Summiting Mount Kinabalu – a photo blog

Mount Kinabalu – the highest mountain in Borneo. She’s a beauty and a tough climb. I successfully made it all 4095.2 metres to the top and somehow survived the 8.7km walk back to the bottom, although my knees won’t agree with the usage of the word ‘successfully’. Here’s a photo blog of my hike.


The starting point is at the Timpohon Gate, at an altitude of 1866.4 metres above sea level. The flora down here is mossy, green and delicate. The beauty of the climb is you pass through so many different layers of plant life as the altitude changes.


Mount Kinabalu from the starting point of the climb. She’s a daunting image, considering I needed to get to the peak!


I passed this sign enroute to the second rest point, somewhere between 2,000 and 2,200 metres. Moving faster is all relative!


Getting a clear photo of the squirrels roaming about is near impossible as they move so fast!


Just above cloud level now. We were lucky with the good weather.


Climbing higher, the flora is changing rapidly and becoming much hardier and resistant to the harsh elements. It’s all too beautiful for words.


The climbing is getting more difficult at the higher altitudes. The last 4 kms to basecamp for the evening are much steeper and uneven.


Another photo of the climb up – just imagine how much fun the downhill was on my knees!


More of the hardier vegetation in the higher altitudes. I was just clearing the cloud level so there’s a lot of mist and potentially heavy, cold winds up here.


The beautiful vegetation softens what is otherwise a really harsh landscape.


Exposed rock face after a tremor a number of years ago.


I can’t get enough of the incredible vegetation up here. Mist blowing in from the distance.


Another photo of the unrelenting staircase to basecamp!


Finally at Laban Rata – base camp for the evening. We are well above cloud level and were treated to an incredible sunset. I took so many pictures of the clouds and I can’t help but share some of them below.


Cloud porn.


More cloud porn.


After waking up at 1.45am and departing basecamp at 2.30am, and climbing the remaining 825 metres to the summit, I made it well in time for sunrise. I was hell bent on making it there before the sun rose, so much so I motored ahead of the pack and walked at least half the distance mostly alone (calm down mom, it was a calculated decision – there were other hikers around). I was so fortunate to catch the entire show. This planet can’t stop blowing my mind with its beauty.


A few of us waiting for the sun to appear.


The sun is about to appear behind the mountain.


The best sort of photo of me, but the highlight is behind me 🙂


Ah man, just look at that!


The landscape up here is harsh and unforgiving but so so extraordinarily beautiful.


The rock formations and texture of the rocks almost look like the back of a dragon.


The sun coming out in full force now.


All the pastel colours coming out to play.


Incredible sloping, sheer rock forms – almost looks alien to the planet.


Mount Kinabalu doesn’t have that typical mountain, conical form. instead, she’s quite uneven, with jagged peaks and troughs all about.


About to begin the wonderful descent – my knees were aching at the thought alone!


Ja no, it’s incredible.


One of my favourite pictures, the almost smooth rocks, leading to a peak. Looks like an animal from the Jurassic period.


A bit of repetitive photography here, but the sheer form of the rocks fascinates me!


The rope serves more as a route marker up than something you need to summit the mountain. There’s only 1 or 2 places where you need to pull yourself up, but it’s not nearly as dramatic as it sounds. The most upper body exercise I’ve had in 10 months of travel is lifting a beer bottle to my lips and I was more than alright.


Mom, I slid down here. The trick is to stop yourself before you go over the edge and die.


Another shot of the way down (and up for that matter – down is an exact reverse of your ascent).


The never-ending stair case at the beginning of your climb to the summit.

Out of interest, I’m really chuffed with the way these photos turned out but it must be said that 95% of them were taken with my iPhone, despite me lugging around a 1.5kg Nikon DSLR. My old iPhone gave up the ghost whilst I was back in South Africa and I cracked and splurged on the new 7 plus. At the time I remember thinking its camera would never meet my expectations but I was so wrong! Nothing can beat the zoom on a DSLR, for sure, but the engine in the iPhone is phenomenal for your typical sort of photo not requiring a massive zoom. Furthermore, the twin camera of the iPhone really impressed me. No, Apple isn’t paying me to say this but I’d have liked this piece of consumer advice 🙂

4 thoughts on “Summiting Mount Kinabalu – a photo blog

  1. Absolutely beautiful views! Glad your 7 takes fantastic pics- they must have done a lot of improvement after the 6s!

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