Mount Kinabalu Climb Preparation & FAQ

Physical preparation for my Mt Kinabalu Climb.

Although you do not need to be super fit, you do need to be in good physically condition.

Here are some suggestions from the Alpine Guides Association:

  • A good amount of outdoor cardiovascular exercise  (power walking, cycling, unning, mountain biking etc) and getting out for long days in the hills whenever possible is great preparation for your climb.
  • We recommend all climbers take cardiovascular sports at least twice a week, with each session being a minimum of 2 hours in duration at a medium intensity.
  • Fitness training should begin 2-3 months leading up to your trip, this way you should be well prepared.

Ensure you are medically fit too

It is recommended that all climbers should have themselves medically checked before attempting any mountain climb. If you have a history of suffering from the following ailments, it is highly recommend that you should refrain from climbing: Hypertension, Diabetes, Palpitation, Arthritis, Heart Disease, Severe Anemia, Peptic Ulcers, Epileptic Fits, Obesity, Chronic Asthma, Muscular cramps, Hepatitis (jaundice); or any other disease which may hamper the climb.

Packing List

You will not need your bikini ! Here is our suggested packing list.

With good preparation your mountain climb will be more enjoyable and packing plays a key role in preparation, we suggest you keep your backpack around 6kg in weight. This 6kg will feel like 16kg after 1 km !
To make your packing easier we have split the requirement into the climbing sections.

Ascent from Timpohon Gate  (1800m) to Laban Rata Plateau  (3,200m) 
Time: 1st Ascent 10:00 hrs – 15:00 hrs

Temperatures at Kinabalu Park range from 15°C – 24°C

Timpohon Gate along the Summit trail and up to Laban Rata range from 6°C-14°C and can reach 2°C.


  • Wear lightweight clothing and layer up so you can put on and take off the layers as you sweat. T-shirts & lycra sports wear are good options
  • Suitable walking / hiking boots with good angle support and a good grip. Training shoes can be worn if you do not have walking boots.
  • Waterproof backpack or buy a waterproof cover to keep items inside dry as the chances are it will rain at some point.
  • A small lightweight towel ( although towels are supplied at the accommodation, you will sweat on your ascent)
  • Refillable 1 – 1.5 litre water bottle. (Most climbers need only about 1.5-2L to reach Laban Rata)
  • High energy food such as chocolates, nuts, biscuits, sweets, energy bars.
  • Personal toiletries such as soap, toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Change of clothes and extra socks for sleeping.
  • Waterproof jacket or disposable raincoat.
  • Note: Bedding & a towel are provided and extra sleeping bags can be rented if required.


Ascent from Laban Rata Plateau  (3,200m) to Lows Peak Summit  (4,093m) 
Time: 2nd Ascent 02:00 hrs – Sunrise

The Summit itself around 2°C but the wind chill can make it feel below freezing.

  • Waterproof wind breaker
  • Fleece jacket, long sleeves shirt or jumper, thick trousers/hiking trousers, thick socks and your hiking shoes
  • Head torch so that your hands are free to climb and hold onto the ropes when required.
  • Warm hat or balaclava mask.
  • Gloves, ideally waterproof.
  • Small water bottle
  • Waterproof jacket or disposable raincoat.

Your overnight bag can be kept at your room without additional charges since you will return to the accommodation after the summit climb.

Additional general items.

  • Headache tablets or required medication
  • Toilet roll
  • Sunglass, sunblock lotion, SPF lip balm, plasters
  • Insect repellent
  • Camera with waterproof bag
  • Lightweight rubber sandals/slippers incase you do not want to wear your heavy boots at the accommodation
  • Bags for wet clothes
  • Trekking/Hiking Pole


Extra Baggage & Porters 

There is a luggage store at the Kinabalu Park HQ reception area where you can safely leave any items not required for the climb, the rate is currently MYR 10.00 per case and subject to change.

Porters are available and can be organised at the KNP HQ. The minimum weight required is 10kg. Should your bag weigh less than 10kg, the charge will still be calculated based on 10kg. On average you can expect to pay MYR 100.00 per round trip Timpohon – Laban Rata – Timpohon for a 10kg bag.

Frequently Asked Questions

1Q. What happens if the weather prevents me from climbing, do I get a refund.

A. No. Unfortunately we are bound by the climbing operators T&C and there is no refund offered for climbs cancelled due to weather. Usually you will still manage to climb to the Labab Rata Rock Face at 3,200m which is still a great achievement. It will be the final ascent that may be cancelled due to poor weather and strong winds. You will only know this in the early hours of the morning when the mountain guides conduct their final environmental check. The policy is “Safety First”

2Q. What is the suggested time to begin my climb?

A. If possible, its a good idea to stay overnight at Kinabalu park the night before your climb. This way you avoid the 2 hour drive from KK to KNP the day of your climb and can begin climbing at your leisure. If you are unable to stay overnight at the park HQ the night prior then we will pick you up from your accommodation in KK City between 07:00 – 07:30 hrs. This means that you will begin your climb around 09:30 hrs.

3Q. Do you include insurance for the climb?

