Gearing up for the Mt. Kinabalu hike was exciting. Shopping for hiking shoes, pants, and other required non-technical equipment just brought so much adrenaline rush, it was scary. A few days before the climb, I actually became worried we might not be able to make it, more so reach the summit. Yes, Mt. Kinabalu can be climbed by first-time hikers without experience as long as you’re physically fit – which we definitely are not. To prepare for the climb, we jogged for about 2 weeks a month before the actual climb. 3 weeks before leaving, I had to write my thesis proposal and Love got sick so we weren’t able to continue jogging anymore. So what we did was that upon arriving in Kota Kinabalu, we minimized walking around the city and tried to go back to the hotel at the earliest time possible. Sure, we weren’t able to explore the city center but the main purpose of our travel was to climb Mt. Kinabalu so everything centered around that. So here’s what went down:
Booking – The booking process at Sutera Sanctuary Lodges took about a month because climbers have to book at least 6 months in advance. We realized how limited the available accommodations are when we got to the rest house. But that’s getting ahead. We pushed for a 2D/1N package because we didn’t want to stay that long at the top and as first-time climbers, it might be a waste of time. Fortunately, we were lucky to get direct booking from SSL because travel agencies cost much more expensive. The date fell on March 7-8, 2011 – our 23rd month anniversary. What a nice way to celebrate right? Right. The total booking cost was RM1044, converted to Philippine Peso would cost around Php14000. Expensive I know. We were totally crazy to do this, and that thought echoed throughout the entire climb. The package included accommodation at Laban Rata guesthouse (we roomed with another couple on a bunk bed dorm style room) and all meals (packed lunch, dinner, breakfasts, and lunch for day 2). It also included the climbing permit and insurance (RM107/pax) but did not include the following:
Park entrance fees (RM15/pax)
Mountain guide (85RM for 2)
Certificate (RM1/pax, RM10 if you reached the summit)
Walking sticks (RM10/stick = RM40 cause we had 2 each)
Transport to Timpohon Gate (RM16.50/pax 2-way)
The things we brought to the climb were headlights (torches), windbreakers, extra thick jackets, gloves, a set of clothes, snacks, raincoat, umbrella, scarves, and bonnets. To be able to wear thermal clothes as if we were in snow is a dream come true, at least for me. Talk fashion in the middle of the most difficult experience of our lives. And so, with all these preparations, we were about to embark on the most challenging and probably character-testing activity we will ever endure (and most likely never to do again).