Five Life Lessons I Learned Climbing Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu stands tall at 4095m above sea level and the highest peak in Southeast Asia. Everyday it is visited by more than 100 adventurous climbers from different parts of the world.

On February 5-6, 2019, me and my friend Mafe, embarked on a journey of climbing this impressive Unesco World Heritage Site in Sabah Malaysia. We booked our Kinabalu climb package via Borneo Trails where we availed their 2Day-1Night package. Here's a snapshot of what happened on our 2 day tour:

Day 01
- Pick up at KK City Hotel (7:30AM)
- Two hour land travel from KK city to Kinabalu Park HQ to do the registration and meet our guide.
- Transfer to Timpohon Gate (10:30AM) to start the 6km hike to Laban Rata basecamp
- Dinner and Rest in Laban Rata (6:00PM)
- Lights off (8:00PM)
Day 02
- Supper at 2AM for a 2.5km summit assault (2:45AM)
- Return to Laban Rata basecamp for breakfast (9:30AM)
- Descend from Laban Rata to Timpohon Gate (11:00AM)
- Reached Timpohon Gate (4:30PM)
- Travel back to KK city (5:00 PM)

The whole experience was an epic and unforgettable adventure, where we meet new friends who are as crazy as us for signing up in this challenging feat and we also learned life lessons where Mt. Mount Kinabalu became our teacher.

1. You don't conquer mountain, but yourself.
Climbing mountains is not about achieving goals that you reach the summit so you can tick the mountain from your checklist, then you move on to the next mountain in your list. It's not about being the first person to reach the top. Sometimes, having the courage to sign up for something bigger that yourself, conquering your fear and knowing you pushed yourself harder and realise you can do it, is enough. Climbing mountain is not a competition. Take your time, enjoy your pace. Most importantly, become a better person not only physically but how you treat other people and mother nature.

2. Bring only the essentials.
Carrying extra luggage is expensive and very exhausting. This rule does not apply in airline companies only, it's relevant in climbing mountains and life in general. Oftentimes we bring with us so many unnecessary things in life we think that we need and would make us happy only to realise it just strain us along the way. Don't waste your energy carrying negativity and grudges from others, its not worth it. Be grateful with what you have in life, others don't have enough. Live simple. Travel light. Just take what you need, we all learn this in kindergarten. 

3. You don't grow when things are easy. You grow when you face challenges.
People tend to remember things that they learned during difficult times rather than lessons taught in the comfort of classrooms. You will never know your full potential until you are pushed to your limits. Painful situations can be ugly but that is where you mature.

"Calm seas don't make great sailors" -- Anonymous

4. Never underestimate mountains.
May it be the mountain's trail path, weather conditions or prominence, mountains are mighty -- if it don't allow you to climb, you cannot do anything, you just have to wait. Mountain's weather are like fickle minded women. One moment it's warm and humid next thing you know you are treated with heavy rain shower. In moments like this you are not in a position to grumble, all you can do is respect the mountain's topography. Preparation is key, pack the right gear, bring comfortable hiking shoes and wear proper clothing for your protection.

5. Pictures don't do justice.
Smiling people in snaps don't give you the real deal. Don't be deceived by the pictures you see in social media, it represents only a fraction of it. Likewise, no picture or video can capture the majestic view of the trail, greeneries and landscape of Mount Kinabalu, it is better enjoyed by the eyes.

Our Kinabalu climbing pictures are no different, the smiles in our faces does not tell you the strenuous day hike that we did, the freezing cold weather, the danger of rope climbing in the dark  and the obstacles we have to go through.

Overall, amidst the physical and mental struggle of Kinabalu climb, I am grateful our team(#TeamJustin) finished it safely in one-piece without injury, except for sore knee and leg muscles. It was all worth it.
To all the climbers in the past who did Mt. Kinabalu climb, you have my full RESPECT. For others who are looking for adventure and loves to challenge themselves, sign up, prepare and take the #MountKinabalu plunge.

#teamJustin - Jeremie, Mafe, Justin and me at Timpohon Gate
Trail to Laban Rata












Day 01 - Me and Mafe during hike orientation

Stairs make up 80-90% of the trail to Laban Rata

Sunset on Laban Rata

Day 02 - Summit Assault


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