss - but is on a very well defined trail that is best described as a very long staircase. You spend the night at Panalaban Hut, at 3275m. Amazing Borneo is the only tour operator on the mountain, so you have to go through them. The package includes transport and food - so it is logistically very easy to put together. The hut includes bedding, so you do the mountain with a very light pack.

It was Matthew's first 4000er (and his second summit above 3000m, after Rhino). He lives in Singapore, so he couldn't acclimatise beforehand or train on any hills. But he did very well, and we both made it to the top without any drama. Here are some photos:
 

Full writeup at:
jonathantheghaznavid.wordpress.com/2019/01/08/tropical-travels-part-8/

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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08 Jan 2019 23:29 - 08 Jan 2019 23:31 #74484 by intrepid
Nice!


With some of those shots showing the geology of the mountain, it made me look up what is was because the texture of the rocks reminded me of the big granite walls and peaks in Canada (The Chief at Squamish and the Bugaboo mountains being well know examples). Turns out it is granodiorite which is similar to granite but has more of other minerals.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 08 Jan 2019 23:31 by intrepid.
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09 Jan 2019 08:37 #74486 by ghaznavid
The rock is very grippy but unfeatured - I had also thought it was granite. Haven't heard of granodiorite before, but that makes sense.

Daniel Woods and Yuji Hirayama opened a 5.15a sport climb on a summit just east of the summit. It was on a Reel Rock film a few years back, on a video called Sensei. The photo isn't very clear as it was taken too early in the morning - but the route goes up the overhang on the right.


Interestingly - Borneo has 11 ultra prominence peaks (by contrast to 7 in Southern Africa), yet Kinabalu is the only summit on the island higher than 4000m, and there are no 3000ers on the island. We wanted to do Trus Madi (2642m), which is the second highest mountain on the island, is an ultra and is visible from Kinabalu - but the main route is currently closed after a recent landslide.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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09 Jan 2019 15:03 #74494 by ghaznavid
Part 2 (well, part 9 overall) of my Borneo trip was the Mulu Pinnacles. This is a rock formation on the side of Mount Api.

The trip starts at Mulu offices (in the middle of nowhere, you can only reach this place by boat or aircraft - there is no phone signal here either). You travel up the river by boat before hiking 8km to camp 5. Day 2 is up to the pinnacles and back, 2.4km distance with 1.2km altitude gain and loss - except much more slippery than a Drakensberg pass, so not trivial by any means. Day 3 was walking back to the river and catching a boat again.

Camp 5 is spectacular. It is over 100km from the sea, yet it is at 50m, and is between two peaks of around 1600m. Mount Api and Mount Benerat are both very steep, so the camp is spectacularly placed. Mount Api is a subsidiary summit of Mount Mulu - an ultra. I wanted to do Mount Mulu, but we didn't have enough time.

The actual ascent includes 17 ladders and a lot of scrambling.
 

Full writeup at:
jonathantheghaznavid.wordpress.com/2019/01/09/tropical-travels-part-9/

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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09 Jan 2019 21:34 #74502 by ghaznavid
Racer Cave

Caves seem topical for VE - this will be the last post regarding my holiday that I post here. But the full story is on my blog - just parts 11 and 12 still to post. Part 11 will include hiking on the islands off Kota Kinabalu, including a large monitor lizard that didn't want to move off the path!

Anyway - so we spent a week in Mulu. The area is best known for a few things - aside from possibly being the place that is most likely to result in getting malaria. It is probably best known for its caves - well, to the few people who know it exists. The caves are broken up into three categories:
 - Show caves: these have boardwalks and are lighten up for you.
 - Intermediate adventure caves: this includes Racer Cave. These are mostly dry caves (as in no swimming required). They require scrambling, tight gaps and slippery ground.
 - Advanced caves: we didn't do any of these, but to qualify, you have to do an intermediate cave first. I would say "if we had more time" - but seeing as I am not very strong in water, and all of these require some swimming, I don't think time had anything to do with not doing advanced caves.

Racer Cave is named after the racer snake, which lives in the roof of the cave and catches bats as they fly past. We did see one coiled up in a hole, but didn't see it moving. The cave is also full of centipedes and large spiders.

My photos don't have amazing clarity as they were taken with a headlamp as a flash.

The cave includes one very tight space, and a few climbs and descents (you exit the way you came in), all equipped with ropes to hold onto. It was something very different to my usual hiking, but highly recommended. The end has still never been found, so we don't know how deep the cave actually is. The tour only goes about 1km in, which takes 2 hours round trip (plus a boat ride).

 

If you are planning a trip to Borneo - I highly recommend Mulu. Most of the guides are from the local community, and have BSc degrees - so they are very knowledgeable on the area. The tours are generally reasonably priced, and the funds are going towards conservation and research in the area. It is one of the few places left on the planet that is mostly untouched, and the surrounding mountains area spectacular too. There is a daily flight between Kota Kinabalu and Mulu (sometimes via Miri), so access is simple. You can also fly to a few other places from Mulu directly - such as Kuching and Sandakan.

Full story of the rest of my stay at Mulu at:
jonathantheghaznavid.wordpress.com/2019/01/09/tropical-travels-part-10/

For anyone in the general PMB area - I will be talking about Mount Kinabalu and Mulu at the MCSA Adventure Talk on 29 January at Crossways at 7:30pm. Feel free to drop in if you would like to hear the story.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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