A. Basic Climber’s Personal Accident Insurance is provided by Sabah Parks who is a state governing body for national parks in Sabah. This covers accidents only between your ascent and descent from Timpohon Gate (the starting point & the Summit). Accidents that occur through climber negligence are not covered.
In addition to this climbing insurance, you are advised to purchase personal injury and travel insurance prior to your trip as mentioned in our Terms and Conditions which covers for cancellation, lost money, personal baggage, medical coverage, trip interruption, emergency travel service and provides coverage for all incidentals.

4Q. Can i request an English speaking Mountain Guide ?

A. The mountain guides are licensed and employed by Sabah Parks, a government authority and are not employed by individual operators. Therefore we can not pre-book guides for our clients, however we do always request that your guide speak English and we request those we are familiar with. However on occasion especially at peak times our preferred guide may not be available and it may happen that your guide can not speak English. Rest assured however all are expert mountain guides and are local men and women from the area and your safety remains their priority.

5Q. Will i be sharing a Mountain Guide with other climbers that day ?

A. No, your booking includes a private mountain guide for your booking only, you will not have to share your guide with other climbers, this way you may climb at your own pace. The mountain guides are compulsory and are with you to keep you safe, ensure that you stay on the correct summit path and should visibility reduce due to rain or fog, ensure that you do not become lost or disorientated. Also should you need assistance or evacuation they will summon it for you.

6Q. Are full board meals included ? 

A. Yes, ull board meals are included for your trip and provided by the mountain operator. So for example per overnight stay you will enjoy 1 x Lunch, 1 x Dinner, 1 x Breakfast. The food is basic and probably not what you are used to eating, mostly simple Asian buffet style with a packed lunch for your first day ascent. We suggest taking extra sources of food such as nuts and energy bars.

7Q. Is water provided ?

A. Just to let you know, along the way up, there are rest stops with water tanks however water held in tanks are not purified (un-treated) and taken directly from natural resources – Hence, we do not recommend drinking from them.

We would suggest bringing your own stock of 1 or 2 (1.5 litre) bottles of water per person on your ascent day. At Laban Rata where you will have your meals during the climb, boiled water is available however this might not be suitable for some people. Therefore, as an alternative, mineral water is available to purchase at your own cost at around MYR 14.00 per 1.5 litre bottle.

8Q. What is the weather like at Mount Kinabalu ?

A. At Kinabalu Park HQ day time temperatures range from 20 – 26 degrees, night time 18 – 22 degrees. At Layang Layang (the halfway climb point) 15 – 20 degrees. At the Laban Rata Plateau 8 – 12 degrees, on the summit around 2 degrees, however the windchill on the summit can make it feel quite a few degrees colder. Daily from around 11am the mountain tends to cloud over and rain can be expected, however the majority of the time the cloud & rain will have dispersed by around 5pm.

9Q. Do i need to bring my passport or will a copy of my passport be sufficient ? 

A. You must bring your passport, a copy will not be sufficient.

The following FAQ is specific for those climbers taking part in a Mountain Torq – Via Ferrata Activity which on many of our packages is optional.

Q1: Do I need to bring any additional equipment?

A. No. All technical & safety equipment is provided by Mt Torq.

Q2. Must I attend the Via Ferrata briefing at Pendant Hut ?

A. YES, if you wish to complete the Via Ferrata activity (either Walk The Torq or Lows Peak Circuit) you must attend the briefing which is conducted between 3pm to 4pm at Pendant Hut. If you do not attend this briefing you will not be permitted to complete the activity but you may still climb to the summit in the same way.

Q3. Where do I meet my Mt Torq trainer for my via ferrata familiarisation when I arrive at Laban Rata level?

A. Your trainer will be waiting for you at Pendent Hut between 3pm and 4pm for your familiarization session.

During the session, you will be:

  • Familiarised with the via ferrata equipment
  • Walked through an initial via ferrata practice round
  • Informed of the actual meeting point for your chosen activity and
  • Reminded of the cut off meeting time for your activity (7:00am–Low’s Peak Circuit, 7:30am–Walk the Torq)

Q4. Where is Pendant hut?

A. Pendant hut is located at 3,289m on the Laban Rata Plateau rock face. When you arrive at the Laban Rata rest house, you will see Pendant hut on your right hand side perched above a rock path. Please refer to our Laban Rata Plateau Accommodation page for more information.

Q5. What time will I start my climb ?

A. We highly suggest that you stay overnight at Kinabalu park the night before your climb. This way you can begin climbing at your leisure. If you are unable to stay overnight at the park HQ the night prior then we will pick you up from your accommodation in KK City between 07:00 – 07:15 hrs. This means that you will begin your climb around 09:30 hrs.

Q6. If i have booked the Via Ferrata climb because the standard climb is not available. Can i choose whether to complete the Via Ferrata activity during the briefing. 

A. Yes, we suggest that you attend the briefing to see how you feel after your accent and your comfort level to undertake the additional activity. Please note that there is no refund available for not completing the activity. Should you decide not to complete the Via Ferrata Activity you will descend using exactly the same route as the standard climb which is the same route you follow on ascent to the summit.

Follow us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Follow us on Pinterest
Follow us on Instagram
Follow us on Google
Follow us on YouTube