Sabah’s Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun has recently announced the opening of two new trekking routes to the summit of Mount Kinabalu from Laban Rata.
Datuk Masidi Manjun says the alternative routes will replace the old single trail leading to the peak, where several climbers and mountain guides were killed during an earthquake in June, and will enable Sabah Parks to fully reopen the mountain to climbers by 1 December as planned.
The World Site Heritage was partially reopened on 1 September, with climbers permitted to climb up to Laban Rata via Timpohan. However, discouraged by the fact that the summit was still off limit, less than 100 visitors climbed the mountain that month.
“To meet our December deadline for reopening the mountain, we’ll use only one of the two trails initially – the Ranau Trail. But I am delighted with the progress of the works that have been carried out on both trails, which have been developed with assistance from the American, Canadian and Japanese experts.
“The actual construction of the trails has been undertaken by mountain guides, porters and local villagers. They are the most suitable candidates for the job as they are the ones who best understand the needs and challenges faced by climbers.”
The Minister says the other trail – Kota Belud, is still under construction and will be open to climbers once fully completed. However, he say there is as yet no confirmed completion date for the second trail, which will offer climbers a more scenic view from the face of the mountain towards the Kota Belud district.
“We have abandoned old trail, which was badly damaged during the earthquake. So now climbers can ascend to the peak from the two new trails, located to east and west of the old trail respectively”, he says.
Datuk Manjun says no special climbing skills are needed for the new routes as they are not that much different from the previous trail in terms of difficulty. “Anyone in reasonably good health and fitness can still climb all the way to the peak of Mount Kinabalu just like before.”
Notwithstanding there are now two new routes now available from Laban Rata, compared to only one previously, Sabah Parks will maintain its previous limit of 192 visitors allowed to ascend to the summit each day. At this stage, the route from Mesilau to Laban Rata, which was severely damaged by the earthquake, will remain closed and no decision had been made yet as to whether it will be repaired and reopened.